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SPRING 2014 A Timeline of Rosie’s Place’s First 40 Years Q & A with Overnight Advocate Rev. Laura Ahart Our Executive Director Reflects on Our Anniversary


Food Stamp Cuts Affect Rosie’s Place Guests Newly Redesigned Website Debuts New Items from WCC Artisans

Rosie’s Place: The First 40 Years

Photo courtesy of the Bay State Banner


As we celebrate the anniversary of our founding 40 years ago, we’d like to share a bit of Rosie’s Place’s history, from its humble beginnings in an old supermarket to a thriving community center that today gives hope and help to 12,000 poor and homeless women annually. We are grateful to every one of our kind and generous friends who have supported us along the way.


Among her many roles, the Rev. Laura Buchanan Ahart has for the last two years served as a part-time overnight advocate for the 20 women staying at Rosie’s Place. She also is pastor of the United Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, a prison chaplain, chair of the Criminal Justice Committee for the Black Ministerial Alliance and a visible, approachable presence on the streets of Boston. Rev. Ahart was recently named a Woman of Courage and Conviction by the National Council of Negro Women, Boston chapter. What led you to take a job at Rosie’s Place? I was ministering to men and women at the Nashua Street Jail in Boston, but in 2005 the women were moved to the South Bay House of Correction. At Rosie’s Place I found I could stay connected to women with the same kinds of issues. Do you find the concerns of our guests very much the same or different from those of the men you see at the jail? You might be surprised, but there are mostly similarities. Whether you’re incarcerated or homeless, you don’t want to be in that situation. You’re feeling hopeless, discouraged. You’re missing your family. You want to be independent but you don’t know how to get out of that hole. What is your approach with people you minister to? I always try to bring a nurturing attitude to people, whether they’re gang members on the street or felons or my congregation or Rosie’s Place guests. I am not judgmental. I treat people with respect and I don’t tolerate disrespect toward me, so I fit in well here. I raised two sons as a single parent in the South End and I found tough love and having something to focus on in their lives kept them on the right track. That model can work for lots of people. What do you think Rosie’s Place guests are seeking? They want to know that someone cares, that someone will look out for them. They are used to hearing negatives, what they can’t do. So I give lots of encouragement, no matter where they’re at. I can also provide leads for services they can use and support for taking that first step toward trying to turn things around. At the end of the day, I just try to be where the need is.

On Easter Sunday 1974, Kip Tiernan, with four other volunteers and $250 donated by friends, opened the doors to Rosie’s Place in the empty Rozen’s Supermarket on Columbus Avenue in Boston’s South End. It was the first women-only shelter in the United States. Kip chose the name Rosie’s Place because it held no connotations and sounded like it could be a women’s coffeehouse or favorite aunt’s kitchen; “Rosie” is no one in particular, yet all our guests. A decision was made at the outset to accept no city, state, or federal money to ensure Rosie’s Place’s independence from outside demands, policies, or prejudices.

On opening day there were more volunteers than guests. Small, pink notices that read “If you need a meal, come here and we’ll help you” were distributed among women in the neighborhood. From that day, the word about Rosie’s Place spread and the number of women who sought us out began to grow. Through a fire, downturns in the economy and many other challenges, Rosie’s Place has continued to expand in size and scope in order to meet our guests’ needs. What has never changed is the unconditional love, understanding and acceptance offered to every woman who walks through our doors.

1998 A capital campaign was launched to expand and rebuild Rosie’s Place. Commitments of more than $3.2 million were made for the reconstruction.

1974 Rosie’s Place opens on Easter Sunday in the former Rozen’s Supermarket on Columbus Ave., Boston.

1977 Rosie’s Place moved into a five-story row house in Washington Street in Boston’s South End, and purchased a triple-decker on Columbia Road, Dorchester. Not long after, this became our first permanent housing for nine formerly homeless women.

1984 Shortly after Rosie’s Place’s 10th birthday on April 24, fire destroyed the top two floors of the Washington Street building. Staff, volunteers, guests and neighbors came

1996 The Women’s Craft Cooperative was formed and this social enterprise, which gave job training and permanent, part-time employment to Rosie’s Place guests, began “turning buttons into brooches.”

