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What are the facilities like?

The Ozanam Center offers six bunk rooms with bunk beds for sleeping that can be for retreatants or chaperones.

There is a shower room with individual showers, bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and hangout space.

The Center also include accommodations for anyone with disabilities–an elevator, handicap stalls and shower, ramp to get in building.

What will we be eating?

  • Breakfast: Always continental (cereal, milk, bagels, fruit, etc.)
  • Lunch: A packed lunch that includes sandwiches, fruit and chips.
  • Dinner: A hot meal prepared by the staff.


  • Please bring a reusable water bottle.

What should I bring?

Please pack your items in a bag that can be dried and/or washed on high heat.


  • Dress according to weather
    • Winter (We will spend time outside, even in the snow!!): Coat, gloves, hat, boots
    • Summer: Groups may visit a neighborhood water-spray park. Men– swim trunks and non-white shirt, beach towel; Women– swim suit, covered by track shorts & non-white shirt, beach towel.
  • We ask that all clothing be appropriate; i.e. no shirts that expose the midriff, no spaghetti straps. Be mindful of the length of shorts. Please no flashy, provocative clothing or items that display offensive slogans or graphics. Our facility doubles as an office during the business day and you will encounter employees and people we serve throughout your stay.
  • Outfits for each day you are here, including:
    • Additional outfit you don’t mind getting dirty at a project
    • Nice outfit for Mass on Sunday (if applicable for your trip)
  • Comfortable shoes for walking long distances (closed-toe shoes are required for some activities)


Personal Care:

  • Toiletries for bathroom/shower (none provided)
  • Shower shoes (Flip Flops)
  • Sunscreen
  • Medications (kept with you or following your school’s policy)

(Twin Mattress):

  • Sleeping Bag OR Sheets & Blanket
  • Pillow with Pillow Case
  • Towel & Wash Cloth for Shower


  • Reusable Water Bottle (VERY IMPORTANT!)
  • One shareable snack for the week/weekend
  • Photo ID (driver’s license or school ID)
  • Garbage bag for dirty clothes and bedding
  • Release Forms for SVDP and Community Partners (if applicable)


  • Journal
  • Sunglasses or hat
  • Bug spray
  • Rain jacket
  • Games to play during down time
  • Donations
    • Food Pantry (cans with pop top lids are easiest for our neighbors without access to a can opener):
      • Cereal boxes; meal in a can (beef stew, chili, ravioli & other high protein options); hearty high protein soups; peanut butter; canned tuna/chicken; tomato products (sauce, paste, diced, stewed, etc.)
    • Personal Care Items:
      • Deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste & toothbrushes, dish soap, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products



What NOT to Bring:

  • Anything that is not replaceable or has significant value, such as expensive jewelry
  • Extra electronics

*Please be aware, SVDP is not responsible for anything that is lost or stolen*

A Note about Cell Phones:

  • Cell phones may be brought (unless otherwise stated by your school/group policy), but we ask that they remain in your room and are not used throughout the day or during any of our programming.
  • There will be time set aside to use phones in the evening to connect with family members. We understand they serve many purposes for you. Your immersion is a chance to refresh, limit your use, and focus on participating fully in the immersion experience.

What's a typical day like?

Each day is focused on a Catholic Social Teaching theme.

7:30 a.m. – continental breakfast
8:00 a.m. – morning prayer/reflection
8:30 a.m. – depart for service site
9:00 a.m. – service site
Noon – bagged lunch in park
12:30 p.m. – service site
3:00 p.m. – return to SVDP
3:30 p.m. – social justice education
5:00 p.m. – dinner
6:00 p.m. – evening prayer/reflection
7:00 p.m. – free time, optional documentary to watch

What is the neighborhood like?

Participants stay on-site at St. Vincent de Paul’s Liz Carter Center at 1125 Bank Street, in the West End neighborhood.

The West End neighborhood has a rich history of immigrants who have fluctuated in and out of the community since its inception in the early 1800s. The community has seen many changes over the years, from Dayton Street’s “Millionaires Row” to the construction of I-75 and the resulting displacement of thousands of residents. However, the neighborhood maintains a strong sense of community and resilience among its long-term residents still today.

We find it very important that students stay in the same neighborhood as the neighbors they serve in order to participate in the full immersion experience. The group is accompanied by two Ozanam Center staff who work in this community and have strong relationships with the different nonprofit partners we visit.

St. Vincent de Paul has a strong, long-standing relationship with the West End community and is well respected and appreciated in the neighborhood.

How do we get from site to site?

The Ozanam Center staff drives two vans to transport retreat participants between sites. In addition, students may sometimes walk or take public transit to and from certain nonprofit partners.

What will we be doing while we are there?

Ozanam Center retreats often discuss an array of social justice issues and visit a variety of service sites throughout the immersion experience. Each day includes an element of encounter, education, and reflection. To get a better sense of what a “typical” day might look like, see the Program offerings section.