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Srs. honor Lynne Ballew

Sisters of Providence announce recipient of 2008 Mother Joseph Award

Lynne Ballew, Ph.D., founder of? Bean's Cafe and Safe Harbor Inn in Anchorage, Alaska, has been chosen by the Sisters of Providence to receive the 2008 Mother Joseph Award.

The cafe serves about 20,000 meals each month to the disadvantaged, and the inn is Alaska's first and only nonprofit motel for homeless families and people with disabilities.

The Mother Joseph Award is given annually to a person who "exemplifies the values and courage of Mother Joseph," the first provincial superior of the Sisters of Providence in the West.

Ballew was nominated for the honor by Al Parrish, CEO of Providence Health and Services Alaska, along with others. "Like Mother Joseph did, Lynne dedicates all of her time and effort toward bringing about social justice and diminishing the impact of poverty," Parrish wrote.

"Drawing from her own experience as a single mother who knew poverty and homelessness firsthand, Lynne brings to all of her community endeavors a sense of mission, providing sustenance to and preserving the dignity of those in need."

Ballew graduated from Vanderbilt University with majors in Latin, Greek and philosophy and received her Ph.D. in classical philology from Vanderbilt in 1975. She has had a long a varied career in 11 states as a developer, lender, finance specialist, writer, editor, Greek philosophy professor and community activist.

Ballew has spearheaded or helped to create many successful organizations, including the Division of Low- and Moderate-Income Housing at the Federal National Mortgage Association in Washington, D.C. It was there that she found her true interest and calling - developing housing for people with special needs who couldn't otherwise afford it.

Half of the guests at the Safe Harbor Inn are children under the age of 18, reflecting the increasing number of families needing transitional housing. Nearly all of the staff members are former Safe Harbor guests. Many of the guests are beneficiaries of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, Safe Harbor's largest public donor, which supports organizations providing services to people with chronic mental illness and related disabilities.

Ballew lives at Safe Harbor Inn, using her room as both home and office, as its volunteer director. Her nominators for the Mother Joseph Award credit her vision, compassion and commitment for the success of the inn, which opened in November 2001 as 21 rooms in an older, remodeled hotel.

Safe Harbor Inn has been filled to capacity since it opened and it has a substantial waiting list. It has since been expanded three times to its current 55 rooms which provide 80 percent of the transitional housing in Anchorage for homeless families. The fourth expansion comes this month with the opening of Safe Harbor Muldoon in a former Ramada Inn in east Anchorage, adding another 50 rooms of transitional housing for homeless families.

"Despite the dreadful economy, our supporters have helped us raise nearly $4 million in seven months," she said. "Our donors have been wonderful."

Like the rooms in the original Safe Harbor, these have free cable television, private baths, refrigerators and microwaves, plus extra goodies like chocolates on the pillow, shampoos and rubber duckies in the bathrooms, a playground and a playroom, and cooking facilities onsite. Ballew likes to think of Safe Harbor as "the Ritz for the rest of us. The nicer it looks, the better it works."

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