Category Archives: NunsontheBus2018

Travel Log: Raleigh and Durham

Travel Log: Raleigh and Durham

Sister Julie Krahl, CSA
October 29, 2018

Raleigh, North Carolina

At 9:00 the bus pulled in front of a nice-looking, small business-type building, the Women’s Center of Wake County. Its nondescript look denied its role as ‘home’ for women looking for safety and stabilization.  With the leadership of Brace Boone, III the Women’s Center is a day program aiming to prevent and end the homelessness of women. We met welcoming staff working in rooms made beautiful and calm by the art and design. We saw spaces that addressed the physical and mental health concerns of the women, spaces that held safe their personal belongings, spaces for calm and comfort, spaces with a piano, spaces for eating plentiful and nutritious meals. We heard of programs providing clothing, cleanliness, coffee and laughter. We heard of ever-expanding resource and revenue sources for the program and the individual women; individuals, businesses, HUD.  There is no space or intent for the women to sleep inside, they are a day program.  Yet, women sleep outside at night.

And we met the women.  Dorothy and Kathy spoke of warmth, multiple points of ease and access to local resources connecting them to hopes and plans for recovering and for securing life.  And this was ‘home’ until then.  Our hour in that building brought us to know and feel that this was not a simple space but a thriving yet struggling community creatively and powerfully taking care of each other.  The Women’s Center of Wake County truly is a responsible program working successfully for the common good.  A program worthy of the support of our taxes.

We walked out of the building to a rally in front of the bus that featured inspiring talks from Brace, Sr. Simone, Sr. Donna, and Rep. David Price (NC-04). What we heard further highlighted the need for this program, the need for reasonable taxes for responsible programs.  We present further understood the need to vote for officials that have the willingness and courage to 1) work for progressive taxation and 2) expand programs that work for the common good of ‘we, the people’   And the bus grew with more signatures.


Durham, North Carolina

Our afternoon began with a sunny walk in a garden. It looked lovely and simple enough with a variety of trees and flowers and plants.  Then subtleties of organization became apparent: plowed rows of plants raised to efficiently improve the irrigation system, food plants in stages of harvest.  Then the inter-related complexity wowed us: solar panels on the green house, flowering plants for the bee hives across the street, compact and nutritious food sources, diverse vegetation encouraging volunteer care, old bicycle tires beautifully repurposed to support sunflowers and climbing berries, composting organic waste from the nearby food distribution center, a community contributing to and receiving many benefits.  Awesome!  And symbolically representative of the site we were visiting:  Farmer Foodshare.


It looked lovely and simple enough: cool building, neat trucks, and friendly people.  Then we noted the subtleties of organization: efficacious use of historical space, flexible scheduling and appropriate tools and resources to manage the ebb and flow of the bounty and the needs.  Then three women shared their perspectives with us and the inter-related, interdependent complexity of the three partnering social service agencies wowed us. With food access and food justice as paramount to their work, Gini Bell, Quisha  Mallette, Camryn Smith   explained how they organized the community to build pathways out of food insecurity.   They created a robust community-response to the multiple identified food challenges with avenues for cooperative economics.  It was expansive.  Gathering, storing, distributing local-grown and prepared foods; connecting farmers, neighbors, seniors, school children; educating for nutrition, sources of food, food tastes, ecology; remodeling and utilizing vacant neighborhood buildings; securing local and federal (ie. USDA) sources of revenue, employment, community involvement. The result—reliable, consistent access to fresh, diverse food provided and enjoyed by the community through their own ingenuity, efforts, and resources.

And we were awed. What a garden!  What powerful community action!  What a responsible program!


The nuns and the leaders walked outside, and with the crowd gathered, shared goals and new understandings of ‘we, the people’ successfully working for the common good. We encouraged voting to get reasonable taxes to develop responsible programs.   And the bus grew with more signatures.

View more photos from Raleigh and Durham.

Travel Log: Savannah

Travel Log: Savannah

Sister Cathy Bauer, OSB
October 30, 2018

When the rally ended at the State House in Columbia, SC, we boarded the bus to travel to Savannah, GA. On our three hour trip, we had lunch, shared stories, rested, and prepared for our town hall in Savannah.

A little after 5pm, we arrived at ConneXion Church and were greeted by Rev. J. Michael Culbreth. While we ate a light dinner, people began to arrive for the town hall meeting.  It was great seeing them to go over to check out the bus and many were taking selfies with the bus.

The town hall began at 6 pm with introductions and a dramatization of the 30 years effects of the passage of tax policies in the 1980s under President Reagan. Each sister had a part representing twenty percent of the population and another sister was the top one percent. By taking steps we were able to demonstrate who benefited and how the inequality grew. Then Sister Simone introduced the new tax law (passed Dec, 2017) and what will occur for each economic quintile, the one percent, and corporations. Also, with less taxes received, our federal programs that assist families and communities with necessities such as food and shelter will be cut.

The people attending the meeting shared what they are seeing here in Savannah. The first story shared brought tears as we heard that a local resident Ms. Ross  just died because she was unable to afford her asthma medication.

