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FALL 2016 Rosie’s Place Works to Dispel “Bag Lady” Stereotype The Story of a Special Guest Our Executive Director Reflects on Our Community of Acceptance


Gearing Up for Election Season The Glass Castle Author Will Speak at Annual Luncheon October 13

Rosie’s Place Provides a Welcoming Environment for Guests Living with Mental Illness



MENTAL HEALTH WORKER Clinical psychologist Meghan Pugach joined Rosie’s Place from partner agency Brookline Community Mental Health Center a year ago to boost our mental health support for guests. She brings to the job a deep background in counseling, particularly with underserved populations. For her doctoral dissertation at Boston College, she researched the challenges poor women face when looking to an inadequate mental health care system for help. What she learned motivated her to offer something more to guests at Rosie’s Place. Can you tell us more about what you discovered in your Ph.D. work regarding the challenges women face in getting help? Challenges in accessing and maintaining mental health care include long waitlists, inflexible policies or procedures, and having little choice in your therapist (most often low-income clients are assigned to interns who turnover within the year). From my research I learned that once low-income women are in treatment, three overarching themes are most important to promoting buy-in and continued participation: the therapist’s awareness of the realities of living in poverty; the quality of the therapistclient relationship, built on a view of the client as a person, not a case or a constellation of problems; and an ability of the therapist to offer practical support in addition to emotional support (i.e. realizing that to realistically help someone, linking them to resources to access basic material needs is just as valuable and important as processing their various thoughts and feelings linked to their depression). What are your primary responsibilities here? I try to put out emotional fires by helping a woman in crisis at that moment. I will assess risk for suicide or violence and if necessary, help her access emergency services and sometimes even accompany her to the ER. I am also available to see women for supportive counseling. Often I help link guests to mental health providers if they are not currently receiving care or if the care they are receiving is not meeting their needs. I also help guests with applications for services through agencies such as the Department of Mental Health (DMH) or the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), and can perform clinical assessments to help with the application process. Through DMH a guest can connect with a collaborative team of providers who can offer help with case management, housing, medications and other treatment. Because Rosie’s Place has no government affiliation, we can remove some structural barriers to care and be more open. I can let the guest guide the work; we can be flexible and meet the women “where they are.” How do we counter any stigmatization guests face outside Rosie’s Place? I think the most important thing we can do is to recognize that the women we work with who have mental illness should not be defined by it. It is a part of them, but just that—a part of a whole person whose life is comprised of a range of experiences and strengths (not just difficulties). When I interviewed women for my study, so many commented on the significance of seemingly small gestures of kindness and/or authenticity that affirmed for them that they were seen as a fellow human being. Connecting to someone else who treats you in a mutual, collaborative and humanizing way is what matters most to our women—far more than a degree or a fancy treatment protocol ever could.

At Rosie’s Place, women living with a range of mental health issues have been welcome since the day we first opened our doors, 42 years ago. They are never demonized here but treated with the same acceptance and love shown to each of our guests. We work every day to erase the stereotype of the “bag lady,” replacing it with images of women who reach out for the support they need and bravely work towards a better life. “Given the pervasiveness of trauma in their lives, many of our guests grapple with depression, anxiety, PTSD or psychosis,” says Sandy Mariano, who oversees direct services as Vice President of Internal Programs. “We are mindful of treating all guests with respect and giving latitude to difficult and unintentional behavior.” Fifty years ago severely mentally ill persons were housed in public psychiatric hospitals. Today nearly all of those institutions are closed, but they were not replaced with a coherent care system, leaving thousands to navigate a fragmented network of community services or just give up. “There are not enough services available for our guests,” Sandy adds, “and, unfortunately, MassHealth patients encounter the most hurdles to care.”

Rosie’s Place provides a range of services to assist guests living with mental illness. We work with the Department of Mental Health (DMH) to have a member of their Homeless Outreach Team visit weekly to

Nai’s Story Nai grew up in an affluent family in Egypt that emphasized education for Nai and her sister. In school she mastered English, Spanish and French as well as her native Arabic. She came to Boston on a student visa at age 18, and went on to earn a nursing degree from Boston University and later a master’s degree from Yale. While working as a nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital she met her husband, an American citizen. They soon had a baby girl, Cotti, but Nai was abused by him and rejected as a foreigner by his family. She left him when Cotti was three years old, around 1969. A few years later, Nai and Cotti barely escaped a fire in their Chelsea apartment building. Nai, who received no support from her ex-husband, lost everything. She often said she thought he was responsible for the fire; this may have been when her paranoia began. Then, while walking Cotti to school, Nai watched as her daughter ran into the street and was killed by a motorist. Nai’s sister Fifi flew to Boston, collected Cotti’s body and brought it back to Egypt to be buried in their family’s tomb. Nai wanted to stay for the trial of the man who hit Cotti, a physician. Nai was devastated when he was acquitted.

connect our most critically mentally ill homeless guests with their services and transitional housing. We also have hired our own mental health clinician who provides supportive counseling to guests, advice to staff and other services. (See Q & A on this page.)

Recently, The Boston Globe began a series of articles investigating a crisis in the mental health care system in Massachusetts. While the stories correctly pointed out the myriad ways persons who are mentally ill are not getting the services they need, many mental health activists objected to a focus on the violent behavior of a handful of individuals. With so little attention to this issue, they protested, why sensationalize the lives of the people who need help and understanding?

We are mindful of treating all guests with respect and giving latitude to difficult and unintentional behavior. Sandy Mariano, VP of Internal Programs

Rosie’s Place Advocates meet individually with guests and often work to locate hard-to-find inpatient beds and available clinical services. In addition, our housing stabilization workers refer guests with acute physical and, especially, mental health needs to our Community Health Worker Program. Among many services, such as finding medical and behavioral health providers for guests, program manager Guissela Mariluz helps improve communication at medical appointments. She often finds that women who are severely mentally ill are not treated with understanding and respect by health professionals. Guissela is present to support guests and intervene on their behalf, leading to more positive interactions and better care. “For a long time, I heard from our guests that they were being stigmatized and mistreated,” Guissela says. “I am able to speak up for guests and help them get what they need. And the health results are better when I can encourage our guests to stay connected to their providers. I believe it will make a positive difference.” Rosie’s Place will continue to do what is within our power for guests living with mental illness while pursuing all external avenues for their care. “We can provide clinical services here and referrals,” Sandy says, “but, for many guests, all they want right now is a safe place that is loving and nonjudgmental. And we can do that, too.”

At this point, Nai’s life began to really unravel. Nai never applied for citizenship and eventually, she lost her job, overstayed her work visa and ended up homeless. For decades after, she bounced between having housing and living in shelters or on the street. “Nai revealed her story to me very gradually over the 15 years we knew each other,” says Vice President for Internal Programs Sandy Mariano. “I met her at Rosie’s Place when I worked for the Department of Mental Health (DMH). She was a little wary of me at first but I persisted, stopping to say ‘hi’ or to have a conversation. She slept on our ramp or in the bus stop shelter then in front of Rosie’s Place, with the occasional stay here or at the city’s Woods-Mullen shelter. When I began working as an Advocate at Rosie’s Place, we met regularly. I repeatedly tried to see if we could secure her some benefits, but she refused to provide any real information regarding her identity, making the process impossible.” Over the years, Nai survived two massive heart attacks–one took place while in our shelter and the other was when she was living on the street. She was able to get

housing after the first incident, but lost it because of her hoarding. After the second event, she agreed to go to Parker West, a DMH transitional program. Nai could be challenging to work with because her mental health issues were so prominent and hoarding and argumentative behaviors caused her to jeopardize her housing. But that was balanced by her many wonderful qualities: she was quite smart, interesting, charming and kind. She was appreciative of anything she was given and would knit scarves as “thank yous” with a stitch she said she created. She had a hard shell, but once Rosie’s Place was able to crack it, she felt safe enough to receive help from all of us here. Continued on Page 2

Sandy, Nai and Jane at Logan Airport

our executive director on on the rare community that is rosie’s place. In 1966, in severe emotional distress after a miscarriage, a 21-year old Judi Chamberlin was committed to a psychiatric hospital. Judi quickly discovered that once she became a patient, it was nearly impossible to regain her freedom. She was told that she would never be able to live outside an institution. Judi defied her prognosis and went on to help found what is known as the psychiatric user, survivor and ex-patient movement. It was the heady era of civil rights, consciousnessraising, women’s liberation, and gay liberation. Judi drew courage and inspiration from these popular movements. By 1971, she was working with the Mental Patient’s Liberation Project in New York. And the rest, as they say, is history. - National Empowerment Center website Dear Friends: When Rosie’s Place was founded in 1974, then– like today–women with mental illness were some of the neediest women who came for help. At that time, Kip and others were inspired by the words of activists like Judi Chamberlin. Judi’s own history of hospitalization and medication gave her work for the empowerment of people with mental illness particular resonance. Judi reminded everyone that when a person has a mental health disability, they do not become less than human, less than adult, less than a full-fledged member of our community. Taking its cue from this perspective–which aligned perfectly with Kip’s philosophy of unconditional love–Rosie’s Place created a sanctuary which did not medicalize women with mental illness. Like everyone else, women with disabilities are our guests. Acknowledging that women with mental illness were full members of the Rosie’s Place community was one of the most significant steps Kip took to create a place that was unique from other institutions of the time. While many women at Rosie’s Place are affected by depression, anxiety and PTSD given the omnipresence of trauma in their lives, there is a smaller, but very noticeable group of guests who suffer from major mental illnesses that hamstring their lives in almost every way. Even worse, for some guests who have had terrible experiences with state hospitals, psychiatric meds or the state’s mental health system, their wariness of, and resistance to, engagement makes it tough for them to get what they need–like disability incomes, or health care or affordable housing. At Rosie’s Place, we’ve found that offering help in a non-judgmental and compassionate way that follows the guest’s preferences–not ours–is often the best way for a woman with mental illness to get what she needs and wants. Judi Chamberlin, Kip Tiernan and many other voices of justice consistently made the point we all sometimes forget: poor women, disabled women, homeless women want and deserve to be treated the same as you and I. By following that commonsense dictum, Rosie’s Place has created a community that is far too rare. A community that looks at a woman’s strengths and builds on them. For our guests, it is this rare community that they seek out and depend upon.

