Resident Spotlight – Ayana Andrews

Ayana Andrews grew up in Baltimore.  Her father was a professional football player for the Miami Dolphins and her mother was a social worker.  Her childhood was wonderful until her parents separated when Ayana was 10. Their divorce left her feeling pain and anger that she then carried into adulthood.

At a young age, she turned to drugs to help her cope with life’s hardships. Ayana spent the next couple of years in and out of recovery programs and started using heroin at 30 years old. She came to Marian House in 2020, her second stay with us a decade after leaving our program the first time. She knew if she came back to Marian House that she would learn to love herself again and be supported by a caring team who will help to build her back up and regain her confidence.

Throughout the years, Ayana focused on trying to improve her life by getting trained in various occupations in the medical profession. She was a pharmacy technician for many years and then became a peer recovery specialist.  Ayana now works at the Bayview Hospital emergency room as a peer recovery advisor.

“It feels so good being a peer recovery coach.  It has allowed me to give back what was given to me,” Ayana stated.  “It is amazing!  Now I can be who I really am,” she continued.

“The Bayview ER is always overwhelming and crowded,” Ayana said. “The disease of addiction is worse than people know.”   Ayana says she is doing great now and knows that Marian House offered the best opportunity for her to heal and keep the focus on her well-being.    She stays in contact with her AA sponsor and has built a big network through her sobriety. Ayana stated, “You have to be responsible for your own recovery. I trust the process at Marian House.  You must be honest that you have a problem and need advice.  You have to be constantly on guard from temptations because addiction is for a lifetime.”

Ayana is now in our Marian House II program, which offers a more independent living environment in a community setting with other women who are striving to achieve similar goals for independent and healthy living. Her goal is to get a master’s degree in social work.   Ayana said, “I want to learn and grow and be the best I can be.”


Help support the Marian House programs and make a donation today >

Volunteer Spotlight – Hana Hasan

Hana is a native Bostonian and attended college at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. She moved to Baltimore in 2003 and obtained her master’s degree at the University of Baltimore. She is a single mom of 10-year-old daughter, Sydney.

Her full-time occupation is the manager of Off-Campus Housing for Johns Hopkins University. Through seminars, workshops, webinars, and in-person appointments, she educates the students on how to find off-campus housing on their own.

Hana first learned about Marian House in 2015 through Johns Hopkins, one of the major sponsors and one of the largest teams each year in the 5K event. She was recruited by a colleague to join the Hopkins team for the race. Hana said, “The Marian House 5K is one of my personal favorite 5Ks that I run. It is so inspiring to run by the Marian House headquarters on Gorsuch Avenue and have the residents cheering us on and giving us water.”

After her first Marian House race, Hana volunteered to serve on the 5K sub-committee to plan the next race. Eleanor Smith, the Advancement Committee Chair, saw that Hana was a wonderful volunteer and approached her to serve on the Advancement Committee. Hana felt like it was a natural progression to continue her support of Marian House year-round and now has been a member of the Committee for over a year. She served on the 2021 5K Race to Embrace Independence Committee and chaired the sub-committee on Marketing and Promotion.

Hana likes serving on the Advancement Committee because there is always something new and different at each meeting. “It isn’t just about the 5K race, but serving on the Advancement Committee involves outreach to the greater Baltimore community in so many ways.  I appreciate the Marian House mission and hold the cause dearly,” Hana stated.

One of Hana’s favorite phrases to share with students is:  Go Forth and Be Great!

She lives by that phrase and it shows in her engagement at Marian House.  We are grateful to have Hana as a volunteer and donor.



Help support the Marian House programs and make a donation today >

Ace Hardware – Round Up for Marian House

The three Baltimore City Ace Hardware stores are pitching in to help raise funds for this year’s 5K!



Thursday, August 19th through Monday, August 23rd

Shoppers at the >>>>>>

> Canton:
1022 Binney St, Baltimore, MD 21224

> Federal Hill:
1214 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21230

> Waverly:
601 Homestead St, Baltimore, MD 21218


locations will have the opportunity to round up their purchase at checkout Thursday, August 19th through Monday, August 23rd to benefit Marian House.

