Mary Kay Orr: How Nazareth Housing Helps Families Unlock Their Potential


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For anyone fortunate to come home to a familiar space, we can forget the compounding difficulty of homelessness. A home represents stability, and in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, homelessness was made even worse.

Mary Kay Orr, the Executive Director of Nazareth Housing, wanted to address the problem of homelessness in New York in a meaningful way. Nazareth Housing is a community-based nonprofit serving vulnerable families and individuals in crisis. For almost 40 years Nazareth has helped families to unlock their potential, build pathways out of poverty, and avoid homelessness — helped them realize, as Orr puts it, "a mosaic of what life can be."

Orr came to the organization after 25 years working in financial services on Wall Street. Her work has illuminated the nuance between serving others and helping them, respecting their fundamental dignity and giving individuals the tools to advance their own lives. She has seen that homelessness has multiple root causes and that any gesture of compassion and volunteering contributes to making a meaningful difference.

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