My Sister’s Place Women’s Center held their first annual Leadership Council Campaign Breakfast Wednesday, November 17. The MSPWC’s Leadership Council members and special guests were led in prayer by Reverend Monsignor Arthur F. Valenzano, and welcomed by Catholic Charities Executive Director Bill McCarthy, and the chair of the My Sister’s Place Women’s Center Leadership Council, Mary Baird. The crowd enjoyed a beautifully prepared breakfast, which was served by staff members of Catholic Charities to show their personal support for My Sister’s Place. The guests were then treated to two very special speakers.
The first guest speaker was former My Sister’s Place and Families that Work client Vondelayo, who started by thanking everyone for being there and “showing your support when we need you the most.” She told the audience that she and the other women who rely on My Sister’s Place “have gone through a lot of things and a lot of hard times and if we all don’t stick together some of us won’t make it. But that the help, support, and care of the staff and volunteers truly encourages us to stick together and work hard to rebuild our lives.” Vondelayo then proudly announced that through the aid and guidance she received during her time in the Families that Work program and at My Sister’s Place she has secured a job working with the state and has also started to make plans for the future to start her own catering business. Still beaming at the thought of how far she has come and how much she has turned her life around, Vondelayo took her seat with her head held high and the audience clapping for her accomplishments and the tremendous obstacles she has overcome.
Next Dr. Anne Lin, Dean and Professor of the College of Notre Dame School of Pharmacy, spoke to the crowd about the remarkable work the school has been involved with through Catholic Charities. She said that the staff at Notre Dame “is thrilled and excited about the partnerships they are building with many of the programs.” They are working to create a new generation of healthcare professionals and pharmacists, and have dedicated the School of Pharmacy’s mission to “educating student pharmacists to be compassionate, ethical professionals, who approve medication use while providing quality patient care to a diverse population.” The importance of understanding our diverse population and the issues each individual faces is something she is working to instill in her students. She wants to provide them with experiences that will enhance their education and give them opportunities that will encourage them to be more caring and compassionate professionals. They are accomplishing this by having students participate “in the community by working with these diverse populations from the day that they arrived on campus. And their curriculum continues to keep the students engaged in Catholic Charities programs from that day, and through all three of the didactic years that they are with us.” Together with Catholic Charities, Dr. Lin hopes that the work that they are doing at My Sister’s Place and the other Catholic Charities programs will cause students to better understand upon graduation “that their responsibilities go beyond just their employers, and actually go out into the communities around them, so that they can give back” to make these communities a better place for all of its individuals and families.
The guest speakers brought their experiences with My Sister’s Place Women’s Center to life, demonstrating the impact MSPWC has on the volunteers and guests alike. The passion and tremendous work of those involved with the Center is truly inspiring. It was clear that My Sister’s Place not only provides shelter and warm meals, but the acceptance and support that is vital to the women’s self-worth and ability to work towards a life of self-sufficiency.