NAI’s STORY Continued from Page 1 Realizing a Dream

Once Nai opened up, we learned her dream: to return to her home in Cairo. With her sister, we acquired all of the documentation needed for a passport and sent information to the Egyptian consulate explaining her situation. Sandy even took a picture of Nai to prove to the consulate that the person in the picture matched her birth certificate. After about six months of constant phone calls and emails, the consulate issued Nai’s traveling papers. It was November of 2014. She was excited but also nervous to fly home alone. Rosie’s Place staffer Jane Adler agreed to accompany her on the first leg of the trip, to New York.

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.

The morning of the flight Nai tried to back out, but we knew that it was now or never. We called her sister and after they spoke, she was back on track. She flew easily with Jane to New York and made the transfer to Egypt. When she arrived in Cairo, Nai called. Her exact words were “Sandy Mariano, I made it to Cairo and I didn’t drop dead of a heart attack on the plane!” Sandy says it was the best call she ever got.

Director of Communications and Editor Michele Chausse

Epilogue: The last two years of Nai’s life were happy: she was with family, secure and able to enjoy simple things like having her hair and nails done and enjoying tea at the beach. We learned that she passed away peacefully in June and was buried with her daughter, as she had asked. She was 84.

We’d love to hear from you! Please contact us with your comments at 617.318.0210.

Executive Director Sue Marsh Director of Development Leemarie Mosca

Communications Coordinator Cara Rotschafer Design Colette O’Neill

Please support Rosie’s Place by making a donation online at or by sending a gift in the enclosed envelope. We thank you!


“I’m a carpenter at Floorcoverers Local 2168. I decided to open up a business of my own because when projects were over, myself being the only female on the job, I was always the first to go. The skills I learned here have helped me to be successful and strong.”

“At first, I thought I’d be, like, just putting away plates, but I’ve really had the chance to connect with people. The seminars let you understand more about the guests, that there can be just one small thing that gets a person off track. I realized that we’re really not that different. This has been one of the better summers I’ve had.”

Karen H., a recent graduate of the Self-Advocacy department’s Leadership Institute, which aims to empower guests by teaching social justice leadership.

Marcus Barrington Williams, a rising senior at Newton South High School and one of 51 participants in Volunteer Services’ Social Justice Institute.

In her writing, Judi Chamberlin said “We need to start encouraging people to dream, and to articulate their own visions of their own futures. We may not achieve all our dreams, but hoping and wishing are food for the human spirit. We, all of us, need real goals to aspire to, goals that we determine, aims that are individual and personal.” Thanks to your generous support and steadfast commitment to Rosie’s Place, we make sure all our guests have that food for the human spirit. Thank you for believing in our work, and in all the women who come to our doors.

With faith,


“It was an awesome experience and I felt like I contributed to my community in a way I never have before. The smiles from the women we served meals to made me feel grateful that I had the opportunity to be part of a very important community service. I think Sue [Seguer, shift coordinator] rocks—she runs a tight ship!” Feedback from Allyson Murray (fourth from left), a volunteer who prepared and served a meal for guests in July with her colleagues at Beacon Health Options.



Rosie’s Place was fortunate to be the beneficiary of three charity golf tournaments this summer. We received much-needed funds from New England Coffee’s 24th Annual Charity Golf Classic at the Andover Country Club; the Real Estate Finance Association’s 2016 Charitable Golf Tournament at the Blue Hill Country Club, Canton; and the 20th Annual PHCC of MA Golf Outing & Tournament at the Foxboro Country Club.. In photo, from left are, Katie Amoro, Rosie’s Place; Cristina Sadler, New England Coffee; and Meaghan Gangi, of other beneficiary, VNA Hospice Care.

