SVdP’s Catherine Center


During 12 months of residency at SVdP’s Catherine Center’s Primary Program, women recently released from jail or prison work intensely to understand the root causes of their incarceration, develop new coping skills, and reconnect with family. The women participate in emotional counseling, substance abuse rehabilitation, as well as vocational, educational and spiritual programs. SVdP’s Catherine Center’s unique holistic approach, along with unconditional love, allows these courageous women to transform their lives.

SVdP’s Catherine Center’s Post Graduate Program supports our growing alumnae population and their children in their transition back into society. The Restorative Justice Ministry site is a safe house.

Enjoy a short video to learn more about SVdP’s Catherine Center. 

If you are interested in joining SVdP’s Catherine Center, please call (650) 838-9800 to arrange an interview.

Volunteer Sign Up

The Boa Esperanca Project of St. Vincent de Paul’s Catherine Center

Boa Esperanca means “good hope” in Portuguese. It is the name of the small village in Para State, Brazil where Sr. Dorothy Stang, an American Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, was killed. The Boa Esperanca Project is founded to honor Sr. Dorothy, who specialized in helping the migrants of Brazil’s Amazon region—particularly the women– pursue their education. Sr. Dorothy was martyred in 2005 because of the effectiveness of her empowerment work, which included training folks in sustainable farming practices. The first high school graduate from one of her schools to go on to university was a young woman who went to study agronomy, beginning her studies in a Brazilian University just before Sr. Dorothy was killed. This project seeks to continue. Sr. Dorothy’s legacy by promoting college success for the women of Catherine Center.

SVdP’s Catherine Center is an integral component of the Society of St. Vincent De Paul of San Mateo County’s Restorative Justice Ministry which seeks to transform the damage, pain and despair caused by crime into healing, acceptance and hope. By affirming and promoting the human dignity of each individual, SVdP works to help all those affected by crime. SVdP’s Catherine Center is a residential safe home for women recently released from incarceration. Women receive support and empowerment for their practical needs and emotional and spiritual growth opportunities. These services are provided at no cost to the residents.

The Boa Esperanca Project is based on the recognition that a meaningful and efficient path to educational success is an important step toward personal wholeness, a viable vocation and a meaningful future for many women of Catherine Center who complete the first year and are taking the next steps to keep incarceration behind them. Each woman interested in this college scholarship program will be encouraged to first complete their Associate degree or equivalent in community colleges. The Boa Esperanca Project will help them finance their final two years of BA completion. The intention is for the fund to supply 100% support including housing and incidentals like books, parking, registration and graduation fees, etc.
Our founding partner is the small Catholic University from which Sr. Dorothy graduated: Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California. That connection will endure, though the women can make other choices regarding educational institutions and programs, in consultation with the professional staff of SVDP’s Catherine Center. Support from this Project can be applied to the tuition, housing and other expenses for any college or university. An application process will be available to each woman in Catherine Center’s program and Catherine Center staff will make decisions regarding college readiness and suitability of educational opportunities on a case by case basis.

Monique Jean Hunter is first Catherine Center graduate, with a BA in Human Services from NDNU, receiving Summa cum laude honors in May of 2017. As of fall of 2017, there are still three women from Catherine Center in degree programs at NDNU. We welcome your support. Checks can be made out to “The Boa Esperanca Project/SVdP”.

Please call Vivian Clausing, SVdP Catherine Center Program Director at 650 838-9800 if you have any questions.

National Catholic Reporter Article

Donate to Boa Esperanca

*Please designate your gift to SVdP’s Catherine Center and note “Boa Esperanca” in note section both online and on checks. Thank you!