She maintains beauty.

She can often be found darting from one end of campus to another, carrying a pot of dirt or a sickly flower that needs a little love. Most recently she hauled a giant watermelon, grown in her garden shouting, “Isn’t this cool?”

Her name is Donna. 25 years ago she was homeless and she’d say, hopeless but by what she calls a miracle, she found “Fishes and Loaves”. She walked onto the campus of Loaves and Fishes broken on the inside from emotional abuse, dirty on the outside from sleeping on the bare earth and longing for a place to call home. It was a long road for Donna, she got clean and relapsed, she refused to wear shoes, she refused help, over and over for years until the day she was ready to start taking small steps. Until the staff and volunteers earned her trust.

Donna used Maryhouse services regularly, she built relationships and she is on the journey of restoration. Five years ago, the staff who’d earned a space to listen and speak into her life, urged her to consider taking a permanent bed at Sister Nora’s Place, an on campus housing program so, she did and found it to be match. Shortly after her move in another offer was made by Sister Libby, residential gardener so, Donna went for it.

Having no experience in gardening Donna struggled until she flourished along side her plants.

Today Donna tends to each plant as if it were her child. She nurtures their grown from seed to bloom. Donna, with her presence and patience for plants, maintains beauty in a space that can often feel so chaotic. We are all so grateful for her labor of love.


  1. Elisbeth Rooney on September 22, 2016 at 12:35 am

    Donna not only maintains the beauty of the various gardens and rose bushes, she quite often makes the time to stop what she is doing to offer a kind word to someone who needs it. Many times during my time at Loaves and Fishes as a client of Mary House, when I was quite honestly feeling pretty useless and seriously considering suicide, Donna had something kind to say and always had a hug when it was needed the most.
    I extend my deepest gratitude to all the staff of Loaves and Fishes, Mary House, and especially to Donna for all they did to help me get through some of the darkest of days in my life.
    Elisbeth Rooney (the crazy woman usually found speeding through the park in her wheelchair)

  2. liz on March 18, 2017 at 1:22 am

    I love and respect Donna so so much!!

    Liz Green

  3. Sarah on March 18, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Donna..I miss helping you with your cell phone…I’ll visit soon!

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