Breaking News Bar
posted: 3/5/2013 1:54 PM

Bridge Communities to honor two women at luncheon

Success - Article sent! close

By Heather Wachter
Bridge Communities

Two extraordinary women will be honored at "Celebrating Women Transforming Lives," a Bridge Communities luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, April 26 at Danada House, 3S501 Naperville Road, Wheaton. Community activist Mary Ellen Durbin of Lisle, former executive director of the People's Resource Center in Wheaton, will be recognized for her humanitarian efforts to transform the lives of other women. Sue Principe, a graduate of Bridge Communities' transitional program for the homeless, will be recognized for her courage and strength in overcoming homelessness and domestic abuse and her resolve to make a difference in the lives of other women in need.

Registration for the lunch starts at 11 a.m. Tickets cost $50 per person and are available at or by calling (630) 545-0610, Ext. 19.

Durbin believed her purpose in life was to correct some part of the imbalance and injustice that exists. In 1989, she and her husband, Ron, and the faith communities of St. Joan of Arc and the Benedictine Sisters launched Daybreak of Lisle. Today, they support five apartments and have helped 79 homeless families restore their lives. Following a professional career dedicated to helping people in poverty, Durbin retired from People's Resource Center in 2010. Bridge Communities believes that while there are poverty and social injustice, Durbin will never be truly retired. She will receive the Transforming Lives Award.

"Her strength is her passion for this work," said Mark Milligan, co-founder of Bridge Communities. "She has simply dedicated her life to helping people in poverty."

Following years of moving from place to place with an abusive husband, Principe and her children sought refuge at a domestic violence shelter. After stabilizing their lives, Principe and her family were referred to Bridge Communities. She drove a school bus to support her children while taking classes at College of DuPage, demonstrating to her mentors her potential and motivation to change her life. With their support and encouragement, Principe earned her degree in human services and now works as a homeless services specialist, helping others in need just as she was helped.

"Sue always had a heart for service," said her case manager Molly Howieson. "Even in the midst of being in our program, she was volunteering through her church and supporting women leaving abusive relationships. I am very proud of her and how she pays it forward now assisting those now in housing crisis ... she is truly empathic to the scary situations her callers are in."

This year's luncheon will feature keynote speaker Mark Milligan, co-founder of Bridge Communities. In 1988, Milligan and his friend, Bob Wahlgren, agreed that while they couldn't stop homelessness, perhaps they could help just one family. Landlords were reluctant to rent them an apartment and social service agencies were unsupportive, but they were convinced they could make a difference in the life of a homeless family. Twenty-five years and almost 600 families later, Bridge Communities has become a leader in service to homeless families and is assisted by countless volunteers and supporters.

Karen Wells, president and chief executive officer of The AIW Group and owner of The Goddard School, will serve as the luncheon's master of ceremonies. With more than 20 years of leadership experience in Fortune 500 companies, she most recently was a member of the US Leadership Team as vice president of strategy for McDonald's USA, LLC. During her career, Wells was identified as a "Rising Star" by Fortune Magazine, selected as one of Chicago's Top 25 Women by Rolling Out magazine, and featured as "A Remarkable Person" by Chicago Tribune. Wells retired from McDonald's in 2012 to start a new chapter in her life. She founded the AIW Group consulting firm, and she and her husband own and operate The Goddard School in Plainfield.

For more information about the event and the women being honored, call Jennie Gates at (630) 545-0610, Ext. 19. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.