Sister Maureen Kelleher may be 81 years old, but this Immokalee woman who helped thousands of people as a nun, a lobbyist and an attorney, shows no sign of stopping her efforts to help immigrants in need of legal services.
“There’s a lot of love that comes at you from these people because they’re extremely grateful,” Kelleher said. “If I can help them, it’s like a love affair between the two of us.”
That love affair spans the decades for Kelleher, who started lobbying in Washington, D.C. in the 1970s and then pursued a law degree, so she could better speak up for the voiceless and provide legal services to people who may not be able to afford them otherwise.
“I’ve been working since 1984 in Immokalee and I have a large number of Guatemalan farmworkers that I’ve helped over the years,” Kelleher said.
Right now, Kelleher said she is working on citizenship for some people she’s helped through her work with Legal Aid Services of Collier County. Kelleher said she really likes helping children who feel powerless, but that the immigration legal process is expensive, so she is grateful for Art Aid Naples helping her non-profit.
“Art Aid Naples comes along and says we’re going to involve a lot of talented people and with the money, we’re gonna raise, we’re gonna help you,” Kelleher said.
This week, dozens of Southwest Florida artists like Steve and Cynthia Adams are donating their work to help Kelleher’s cause through the ‘Art Aid Naples’ online auction.
“It’s really amazing what she’s done and what she’s doing at her age,” Steve Adams said.