Providence Family Services Volunteer Sister Dorothy Gartland receives Guerin Outreach Ministries Leadership and Advocacy Award
What does a woman who spent her life bringing about education and justice do in her retirement? Well if it’s Sister Dorothy Gartland of Providence Family Services in Chicago, she does more of the same.
Sister Dorothy, 81, a member of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in Indiana, spent her younger years as a school teacher, a principal and a religious superior. She then went on to co-found the 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago, where she dealt with issues from poverty and the nuclear arms race to equal rights for women.
Since her “retirement” more than 10 years ago, Sister Dorothy stepped into the full-time volunteer position of supervisor of the after-school homework help program at Providence Family Services in Chicago. In this position, she recruits volunteer tutors from area colleges and high schools and coordinates the after-school program, including tutoring herself when she is needed.
Providence Family Services (PFS) is a not-for-profit sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Providence and serves the West Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, a population that is largely lower-income and Spanish speaking. In addition to homework help for children, PFS provides reduced-cost bilingual counseling and English language classes, and computer and citizenship classes to area residents.
Why does she spend her retirement continuing to work?
“Besides believing that what we do is important and a matter of justice, it helps keep me in touch with young people — college and high school students — and helps me keep from stereotyping them. They are wonderful,” Sister Dorothy said.
Now Providence Family Services and its parent organization Guerin Outreach Ministries are showing their appreciation to Sister Dorothy for her years of dedication by presenting her with the 2011 Guerin Outreach Ministries Leadership and Advocacy Award.
“Sister Dorothy deserves this award, and a gold medal and a trip around the world for all she does for all of us here!” said Sister Patty Fillenwarth, founder and director of Providence Family Services and president of Guerin Outreach Ministries.
“Sister Dorothy always goes above and beyond what anyone else in ‘her golden years’ needs to be doing. And she does it happily and with great love for those with whom she works,” Sister Patty said.
“It has been very rewarding knowing that I’m doing something that helps the children in our program achieve academically, while at the same time helping them become aware of their own gifts and just how special they are,” Sister Dorothy said.
“Very ordinary” are the words that Sister Dorothy uses to describe herself. But to those who know her work and dedication, “extraordinary” seems the better description.
About the Sisters of Providence
The Sisters of Providence, a congregation of 214 women religious, with 300 Providence Associates, collaborate with others to create a more just and hope-filled world through prayer, education, service and advocacy. The Sisters of Providence have their motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, located just northwest of downtown Terre Haute, Ind., which is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840. Today, Sisters of Providence minister in 13 states, the District of Columbia and Asia, through works of love, mercy and justice. More information about the Sisters of Providence and their ministries can be found at SistersofProvidence.org.