Sure, Jon Bon Jovi was in the house, and I thought that was cool. But the biggest rock star of the night was a petite nun who refuses to accept that homelessness and poverty are inevitable.
Her name is Sister Mary Scullion, and she is the co-founder of Project H.O.M.E. in Philadelphia. Wednesday night I joined nearly 1,000 of her closest friends at the Marriott Hotel for "Home at 20," the organization's 20th anniversary celebration of advocacy and service. Comcast and the Phillies were presenting sponsors.
In case you're not aware, Sister Mary is a powerhouse. TIME Magazine recently listed her among the 100 most influential people in the world. Quoting from the magazine:
"...Sister Mary, 55, has become the darling of luminaries like Bill Clinton, though that hasn't impacted her humility or her famously ribald sense of humor. When Jon Bon Jovi (a loyal Project supporter) described Mary to the press as a nun 'who swears and spits,' the good sister merely replied, 'I do not spit' - and then returned to her work of tirelessly saving her city, one desperate citizen at a time."
The gala featured warm remarks from several speakers, including co-founder Joan Dawson McConnon, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. Bon Jovi received the inaugural Golden Heart Award, and said the honor meant more to him than being inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame.
Roberts discussed the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, which greatly contributes to the "E" in Project H.O.M.E. - Education. The 38,000-square-foot facility includes hundreds of computers, interactive education programs, music and recording equipment, video production capabilities, a college access center and more.
"At Comcast," said Roberts, "we believe that knowing how to use communications technology can help to prepare young people for richer lives and good jobs. To see 300 kids a year have their lives changed in one of the finest learning centers in the country is just wonderful."
Comcast also produced several videos that played throughout the evening, each an inspirational case study of lives being turned around - or saved - through Project H.O.M.E.
As for the other letters in Project H.O.M.E.? "H" represents Housing, "O" is for Opportunities for employment, and "M" is for Medical care.
"M" could also stand for "Mary," who summed up a remarkable evening in her closing comments.
"At Project H.O.M.E., we believe none of us is home until all of us are home. Tonight we are well on the way to the home we yearn for. And there's no better way to get there than all together with you."