Written on: October 7, 2019
Thank you to Sr. Terry Shields, MSHR for your kind words for Sister Eileen White! We are proud of her service to this important ministry.
Over ten years ago, a committed and somewhat naïve group of us, set out to tackle the issues of Human Trafficking in a tangible way. We were going to provide a residential program for women ensnared by Human Trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. We got our building, we begged for money and we spruced it up to be a beautiful home. And then we waited for what seemed like an eternity.
Finally we got the call. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had five young, Latina women they had rescued. Would we take them?
Our hearts fluttered with excitement.
Further preparations were made until we realized that none of us involved, at the time, spoke Spanish. What were we to do? Who do we know that speaks Spanish?
I thought then of Sister Eileen White, as I remembered that she had taught for years in Peru and was fluent in Spanish. It would be a natural fit, as Eileen had administrative skills and had been on the organizing committee of the Justice and Peace group that had stirred the flames of our involvement in Human Trafficking.
And, more importantly, she was known to be a good listener with a compassionate heart.
Eileen agreed that she would be happy to assist us and as they say, the rest is history.
She came to an empty house to welcome the women and she, along with them, became the heart and soul of Dawn’s Place. Eileen met the women with love and respect, and in their own way, they returned it. She never judged and always honored their confidentiality. While Eileen was initially drawn to Dawn’s Place by her love of Latin Americans, she poured out that same compassion to all the Women of Dawn’s Place who came to us from varied ethnicities and religions.
Eileen was won over by the women and the challenge they presented and thus stayed on for 9-years as the Residential Administrator and Coordinator of Volunteers, and still offers her services as a volunteer, even though she now carries the heavy mantle of leadership within her religious community and a national conference of Catholic Sisters.
Anyone who works with people that have been highly traumatized know the demands of this involvement. Eileen, buoyed by her own spiritual quest and the charism of her religious sisters, labored on through the good times and the trials that make Dawn’s Place so special.
Not only do we honor Eileen, but we wish to thank her community, the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart who allowed her to join us, and supported her, and the Women of Dawn’s Place, in what I call this noble venture.
And, so representing Dawn’s Place, and all those whose lives you touched, as you shared the great gift of the very special person you are, it is with great honor I call you forward Eileen, to be recognized and receive this honor, a symbol of our thanks, of which there can never be enough.