Magazine article The Christian Century

Mary Scullion

Magazine article The Christian Century

Mary Scullion

Article excerpt

For nearly 40 years, Mary Scullion, a Roman Catholic nun in Philadelphia, has spent her days amid homelessness, addiction, mental illness, and poverty.

Though she was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people, she rejects any celebrity.

"This is about all of us," she said. Her mantra is, "None of us are home until all of us are home."

Scullion is cofounder and executive director of Project HOME, begun in 1989 as a single emergency winter shelter for homeless men. Today, it has a $30.5 million budget and offers a multipronged continuum of care aimed at ending chronic homelessness by going at its root causes. It begins with person-to-person appeals to the homeless to come inside. There it provides long-term supports--housing, jobs, education, medical care--to keep them from returning to the streets.

"We learned that shelter wasn't enough; people need homes," Scullion said. "They need jobs, education, access to health care. They need community."

Scullion's organization coordinates outreach teams and housing placements for all agencies serving homeless people in Philadelphia. The teams, which check daily on the homeless across the city, carry handheld computer-linked devices. They have real-time data on all residence availability in the city, so an individual can be placed in the right facility for his or her needs.

Project HOME has become one of the most effective homeless organizations in the country. It has spent decades studying, learning, and modifying its approach. …

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