On Tuesday, October 24th, Sr. Mary Scullion, RSM, the Executive Director and President of Project HOME, was honored by the Nerney Leadership Institute at Cabrini University as its Executive in Residence. Sr. Mary has been involved in service work and advocacy for both the homeless and people with mental illness since 1978.
In 1989, Sr. Mary and Joan Dawson McConnon, co-founded Project H.O.M.E. A nationally recognized organization that provides support Housing, Opportunity for employment, Medical care and Education to enable chronically homeless and low-income persons to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty. Under their leadership, Project HOME has gone from an emergency winter shelter to more than 700 units of housing, including JBJ Soul Homes – partnering with Jon Bon Jovi – which provides supportive housing for homeless youth, and three businesses that provide employment to formerly homeless persons.
Sr. Mary is also a powerful voice on political issues affecting homelessness and people with mental illness. Her advocacy efforts resulted in the right of homeless persons to vote as well as a landmark federal court decision that affects the fair housing rights of persons with disabilities.
During her day at Cabrini, Sr. Mary engaged with University administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members. She was accompanied to campus by two of her Project HOME colleagues David Brown and Michael Oliveri, gentlemen who were formerly homeless and who now have positions of responsibility within the Project HOME organization and who provide a stirring testament to the power of the human spirit in overcoming adversity when the compassionate support and guidance of others is offered.
Several themes emerged from Sr. Mary’s remarks during the day. Citing Pope Francis, Sr. Mary affirmed the pontiff’s call for a “Revolution of Tenderness” in which we advocate for compassionate public policy. Pope Francis called for “the urgent need for more inclusive and equitable economic models.”
She is concerned that in the tax revision plan being put forth by the current administration in Washington, social services will be cut which will create a greater cycle of poverty and homelessness. She stated, “poverty is economic violence.”
In calling for the inclusive and equitable economic models, Sr. Mary strongly believes that elected officials should speak the truth and be held accountable.
She believes that the greatest equalizer is education – that all should be given the opportunity to receive an education and thereby, through knowledge be able to affect society in a positive manner. “True education is transformative and dynamic,” she stated.
During her brief stay at Cabrini University, Sr. Mary demonstrated the tenacity, humility, determination, compassion, knowledge, wit and leadership that have enabled her to be a tireless advocate for those who are experiencing chronic homelessness and mental illness.
To learn more about Project Home, please visit: