Before she was one of the founders of Unity House, she was a teacher. In 1958 Mary Jane Smith, then a sister in the order of St. Joseph named Sister Samuel Joseph, was teacher to the 8th grade class at St. Columbus in Schenectady. Mary Jane Smith left teaching in 1971 and she joined Regis Obijiski and Peter Callahan to found Unity House in Troy, NY.
Fast forward to 2015 and her former pupils from St. Columbus happen to see a photo of Mary Jane Smith in the newspaper when she attended the I Love Unity House Gala. One of them reached out to Unity House and a plan was set in motion: on a day when Mary Jane Smith volunteers to serve food in our Bethany dining room, the group would meet at Unity House and surprise their former teacher with a visit.
Unity House staff found a replacement for Mary Jane’s lunch shift and lured her to a photo-friendly spot for when the big reveal happened. Six of her former students surprised her with flowers (and food for the food pantry!) and showed Mary Jane Smith their 1958 yearbook, The Columbian, featuring her large class of students and her, in a nun’s habit, as their teacher.
It was a lovely reunion and Mary Jane Smith gave the group a tour of Unity House’s Front Door, a community resource located at 2431 Sixth Avenue in Troy, NY. There was even a chance for Unity House CEO to stop and greet the group. In all, it was a great reunion from such a fun group of alumni. Many thanks to the group for their visit, their donations to our food pantry and the trip down Memory Lane.