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It was an opportunity too good to pass up for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Sedona Conference.

On Friday, March 3, work began to remodel a building at St. John Vianney Catholic Church — one that was previously used for church storage and an emergency food pantry.
Father Kieran Kleczewski has given the society the entire building for use as both an emergency food pantry and client service office. Renovations are expected to take almost all of the month with the grand opening set for Wednesday, March 29.


The pantry, which is run by volunteers, provides food for more than 150 on nearly any given week. Those in need are able to shop within the pantry, giving them the ability to select the items they will use.

Society President Bill Murto said the pantry renovation is a complete makeover of the interior of the existing building. The renovation will include the addition of heating and air conditioning and a separate office for Vincentian Client Services.

“Father Kieran has been most supportive of our organization,” he said. “The renovation will centralize our services under one roof.”

The pantry will provide a limited amount of emergency food during the period of renovation. Additionally, volunteers will direct individuals to other local food banks, pantries and organizations providing meals. Murto said despite the inconvenience, the finished product will be worth the wait.

“The renovations will increase the storage and distribution capacity of our food pantry, allowing us to better serve the community,” he said. “The shopping experience for our clients will be greatly improved ranging from shelter from the weather and greater ease of ‘shopping’ for groceries in an environmentally-controlled area.”

In addition, the renovation will consolidate the two major service areas of the society — the food pantry and client services. Client services address the needs of individuals and families in the community by providing guidance and assistance with social services. This fulfills the housing and healing mission of the society.

Murto said the society is different from other nonprofits in that its most common activity is visiting the needy in their homes. Through home visits, the society learns what has changed in its clients’ lives causing them to seek assistance and then work to resolve their particular struggles.

Like others who are part of organizations that lend a helping hand, Murto said many residents and visitors to Sedona are surprised when they are told of the need in the area.

“The image of Sedona is glamorous with the stunning red rock scenery,” he said. “But behind the scenes, real-life struggles exist as in any community. Through the work of our client services, Vincentians provide services across the spectrum of wealth from the poor to the affluent in the community.”

Aging, unexpected or prolonged illness, and loss of employment are just a few of the life experiences that can influence one’s economic stability, he said. Vincentians, through home visits, identify what has changed in their clients’ lives and work to systemically change the overall situation.

“We use all the available resources, including other nonprofits along with city, state and federal organizations,” Murto said. “By doing this with care and respect, we show all individuals that they matter and they are children of God.”

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