For the month of March (also known as Irish American Heritage Month) IrishCentral is tapping into the heartbeat of the Irish American community. The Unsung Heroes series features inspiring individuals from across the US who do extraordinary work in their communities and respective fields. From advocates to artists, from local legends to dedicated educators; from a high school baseball team to dynamo nuns in their 80s, these people are making a difference and to them we tip our hats in thanks.
Sister Mary Scullion is a Philadelphia-based nun and homeless advocate who began her career in 1976. Co-founder of Project H.O.M.E, a national organization providing solutions to homelessness and poverty she was recognized as one of the TIME “World's Most Influential People”, in 2009.
Thirty-eight years ago Scullion joined the Sisters of Mercy working on behalf of the homeless. In 1978 she became involved in service work and advocacy for homeless and mentally ill persons. Then, in 1985 of Woman of Hope, which provides permanent residences and support services for homeless mentally ill women.
Scullion went on to be the founder of the Outreach Coordination Center , an innovative program coordinating private and public agencies doing outreach to chronically homeless persons in Center City Philadelphia, in 1988. The following year Scullion and her associate, Joan Dawson McConnon, co-founded Project H.O.M.E.
The amazing sister’s efforts have 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.
Sister Mary has received numerous awards and honorary doctorates for her leadership in the City of Philadelphia, including the 1992 Philadelphia Award. In 2002, Sister Mary was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship, and that same year, she and Joan were national awardees of the Ford Foundation's prestigious "Leadership for a Changing World Award." In 2009, she was named by TIME Magazine's as one of "The World's 100 Most Influential People". In 2012, the Philadelphia Inquirer selected Sister Mary as their Citizen of the Year.
For more information on the amazing work she does visit www.projecthome.org.