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Bridge Communities Luncheon Celebrates Women Transforming Homelessness

Bridge Communities honors Mary Ellen Durbin and Sue Principe at this year's Celebrating Women...Transforming Lives luncheon April 26.

Two extraordinary women will be honored at Celebrating Women…Transforming Lives, a luncheon celebration on  Friday, April 26 at Danada House in Wheaton.  Community activist Mary Ellen Durbin of Lisle will be recognized for her humanitarian efforts to transform the lives of other women.  Sue Principe, Bridge Communities graduate, will be recognized for her courage and strength in overcoming homelessness and domestic abuse and her resolve to make a difference in the lives of other women in need.  Tickets for the luncheon are $50 per person and are available at www.bridgecommunities.org.

Mary Ellen Durbin believed her purpose in life was to correct some part of the imbalance and injustice that exists. She has accomplished this without question. In 1989, Mary Ellen, her husband Ron and the faith communities of St. Joan of Arc and the Benedictine Sisters launched Daybreak of Lisle. Today, they support five apartments and have helped 79 homeless families restore their lives. Following a professional career dedicated to helping people in poverty, Mary Ellen retired from People’s Resource Center in 2010. We believe that while there is poverty and social injustice, Mary Ellen will never be truly retired. We are proud to call her our friend and thrilled to award Mary Ellen Durbin the Transforming Lives Award.

“Her strength is her passion for this work,” says Mark Milligan, Co-Founder of Bridge Communities. “She has simply dedicated her life to helping people in poverty.”

Following years of moving from place to place with an abusive husband, Sue and her children sought refuge at a domestic violence shelter. After stabilizing, Sue and her family were referred to Bridge Communities. Driving a school bus to support her children while taking classes at College of DuPage, Sue demonstrated to her mentors her potential and motivation to change her life. With their support and encouragement, Sue earned her degree in Human Services and now works as a Homeless Services Specialist, helping others in need, just as she was helped.

“Sue always had a heart for service,” shares her Case Manager, Molly Howieson.  “Even in the midst of being in our Program, she was volunteering through her church and supporting women leaving abusive relationships.  I am very proud of her and how she pays it forward now assisting those now in housing crisis...she is truly empathic to the scary situations her callers are in.”

This year’s luncheon features keynote speaker Mark Milligan, Co-Founder of Bridge Communities.  In 1988, Mark Milligan and his friend Bob Wahlgren agreed that while they couldn’t stop homelessness, perhaps they could help just one family. Landlords were reluctant to rent them an apartment and social service agencies were unsupportive, but they were convinced they could make a difference in the life of a homeless family. Twenty five years and almost 600 families later, assisted by countless volunteers and supporters, Bridge Communities has become a leader in service to homeless families.

Karen Wells President & CEO, The AIW Group and Owner, The Goddard School will serve as the luncheon’s master of ceremonies.  Karen has over 20 years of leadership experience in Fortune 500 companies. Her most recent role was a member of the US Leadership Team as Vice President of Strategy for McDonald’s USA, LLC. During her career, Karen was identified as a “Rising Star” by Fortune Magazine, selected as one of Chicago’s Top 25 Women by Rolling Out Magazine, and featured as “A Remarkable Person” by Chicago Tribune. Karen retired from McDonald’s in 2012 to start a new chapter in her life. She founded the AIW Group consulting firm and she and her husband own and operate The Goddard School in Plainfield.

For more information about Celebrating Women…Transforming Lives or about the women honored, please contact Jennie Gates at (630) 545-0610, ext. 19.  Sponsorship opportunities are available.  Tickets may be purchased online at www.bridgecommunities.org or by phoning (630) 545-0610, ext. 19.

Bridge Communities is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to provide housing, mentoring and supportive services to homeless families in DuPage County.  Bridge Communities’ vision is a community where all families have safe, sustainable and affordable housing and life-long self-sufficiency.  In the past 25 years, Bridge Communities has helped almost 600 families cross the bridge from homelessness to hope and self-sufficiency.  For more information, please visit www.bridgecommunities.org.

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