I’m having one of those “I really love what I do” moments! I’ve just returned from a retreat with co-workers at the Carondelet Center in Los Angeles. We enjoyed three days completely focused on our “Why” – why we do what we do at Circle the City. I am energized!!

So…. Circle the City (CTC) is a nonprofit organization that is not faith based; we provide healthcare for the homeless – why the Carondelet Center? We were there to connect with the spirit of our founder. Sister Adele O’Sullivan is a member of this religious community; the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. They are a community without cloister or habit, they devote themselves to the needs of ordinary people, living among them and offering their lives in service.   Sister, a pharmacist and medical doctor founded CTC on the tradition of those Sisters of St. Joseph, whose “love for God leads them to serve the dear neighbor without distinction.”

A visionary and innovator to be sure, Sister Adele knew it would serve staff well to have an understanding of her community through retreat.   Circle the City’s values statement reads “in the tradition of the Sisters, we will continue a mission of compassion and mercy to all who need our care”.   Our visit to the Carondelet Center was spent in time with the Sisters listening to stories, asking questions, enjoying the dialogue and craving more as we learned about the CSJ identity, history, and charism.  It was their stories, the history, that truly inspired; they shared the beginnings, the many times that they recognized injustice and willingly took a stand, going to law school to provide legal assistance to those in need, a sister who realized her ministry was sharing creative movement with children, attorneys, doctors, teachers, nurses, nurse practitioners, hospital administrators, the sister that walked shoulder to shoulder with Cesar Chavez (she’s 102!), the sister asked to go to Thailand during the Vietnam war (her response – “Sure, I’ll go!”). These stories conveyed a willingness to grow with the needs, to provide compassionate and dignified care for others, and an incredible willingness to step out of their comfort zone. They were stories of adventure, optimism, compassion and service.

It became clear that these stories woven together provided the platform, the incubator that launched incredible programs filling gaps in our communities: just a few – the Law Center, Tucson’s Crisis Nursery, St. Joseph’s Center in Venice Beach, LA’s Get on the Bus, and my personal favorite – Circle the City.

We left the retreat with the vision that all of us who work at CTC are on an adventure so to speak alongside these sisters. What does it take to journey with these amazing ladies?

  • The ability to see a perceived need.
  • A sense of adventure!
  • You need to be innovative.
  • To see obstacles as shaping new paths (not blockages).
  • To find the back door when the front one closes.
  • Willingness to be transformed.

It’s an adventure that I’m excited to be part of, talk about understanding your “Why”! I went into the retreat having a strong belief in our Mission; I left with a guiding sense of purpose.


Tammy Rocker
Chief Development Officer
Circle the City