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April 2013

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In This Issue
A Broken-Open Heart
Resilient and Self Reliant
Resurrection Story
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A 'Broken-Open' Heart
"I am drawn daily by the grace and courage of women in poverty," says Sister Betty Smoyer.
"When I entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1966, I thought I was only going to be a teacher," Sister Betty says. "I couldn't imagine how my world would expand."
Sister Betty did, indeed,  teach for a full 20 years. But she also worked 23 additional years as a campus minister. Now, Sister Betty wears three hats: assistant coordinator of volunteers, guest services staff member and kitchen manager for St. Margaret's House. But, really, she says, she offers the ministry of presence from a 'broken-open' heart.
A Dollar, a Daisy and a Box of Tissue
Poverty is a matriarchal culture. Impoverished women are often left to fend for themselves while raising children.
St.Margaret's House in South Bend, Ind., responds to the immediate needs of women caught in generational poverty. It also offers an acclaimed self- empowerment program known as Bridges Out of Poverty. The program identifies the hidden rules of class structure. It also provides a lens through which the women can reframe their life stories, rework relationships and uncover destructive attitudes in order to build new lives.
"We welcome each participant with a dollar, a flower and a box of tissue," said Sister Betty Smoyer, a staff member at the women's day center since 2009.
The tissues dry tears as a participant faces difficulties in order to move on. The dollar bill is traded for a $5 bill if a participant attends at least three classes. The flower is an expression of beauty that each woman finds within herself.
Resilient and Self Reliant
Like the women themselves, each scarf is distinctly colorful and unique.
As a supplement to the Bridges Out of Poverty program, St. Margaret's offers Steps to Success, which provides such practical job skills as how to create realistic goals, write a resume and interview effectively. Both programs promote healthy self-assessment, personal resilience and self-reliance. Aspects of both programs are integrated into St. Margaret's Silk Creations -- an art project that provides women an opportunity to foster creative talents, develop leadership skills and enhance work and interpersonal skills. The women create and sell hand-painted silk scarves, ties and cards.
Connor-Ryan's Resurrection Story
Connor-Ryan at work on one of her scarf creations at St. Margaret's House. 
Connor-Ryan was living on the streets of South Bend in August of 2011. Desperate and alone, she walked down busy Lafayette Blvd. in search of a large, fast-moving truck that could kill her. It was then that she happened to notice the St. Margaret's House sign. It was not easy for her to seek help. It took her four days and four tries to walk in. Once inside, she was so afraid that she wanted to hide. But she was instantly welcomed and invited to join the lunch line. Today, Connor-Ryan is living at a shelter, working as an artist in the St. Margaret's Silk Creations project and has secured financial backing to start a family center in downtown South Bend.