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2017 Ketteler Award for Social Justice

Saturday, August 5, 2017 - 7:00pm

The Sisters of Divine Providence presented the Ketteler Award for Social Justice to Dr. Zane H. Gates and Associate Jane Kerr.

Internist Zane Herbert Gates has spent his medical career giving back to his hometown of Altoona, Pennsylvania. It wasn’t easy growing up in the rural city where only a small percentage of the population is African-American. Dr. Gates was raised by his single mother Gloria in the Evergreen Manors housing project in the Eldorado section of Altoona. In a 2016 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, Dr. Gates remembers dodging friends at the supermarket as he went to hand the cashier food stamps. “They had dads, they had homes. … It was kind of intimidating,” he said. But his mother inspired and encouraged him to strive for what he desired in life. “She once told me I was going to change the world. … She was my best friend,” Dr. Gates said. She died when he was 22 years old.

Dr. Gates received his medical degree in 1995 from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He spent his residency at Allegheny General Hospital where he worked with Dr. Jim Withers—the Founder of Operation Safety Net, which provides medical care for the homeless on the streets of Pittsburgh. For Dr. Gates, attending to those less fortunate in our society was an inspiration. After his residency, he returned to Altoona zealously wanting to give back to the town where he was raised. In 1999, he initiated an after-school program and named it in honor of his mother—the Gloria Gates Memorial Foundation, which provides mentoring and academic enrichment for children in Altoona housing projects. At the same time, he started a free clinic in a van to provide quality medical care for the working poor—those who earn too much to qualify for a government health plan, but not enough to purchase private insurance. Dr. Gates’ van-based clinic evolved into Partnering for Health Services, which provides access to free health care to approximately 3,500 individuals in Altoona each year. All the while, he was also focused on inventing a new model for providing better healthcare at a lower cost. That model is Empower3 Center for Health—a direct-pay physician practice that he co-founded with Patrick Reilly. Empower3 Center for Health is dedicated to providing people with access to high quality medical care, enhanced knowledge to help them make better choices impacting their health, and encouragement and support to increase their own efforts to stay healthy.   

Dr. Gates has received numerous awards and recognition for his accomplishments, including the NAACP Award for community service, Mount Aloysius College Honorary  Doctorate Award, John Riley Community Service Award, WEB MD Health Hero of the Year Award, Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leaders Award and Daughters of the American Revolution Award— Local, State and National. He is also the author of the medical thrillers “The Cure” and “The McAllister Project,” whose profits benefit the Gloria Gates Memorial Foundation.

Twenty years as an Associate of the Sisters of Divine Providence, Jane Kerr is no stranger to putting her faith into action through hard work and sacrifice.

Jane grew up in Penn Hills—an eastern suburb of Pittsburgh—where she was taught in first grade by Sr. Muriel Young, CDP at St. Walburga in East Liberty, attended Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament School and graduated from Penn Hills High School in 1963. Jane went on to marry her husband of 49 years, Paul; have three children; start a small business selling sewing machines and custom drapes; and work at Allegheny General Hospital’s Drug Information Center, Stoneridge Covenant Church, North Hills Community Outreach and the Sisters of Divine Providence. These days, when not involving herself in mission trips an ocean away—or packing medical supplies for Christian Medical Missions Resource Foundation (CMRF)—Jane spends much of her time caring for her eight grandchildren. She is also a member of the Der Sitzmark Ski Club, the Pittsburgh Chapter of Inspired Women and the Steel City Boogie Dance Club. 

Jane began to put her gifts and talents to work for the poor villagers of Hoima, Uganda in 2003 when she participated in her first mission trip with Christ Church at Grove Farm located in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. On that and four subsequent mission trips—including a trip in January 2017—Jane worked with other missionaries to meet the basic health, educational, nutritional and spiritual needs of the villagers. They established clinics; taught nutrition, malaria prevention and first aid; engaged in Bible studies and sewed Bible covers; started a coffee farm; built a girls’ dormitory; drilled for clean water and dug water wells; taught women to cook on solar boxes; and gave out reading glasses, vegetable seeds, Bibles, mosquito nets, bicycles, bunk beds, soccer balls, bed sheets and hand-sewn baby dolls. Most recently, the missionaries started an animal farm with chickens, goats and pigs. The animal farm has become a self-sustaining source of steady income for the people of Hoima. The beans from Hoima’s coffee farm are roasted in Middlesex, Pennsylvania and sold as Ugandan Gold coffee in local stores. Proceeds from the coffee farm make it possible to dig borehole wells and have, to date, provided clean water to 250,000 villagers.

The impact of Jane’s Gospel-inspired passion, commitment and willingness to get involved in the lives of those most in need is reflective of Bishop Ketteler’s own untiring commitment to the poor and vulnerable. As a CDP Associate, she has taken Bishop Ketteler’s influence with her to yet another area of our world, showing the face of a loving God and forever enhancing and enriching lives. It is not only the Ugandans, however, who have benefitted from Jane’s spirit of service and self-sacrifice. Her inspiration is passed on to her children and grandchildren and felt by CDP Associates and Sisters alike.

In 1998, the Sisters of Divine Providence instituted the Ketteler Award to honor individuals who demonstrate a strong commitment to social justice. The award, named for Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler, Bishop of Mainz, Germany, and co-founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Divine Providence, is presented annually. Bishop Ketteler, honored in Germany as the “social justice bishop,” was a tireless fighter for the rights of the working class. He was bishop from 1850 until his death in 1877, at the age of 65.

CLICK HERE to make a gift in honor of Dr. Zane H. Gates or Associate Jane Kerr.

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