Others shared that population in the city of Savannah is 169,000 with 4,500 working individuals who are homeless. Tourism has taken the affordable housing and added many  low paying jobs. There was also much concern around education that the increase of private schools for those who can afford them has let the public schools to go down. Affordable healthcare at the general hospital and the need for Medicaid expansion in Georgia were also mentioned.

After this town hall, I believe Hope is people coming together.

View more photos from this event here.

Travel Log: Apopka

Travel Blog: Apopka

Sister Mary Ellen Lacy, DC
October 31, 2018

On this beautiful, sunny day, we rolled into Apopka, Florida to visit the Hope CommUnity Center. Hope CommUnity Center is a service learning community dedicated to the empowerment of Central Florida’s immigrant and working poor communities through Education, Advocacy and Spiritual Growth.

When we stepped off the bus, we were greeted by a throng of joyful young people who were holding justice-advocacy signs in the shape of mariposas (butterflies).  Sr. Ann Kendrick, the Director of the Center, asked the young people to take us by the hand as they led us to the Campesino Gardens. Salvador, a six foot  young man took my hand and as we walked, he shared his desire for immigration justice.  At the Gardens, we saw that people of color can access fresh food and engage in respect and reaping the earth’s bounty.

We then proceeded to the Center’s main building, where the signs were placed in the front of a room and we were invited to sit.  Sr. Ann emceed the conversational portion of the visit and we learned of the various services provided at the center.  We were treated to a visual rendition of the plight of DACA (Deferred action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients performed by local teens.  Their humble, raw emotion was profound and their displayed experiences were jarring. My heart broke as these young people taught us so much about the trauma of rejection and parental abandonment by deportation.  Still, I felt joy because they were able to deal with unjust pain in a creative, honest and hope filled way.  In that sense, we should all be so blessed.

The Center also provides social services for aspiring immigrants, students and unaccompanied minors. They partner with several local businesses to empower the immigrants they serve. For instance, we learned about the credit union that accepted good character as collateral instead of possessions and the health clinic that treated everyone with dignity.

Hope CommUnity Center has created a community that values every person and restores the dignity that God intended for all of us to live.  Hope Center is precisely what it claims to be.

Afterwards, we held a press conference where Sister Simone summarized the visit.  Sr. Beth LeValley, a Sister of St. Joseph, shared her impressions of the holy ground upon which we stood.  Other members of the community reiterated their programs and dreams for an equitable economy.  Everyone was struck by the compassion, collaboration and community that the Hope Center displayed.

After the speech portion was over, the young people found creative means to sign the bus. Everything these kids did or said was founded in hope and joy.  As we drove away, I was happy to know that the next generation coming up is going to be proud, joy filled and creative. They are going to need to be.

View more photos from this event here.

Travel Log: Miami

Travel Log: Miami

Sister Mary Howard Johnstone, OP
November 1, 2018

Early this morning, on this feast of all Saints, we gathered near the water for our contemplative prayer.  As always, the prayer time together fueled our journey for the day.

Along the road to Mar-a-Lago we have heard over and over again the concerns for adequate, affordable housing.  The Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corporation responds to those concerns as a developer and manager of affordable and safe housing for seniors across our country.  The EHDOC supports federal policies that advocate for benefits and the highest quality of life for seniors.

We had the privilege to visit  one of the EHDOC sites in Miami, Florida where we learned from Steve Protulis, President and  CEO, and Gwendolyn Mazyck, manager, that no money is availlable for seniors with limited income.  The EHDOC has 8 buildings in Florida, housing and providing services for 900- 1,000 seniors. Applications for subsidized housing were recently opened up and two thousand people lined the street beginning at 5:00 a.m.  This was just for applications as there were no vacancies at the time.  The average wait for affordable subsidized housing for seniors is currently 4-8 years.  The tax law with its increase of debt threatens this life-giving program with a loss of much needed funds.

The highlight of our visit was the time spent with the residents who greatly appreciated  the housing opportunity and services provided.  We were treated to a Latin lunch.  It was not unusual to be sharing a table with a person originally from Peru, one from Argentina, one from Cuba, and another from El Salvador.  The group translations all included Spanish, English and Russian.

The EHDOC site in Miami is truly mission driven with passionate people providing “Housing with a Heart.”

We then participated in a Lobby visit and rally at the office of Carlos
Curbelo, U.S. Representative for Florida’s 26th Congressional District.  A few of the Nuns on the Bus joined three of Curbelo’s District constituents for a lobby visit – Daniel Gibson from Allegheny Franciscan Ministries,  France Francois, and Lorenzo Canizares.  We inquired why Representative Curbelo’s rhetoric of care for the people and their needs did not match his voting record.  He had voted yes to the Tax Law even though it shifts money to those at the top of the economic ladder and threatens programs vital to his people.  His rather defensive DC aide (arriving 20 minutes late) defended Curbelo’s vote with statistics highly questioned by those present.  Sister Simone was prepared with data affirming the need for our Tax Justice Truth Tour.

After the lobby visit, an enthusiastic group gathered for a rally.  All of the speakers urged those present to hold their elected officials accountable and to take their values to the ballot box next Tuesday.

The day gifted us with personal, grassroots stories highlighting the need for “reasonable revenue for responsible programs.”