March 10, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – Sister Carleen Maly, OP, Director of Adrian Rea Literacy Center for 11 years, received the Amelia Earhart Award March 5, 2020, for her pioneering work in empowering both women and men through her literacy work.
The award was bestowed by the Zonta Club of Lenawee County, one of more than 1,200 Zonta clubs in 60 countries. Founded in 1919, Zonta International works to “advance the status of women through advocacy and service,” according to Liliane Haddad, a member of Zonta of Lenawee County.
The Amelia Earhart Award is presented each year to a woman with the same pioneering spirit as the aviator, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Earhart (1897-1937) was also a member of the Zonta Club of Boston.
“I share this honor tonight with the generous women and men who give their time each week to go home and prepare lessons for their learners, to meet their individual needs,” Sister Carleen said. “I share this also with the courageous learners” in their efforts to meet their personal goals, she added. These might include reading to their children and helping them with homework, understanding what doctors tell them in a medical appointment, earning a GED, or becoming a U.S. citizen.
Sister Carleen also paid tribute to the Adrian Dominican Congregation and to the “pioneering spirit of our Sisters in Detroit,” who in 1989 established the Dominican Literacy Center, the first of seven literacy centers founded and sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
“Amelia Earhart was an amazing woman,” said Janis Montalvo, Vice President of the Zonta Club of Lenawee County, in presenting the award. “Not only did she not accept the norm [for women]; she challenged it through her aviation and as an author.”
Addressing Sister Carleen directly, Janis said, “You exemplify the pioneering spirit and excellence [of Amelia Earhart]. You empower and increase the status of women (and men) as they achieve and seek independence that is often not available with language barriers.”
Mary Poore, President of the Board of Adrian Rea Literacy Center, said Adrian Rea has served 1,394 adult learners with the assistance of 1,117 trained tutors. Adrian Rea works with both native English speakers and people for whom English is not their first language to help them improve their reading; writing; and skills in math, conversation, and everyday life activities.
Mary attributed much of Adrian Rea’s success to the leadership of Sister Carleen and to her creation of an “environment of fun, safe learning where everyone feels welcome. She has enriched hundreds of lives and made it possible for each of these people to improve their lot in family life, employment, and personal self-esteem.”
During the evening, Sister Carleen also received a proclamation from State Rep. Bronna Kahle, also signed by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist.
Sister Carleen exhibited a pioneering spirit long before serving as Director of Adrian Rea Literacy Center. After teaching at the junior high school level at two schools in Michigan, she was among a number of Adrian Dominican Sisters who established a school in the Dominican Republic, in a remote area north of the capital, Santo Domingo, to teach the children of employees of a manufacturing plant brought into that country.
“We established an incredible bi-lingual, bi-cultural program with an English track and a Spanish track,” the innovation of her long-time mentor, the late Sister Marie Damian Schoenlein, Sister Carleen said in an interview with Adrian Dominican Sister Joanne “Jodie” Screes, OP.
Sister Carleen also helped to coordinate the pastoral ministry programs of two parishes in the Diocese of Orlando; was elected Chapter Prioress (Superior) of the Congregation’s Florida Mission Chapter; and served as Vocations Director for the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Read further coverage of Sister Carleen’s acceptance of the Amelia Earhart Award in the Daily Telegram.
Feature photo at top: Sister Carleen Maly, OP, holds a bouquet of flowers and the Amelia Earhart Award she received from Zonta of Lenawee.
December 12, 2019, Watsonville, California – Sister Michaella Siplak, OP, has been involved in a variety of ministries and outreach programs during her 50 years of service to Dignity Health Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California. These include nursing service with neurological patients and with newborn children and youth, diabetes prevention, tattoo removal, and work with a mobile wellness health clinic to people in underserved areas.
Yet, while Sister Michaella was recognized for these many ministries, she received the Lifetime Achievement Community Hero Award November 25, 2019, for her initiation of – and 25 years of ministry in – the Community Assessment Project (CAP).
In collaboration with the local United Way and Applied Survey Research, a data collection agency, Sister Michaella began CAP. Through this process, the community studies 10 areas that hinder or enhance the health of the community and offers an assessment of the community’s needs. The data is shared with agencies that serve the people in the community.
“She brought the concept to Dominican [Hospital], to the United Way, and other partners to commit to single-source data,” said Susan Brutschy, President of Applied Survey Research, who bestowed the honor on Sister Michaella during the ceremony at the Watsonville, California, government offices. Sister Michaella “has been a strong supporter and user of the CAP data and the continuous improvement process embedded in CAP,” Susan said. She added that Sister Michaella helped to design CAP “from data and questions, to an eye towards community benefit and linking resources, and finally with production of the focus on health document.”
In an interview, Sister Michaella recalled asking to quit her ministry as administrator of nursing units because of her desire for more hands-on ministry. That’s when she began CAP. “We started outreach [to the community],” she said. “I asked if we could do a survey and find out the needs of the community,” and then respond to those needs with specific programs.
Sister Michaella explained that the CAP process involves asking a particular set of questions of 900 people, including residents of homeless camps. “We get the results in November every year,” she said. “I look at them and see how they relate to the services offered at Dominican Hospital.” The process begins again every year in January.
The results of the project have been so positive that the supervisor has traveled to Canada, Europe, and Africa to teach local communities about the process, Sister Michaella explained.
Read more about CAP and Sister Michaella’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sister Michaella also continues direct service as a nurse. Every Tuesday night, she serves in a clinic, providing free health care to underserved people. “These are people who have nothing,” she said. “They walk into the clinic, we look at them, and they get a doctor. … We follow up on them like a doctor’s office. It’s rewarding [to serve them].”
Sister Michaella said she is the only Dominican Hospital staff member who has served at the hospital for 50 years out of the 57 years since the Adrian Dominican Congregation began sponsoring the hospital.
A pioneer in health care, Sister Michaella served Sisters in St. Clement Infirmary in Adrian while she was a postulant. She helped to start Maria Health Care Center, the successor to St. Clement, in 1965. Maria is now part of the Dominican Life Center, a continuum of care residence for retired Adrian Dominican Sisters. She is also grateful for her ministry for the past 50 years. “I enjoyed my time at Dominican, too, my 50 years of doing a variety of things.”