News & Events> Leviticus Cornerstone Award Recognizes Commitment to Community Development & Social Justice
The Ursulines of the Eastern Province, a community of Catholic religious women engaged in education ministries extending from elementary to college level, was awarded the Leviticus Cornerstone Award in recognition of its longstanding support of community development in service to low-income individuals and families in the tri-state area.
The award was presented at the Leviticus Annual Meeting on May 25th by Board President Cathy Rowan. In her remarks for the presentation, Ms. Rowan recalled how the Ursulines of the Eastern Province were one of the 27 original founders of Leviticus in 1983 and that the group, along with four communities in the same province, remains active Members and Associate investors to this day.
Over the years the Ursulines have offered volunteer leadership service to Leviticus by providing community members to serve on the Board of Directors, as well as on staff. Stephanie Wilson, OSU, and Madeline Welch, OSU, both served as board members, and presently Geraldine Kennedy, OSU, serves as Leviticus’ Board Secretary. Pat Russell, OSU, who is currently a member of the Ursuline Provincial Council, worked for eight years as Leviticus’ Loan Officer, underwriting almost $7 million in loans for affordable housing and community facility projects in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area.
The Ursulines have also used the community’s land assets to directly address the shortfall of affordable rental housing for the economically poor within New York City.
On the campus of The Academy of Mount St. Ursula in the Bedford Park section of the Bronx, the Ursulines leased land to nonprofit Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation to construct the twin buildings of Serviam Gardens and Serviam Towers. The buildings, which opened in 2009, provide 240 units of affordable rental housing to seniors earning 50% or less of area median income, which is considered very low-income according to federal standards.
In addition to several energy conservation features included in the buildings’ design and the use of building materials made of recycled content, Serviam features a rooftop garden terrace, a wellness center, a library, game room and exercise room.
“The Ursulines of the Eastern Province exemplify the spirit that Leviticus’ founders instilled in our Fund to see the possession of economic resources as a gift to be shared and put in service to the economically poor,” said Greg Maher, Executive Director of Leviticus. “It is an understanding of resource stewardship that affirms the most basic human need for shelter and a commitment to change injustices within our society.”
“It is an honor for me to accept the Cornerstone Award today on behalf of the Ursulines of the Eastern Province,” said Jane Finnerty, OSU, Ursuline Provincial. “It is our privilege to have been one of the groups of founding members who in 1983 had a vision for justice and took a step toward that vision by lending in communities where resources were scarce.”
“We thank those members of the Fund and all who serve on the board and staff, especially Leviticus’ Board President Cathy Rowan and Executive Director Greg Maher for the successes and new initiatives that are occurring within the Fund today,” Sr. Jane added. “We are very proud to accept this award.”
Founded in 1535 in Italy by St. Angela Merici, the Ursulines established a strong presence as educators in both Europe and North America. Province members currently serve in four states in the United States and internationally on six continents. Ursuline ministries include colleges, secondary schools and parish schools, in addition to work in the fields of law, corporate responsibility, health and hospice care, and service to the aged, homeless and persons with AIDS.
The Leviticus Cornerstone Award was created in 2015 as a way to annually recognize a person or organization that has made an extraordinary contribution to the Fund’s mission or to the wider work of promoting poverty relief and social equity through community development.
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