The DC and Montgomery County regions held this year’s second renovation project on Oct. 13 at St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth and Families. Our task was to give a facelift to several items on Sister Mary Bader’s priority list, mostly repainting rooms for teenage mothers and their children. We had a record turnout of 32 volunteers—members, spouses, candidates, and friends.
The day was organized by Tom Gaspard and Tim Demaree who split the group i into teams for the work in each room and area. Sister Mary, the St. Ann’s director, started us off with a prayer after coffee and donuts in the morning, guided us as needed through the large complex, and led us in grace over lunch provided by members and friends of the Order of Malta.
Lunch also included a history lesson as Sister Mary recalled St. Ann’s establishment by three Daughters of Charity in 1860. She showed us a copy of the 1863 legislation signed by President Abraham Lincoln that chartered what was then known as St. Ann’s Infant Asylum, Washington’s first institution “for the maintenance and support of foundlings and infant orphan and half orphan children, and also to provide for deserving, indigent, and unprotected females during their confinement and childbirth." For the next 83 years St. Ann's occupied the old British Embassy at 24th and K streets, before expanding to its present quarters in Hyattsville. Throughout this history, St. Ann’s has cared for abandoned children and unwed mothers of all races and religions, many of whom have no place else to turn. In later years, services were increased beyond basic needs to include education (such as life and parenting skills, and a GED), job training, daycare, a Head Start program, and transitional housing—all on campus.
St. Ann’s is clearly special to the Order of Malta’s mission. (We also learned that Sister Mary’s father was a member.) Our regions visit St. Ann’s five times each year for holiday parties where the moms and kids get added special attention on the path to improving their life situations. We were pleased to add this outstanding work to our growing list of renovation projects—opportunities for very real hands-on work for our Order.