Thank you to the Charm City Ace Team!

Resident Spotlight – Shawnte Perry

Shawnte Perry arrived at Marian House on October 15, 2020, after being incarcerated for 25 years. As a young woman she made poor choices about the people she befriended and got caught up in their behavior, adopting it as her own. At the age of 15, she spent a year in detention and then the next 24 years in the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCIW).

Shawnte had only completed 9th grade at the time of her incarceration. She started her GED preparation upon first entering MCIW and finished in one year. She then enrolled in college courses through The Goucher Prison Education Partnership. When asked about her desire to further her education, Shawnte replied, “being incarcerated is whatever you make of it. I did everything I could to work on my degree while I had the opportunity, and it was offered for free. I was always a good student despite my poor choices.”

Because of her desire to learn and her good behavior record while at the correctional facility, Shawnte’s attorney pleaded with the Judge to grant her release to the Marian House program in 2020. The judge researched Marian House and determined that Shawnte was ready to resume her life outside of MCIW.

Shawnte is grateful to be in the Marian House program. She said, “After having a roommate and being in a bunkbed for 25 years I was so thankful to have my own private room. It gave me great peace of mind to have time alone. I thank God every day for being at Marian House.”

Shawnte has taken advantage of everything we offered her at Marian House and after completing the Job Readiness Program, obtained a job at the Baltimore Aquarium as a Guest Services Representative. When asked how she likes working she replied, “I love my job and get to meet at least 1,000 people every day. I am trained in different jobs throughout the Aquarium so there is never a dull moment.”

Shawnte completed her coursework towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies in the fall of 2020, shortly before coming to Marian House. On June 15, 2021, Shawnte graduated from Goucher College, one of the first women in nearly 30 years to complete a bachelor’s degree through coursework offered onsite in a Maryland prison. 

Her years of taking college courses had finally paid off! 

When asked what her future goals are she stated, “I want to eventually become a counselor or therapist. I want to help people with their struggles and mental health issues. I also know that I will eventually have my own place and I have never had a place of my own. I know Marian House will help me to succeed.”

Reflections from the Outgoing Board Chair, Don Mattran

I had the privilege and honor to serve as the Marian House Board Chair for the past two years and have been on the Board since 2015. I am proud to have served with such an outstanding group of volunteers to ensure the fulfillment of the Marian House mission.

Don Mattran, Foundry Wealth Advisors

My time as Board Chair has been fulfilling and I am proud of the progress we have made these past few years. At the beginning of my term, we launched a three-year strategic plan that focuses on three areas: The Power of Our Program, The Power of Progress and Expansion, and The Power of Building Relationships. I am pleased to say that upon completion of two years, we have done an outstanding job in moving our strategic plan goals forward.

I made a few changes while in leadership that you may not know about. I took the opportunity to introduce an informed consent agenda approach for our five board meetings each year, giving us more opportunity to engage in lively discussions around topics related to the Marian House programs and outreach. Adopting this meeting format allowed us to also spend time on Board education in topics such as effectively using social media and other helpful tools to help us be good ambassadors for Marian House.

Our board meetings are packed with content, and don’t leave much time for open conversation. To keep the Board connected and engaged between our meetings, I scheduled “Fireside Chats” on Zoom, giving Board members the opportunity to express concerns, ask questions, and to engage in informal discussions.

I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this great organization these past few years. I am honored to pass the baton over to our new Board Chair, Karen Albert. I have every confidence in her ability to lead us into the future. Although my time as Board Chair is over, I am not leaving the Board. I will continue to serve as Chair of the Finance Committee and will continue to work on Board Development. The mission of Marian House has touched my heart forever. My favorite event at Marian House is the Thanksgiving Dinner with the residents of Marian House I, where everyone in the room expresses their thanks and shares a wonderful meal.

