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Sister Nancy's Note

February 14, 2024

A Note from Sister Nancy Downing, CEO

This blog is part of a monthly reflection series from Sister Nancy Downing - CEO, St. Ann's Center. 
Find more of these reflections by visiting the archive: Sister Nancy's Note.

Dear Friends,

What a joy and a privilege this past month has Headshot - Sister Mary Bader with autumn treesbeen – as St. Ann’s Center’s staff, Board, clients, and supporters like you have welcomed me into the role of CEO. As I mentioned during our community get-together last month, I have truly never felt this welcomed in my life! Thank you.

Allow me to thank you also, for your support of the women and children who journey through St. Ann’s Center on their path to healing and hope. St. Ann’s is a special place and has a special mission, fulfilled by an incredible staff, and powered by your caring support.

One moment last month particularly reinforced this for me, during a Pop-Up Shop organized for St. Ann’s clients by FOX45 Baltimore anchor Patrice Sanders. Patrice and her team had collected 700 items of clothes, shoes, handbags, jewelry, perfume, and toiletries in order to create an on-site shopping experience for our moms in our auditorium.

Patrice Sanders and volunteers at St. Ann's Center

It was great to see our moms have a fun experience together while St. Ann’s staff cared for their children. Even more special was when one resident’s young daughter, who was getting a little restless while patiently waiting for her mom to finish up shopping, came and sat on my lap.  After a minute or two, she looked up at me and then rested her head on my shoulder. 

This simple gesture stirred my heart.

Mothers and their children come to St. Ann’s with a range of vulnerabilities, struggles, needs, hopes, and dreams. No two families are alike – but one thing we can offer everyone is the chance to open themselves to safe, caring connection, when they are ready.

This takes courage. And although we cannot fix every situation a family may be experiencing, we can always offer to gently hold their shared challenges and struggles, and be with them, to help them be okay in the moment, and to help them know and feel that “I'm okay; I’m safe now; I can rest my head here.”

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart, for partnering with us in  this work and the continuation of our mission started 164 years ago by the Daughters of Charity. I so look forward to getting to know you more in 2024!


Sister Nancy Downing, CND
CEO, St. Ann's Center for Children, Youth and Families