Meet Mary Ellen, A Bread & Roses Volunteer

Three days a week, Mary Ellen Weber walks from her Center City home to volunteer at Bread & Roses. From processing Lax Scholarship applications to community outreach to watering the office plants, Mary Ellen does it all.

Mary Ellen retired from a job at a showroom in the Marketplace Design Center where she worked for 16 years. But retirement did not end Mary Ellen’s desire to work— especially in pursuit of justice.

“Social justice defines what kind of society we live in,” says Mary Ellen.

Mary Ellen left rural Ohio where she grew up at age 18 to become a TWA flight attendant. She eventually got married and spent her days managing a home, raising her children, volunteering and attending classes.

In the 1970s, she became involved in the League of Women Voters and fighting for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Her activism led to a job in the New Jersey legislature.

“I was one of the first in my women’s consciousness-raising group to get a job,” she says. “And I remember telling the other women how easy work was compared to being a homemaker!”

Mary Ellen has never stopped working to make the world a better place. She has volunteered at the Philadelphia Athenaeum, Philadelphians Against Santorum, the Philadelphia Parks Alliance,, Jobs with Justice, and Fredrick Douglas Elementary School.

“There have been monumental changes to the fabric of our nation since the 1960s,” says Mary Ellen. “But you have to be vigilant. Especially looking at steps backwards like the incarceration epidemic and the chipping away of abortion rights.”

She has been volunteering with Bread & Roses for two years, but it’s difficult to imagine how the office ever ran without her.

“Bread & Roses is a wonderful place to be. If anyone has a few hours to spare, we could use your help with all kinds of special projects,” Mary Ellen says. “And volunteering here is good for your soul too!”

If you’d like to meet Mary Ellen or learn more about volunteering your time at Bread & Roses, please contact Maura Kelly, office manager at (215) 731-1107 x204 or

Thanks for all your hard work, Mary Ellen!

Mary Ellen Weber and her husband Robert Stern

Mary Ellen Weber and her husband Robert Stern