Newly-rebranded Saint Vincent’s Services 
takes wing at ribbon-cutting ceremony


By Dave Jolivet
JolivetDB@comcast.net

FALL RIVER, Mass. — Thursday morning, September 26, was a brilliant, warm, sun-splashed early autumn day, a fitting scene for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the chapel at Saint Vincent’s Home on Highland Avenue in Fall River. Fitting because for the last 134 years, Saint Vincent’s has been a ray of sunshine and a source of warmth for area children and families who only experienced the dark, stormy circumstances of physical, Spiritual or emotional turmoil.

Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., joined with civic officials, members of the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce, Jack Weldon, CEO and executive director of Saint Vincent’s, Saint Vincent’s’ board of directors and staff members, local business partners, benefactors and friends to officially rebrand Saint Vincent’s Home as Saint Vincent’s Services.

According to a recent press release from Saint Vincent’s, the rebrand is to bring the focus to the success and growth of Saint Vincent’s as “a family-centered, trauma-informed service provider. Saint Vincent’s was established in 1885 to be a place of positive change for children, adolescents and their families an to give them the insight and tools they need to build healthy relationships.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Weldon said, “We’re no longer the home on the hill or the home. Our goal is to show our clients and the community at large a better visual of our values as a provider and to showcase differently the diverse services and the access points we provide.” 

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Referring to the SVS’s new logo featuring a colorful butterfly, Weldon continued, “To many of you the butterfly represents endurance, change, hope and life. The butterfly and our new logo is a representation of one of life’s most beautiful transformations and symbolizes for us the treatment, care and ultimately the transformative changes that can take place in the lives of children, youth and families we serve.

“Saint Vincent’s Services is committed to supporting the overall wellbeing of children, youth and their families both within the community and on our campus, our dedicated staff team provides a comprehensive array of child-focused family-centered, and trauma-informed care.

“Our faith-based approach to treatment is holistic, taking into account the physical, social, psychological and Spiritual needs of those we serve. We have created a stable nurturing environment, both outpatient and residential in which clients can build on their strengths and resilience so that they can lead safe and healthy lives. For the children, youth and their families who seek our care, Saint Vincent’s Service offers an extensive range of services across the developmental spectrum to meet their individualized needs. Our outpatient and school-based services have grown exponentially since our clinic opened in April of 2011 and we are currently serving well over a thousand families annually within our clinic and in-home services.”

Saint Vincent’s began in 1885 under the sponsorship of the Sisters of Mercy, and when the Fall River Diocese was established in 1904, Saint Vincent’s became a ministry of the fledgling diocese. The home, as it was then called, was first an orphanage serving as a residence for children whose parents were unable to adequately care for them for a variety of reasons, some being ill health, death, lack of financial means and other challenges. “Over the years,” Weldon explained, “we’ve adapted our programs and services to meet the changing needs of children, youth and families as they face a variety of issues including abuse, neglect, poverty, addiction, mental illness, emotional and behavioral problems, domestic abuse, family trauma and learning challenges.

“Over the years, our services have included longterm residential education programs, group home or congregate care both on campus and within the Fall River and New Bedford communities, therapeutic day school, acute residential treatment, then a short-term assessment and rapid reintegration program called STARR. Our most recent additions have been an outpatient mental health clinic and a range of in-home and school-based services.”

Weldon said Saint Vincent’s Services works in collaboration with the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Public Health, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Department of Early Education and Care. SVS has also, in recent years, worked with MassHealth and various third-party insurers and managed care entities.

“Throughout Massachusetts and across the country, there has been considerable focus on empowering families and supporting them to remain within their communities of origin rather than separating them through out-of-home placements. “Separation is sometimes necessary as a last resort for some families and Saint Vincent’s continues to provide a range of residential and congregate care options on our campus and within the community,” Weldon told the gathering. “When separation does occur, Saint Vincent’s tries to reunite children with their families as quickly and as safely as possible and we provide in-home support to support family permanence and ongoing growth.”

Bishop da Cunha addressed the guests saying that Saint Vincent’s was established as an orphanage all those years ago and “has kept throwing the net wider and wider and wider and reached into more areas of services. When we went through the rebranding of the changing of the name from Saint Vincent’s Home to Saint Vincent’s Services, I thought of what an appropriate name to have, services, because that’s really what Saint Vincent’s has done for the 134 years its been here is providing services. Then they saw the need to establish Saint Vincent’s as an orphanage, then a home and the services for families and for young people in need. If that need was there then, I think it is even more so today because there are children growing up in families that cannot provide for their healthy growth, whether because of emotional issues, because of financial issues, because of just a broken family or addictions or whatever it is that the children just don’t have that environment in that setting for resources for them to grow healthy, and so where are they going to find a place that’s going to help them grow and be healthy? So Saint Vincent’s is there to say ‘We are here for you.’

“And by doing that, imagine the transformative power of these services, the difference  that is going to make in the lives of some children, young people and families. Some of those young people probably would never grow to be healthy, successful, productive members of our society if they didn’t have a place to help them learn and grow and be mature in their lives and learn the lessons of life and how many are transformed and they can grow and become productive members. So we all in some way are going to benefit and reap the fruits of this work.”

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Bishop da Cunha thanked the Saint Vincent’s staff, administration, volunteers and supporters, as did Weldon.

Weldon also relayed that while in the past SVS has had access to clients through the aforementioned agencies, families can now access SVS’s services directly without the need for a state agency. “Families can remain intact and focused on sustaining permanence rather than having to endure separation and placement out of the home. Whether through our outpatient mental health clinic or our range of in-home clinical services, families can now get the help they need by contacting us and speaking with our intake coordinator directly.”

The intake coordinator assists in securing the type of care that best meets a family’s needs. Weldon lauded his staff saying they have been trained “within all levels of care in evidence-based practices in an effort to provide state of the art intervention and support for children, youth and families. We have developed specific services for transitional age youth and developed alliances with community employers and secondary education facilities to support their move toward independence.”

Fall River City Councilor Cathy Ann Viveiros presented a citation from the city to Weldon and the Saint Vincent’s Services staff and administration that read in part: “Would it hereby be known to all that this citation is hereby conferred to Saint Vincent’s Services in honor and recognition of the rebranding of Saint Vincent’s, the entire citizenry extends its best wishes and expresses the hope for continued good fortune and success in all of your endeavors.”

Then, surrounded by Saint Vincent’s staff, local officials, friends and members of the Sisters of Mercy Congregation, the bishop and Weldon cut the symbolic white ribbon, and with that, Saint Vincent’s Services took wing, as would a beautiful butterfly on a warm autumn morning.

For more information about Saint Vincent’s Services, visit saintvincentsservices.org.


© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts