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Sister Audrey Quinn

When I was a little girl growing up on the North Side of Pittsburgh I always dreamed of being a cowgirl, a nun or a movie star. Though these vocation choices may seem disconnected, to me they highlighted my life-long sense of adventure. I gave up on being a cowgirl because I’d never ridden a horse and being a movie star was a bit too glamorous for me.

At St. Boniface School and then at St. Benedict Academy, the Benedictine Sisters intrigued me. They combined discipline and kindness and tried to bring out the best in us. I sensed that teaching was just part of their lives and there was something deeper that connected them.

My “nun adventure” began when I entered the Community in 1959 after high school. I had no clue what I was getting into but jumped in with both feet. I didn’t enter the Community to be a teacher, a cook, a nurse…just to be a Sister. My first assignment was to teach 1st grade at St. Athanasius…now that was an adventure!

We were given our yearly assignments on August 15th. I never knew what the assignment was going to be but was excited and eager to open that envelope. Through 25 years I taught every grade from 1st through 11th at St. Teresa, St. Athanasius, St. Peter, St. Gertrude in Vandergrift, Immaculate Conception in Connellsville, Donora Catholic and St. Benedict Academy. I can’t pick out my favorite mission or school. Each one was unique and gives me happy memories.

When the Academy closed I set out on another adventure that led me to Greene County….one of the two poorest counties in Pennsylvania.

From 1990 to 2008, I was a foster mom to over 160 kids ranging in age from birth to 16. Our kids’ pictures line the shelves and their works of art decorate the walls. Some of our kids have been adopted into wonderful families and others have returned to their birth families. We keep in touch with many of them.

I volunteer at our local food bank by running Produce to People, a distribution program of free food to eligible people. We serve about 350 families.  I volunteer at St. Ann Soup Kitchen with great cooks.  I’m on the clean-up detail.

Each year since 2000, through our “Heart ‘n Sole” project, Sister Sue and I have collected and distributed 400 to 500 pairs of new shoes to kids in Greene County to begin school. We collect new backpacks and, with the help of church groups who fill them with gifts, we distribute them at Christmas to kids in need. We distribute food baskets at Christmas and Easter. Sometimes our house looks like a storage facility as people or groups collect and drop off items for us to distribute. Several scouts have chosen to work with us as they earn their Eagle Scout award. They’ve helped us by collecting food, school supplies and baby products.

I’ve volunteered with Habitat for Humanity on the “All-Women Insulating Team” and on the family selection committee.  I’ve served on the Greene County Human Services Board, Greene County Children and Youth Board, Food Bank Board, and Catholic Charities Advisory Committee.

I am a Penn State Master Gardner and seem to have a special crop of weeds every year! This year our vegetable garden has grown and we plan to share it with the soup kitchen guests.

I have been Director of The Greene County Salvation Army since 2008.  I am responsible for emergency assistance such as rent/lodging assistance, utility assistance, emergency food, burial assistance and disaster services.  I run our free clothing/household/furniture warehouse.

I am responsible for The Salvation Army-Greene County Red Kettle Campaign, Back to School Clothing Program, Project Bundle-Up, Christmas Treasures for Children and Summer Camp Allegheny experiences.

My life is an adventure…I’m glad I didn’t become a cowgirl or movie star…how boring by comparison!

 

 

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