While we could not hold the dinner in 2020 due to COVID, once this special event resumes, I will be there and will attend for the years to come! Thank you for allowing me to serve and for being a part of the Marian House family!

Don Mattran, Foundry Wealth Advisors

Volunteer Spotlight – Karen Albert

Welcome Karen Albert – New Chair of the Marian House Board


We welcomed Karen Albert as the new Chair of the Marian House board of directors on July 1, 2021. Karen has been involved with Marian House since 2008, when she joined the board and the advancement committee. During her first year on the board, she was the co-chair of the very first 5k, an event that is celebrating its 13th year in 2021. Karen continued to serve on the board and on various committees until 2018, when she took a brief hiatus. She rejoined the board in 2019, quickly assuming the position of vice chair and chair of the board development committee. 

When asked what she most looks forward to in her new role, Karen responded, “I have seen Marian House evolve and grow tremendously over the years I have been involved. I look forward to working with my fellow board members and the leadership and staff of Marian House to continue to develop and execute on strategic plans that will continue Marian House on its path forward. I feel there is so much opportunity for Marian House to serve more women and the board can play an important role in ensuring that is possible. It is my honor to have an opportunity to lead the board for the coming years.”     

Karen will lead us as we complete year three of our current strategic plan and will guide us through a new strategic planning process for 2023-2026. Karen stated, I am thrilled to be associated with Marian House at a time when so many positive things are happening.
The Marian House board of directors will do our best to elevate the visibility of Marian House in the community and help more women move from dependence to independence.”

When Karen is not giving of her time, talent, and treasure to Marian House, she holds the position of Vice President, Head of Internal Audit, and Internal Control for Constellium. Constellium, headquartered in Paris, France, is a global leader in the manufacturing of high value-added aluminum products and solutions.

Karen is a member of Executive Alliance, a Maryland based organization focused on accelerating the success and leadership of accomplished women by expanding their impact and influence through advocacy, education, and mentorship. Karen was recognized as a Daily Record Maryland Top 100 Woman in 2020. On a personal note, Karen has been married to her husband John for 22 years. They are dog lovers and currently have two yellow labs; Cali is 7 and Jules is 3. Marian House board and staff look forward to working with Karen for the next few years in her new leadership role.

Congratulations Shawnte Perry

The Goucher Prison Education Partnership

One-on-One with GPEP Alumna Shawnte Perry


Shawnte Perry, a fall 2020 graduate, and two fellow GPEP students who graduated in the Spring 2021 semester, are the first women in nearly 30 years to complete a bachelor’s degree through coursework offered onsite in a Maryland prison. They join former GPEP students who completed their college degrees after release from prison and students who earned Goucher bachelor’s degrees while incarcerated at the Maryland Correctional Institution – Jessup. A young teenager when she went to prison, during her incarceration, Shawnte earned her high school diploma as well as completed her college education. She is now home. Shortly after this interview, Shawnte participated in the Class of 2021 Commencement ceremony on Goucher’s main campus.

Why did you decide to enroll with Goucher College? I always had a desire to further my education, so Goucher was the perfect opportunity.

Please describe a specific memory that was important to your college experience. During my college experience I have had many encounters that could be deemed as important. There were so many instructors that have left a lasting impression on me just by being so caring and effective in their role to us. Peter Mallios was one of my favorite instructors because he was always so passionate about teaching.

You earned your Goucher College Bachelor of Arts degree this past December. What do you want people to know about your journey to your degree? Well, the first thing that I would say is that the journey definitely was not an easy one. I had to stay very focused and decide to never give up no matter how hard things got.

How does it feel to be a college graduate? I am immensely proud of myself for seeing it through to the end. I feel a great sense of accomplishment and believe that obtaining my degree will help me a great deal with my future endeavors.

What will it mean to you to walk in the Goucher College graduation ceremony this spring? Being able to walk across the stage finalizes it all for me. I have dreamt of this day for many years. My family and friends have all told me how proud of me that they are. They also have shared that they did not expect anything less of me. It felt great knowing that they were so supportive and believed in me so much.

