Mission: In 1833, the St. Vincent de Paul Society was founded in Paris. Frederic Ozanam, a 20 year old university student, is considered the principal founder of the Society because of his leadership within a small group of similarly-minded students.
Their model of visiting the poor of the Paris slums was adopted widely, reaching Milwaukee in 1849. St. Vincent de Paul "conferences," as the volunteer groupings are called, were established in several Milwaukee Catholic parishes. In 1914, enough conferences existed to form a "council." This allowed for legal incorporation and the ability to take on broader activities. Over
the years, activities have taken the form of thrift stores, meal programs, shelters, and helping centers. These programs have been generously supported not only by the Catholic community, but also by other faiths and the broader community. Most programs, although professionally staffed, maintain a largely volunteer component. Professional staff assists volunteers through training and are available for consultation.