1995 Rosie’s Place converted a tripledecker in Dorchester into a home for women living with HIV, after starting a pilot program on one floor of the Columbia Road, Dorchester house.

2000 Rededication took place in June. New services in the renovated building included a dining room that seats 150, new showers and laundry facilities, a wellness center, and the Rosie’s Place Groceries food pantry.

2010 A new Women’s Education Center was completed in the space adjacent to Rosie’s Place at 887 Harrison Avenue. In classrooms on four floors, women attend free onsite ESOL, computer and literacy classes.

2014 Rosie’s Place continues to grow, in recent years adding a Self-Advocacy department and enhancing community outreach with the launch of Outreach services.

together to offer assistance and support and, with the help of the Boston community, all services were restored


within 24 hours. Plans started on renovating the former

Rosie’s Place’s new home was dedicated on June 2. The previous location on Washington Street was then converted into a lodging house that provided a permanent home for 13 women.

location of St. Philip’s Church at 889 Harrison Avenue, Boston, where Kip had volunteered earlier.

Monjoa’s Story

It was only when she took a secret journey of 5,532 miles from her home in the village of Limbe, Cameroon to Boston and Rosie’s Place that Monjoa finally felt at peace. Although she is currently undocumented and homeless, she says, “Since I have been here, my life has changed. I am happy.”

Monjoa was only five when her mother died in childbirth. She was taken in by a succession of families as a helper and had to forgo schooling. She was married at 16 and not long after the birth of her second child, her legs lost all their strength. She could not stand or walk unassisted. Sadly, her husband and his family did not believe or help her; they would not pay for medical care, and traditional remedies she underwent were painful

and cruel. “I was suffering, but these experiences made me strong,” Monjoa says. Amid feelings of abandonment, isolation and shame, Monjoa prayed and found inspiration. She learned how to sew from a neighbor; not only did she now earn her own money for medical treatment, but the pedals of the sewing machine strengthened her legs. She got through each day the best she could. Her husband eventually died and she refused another man’s offer to marry. He habitually sexually assaulted her until she fought back one night and an elder from another township came to her aid. “I did not think of a future, I just wanted to die,” Monjoa says. Papa, as Monjoa calls him, knew

the only answer was for her to leave. He arranged for her to clandestinely fly out of the country with him. She stayed with his family in Washington, D.C. and other temporary connections in the Boston area. Today Monjoa receives medical treatment and assistance from Boston Medical Center; her legs are strengthening with the cane and care they provided. She has stayed in the Overnight Program throughout the past year and while she waits for housing, spends most days here, enjoying meals, and taking part in self-advocacy and arts activities and iPad classes. She has improved her English through close friendships with our guests. “Rosie’s Place has built me back up,” Monjoa says. “I was in the dark and now I feel some light.”

Our Executive Director on 40 Years of Rosie’s Place Dear Friends: Forty years ago, Kip Tiernan and a small group of friends opened the doors of Rosie’s Place not knowing quite what to expect. They planned to offer coffee, clothes, a place to hang out, and some compassionate listening. Forty years later, Rosie’s Place still provides all of that—and much more. Today, our guests visit Rosie’s Place for needs small and large, simple and complex. For one guest, a meal or a Charlie ticket is all she needs. For another guest, her daily visit to Rosie’s Place includes not only a meal and a visit with an outreach worker, but taking part in an art activity or a skill-building workshop. Truly a community center for poor and homeless women, Rosie’s Place offers so much to so many women who have no place else to turn. As Rosie’s Place came into being in 1974, that world was filled with as much change as today’s. Leaders fell (President Nixon), records were broken (Hank Aaron) and new ways to waste time were invented (People Magazine). In Boston, Judge Garrity ordered busing to desegregate the schools, and Bruce Springsteen opened for Bonnie

