At Mercy Home, we’re blessed to have the support of friends and neighbors within our community. There’s an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child, and the impact local organizations have on the lives of our children is immeasurable. They are part of the Mercy Home family, helping our kids become caring, successful adults.

One of our longtime supporters is the Walsh family here in Chicago. In fact, their family business, the Walsh Group, is a West Loop neighbor of Mercy Home. The Walsh Group is one of Chicago’s oldest, largest, and most respected construction companies.

For years, Daniel J. Walsh and Matthew Walsh have ensured our children have access to educational opportunities. It’s a way for them to carry on the legacy of their mother, Margaret Walsh. The roots of the relationship between the Walsh family and Mercy Home can be found at 11600 S. Longwood Dr., before it became our campus for girls.

Walsh family matriarch remembered at Mercy Home

Margaret was born on the South Side of Chicago, and in 1923, at just 19-years-old, became a teacher in Chicago Public Schools. She dedicated her life to education, and two of her greatest passions were literature and travel.

“She instilled that in us and in our children: Travel the world with your eyes and your hands while holding a book,” Matthew told the Chicago Tribune in 2004.

Along with education, faith was very important to Margaret. As a lifelong south-sider, she often attended Mass at the Sisters of the Cenacle retreat house in the Beverly neighborhood. “The Cenacle” was a very special place to Margaret.

“She instilled that in us and in our children: Travel the world with your eyes and your hands while holding a book,”

“My mother and her girlfriends spent a lifetime at the Cenacle,” Daniel remembers. “It was a place where they went to pray, to meditate, and to have fun. I often thought as a kid that it was a club for ladies in the neighborhood.”

The Sisters of the Cenacle property included a mansion originally built by the Walgreen family, owners of the drugstore chain.  In 1987, the Walgreen family purchased the mansion and retreat house from the Sisters and donated the facility to the Archdiocese of Chicago. The Sisters of the Cenacle retreat house and Walgreen mansion became Mercy Home’s new home for girls.

Margaret passed away in 2004 at the age of 99, but her legacy as an educator lives on through the work of her family. One such way is the support her sons provide for our Legacy of Learning campaign, which helps pay tuition costs for our kids.

“It certainly was a wonderful background for my brother and I to have a mother who was a teacher,” Daniel said. “It showed us the enormous value of an education, and she made learning fun for all of us.”

Daniel and Matthew have now passed this proud tradition on to their own children, who support Mercy’s Home’s education programs as well. And like Margaret did for them, the Walsh family makes learning fun for our kids by taking a hands-on approach when it comes to education.

Employees of the Walsh Group have provided training for our youth in the field of construction, teaching them things like how to work with power tools. Our kids have then used these skills to help others, going on service trips and building homes through Habitat for Humanity.

For our kids who have aspirations to work in construction, the Walsh family is there to show them the path. They have provided guest speakers at career information sessions to share advice and talk about the industry. Daniel’s wife, Patty, serves on Mercy Home’s Board of Directors and is instrumental in helping connect our kids to internship opportunities.

In honoring Margaret’s commitment to education, her support, and the support of her family – we dedicated the place that was so dear to her in her name. At a ceremony in 2015, our girls home and former Sisters of the Cenacle location became the Margaret Walsh Campus for girls. Now, her legacy not only lives on at Mercy Home; it is forever remembered in the community where she spent her life.

“I’m sure in spirit she’s at the Cenacle every day,” Daniel said. “And when she sees all the young girls that are being mentored at Mercy Home – I know she would be very proud.”

We are so grateful for the wonderful life Margaret led and for the continued support of her children and family. The Walsh family isn’t just a neighbor of Mercy Home – they are part of the village that helps our kids grow.