Asylee Women’s Enterprise (A.W.E.)

Begun in Baltimore in 2011 by Catholic Religious Sisters, including the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, Asylee Women’s Enterprise provides housing to women seeking asylum with a safe place to call home, a support system in which to access critical social services and  a community that will accompany them in their journey to safety and freedom

Asylee Women Enterprise (A.W.E.) is a joint project of a number of Communities of Women Religious. Among the founding group are the Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore, Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart, School Sisters of Notre Dame, Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Sisters of Bon Secours, Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia and Sisters of Mercy.

AWE_logoTheir Mission Statement reads:

Asylee Women Enterprise helps women seeking asylum to rebuild their lives and their spirits. Asylee Women Enterprise (AWE) provides transitional housing, companionship and community to women seeking asylum by offering a safe and nurturing home, opportunities to connect with women in the larger community and each other.

Typical of ministries that Sisters suddenly find themselves immersed in, the story of A.W.E. began with one person who needed assistance. Had the Benedictines of Baltimore not opened their doors to her, “Sara” would have been forced to stay at a homeless shelter. Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma estimates that more than one third of the female clients are homeless or living in a dangerous situation.

While homeless shelters are an option, asylum seekers bring a unique set of circumstances which shelters are not equipped to handle. There are issues of

  • Culture,
  • Language, and
  • The emotional struggle of leaving one’s homeland without support

Asylum seekers do not receive any government assistance until they have received asylum, a long and difficult process.

A.W.E. provides:

  • Housing: We find transitional housing for women seeking asylum. In order to be able to rebuild their lives and their spirit we all must have a safe and nurturing home. Housing is arranged for each woman based upon her needs and availability.
  • Sisters’ Co-Op: Through the co-op, women seeking asylum earn a small stipend, engage in social activity and learn new skills. The items made by the Sisters’ Co-Op are sold at local places of worship, neighborhood festivals and on-line.
  • Community: The asylum process is long and lonely. AWE volunteers stand with the women through the long immigration process. We drive them to attorney visits, doctor appointments, ESL classes and, if they chose, we attend Immigration Court with them.

Asylee Women has the following needs:

  • DRIVER needed one evening a week to take women from St. Francis to Essex Community College, wait, and then bring them home
  • COACHES/MENTORS to coach women on job seeking or call them in the evening to support them (1 hour weekly commitment)
  • EVENT VOLUNTEERS to help plan and then attend networking and donor appreciation events
  • HOSPITALITY ASSISTANTS to create a warm and caring environment for women as they strive to build community together (Tuesday and Thursday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm)
  •  DRIVERS are needed to bring women back and forth to the Co-op on Tuesdays and Thursdays
  • ADVOCATES to meet with politicians to make them aware of the needs of the asylee community

Please contact Sr. Anne at if you are interested in learning more about these volunteer opportunities or know someone who is!


To learn more about the organization, what they do, how they do it and how you can join our efforts to help click here A.W.E.

The Grey Nuns