Food Stamp Cuts Affect Rosie’s Place Guests Recent cuts to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, are taking away critical resources for poor women and forcing difficult choices. At Rosie’s Place, we see thousands of women every year who come to us because of hunger. They are often confronted with these tough questions: If you have only $1.40 (the average food assistance amount) to spend for dinner, what will you eat? Which meal would you skip to make your dollar go further? In the face of such great need, it is unfortunate that legislative action in the past few months has chipped away at vital food assistance benefits. In 2009 President Obama signed the Recovery Act (or the stimulus bill) to buffer Americans from the worst effects of the Great Recession. Among the law’s provisions was a temporary freeze on cuts to SNAP benefits, which are calculated based on the strength of the economy. This stimulus made a tremendous difference in both meeting the greater demand for food assistance due to historic unemployment levels and inching SNAP benefits toward the real costs of healthy nutrition. Unfortunately, Congress did not extend the freeze on cuts. Due to Congress’s failure to act, SNAP benefits in November were cut across the board an average of $30 per month, with Massachusetts losing $95 million in food assistance. While $30 less may not seem like a lot to many Americans, a cut of any amount can be critical to our guests.

Raitt in Cambridge. What a world! The newly-founded

“My food stamps were cut from $54 to $51 dollars. It doesn’t seem like much, but I had to choose one less item a month,” said Marie. “How many items can you get for $50 to last you a month? One less item is a lot.” Another guest, Alicia, added “My food stamps were cut from $300 to $260. Three hundred was barely enough to feed myself and my two daughters. Food barely lasts two weeks. I would like to buy healthier food, but I have to choose food that is cheap to make it stretch. Luckily we can come to Rosie’s Place to eat; without that I wouldn’t know what to do.” In the meantime, Congress has been debating a Farm Bill which is comprised of 80% SNAP funding and 20% funding for corporate farms. In February 2014, Congress did act and their solution was to triple the cuts to the most vulnerable members of our society. In the midst of record low temperatures across the nation, Congress passed a bipartisan compromise reducing SNAP benefits in high heating cost states to households that receive little or no fuel assistance. In Massachusetts that means 125,000 low-income individuals, most of whom are elderly or disabled, will lose an additional $90 per month of food assistance in addition to the stimulus cut. We are fortunate that none of Massachusetts’ U.S. senators or congressmen voted for this legislation. And we apprehensively await the implementation of this new law in the spring. Contact Public Policy Director Sana Fadel at for more information.

Rosie’s Place fit right in: it was a place that was unlike any other, that set the highest value on pursuing social justice and alleviating suffering. Even our choice of words trumpeted our unique nature: We would welcome our guests with unconditional love. We would serve them in our Dining Room, Overnight and Rosie’s Place Groceries. Words that emphasized the otherness of our guests were banished; we welcomed the women who visited as we

Please support Rosie’s Place by donating online at or by sending a gift in the enclosed envelope.

We thank you!

would family. Then, as now, we made sure that our guests would have our whole hearts, and we would embrace them without reservation. The next 40 years will certainly see as much change and growth as the past 40. We will see our Education


Center, Outreach program and other programs that foster independence and dignity thrive. We’ll absolutely continue to partner with like-minded organizations—both to bring their services into Rosie’s Place, and to bring our extraordinary kind of approach and care to poor and homeless women beyond our four walls. But I hope with all my heart that the services we provide due to terrible failures in our world will disappear because they are no longer needed. Perhaps we’ll see a Dining Room that offers a meal as only a means for companionship and comfort—not because our guests cannot afford any other place to eat. Perhaps we’ll see an Overnight that offers

“I came to Rosie’s Place in the 90s with just $10 and the clothes on my back. It was like Jesus answered the door. They gave me a meal, a job at the Women’s Craft Cooperative, a place to live for 12 years. I made the best friends of my life. Rosie’s Place put me back together.” Elizabeth Sanborn, a longtime guest of Rosie’s Place, who is still connected through our Friendly Visitor program

guests a bed for short-lived, brief emergencies—rather


than a substitute for a home of their own. Perhaps if we dream it, we can make it true.

“I love being in the Dining Room, I love the interaction with other volunteers and guests, I love everything about Rosie’s Place! I’ve seen a big change in the menus over the last nine years. When the meals started to become more healthy and nutritious, it was a bit of an adjustment for the guests. But it’s become a real positive change. I always say ‘Rosie’s Place lives up to their mission statement, completely.’”

We’ll celebrate our 40th anniversary this Easter in the usual way: food all day, entertainment, lots of volunteers and visiting friends, a big birthday cake. We’ll visit with new guests, and with women who return just to wish us a happy anniversary. That special nature of our community will resonate throughout the day! Thanks to your help and support, we embrace our duty

Pam Abenaim, a volunteer from Lynnfield since 2005, who has logged 773 hours assisting with meals, as well as holiday gift wrapping and driving guests to the polls.

to protect every woman who visits us. From 1974 to the present day, you’ve made it possible for us to keep the doors open and the lights shining. You’ve provided a sanctuary for women alone, scared and sad. Thank you so much for caring. With faith,

Sue ROSIE’S PLACE NEWS is published three times a year to inform our friends about activities and events taking place throughout the Rosie’s Place community. OUR MISSION is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for poor and homeless women to maintain their dignity, seek opportunity, and find security in their lives. Executive Director Sue Marsh Director of Development Leemarie Mosca Director of Communications and Editor Michele Chausse Communications Coordinator Katie Gustainis Vela Design Colette O’Neill We’d love to hear from you! Please contact us with your comments at 617.318.0210.

Pam “When I first came to Rosie’s Place in 1990 we assisted women with the services of two advocates in the ‘Drop-in Center’ on weekdays and one advocate in the Overnight Program. It was exciting to watch the Advocacy department grow over the years as we strived to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population. We’ve always asked guests to tell us how we can help, and then we try to be responsive. Today our Advocacy department has nine multi-lingual Advocates who handle a range of shortand long-term issues as well as outside service providers that augment our services.” Anna Barbara Carter-Bruno, currently Rosie’s Place Health Services Director

Anna Barbara (AB)

Did K ? You


In December Rosie’s Place hosted a delegation of academics, attorneys and

government officials from Iraq who were meeting with nonprofits here to learn more about U.S. approaches to human trafficking and sexual abuse. The seven Iraqi visitors spoke to staff from Rosie’s Place and other Boston nonprofits about homelessness and

Rosie’s Place Launches New Website Rosie’s Place launched a newly redesigned website in mid-February. If you haven’t already had the occasion to visit, we encourage you to do so! We’ve made it even easier to learn about our work and to find what you need: • • • • •

A special section with access to information and services for guests Volunteer login on home page and an up-to-date “News and Needs” section A streamlined Women’s Craft Cooperative shop with bigger photos and quicker check out First-person videos from guests and volunteers Simple-to-use donation pages

Once you’ve spent some time on the site, please let us know what you think via email at After all, this website is a vital connection to you!

shelters as well. Front desk coordinator Anaivis Hernandez has received








and inspiring individuals who demonstrate an uncommon commitment to social justice, service, and lifting people out of poverty for good.” Ana worked with LIFT



toward meeting education and employment goals. In addition to working at Rosie’s Place, she is taking classes at Bunker Hill Community College. Rosie’s Place started a partnership in December with the Boston chapter of Back on My Feet (BoMF), a national organization that uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves





employment and independent living. The five to 10 guest members of Team Rosie’s Place meet at 6 am three mornings a week to either walk or run, along with a group of WBUR 90.9 FM personalities, from left, Bob Oakes, Delores Handy, Robin Young, Bill Littlefield and Tom Ashbrook brought A Christmas Carol to life at the 11th annual reading of the holiday classic at the Omni Parker House. The personalities and hundreds of attendees braved snowy December weather for this Rosie’s Place fundraiser that has become a Boston tradition.







competed in a 5K race in March. The market is up, which makes this an opportune time to consider donating shares of appreciated stock to Rosie’s Place. There will be no capital gains taxes on the profit and the current value of the investment can be deducted as a charitable contribution. The first step is to identify which investments to donate

Dedicated volunteer Hal Cutler of Sudbury was named a “Patriots Difference Maker” by the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation for his 17-year leadership of a group of volunteers from Sudbury’s Memorial Congregational Church. Cutler was honored along with 14 other weekly difference makers and received a $1,000 grant for Rosie’s Place at the final game of the Patriots regular season.

