gmhTODAY 04 gmhToday Sep Oct 2015 - Page 71

Maria Skoczylas,recipient of the Dorothy Richardson Award for Resident Leadership Left: Maria Skoczylas with daughter, Francesca Above: Helping helping serve dinner to the homeless at the Sabrato Transitional Apartments. Written By Larry J. Mickartz I n 1968 Dorothy Richardson led the charge to revitalize her Central North Side Pittsburgh neighborhood. Dorothy’s organization, Housing Services Inc. was the forerunner to today’s NeighborWorks America, a nation organi- zation focusing on affordable housing and community development. Today 240 excep- tional community organizations form the NeighborWorks America Network. Annually NeighborWorks America selects several unique dedicated community leaders who have made outstanding contri- butions to affordable housing and commu- nity development. Awardees have invested their energies and talents to bring about specific change that positively impacts their neighborhoods and communities. One of those awardees for 2015 is Maria Skoczylas, an 88-year-old advocate for the homeless in South County. Maria is a retired Gilroy teacher who dedicates her time and energy to the Compassion Center in Gilroy. The Center is a day program, Monday to Friday, for the homeless. Maria currently lives in Morgan Hill. Maria’s focus these days is not on the award but on two goals: 1) finding a per- manent home for the Compassion Center as their lease expires later this year and 2) finding funding and a permanent location to house more of the homeless in the South County area. Friends and family know Maria as the lady who collects clothing and supplies for the homeless. Maria sits on several local non-profit boards. Maria’s daughter Francesca has partnered with Maria in her endeavors since Francesca was in grade school. Material that cannot be used by the Compassion Center is turned over to Community Solutions. Maria and Francesca will travel to Louisville Kentucky, home of NeighborWorks America to attend the annual conference and receive the award GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 on Friday, October 16, 2015. Normally six people receive the award each year. Dennis Lalor, the former CEO of South County Housing, now operated by Eden Housing, nominated Maria. Congratulation to Maria Skoczylas for a lifetime of dedication to the homeless. Maria is not shy and welcomes donations big and small. You’re invited to attend Gilroy Compassion Center’s Harvest Moon Dinner and Dance September 11, 2015 from 5:30 to 9 pm Fortino Winery (4525 Hecker Pass Hwy) Tickets $50 For information and tickets: Shawn M. Wymouth 408.607.1284 or compassioncenter.brownpapertickets.org gmhtoday.com 71