The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Michele Smith
the Times 

Volunteers and donations from the community keep the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul alive in Dayton


January 23, 2020

Michele Smith

Helen Hofer has the job of sorting linens. "I love my job. I love working here, and I love the people," she said.

DAYTON-If you are looking for gently used clothing, appliances, furniture, toys and games, jewelry, books, appliances, and much more, you don't have to look much further than the St. Vincent de Paul retail store on Dayton's Main Street.

Store manager Bob Patras said the store has been open for about forty years, and thrives thanks to the many volunteers, monetary donations, and the donated items, which come from communities as far away as the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla. The store also benefits from the annual South Third Street yard sale in May, when it receives left-over items to sell.

Patras said people stop by the store to donate, and then stay to shop.

He said it is not unusual to find articles that still carry their original price tags.

"They seem to like our store. Our prices are better," he said.

"I try to run it like a retail store," said Patras, who has experience in the retail business.

Twenty volunteers, working various days, and hours, sort the items that come through the back door of the store. They are categorized, priced, and arranged for display. Holiday themed items are stored in the basement until the appropriate season. Items that can't be used are donated to other organizations or are recycled.

"Our people are very good and dedicated. Some work three days a week. Some work two hours a day," Patras said.

He said the volunteers refer to him jokingly as a "tyrant," because of his need to have everything well organized.

But he said he tries to make it fun for the volunteers.

"We have a big party the Monday before Thanksgiving," he said.

He said the purpose of the party is to box hundreds of items for sale on Tuesday during Christmas Kickoff and the Christmas season.

Patras wants people to know about the big sale on winter clothing at the end of February, when bags of clothing can be purchased for $5. He said that sale will help cycle clothing quickly, and make room for summer wear, which is already waiting to be displayed on the floor.

Patras said he would like to have more volunteers and they need to be reliable people.

He also likes donated items to be placed at the back door of the store, during store hours only.

For information about becoming a St. Vincent de Paul store volunteer contact Patras by phone at: (509) 382-4146, or visit the store. Winter store hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Summer store hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Conference ministry

Patras' wife, Joann, has also made a huge investment in the store, including a stint as the store manager, and she is the current president of the local St. Vincent de Paul Society Conference.

St. Vincent de Paul was named the Patron Saint of Charity by the Catholic church in 1660.The first St. Vincent de Paul Society Conference was formed in 1845 in St. Louis, Missouri. Since then it has grown worldwide. The Society calls ordinary men and women to bring hope to the poor and suffering.

Michele Smith

Bobbi Ruddell has the job of sorting and pricing toys. She called store manager Bob Patras "a great boss."

Patras said there are currently nine people serving in the local Conference, and additional non-denominational Christians are being sought to serve on the Conference.

Their goal is to help people find a way out of poverty.

She said, "The people at St. Vincent DePaul see Christ in the poor. We do home visits to help however we can help them."

The Conference gets together to pray, to discern the needs of the poor, and to grow spiritually.

"You can't give what you don't have," she said.

She said monetary donations are also being sought to support the Conference ministry.

To donate to the Conference, or to ask about serving on the Conference, contact Joann Patras by phone at: (509) 382-4146, or stop by the store at 247 East Main Street.


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