Steve Koppel, an avid photographer and founder of the nonprofit MyMoments, discusses with a guest photographs she took using an iPad supplied by Rosie’s Place during a weekly workshop he has been offering. MyMoments is partnering with Rosie’s Place to enable guests to tell their stories by integrating Expressive Digital Imagery into the arts activities we provide.

and then set a target price for making the gift. Contact Benjamin Weisman at 617.318.0232 or



transfer instructions or to discuss this type of donation.


Two New Items for Spring from Our Artisans The Button Bracelet




Join in the yearlong celebration of our 40th anniversary with the Rosie’s Place Button Bracelet. This simply

Each week, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development places an average of 35 families in emergency shelter, often with nothing to ease a very difficult transition. Rosie’s Place wants to help our guests and other women in our community who are in this situation by providing special care packages. We hope Rosie’s Place supporters can lend a hand by filling a tote with all or many of these necessary items for a family of four, such as:

elegant 2.35” diameter silver finish bangle bracelet is adorned with a cluster of fresh water pearls, a Czech glass bead and a silver finish bead. The button charm represents the early days of the WCC at Rosie’s Place and its signature button brooches. It is on sale now and throughout 2014 for $40. The Mother’s Day Necklace Our limited edition Mother’s Day jewelry item for


2014 is a one-of-a-kind agate and bead necklace.

• Toiletries (soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, baby wipes, combs, brushes, feminine hygiene products, tissues) and adult and child socks. • Food (bottled water, juice boxes, granola bars, raisins, peanut butter, crackers, jelly, pretzels, dried fruit, and single packs of cereal, nuts, cookies, and oatmeal).

For a donation of $65 or more, this stunning necklace handcrafted by the Women’s Craft Cooperative will be sent to your mother, wife, daughter or special someone. We all benefit as you honor an important woman in your life while making every day a little better for Rosie’s Place guests.

Other needed items: A distinctive oval blue agate dangles from a 32” oval link chain with a silver matte finish. • Plastic plates, cups, flatware, can opener, napkins, paper towels, ziploc bags. • Notebook, pen, coloring book, crayons. • Flashlight, batteries, clothespins.

The chain is festooned with Labradorite gemstone beads, freshwater pearls in green and

This is a great volunteer project for schools, workplaces and church and other community groups. Hold a drive to collect these items and work together to package them—your efforts will truly make a difference for women and children in need. Contact Katie Amoro at or 617.318.0211 for more information. As always, we are grateful for your generosity.

Matching earrings featuring the Swarovski crystal will pair nicely with the necklace and

Safe and Sound Gala Tuesday, May 6, 2014 WGBH Studios, Brighton


Please join us for a special evening of food, friends and philanthropy at our annual Safe and Sound gala, celebrating 40 years of Rosie’s Place. You’ll enjoy delectable cuisine prepared and served by celebrity chefs with fine wine pairings–and the chance to win unique, insider-only auction packages. Sponsorship opportunities are available and tickets begin at $500. For more information, please contact Benjamin Weisman at 617.318.0232 or

copper, olive jade, aqua Swarovski crystals, metallic green crystals and glass beads in a deep orchid.

are available for $15 alone or as a set for a special price of $75. A simple yet elegant card will accompany the necklace, informing the honoree of your thoughtful generosity.

Both jewelry items can be purchased online at or by calling the WCC at 617.318.0282. As always, 100% of the proceeds support our vital services for poor and homeless women.

New England Coffee Company 22nd Annual Golf Tournament

Funny Women… Serious Business Luncheon

Spend the day at the beautiful Andover Country Club and enjoy lunch, dinner and a round of golf while raising funds for Rosie’s Place. For more information on the tournament and raffle, please contact New England Coffee at 781.873.1554 or visit the News & Events page at

Our yearlong anniversary celebration continues with our annual luncheon—the best in Boston! The featured speaker will be author Cheryl Strayed, whose #1 bestselling memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, details her 1,100-mile hike and the personal struggles that compelled her to take the journey. For sponsorship or ticket information, please contact Katie Amoro at 617.318.0211 or

Monday, May 12, 2014 Andover Country Club, Andover

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 Hynes Convention Center, Boston 889 Harrison Avenue Boston, MA 02118


Rosie's Place 2014 Spring Newsletter  
Rosie's Place 2014 Spring Newsletter