Sister Mary Scullion has been a tireless advocate for men, women and children experiencing homelessness since 1975. She was honored by Time magazine as one of the World’s Most Influential People in 2009 for her work with Project H.O.M.E in Philadelphia. In 2009, HRC profiled her work in “Upholding Human Dignity.” Now, two years later, HRC catches up with Sister Mary to hear about her recent work.
As told to HRC’s Wendy Grace Evans
One thing for sure is that the external environment is shifting quickly. I see this at the local, state, and national levels. This presents both challenges and opportunities. I am most excited about homelessness prevention and how we can work together to accomplish this. Initiatives like Rapid Re-Housing and Housing First, and increased permanent supportive housing, as well as other homelessness prevention strategies, have really sparked interest. I think there is a strong sense of hope that we can end homelessness.
Project H.O.M.E. has established an alumni association. It has been such a positive development in so many ways. Many people come back and our current residents see how former residents have reunited with families, are living with their kids, are working, and are engaged in life.
Just last night I met an alumna whose kids go to the after-care program. Her kids are on the honor roll and she was so happy and proud to have had the stability of Project H.O.M.E and to have transitioned to the stability of her own home. It is gratifying to see that the future can be different than the past.
When some of our alumni are struggling, they have a place to come back to here, rather than returning to homelessness. This is another homelessness prevention strategy that promotes social connectedness. Another exciting development has been the establishment of best practices. SAMHSA has been a strong reference point that has allowed us to deepen our knowledge of Evidence Based Practices and best practices in order to change and empower ourselves and our community to grow and achieve our potential.
We are participating in trainings on Critical Time Intervention (CTI), and the WRAP model. These have been important opportunities. We have also been more conscious of how we approach the hiring process. We are so grateful to be part of a community that is growing. While the number of people who are becoming homeless is unfortunately growing, more people are working to end the problem. We are all on a journey home. If we always do what we have always done, we are always going to get what we’ve always gotten. So we do things differently to make a change. . We have to redouble our advocacy efforts to ensure just and equitable public policies.
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