Episode #19: One of Time Magazine’s Most Influential People: Sister Mary Scullion
Hi everybody! I am so excited to share my conversation with the renowned Sister Mary Scullion, an incredible hero in Philadelphia who has been fighting to end chronic street homelessness since 1976. Although she is one of the most humble humans I have ever come across, her work has not gone unnoticed. She was named by Time Magazine one of the Most Influential People in the World in 2009 (alongside Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey), received the Laetare Medal from The University of Notre Dame in 2011 (which is the highest award given to an American Catholic), was the Georgetown Commencement Speaker in 2017, and the list goes on!
Sister Mary is most well-known for co-founding Project HOME in 1989 with Joan Dawson McConnon. It is a nationally recognized organization that strives to end the chronic cycle of homelessness. The H stands for Housing, the O for Opportunities for Employment, the M for Medical Care, and the E for Education. The vision is that the homeless need a combination of Housing, Employment, Medical Care and Education to overcome poverty. Throughout our conversation, Mary takes us on the journey of how Project Home came into existence. She was kind enough to share the early setbacks she encountered and how she used grit and perseverance to stay committed.
30 years later, her grit certainly paid off. Project HOME has an established headquarters in Philadelphia, where I interviewed Sister Mary. I loved my time at the building, as it was amazing to see so many people working together to end homelessness. It really inspired me to get more involved! They have over 800 units of affordable and supportive housing: the Stephen Kline Wellness Center (which addresses the medical care for the homeless), the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs (a state of the art four-story building that addresses the education needs), and they just recently partnered with Septa and the city of Philadelphia to open the Hub of Hope in Suburban Station in Philadelphia. It’s a safe place where the homeless can enjoy a warm cup of coffee, take a shower and wash laundry, and begin the process of finding a permanent home.
I also was very curious as to why so many of the homeless are often resistant to come off the streets. Sister Mary explains that, as with anything in life, you can’t force someone to do something—they have to be ready to do it. But if you keep gently shedding light on their significance, it could make the difference. So next time you pass a homeless person on the street, try to offer a smile! It might give them that confidence they need to take the first step in getting off the streets! Hope you guys enjoy!