By ERIKA ANDERSON, Special To The Bulletin | Published October 25, 2012
The merger of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Georgia and the Sullivan Center brings together two organizations with similar missions of helping people achieve self-sufficiency by providing financial, material and educational support.
The Sullivan Center was founded 30 years ago by Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Marie Sullivan as an expansion of the Christian Emergency Help Center, working with clients to help them find ways to become self-supporting. Sister Marie believes every person deserves dignity and respect while going through a difficult time. Due to the economic climate and the reduction of funding received by the Sullivan Center, Sister Marie found an organization with a similar mission that would continue to serve those who were so dear to her.
“There’s a dignity that whoever walks in that door, no matter what condition they’re in, they’re a person, and they have dignity. And if we have the funds to keep going and to keep doing this, that’s my biggest hope,” Sister Marie said. “I have started and helped people and had other people pick up what I started and run with it and develop their own agencies. What we’re given, we have to give to others.”
Terry Trout, board chairperson for the Sullivan Center, is excited about the merger and its potential for those the center serves.
“We know that the organization is in great hands with the Society,” she said. “The Society’s CEO, board and staff have opened their hearts as well as their arms and embraced Sister Marie, the board, staff and clients of the Sullivan Center. This will be a wonderful merger between two prominent organizations with similar missions in our great community.”
St. Vincent de Paul Georgia has been serving Georgians in need for more than 100 years by providing services and programs, including financial, material and educational support. The organization has 73 conferences (volunteer groups), the majority based in parishes, 38 food pantries, 10 thrift stores and five family support centers in Georgia. The programs and services it provides are similar to the Sullivan Center, and those currently being served by the Sullivan Center will continue being served at its location on Dill Street in Atlanta. Sister Marie will remain in an advisory role helping with the transition.
“Sister Sullivan has been a blessing to thousands of Atlanta residents providing help when needed,” said John Berry, CEO and executive director of St. Vincent de Paul Georgia. “It is our desire to continue her legacy and what she began in Atlanta 30 years ago. We understand how important the Sullivan Center is to Sister Marie, and St. Vincent de Paul will make her very proud helping those who are in need and providing hope in order for them to achieve self-sufficiency along their journey.”