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placeholder April 22, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 8   •   Oakland, CA

The St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room opened in 1976, when this photograph was taken. The dining room, in downtown Oakland, has served more than 5 million meals.
Courtesy photo

Sandwich-making to board leader: a Vincentian journey

About SVdP

Tours of the downtown campus, which houses the free dining room, clothing
closet and drop in center for men and women, are available by calling 510-877-9250.

To learn more about SVdP, to volunteer or to support the work,
visit www.svdp-alameda.org.

Ed Frakes was installed as the new president of the board for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County in March. As he is quick to state, he and Pope Francis are contemporaries and if the new pope can become the shepherd for billions of Catholics worldwide, Frakes can take on the leadership of the Society in Alameda County.

Thrift store shopping

3777 Decoto Road

1817 W. Second St.

9235 San Leandro St.

With an artful twist

2315 Lincoln Ave.

Coming up

St. Vincent de Paul
Earth Day E-Waste Drive
& Warehouse Sale

When: April 27,
from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: 9235 San Leandro St., Oakland

What to bring: Working and non-working computers, monitors, TVs, laptops, computer towers, cables, printers, fax machines, scanners, DVD players, telephones and VCRs

Cost: Free

Hard drive destruction: $3

Shop: at the warehouse after dropping off your electronics

"God does not call the qualified. He qualifies those He calls," Frakes said in his usual self-effacing way, as he considers the challenges and opportunities he faces as the president of the governing body of the 38 conferences — the small groups that work in the parishes — in Alameda County.

As a young boy in Kansas, Frakes remembers an uncle visiting from Washington and telling him that he volunteered at a St. Vincent de Paul. His uncle said that they collected furniture, clothing and food and helped people in need. That example of selflessness and service remained with Frakes throughout his life. A longtime resident of the Niles area of Fremont, he retired as an art and elementary school teacher after 22 years. He first joined the Corpus Christi Conference in Fremont in 1993. He was asked to attend meetings because there was no member younger than 70 years old at the time, Frakes said.

He began helping with a bag lunch program that prepared lunches for the priest to hand out at the parish house. That service expanded to providing clothing, resource and referral services. Soon one of the members built a food locker, preparing and serving up to 35 lunches, five days a week. The Society responds to the immediate needs of the individual, "walking the walk and talking the talk" of serving neighbors in need.

Frakes served as president at Corpus Christi for six years and was on the council board for six years, working on the property and housing committee. He is the conference spiritual adviser while he is serving as president.

Frakes said he felt a "restlessness of the Spirit" as he was discerning the opportunity of leading the society, which includes 813 members in Alameda County, After prayer and discernment, he decided to announce his candidacy as president last December to succeed outgoing president Gary Flinders. Assuming the leadership of the society can be daunting, and Ed is building the conferences, committees and Board of Trustees to collaborate with other faith-based organizations and social service agencies to assist those who need a helping hand.

Sister Elaine Sanchez of Sisters of the Holy Family in Fremont had served with Frakes at one time on the SVdP board's housing committee. She remembers him as "a good guy. He is in touch with the Vincentian mission of spirituality and friendship that drives our service of Christ in his many disguises."

Key dates in St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County

• April 4, 1833, International Society of St. Vincent de Paul is founded in Paris

• March 28, 1938, Founding of St. Vincent de Paul Alameda County

• 1939, There are 13 active Conferences. Today there are 38

• Feb. 14, 1943, The Service Men's Center opened. It received a Certificate of Merit from the US Armed Forces; it closed April 30, 1946

• 1944, First thrift store opened in West Oakland at Seventh and Market streets

• 1957, A new warehouse is purchased — the site of today's Downtown Campus

• March 1964, East Oakland site opened

• Sept. 20, 1976, First meal served in the Dining Room

• December 1976, First issue of SVdP newsletter, the Vincentian Quarterly, printed

• May 5, 1977, 100,000th meal served

• Sept. 20, 1983, 1 millionth meal served

• 2007, The Workforce Training program and the Culinary Kitchen of Champions culinary program started

• October 2011, The Alameda Thrift Store is converted to Redux, which includes a shop and artists' studios

• December 2012, More than 5 million meals served

Source: St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County

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