How do you hope to use your education in the future? Reaching the goal that I have set for myself… to become a therapist.

What would you say to a current student who has felt frustrated or considered giving up? I would say to them that seeing it through to the end will be the greatest feeling of accomplishment in the world that they could possibly feel, outside of those that are mothers… then I would say that it is the second best feeling of accomplishment. Always consider your future and never give up on yourselves.

You have shared that you were incarcerated at 15 years old and were released from prison late last year. You spent a year in detention and then the last 24 years at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women. This spring, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Juvenile Restoration Act banning life without parole for juveniles. There is increasing public conversation about juveniles incarcerated in adult prisons and youth given long prison sentences. Is there anything you want to share about that? It was not easy spending the rest of my adolescence and early to mid-adult years incarcerated. I deserved to do some time for committing a crime, however, I changed my life and learned the lesson, earlier on. I did not have the opportunity to come out early and show that I could be an honest productive citizen and get back into a natural flow where I probably could have had better opportunities to make a long-lasting career for myself and make the best of the rest of my younger years in society. I believe that no youth should be incarcerated past a certain amount of time. The punishment to be away from all the things that you once knew and the people that you loved is a deep pain within itself. The public needs to believe in the structure of the system that they vote on and have helped to create. This includes the rehabilitation of an individual once they have been incarcerated and that at some point, they have to trust that they will make wiser decisions in life once given the chance. Time pauses for no one… a lot of life occurrences will take place that youth will miss out on if they are behind the wall… life experiences that once it goes by, they could never get back.

What level of education had you completed before you went to prison? Before my incarceration, my highest level of education completed was the 9th grade. I had just begun my 10th grade year when I left home.

When you were 15 years old what did you think your life would be like at 41 years old? I would have definitely been a psychiatrist or psychologist by now. Somewhere in the DMV with my own office and set of clients. Helping people as I have always desired to do.

How does your life now compare to what you imagined? Getting my certification to become a licensed therapist is definitely on my active to do list. I feel like I am starting all over from scratch, well I am… so right now I am just starting my path to an actual career at 41 instead of already being secure in doing what I love already. Another challenge, yet as always, one that I am up for.

In your time as a college student, what role do you think you played for other college students in their educations? We all showed support to one another. I encouraged others in their journey, just as others had encouraged me. I would like to also believe that I set an example of what they are all fully capable of accomplishing as well. I would love to see them in the same position that I am in right now. I am proud of them for remaining active students and will be equally proud to hear about them all graduating soon as well.

What are you up to now? I am currently at Marian House [a community for women and their children in need of housing and support services] where I just finished my last set of groups, one being Job Readiness, which gives me the greenlight to start my job search. I have a lot of opportunities out here that I can get into, however, I am searching for a job that not only pays well, but also one where I am making a difference in people’s lives. Basically, I want a job that turns into a career that I desire to wake up and go to everyday.

The Goucher Prison Education Partnership Get Involved To find out more, or volunteer, teach, or donate, please visit GPEP I 410-337-6033 I
GOUCHER I college


If you’re interested in exploring monthly giving, please reach out to Beth at 410-467-4246 or





