News from HOME | Project HOME

News from HOME

The latest edition of News from HOME, the Project HOME newsletter, has arrived in the mail.  Below is a reprint of our lead story, a 25th anniversary reflection on one of our core themes -- community.  If you are not currently receiving News from HOME, contact  Michael Gainer at [email protected] or subscribe here.


Roots and Branches: Reflections from Sister Mary

As I recall the cramped quarters of that patchwork first shelter in the locker room of a vacant recreation center a quarter century ago, I can hardly believe all that has happened.

I am Project HOME | Eric Smelser

When Eric Smelser first came to work in Project HOME’s Information Technology Department 13 years ago, the whole organization had less than 50 computers for the many residences and programs, and only a handful of staff were on email.


Their faces hint of stories: A fragile dignity. An exuberance seeking greater outlets. An innocence preserved against the odds. A hard-won confidence. A defiant vibrancy. Shadows of lingering scars from a troubled environment. A determination to wrestle a future out of slender hopes.


Lynne Collins-Prillerman knows all too well what it’s like: The lack of self respect. The sense of shame and failure. The dehumanization and degradation. Being treated like you’re dirt – or worse, like you’re invisible.


Beauty will save the world.” The famous quote of the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky was a favorite of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, a network of communities that provide hospitality to poor persons and advocate for justice. Day, whose life and work were enormously influential to the founders of Project HOME, understood that art and beauty were not luxury commodities reserved only for those of economic means, but were vital for the human spirit.


Loretta has come a long way from her time on the streets and in shelters. She resides at Project HOME’s Rowan Homes, is a community health worker for our St. Elizabeth’s health clinic, and interns at our HOME Spun Resale Boutique. She is also a certified peer specialist who has intensively trained to work with other residents to make positive steps in their lives.


In late 1989, three sisters – Josephine Mandeville, Emily Riley, and Christine Connelly – heeded the urging of their aunt, Sister M. Henrietta Connelly, RSM, to get to know two inspiring young women: a “feisty” nun and a recent MBA graduate, who were working with persons experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia. When they visited Sister Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon (at this time, it was Joan Dawson), they brought with them a box of Christmas chocolates and a check for $100,000.It was the start of a beautiful friendship.


During the bitter cold spell earlier this month, with a Code Blue emergency and life-threatening temperatures, our outreach teams along with our partner organizations worked long hours,pouring themselves out tirelessly. With other staff and residents helping out, they brought people in off the streets,out of the cold, encouraging them to take the first small steps toward breaking the vicious cycle of chronic homelessness. 


Jennine Miller’s office at 1515 Fairmount Avenue might be one of the messiest in all of Project HOME. But it’s also one of the most energetic. It’s a nearly constant den of activity,with interns, residents,and volunteers busy at work, or with visitors popping in to catch upon the latest advocacy efforts. The walls are adorned with posters and shirts from numerous social-change campaigns (as well as plaques and certificates signifying the many awards she has won). 


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