Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vincent and Louise House: A photo essay of service and simple living

The Vincent and Louise House, located on the corner of Belden and Kenmore, opens its doors to the DePaul community for dinner four nights a week. The V&L House is an intentional community of ten students. "We basically commit ourselves to a life of service" based off the examples set by St. Vincent DePaul and St. Louise De Marillac, said R.J. Toledo, a senior majoring in theology and Catholic studies with a double minor in psychology and peace studies. "We're a house of hospitality. We're here to serve the DePaul community."

Every Sunday through Wednesday night, two V&L House residents buy groceries and prepare a meal for an average of 20 guests. In line with their dedication to simple living, the cooks budget themselves to $15 a meal. "We have to think in bulk and we have to think cheap," said Nicole Jones, a senior journalism student. To prepare these meals, the V&L House residents rely on Aldi's, Stanley's, "miracles and creativity," she said. On Tuesday night, Jan. 27, Jones and Toledo prepared delicious green bell peppers stuffed with brown rice, sauteed veggies, and spaghetti sauce.

At the dinners, DePaul students mingle with V&L House residents. According to junior Alex Spore, people hear about the dinners mainly through University Ministry and word of mouth. Conversation is lighthearted and friendly, revolving mostly around sharing stories and discussing classes. Although the building can only house ten residents, a few regular visitors become close friends and earn the nickname of "adopted" V&L House mates.

The Vincent and Louise House residents dedicate themselves to a life of community service. In addition to the community dinners they host at the house, each member must volunteer at least two hours at the DePaul parish soup kitchen. Beyond that, V&L House residents also volunteer in neighborhoods outside of the DePaul community, working at everything from after school programs to ESL teaching and gathering write off foods from Whole Foods to donate to soup kitchens.

Jones and Toledo worked together to clean the dishes after everyone finished eating dinner. According to Toledo, the V&L House provides residents with the environment they need in order to perform community service, live simply, educate others and act on behalf of the social issues that they feel most passionate about, and grow in their faith and spirituality. Thus, they embody the example set by St. Vincent DePaul and St. Louise De Marillac in their every day life.

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