For her lifelong dedication to the poor, Sister Helen Huewe, OSF, has been named the 2019 recipient of Divine Word College’s Matthew 25 Award.
The Remsen, Iowa, native had a long career in health care, ministering in the field for more than 40 years and holding a wide variety of positions. Sister Helen served as president and CEO of Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque from 1986 until 1997, when she retired.
Then in the late 1990s, all of the Catholic women religious communities in the greater Dubuque area came together with a desire to provide safe housing for homeless women and their children. They knew it would take someone with business savvy and foresight to steer the ship. Sister Helen stepped in as the project initiator for what would become Opening Doors, the legal corporation for Maria House, Teresa Shelter and most recently the Francis Apartments in Dubuque. Since 2000, Opening Doors has served more than 3,400 homeless women and children.
Sister Helen has leant her expertise and aid to a number of worthy causes over the years. In 2003, her dream of developing a community health center to serve the uninsured and underinsured of Dubuque came true when federal funding became available in the state of Iowa. She jumped at the opportunity, and by 2006, Crescent Community Health Center opened its doors with Sister Helen serving first as staff and then as chair of the board.
Today, Sister Helen’s passion project is working with the Marshallese community in Dubuque. She got involved with Dubuque Paradise Church in 2018 when she learned that the local Marshallese community was in danger of losing its church because members couldn’t make their final payment by the set deadline. Through the collaborative efforts of a group known as Paradise Friends, ownership of the church was achieved and rehab of the church began. Paradise Church is more than a church – it is a community center where their culture and lives are shared. Sister Helen is also involved with Crescent Community Health Center’s Pacific Islander Health Project, which provides assistance to the Marshallese people regarding their health needs.
“Everybody has to do their little bit,” she said. “You can’t do it all, so you do what you can.”
The Matthew 25 Award was established at DWC in 2001 to honor those in or connected to the area, who minister in the spirit of the Gospel message put forth in Matthew 25:35-36: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”