Be the change
We could all learn something from Sister Mary Scullion and Project HOME
This Monday — amid street merchants hawking pope t-shirts, storefronts replete with bobblehead versions of the same, and a city girding itself with hundreds of porta-potties and worries, Project HOME and the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation quietly renamed a new affordable housing development in Chinatown in honor of Pope Francis.
Francis House of Peace, developed by Project HOME in partnership with the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, “is a nine-story mixed-use development, including retail space and 94 apartment units for formerly homeless and low-income men and women, including young adults at risk of becoming homeless. English- and Chinese-speaking residents will have access to all Project HOME services to set them on a path toward self-actualization.”
The project exemplifies why Project HOME, and one of its cofounders — Sister Mary Scullion — in particularhas become such a tremendous force for change in our city.
There is, of course, a component of faith and a long tradition of Catholic social justice undergirding Scullion’s work helping the homeless.
But what makes Scullion stand apart is her clearsighted understanding that by increasing the number of stakeholders in the fight to eradicate homelessness, she amplifies the work she and the organization can accomplish.
In this project, for example, in addition to the collaboration with the PCDC, secured funding from both private and public sources, including the Raynier Institute and Foundation, Leigh and John Middleton, the Maguire Foundation, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, the Philadelphia Housing Authority, FHLBank Atlanta, Capital One, National Association, and the National Equity Fund.
And this sort of breadth of interest in the success of the project is not new.
Past projects have leveraged the celebrity and social conscience of people like Jon Bon Jovi, and Scullion herself has become a bit of a celebrity — in 2009, she was named one of TIME magazine’s “100 most influential” people.
She has done what few in the city have been able to do despite skill and good intentions — to form a bridge between activists and advocates (who often lack capital to realize their visions of a more just society) and the business and financial sector (who sometimes need a prod to look to something greater than the bottom line) without sacrificing Project HOME’s core mission.
In that, Scullion and Project HOME are role models for effective and enduring change.
While advocating for change ... while noting what needs to change within our own organizations and our city ... let’s be the change.