Homelessness and poverty are issues that I’d venture to say most people who don’t experience them firsthand only consider in passing–maybe around Thanksgiving, when the local food pantries ramp up their requests for donations. After all, it’s not a comfortable situation to imagine yourself in, and particularly not in a world that often feels increasingly unstable, where the worries of food security, affordable housing, and finding employment that provides a living wage mean that many of us don’t feel so far removed from that outcome.
But for those who are struggling with poverty and homelessness, these issues aren’t abstract; they’re pressing realities. And these realities affect women in different ways than they do men, including a prevalence of physical and sexual violence toward homeless women (source).
Serving Women in Need
Rosie’s Place is an nonprofit which aims to address the issues that poor and homeless women face and give them the tools to rise above their situations. Founded in 1974 by Kip Tiernan and located in Boston, MA, the organization prides itself on being the first women-only shelter in the United States and on their dedication to providing resources and compassionate, respectful support to the women they serve (source). Tiernan’s social justice roots informed her work in founding Rosie’s Place, which aims above all to recognize the humanity of the women who come to them for support and to provide that support in a way that preserves the dignity of those women.
Rosie’s Place is more than a shelter, and their services are wide-ranging and comprehensive. In addition to providing showers and overnight beds to women in need, they also offer free meals every day, a food pantry, and health care; advocacy (in multiple languages) and help finding housing assistance and employment opportunities; and educational opportunities such as computer, GED, and English as a Second Language classes. A women’s art cooperative also offers part-time employment making handcrafted jewelry and gifts (which can be purchased online here). Anyone self-identifying as a woman is welcomed with open arms to take advantage of these resources.
How Rosie’s Place Operates
Rosie’s Place receives no government funding, and this a conscious choice; it gives them the freedom to operate in the way that best serves their guests, rather than having to meet funding stipulations. Their endeavors are funded entirely by donations, and volunteers are an indispensable resource in making sure that things run smoothly. Volunteers serve by working in the kitchens and food pantry, teaching or tutoring in the classrooms, visiting women who are isolated or alone (such as those living in long-term care facilities), and in other capacities as well.
Homelessness and poverty are issues that affect far too many individuals, and Rosie’s Place is doing an excellent job of giving women in the Boston area a leg up when they need it most. To learn more about this excellent nonprofit, visit their website by clicking here. You can support Rosie’s Place by making a donation here; or, if you’re in the Boston area and would like to get involved, you can learn about volunteer opportunities here (and check out the volunteer FAQs here). College students have the opportunity to apply for (unpaid) internships; or, for individuals seeking to work for the organization, employment opportunities are posted here.
More than anything else, the care and empathy with which Rosie’s Place operates shines through in their mission and their approach to service, and that empathy is something the world needs more of. For those looking to help, supporting Rosie’s Place is a tangible step in that direction.
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