Update: Sister Grace Simpson completed her ministry at the Sister Visitor Center in 2014, and now volunteers twice a week with the St. John Center for Homeless Men in Louisville.
The Sister Visitor Center on Louisville’s west side is an emergency assistance program that provides help with the most basic of human needs: food, clothing, assistance with rent, utilities, medicines, furniture, etc.
The Center was founded in 1969 to help meet the needs of the poor living in three West Louisville neighborhoods. Now an agency of Catholic Charities, Sister Visitor today serves between 700 and 900 households every month.
Located at the corner of Market and 22nd Streets, Sister Visitor is staffed with five full-time and two part-time employees and a number of caring and dedicated volunteers.
The Sister Visitor staff includes five Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph – caseworkers Sisters Grace Simpson, Michele Intravia and Maureen O’Neill, receptionist Sister Margaret Marie Greenwell and secretary Sister Clara Johnson. Sister Grace has ministered at Sister Visitor for 23 years, Sister Margaret Marie and Sister Clara both for 14 years, Sister Michele for one year and Sister Maureen for two months.
The Sister Visitor “clients” have nothing but kind words for the Center, especially for sisters who give them a helping hand and words of encouragement. “I don’t think I’d be able to make it sometimes without them,” one man said as he looked across the room at the sisters. “They have helped me through a lot of hard times.”
A young woman said, “They have really helped me. I had just gotten out of the hospital and they were there to help with my medications and clothes. They even helped with my electric and water bills. They are all so nice.”
All of the comments eventually led back to Sister Grace, the 23-year veteran caseworker. “She is really special,” said one client. “Without her help and encouragement, a lot of people simply would not be here today.”
Volunteers Mike and Linda Horlander said in unison, “Sister Grace is an absolute angel. She’s dedicated, and she has the patience of Job. Doing volunteer work here, we’ve had to learn to have lots of patience and we’ve learned to do that from her. She’s also taught us to look at life in the Christian way.”
Volunteer Jim Volpert says Sister Grace is quite talented on the telephone. “She can do more on a telephone than anyone I’ve ever seen,” he says. “She knows everyone at the water department and at the gas and electric company. She knows them all by their first names, and she knows how to get people the help they need to get their utilities turned back on. When she retires, she is going to be hard to replace!”
“Sister Grace has been with us for over 23 years and does a wonderful job,” says Sister Rebecca Miles, SCN, director of Sister Visitor Center. “She does a lot of work with the seniors and the handicapped.”