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Our founder Deacon Sarah Tracy gets a hug from a SMH guest.
SMH Founder Passes Away
With heavy hearts St. Margaret's House announces the passing of our founder Deacon Sarah Tracy.
The following is an excerpt from the story of SMH and Sarah Tracy.
In 1988-89, Sarah Tracy began to dream the dream that would become St. Margaret's House. The idea grew out of her experience as a deacon of the church working with low -income women in central South Bend. She recognized that many who sought her help lived in housing in need of repair. Some families who struggled to pay their utilities spent time at the downtown library to keep warm. “I just saw that women needed a place to go in the daytime.” she remembers, “a place to cool off in summer, to be warm in the winter; a place to be safe and comfortable, to bathe, to wash their clothes, to bring their little children.”
She soon discovered that the building behind the Cathedral of St. James had a large unused first floor space with an air conditioner. To say that the property didn’t look like much is an understatement. It was a large room full of forgotten discarded odds and ends. The concrete floor still had holes where the printing presses of the former owner had been bolted to the floor. But the space was generous, the room was full of light, and the old air conditioner worked. To someone who sees possibilities instead of obstacles, it looked like a winner. Sarah had found the place. Now she needed only to figure out how to transform it into the comfortable, hospitable place she had imagined.
With assistance from Dean Robert Bizzaro she got permission from the members of St. James Cathedral to use the space free of charge. She enlisted the support of Bishop Frank Gray and with his help she successfully sought a grant from the national Episcopal Church for remodeling costs. She assembled a group of women to serve as the first board of directors. Those early leaders brought the whole project to fruition and in the summer of 1990.