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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 24, 2006

First Lady Patti Blagojevich presents Governor’s PATH Award to tireless advocate for Chicago’s disabled
Patti Blagojevich addresses over one thousand women at Women’s Auxiliary Annual Fashion Show and Luncheon

CHICAGO – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today presented Misericordia’s Heart of Mercy Executive Director Sister Rosemary Connelly with the Governor’s People Are Today’s Heroes (PATH) Award for her tireless and continuous dedication to help children and adults with developmental disabilities.  The First Lady presented the award at Celebrate!, the Misericordia Women’s Auxiliary Annual Fashion Show and Luncheon in Chicago where she addressed more than one thousand women and served as the honored guest who surprised Sr. Rosemary Connelly at her 75th birthday celebration.
 
“Misericordia Heart of Mercy has been providing hope and services for thousands of Illinoisans since 1921. Their work with children and adults with developmental disabilities is an inspiration to all, and highlights the importance of providing health care to those who need it. This has been a top priority for my husband’s administration,” said Mrs. Blagojevich. “I am proud to present Sr. Rosemary Connelly with the Governor’s PATH Award as a token as recognition for her hard and compassionate work, and to wish her a most happy birthday.”
 
Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s PATH Award recognizes groups or individuals who, through their hard work and commitment, have improved the lives of people in their community and have helped Illinois move forward in the areas of health care, public safety, education and economic development.
 
Misericordia Heart of Mercy supports individuals with developmental disabilities in maximizing their level of independence and self-determination within an environment that fosters spirituality, dignity, respect and enhancement of quality of life.  Sr. Rosemary Connelly, the Executive Director of Misericordia, has run the nationally recognized home for hundreds of disabled children and adults since 1969.

Originally, Misericordia was located only on the South Side of Chicago and housed 136 children under the age of 6.  When Sr. Connelly took control, Misericordia’s population grew to include disabled adults and children with homes on the North Side and South Side of Chicago.

Sr. Connelly insisted that the Misericordia residents develop skills while in the home.  She established an art gallery on the Misericordia campus where residents create artwork that is eventually sold.  Other Misericordia residents are trained to work in Misericordia’s restaurant and bakery, which are both open to the public.  Sr. Connelly also pushed for local businesses to employ Misericordia residents at several banks, Catholic Charities, Dominick’s and the St. Francis Hospital.
 
Today, Misericordia Heart of Mercy is home to more than five hundred and sixty adults and children with developmental disabilities from all racial, religious and socio-economic backgrounds.  Misericordia offers a variety of programs, including employment opportunities, residential placement and day-to-day support, speech and physical therapy, social and recreational outings, health and wellness activities, and opportunities for spiritual growth. 
 
All guests who attended today’s event received a special gift and had the opportunity to purchase artwork, glassware and woodcrafts made by Misericordia’s residents.  A raffle was held with many exciting items including a Saks Fifth Avenue shopping spree.  The Misericordia “Heartbreakers”, a performance group comprised of residents from the home, provided musical entertainment at the event. 


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