The St. Vincent de Paul Youth Center experience is formed around three key components: service, reflection, and education.
Through SERVICE, students are given the opportunity to meet and work with people that they would not typically encounter in their day to day life. We partner with a number of different service sites throughout the Germantown area of Philadelphia that serve various populations including: children, the elderly, individuals with disabilities, individuals experiencing homelessness, individuals recovering from addiction, etc. At the center, we view service not as something we do for others, but with others. Service is a two-way evangelization process where we are given the opportunity to spend time with and learn from those living on the margins. We serve out of, and because of, our love and care of others.
- Service, without reflection, is just work. Therefore, REFLECTION is a vital parts of the experience here at the center. We remind students that they are not just here to “check boxes” and get the work done, but rather, they are here to learn and grow from the people and situations they encounter. Through our prayers, activities and discussions at the center, we invite the students to think critically and mindfully about their day and how it impacted them.
- As St. Vincent said, “Give me persons of prayer and they will be capable of anything.” It is only through receiving from God in PRAYER, that we have the ability to truly give of ourselves, and to be open to receiving from the poor. Therefore we start each morning with a prayer. We encourage students to have a spirit of prayerfulness throughout the day, recognizing that being with the poor, amidst their suffering, is a holy place.
Through EDUCATIONAL activities each evening, we aim to deconstruct the false narratives and stereotypes around people experiencing poverty, and replace those with a deeper, more accurate look into the societal, social and individual problems that create the cycle of poverty. Through our educational experiences paired with reflection, the center hopes to live out the following words and intention of St. Vincent de Paul: “Charity, without Justice, is not Charity.”