Thank You to Our Donors & Volunteers

Thank You to Our Donors & Volunteers



Thank You to Our In-Kind Donors

Adora Allen

Chick-fil-A Hunt Valley

Giant, 33rd Street

Giant, 41st Street

Giant, Cockeysville

Giant, Timonium

Valencia Hardy & Friends

Target, Towson

Wegmans, Hunt Valley


Thank You to Our Volunteers & Staff

Demetria Boyd

Kristin Goorevitz

Hana Hasan

Anita Hilson

Colleen Kilchenstein

Victor Konen

Peter McIver

Beth Myers-Edwards

Psalms Rojas

Eleanor Smith

Ryan Smith

Gina Weaver

Sister Sue Weetenkamp, RSM

John Weigel

Stacey Weigel

Terry Weigel

Shelley Wilson


Thank You to Our Wine Donors

Bradley’s Wine & Spirits, Jacksonville

Eddie’s Liquors, Baltimore

Fairgrounds Discount Beverages, Timonium

Hunt Valley Wine, Liquor & Beer,  Hunt Valley

Pinehurst Wine Shoppe, Baltimore

Shawan Fine Wine & Spirits, Cockeysville

Wells Discount Liquors, Baltimore

Wide Roots, Baltimore

Wine Source, Baltimore

Individual Wine Donors

Karen Albert

Karen Bellesky

Demetria Boyd

Colette Colclough

Kathleen Dombrowski

Anne Fader

Sister Kathleen Feeley, SSND

Sister Missy Gugerty, SSND

Keri Kemmerzell

Mary Penczek

Ashleigh Pierce

Eleanor Smith & Jacki Szimanski

Mel Tamsiti

Terry Weigel

Nicole Wildart

George Takei – Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

George Takei in 2016
Photo: Andrew Lahodynskyj/Toronto Star via Getty Images

An actor and activist, George Takei’s resolve came from his experiences while detained with his family at a Japanese internment camp from ages 5 to 9. The Takeis rough life continued afterwards, as they were left with no capital and were forced to live on L.A.’s Skid Row, an area known for a large homeless population.

The young Takei persevered and attended both the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, Los Angeles, where he graduated with both his bachelor and masters degrees. Though Takei wouldn’t reveal his sexuality until 2005, he lived openly among peers as a gay man and worked as an activist for several LGBTQ organizations.

He also became involved politically in Los Angeles, narrowly losing an election for City Council in 1963 and later serving as part of the Southern California Rapid Transit District where he cast the deciding vote to build the city’s subway system.

Takei remains one of the most prolific figures to have firsthand experience of the Japanese internment camps and has committed his advocacy to ensuring the horrors are never lived again by another set of people.


Called by the Spirit

Written by Sister Kathleen Feeley, SSND,
Marian House Board Member

Sister Sharon Brunier, a School Sister of Notre Dame, (SSND), lost her heart  to the ministry at Marian House—helping women begin a new life after personal struggles—on August 15, 1987, the day she joined the staff as a pastoral counselor. She has always felt that the Holy Spirit led her to Marian House, and she has never left. 

Sister Sharon’s earlier ministry was teaching in SSND schools in Maryland and South Carolina for 15 years. She left the South to obtain a master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling. Upon her graduation, she began looking for an appropriate ministry. At a large SSND gathering, Marian House Board member Sr. Ellis Denny told her that Marian House, a co-sponsored ministry of SSND had an opening for a counselor. Sr. Sharon applied and was hired by then Executive Director Sr. Marilyn Graf, RSM.

After serving for 11 years in that position, Sharon felt the need for a change. A new counselor replaced her, and she took a six months sabbatical. She had not intended to return, but she found that her heart was still there. She took a position in the Development Office, reaching out to current and potential donors for six years. Then the position of Education Coordinator opened, and she found that she could combine her talents as educator and counselor.

For the past 17 years, Sister Sharon has worked with Marian House women to achieve educational goals by first counseling them on the power that education brings, and then helping them to set goals and achieve them.

One of her bittersweet memories is of Dawn, who completed Marian House I, and moved across the street to supportive housing at Serenity Place with her three-year-old son, her only family. Dawn really wanted to obtain her GED. Sister Sharon worked with her, and she passed all the exams but math. Dawn was ready to give up. But Sharon was not. She tutored her and worked with her until Dawn finally passed math. But obtaining her GED was only one of Dawn’s dreams. Sadly, those dreams were left unfulfilled. Dawn died four years later after a valiant battle with cancer.

Sister Sharon is a Spirit-centered woman. After 34 years of fruitful ministry at 949 Gorsuch Avenue, she feels blessed to still be where her heart led her: to the women of Marian House.