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The Plan All Along

June 10, 2019
By Deb Daley

Working for social justice was always part of the plan according to Emily Staley ’14, who is a part of Mercy Volunteer Corps in Philadelphia.  There she is assigned to Project Home, an outreach program for those who are street homeless. Emily is an advocate and helps individuals access services.  She heard about the work of Mercy Volunteer Corps her freshman year at Mercy during Theology class and knew it was an experience she wanted.

Not bad for someone who describes herself as a class clown during her years at Mercy High School. 

“I was not super involved at Mercy, but I loved the sense of community and the subjects of history, English and science.,” she said.  Her sister Ashley ’07 went there and introduced Emily to the school where she really enjoyed going to all her sister’s activities.  During high school, Emily also worked at Holy Cross School as an after-care worker.

After graduation, she attended the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Grace Abbott School of Social Work.  Emily was a member of Phi Alpha Honor Society and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Social Work in 2018.

She finds her current work with Project Home very fulfilling and believes her days at Mercy High School helped her realize how compassionate service can make a difference in the world. 

Emily has many stories of her work in Philadelphia and share done that made an impact on her.

“There was a veteran living on the streets who was very frustrated that he could not get access to services he knew he deserved.  He described his journey as going in circles.  I became his advocate, I was able to identify the information and contacts he needed, and to find him eligible services.  I see him periodically and he greets me fondly every time I see him,” she said. 

She also says her Mercy education provided a firm foundation for her life.

“I recall Mr. Humphreys, History Teacher, giving me some great advice about my passion and assertive behavior to get things done.  He told me to pick my battles, to speak my mind, but still use discretion,” she said. 

In interviewing Emily, it is obvious she is passionate about social work.  She has signed up for another year with the Mercy Volunteer Corps and will be working in San Francisco.  After that, she hopes to attend graduate school with an emphasis in alcohol and drug counseling or to go on to receive a law degree in conjunction with her Master's of Social Work pushing on the macro level for policy and systemic change.