[Photo, left to right: Cassandra Agredo, Executive Director of Xavier Mission; Ann Mary Mullane; Venus Hairston; Marc Greenberg; George Horton; Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President]
Four members of the Xavier Mission family were honored at our “Mardi Gras Masquerade” Dinner Dance on March 3 for embodying the spirit and values of Xavier Mission to welcome, serve and empower. Special guest Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President, joined Cassandra Agredo, Xavier Mission Executive Director, in bestowing the awards. Below are remarks shared about each honoree at the event. Congratulations to Venus, Ann Mary, George and Marc!
Venus Hairston, Coming Home Graduate and Peer Facilitator
Venus graduated from our Coming Home program at Riverside Church in December 2015. She has continued to give back to the LSEP community, serving as a Coming Home peer facilitator and as a guest speaker at several Xavier Mission LSEP events. Her story of strength and resilience has inspired so many of our LSEP graduates to share their stories too. She’s currently employed as a Junior Associate for Community Partnerships at Housing Works, a nonprofit here in New York City. During her time there, she has connected over 500 people to vital services including HIV education, housing and mental health treatment. We are so proud of the work that Venus is doing in the community!
Ann Mary Mullane, All Saints Clothing Room Coordinator
Ann Mary and her husband Bob were visiting the city one Saturday when Ann Mary decided that she didn’t want to get up early to go to Church on Sunday. So Bob pulled out his palm pilot where he had a list of all the churches in Manhattan. They found Xavier, or perhaps we should say Xavier found them. They began volunteering at the Welcome Table and were shuttled into the small clothing operation that we had on Sundays. That was in 2002.
Sixteen years later, Ann Mary is the Coordinator of the All Saints Clothing Room, now it’s own full-fledged program. She oversees the sorting of the thousands of pounds of clothing that is donated every year (and often the not-clothing that also makes its way into the bin) and the distribution of the good items to our guests. But more than that, she has turned the Clothing Room into an oasis for people who need socks and underwear and someone to listen. The guests love her (even when they curse her for not having exactly what they need) and they’re concerned when she’s not there.
She and Bob worked together building the clothing room from the ground up for many years. We had the great sorrow of losing Bob several years ago, but despite her grief Ann Mary stayed and continued the work they had started together. For her dedication and perseverance, her love and compassion, her biting sense of humor and wit and her huge heart, we am honored to present Ann Mary Mullane with the Xavier Mission Spirit Award.
George Horton and Marc Greenberg, Co-Founders of the Life-Skills Empowerment Program Model
Marc Greenberg is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing, a coalition of faith communities committed to addressing the crisis of homelessness in New York City, in solidarity with those who have been homeless.
George Horton is the Director of the Department of Social and Community Development at Catholic Charities of New York, which coordinates programs for people who are homeless, offers support for community groups, and advocates for just social and economic policies.
In 1988, an annual Interfaith Convocation and overnight City Budget vigil in City Hall Park turned into a 200-day encampment led by dozens of homeless men and women. In response to this grassroots community effort, Marc and George established the Education-Outreach Program, providing life-skills workshops, mentoring, storytelling and a support group to people experiencing homelessness. In 1995, they brought the EOP model to Xavier, where it became the Life-Skills Training & Empowerment Program, or L-STEP.
Since the founding of the EOP, Marc and George have helped to establish more than a dozen programs for domestic violence survivors, Homeless Veterans, people returning from incarceration, and the parents of Children attending public school living in shelters. They are also building an Alumni Support Network to help link graduates from various programs for mutual support, education and advocacy after they graduate.
Because of the success of L-STEP at Xavier, and our years of working with Marc and George on strengthening our program, Xavier Mission has been able to share our knowledge and expertise with other organizations, launching Coming Home at Riverside Church, and operating Homecoming at MetroBaptist Church/RMM. We are currently working with Thrive for Life to begin a new Coming Home program in the Bronx. None of this would have been possible without the support and love of Marc and George, and their desire to share their program with as many people as possible.
For their more than three decades of tireless work for, and with, those experiencing homelessness in New York City, and for their inspiration and wisdom in creating and growing such a wonderful program model, we are honored to present the Xavier Mission Spirit Award to Marc Greenberg and George Horton.