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Mary Jane Smith Honored by NY Senate as a Woman of Distinction

Unity House co-founder Mary Jane Smith honored

as New York State “Woman of Distinction”


(Troy, N.Y.) – Mary Jane Smith, co-founder of Unity House, received a New York State “Women of Distinction” Award for 2013 from Senator Neil D. Breslin at a ceremony held today at the Legislative Office Building. The award is given to women in New York State who distinguish themselves as leaders within their community through enriching the quality of life of others.


A former nun, Smith founded Unity House in Troy in 1971 with two Franciscan friars. Since then, Unity House has grown to meet the increasing needs of those living in Rensselaer County and surrounding communities. Providing crisis intervention, advocacy, skills teaching, information, resources, encouragement and support, Unity House continues to help disadvantaged people lead productive and healthy lives.


“Mary Jane proved years ago – and continues to do so today — that there is always a way to assist those in need; we just have to look for the right way. I can think of no one more deserving of this honor,” said Chris Burke, Unity House CEO.


Previous award winners include leading women in the fields of business, academics and civil life, as well as those who have demonstrated valor against adversity.

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