Tributes have been paid to the founder of NOAH, Sister Eileen O’Mahony DC, who passed away on Thursday, January 4, aged 93.
Sister Eileen came to Luton 31 years ago on the way to her community in Bristol. She came to give a service to a Parish in the town for six weeks, and ended up staying.
She saw the poverty in Luton, particularly street homelessness, when she spoke to others about it she was offered the use of a block of condemned flats. She moved in with her sole supporter, Sister Antoinette. This was the start of the NOAH Enterprise. The charity offers help to the most disadvantaged people in the community, offering food, clothing and access to accommodation.
Sister Eileen retired in 2000 and Jim O’Connor picked up the reins.
Mr O’Connor, chief executive of NOAH Enterprise, said: “In 1987, Sister Eileen O’Mahony, a Daughter of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, established out of nothing except a block of condemned flats, the Charity that is NOAH Enterprise. Her vocation and her heart were in the service of the poor and she was unstinting and dynamic, passionate and compassionate, loving and undaunted, in pursuing and delivering it. Her faith was her anchor and her trust in God her compass.
“As a result, the poorest in our community, including those sleeping on the streets or otherwise in destitution, found in NOAH a place of practical and moral support, care and hope. If you consider that a 1,000 people came through the doors of our Welfare Centre in 2017, it can be imagined how many people in abject poverty have been helped in the 30 years since NOAH’s foundation. That is Sister Eileen’s legacy.”
The charity was awarded the 2017 Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for “Recognising the dignity and worth of homeless people by supporting them from the streets and into the community”.