Simons Shoes in Brookline and Naot Footwear donated 100 pairs of new shoes for our guests during their Give Back event in June. In photo are, from left, Natalia Crosby, Simons Shoes; Katie Amoro, Rosie’s Place; and Missy Crosby, Simons Shoes.

Send hope

Our young professionals group, Friends of Rosie’s Place, partnered with Urban Grape in Boston’s South End for a spring wine tasting event. Attendees enjoyed a guided tasting by women winemakers, networked and learned about our critical work. In photo, from left are Sarah Galligan, Colleen Mack, Ari Williams and Liana Joubert. Rosie’s Place was also honored to be chosen as Urban Grape’s first Urban Community partner of the month. As part of the program, they donated 10% of the proceeds of featured wines and held a wine tasting to raise funds for our guests.

Thanks to the generosity of more than 240 Rosie’s Place friends, we raised a record $562,000 at our annual Safe and Sound gala. Held May 4 at the Black Falcon Terminal, the special event featured chef tastings, live and silent auctions and Susan Wornick and WBUR’s Bill Littlefield as co-emcees. Critical to this success were event chairs Christina and Michael Gordon, Anne Kubik and Michael Krupka, Marriott Daughters Foundation (photo of table above), Michele May and David Walt, OMAM, Deb and Mark Pasculano and Winston Flowers.


for the holida

When you order holiday cards from Rosie’s Place, you’re helping to fund programs that give care, comfort and support to 12,000 women each year. Send greetings to family, friends and clients–and give the gift of hope. Choose from classic Boston scenes and winter illustrations from acclaimed local artists. All designs are available as 10-packs, variety packs and custom-printed orders. Winter Evening by Thomas Dunlay

You can remember Rosie’s Place at holiday time in two ways: Purchase packs of cards • 8 winter scenes to choose from

Personalize your greeting with custom-printed cards

• 10-packs of 1 design: $18

• Available on orders of 50+ cards

• 15-packs with 3 designs: $24

• Print a unique message in color or B+W

• Comes with envelopes and classic greeting

• Add logo, photo or signatures for a special touch

inside: “Warm wishes for a happy and

• Envelopes are included and can be customized

healthy holiday season.”

• Our online ordering system makes ordering quick and easy

Order your special holiday greetings while supporting the work of Rosie’s Place today! • Online: • Phone: Cara Rotschafer at 617.318.0238 • Email: • Mail: send a check to Rosie’s Place, Attn: Holiday Cards, 889 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 02118

Did K




We brought health services from 32 organizations to Franklin Field, our satellite office in Dorchester, for our second annual Health Fair. Co-hosted with the Boston Housing Authority, families received vital information on everything from nutrition and senior health to dental care and education. Ninety adults and their children attended the event, which included a free yoga class, massages, face painting, a bouncy house, raffle prizes and more. Over the summer, our Public Policy department held screenings of both national conventions, as well as trainings where guests could learn how to assist staff by registering others to vote. Throughout the fall, they will screen the presidential debates, invite local candidates to speak at forums and publish a candidate guide. In addition, they will educate voters on statewide and Boston-specific ballot questions, including Boston’s initiative to adopt the Community Preservation Act. We will also take guests to the polls each day during the new earlyvoting period prior to Election Day. We are now seeking volunteers to help serve breakfast Monday through Friday to 60-110 women! Volunteers help ensure our guests have a good start to the day by welcoming them to the dining room, brewing coffee and setting up the breakfast buffet with healthy items like toast, English muffins, cereal and yogurt. To become a volunteer or to sign up for shifts, please visit

More than 100 women in our ESOL classes contributed to a book of their collected writings, “My Dreams.” During our winter Writing Café in the Women’s Education Center, students worked with volunteer teachers to improve their writing and then polished their favorite pieces to be published in the book. Qi X (in photo) wrote: “When I was a high school student, I thought to become a teacher, a daughter and finally I wanted to be a physicist. Presently I am an old woman. My dream is to have a healthy life, curiosity for something new, to learn English and go on a tour with my daughters. I believe that I can accomplish my dream and it will become true!”

Rosie’s Place accepts no government funds and relies instead on committed supporters like you!

author will share her story october 13 at fwsb

the glass castle



We are already looking to make the holiday season happier for 500 guests by providing them with a special gift which, for many, may be the only present they will receive. With your help we can provide a warm holiday experience that will be—like everything else at Rosie’s Place—wrapped in unconditional love and respect. Most needed items are: $25 Gift Cards • CVS • Walgreens • Target • Payless • Old Navy

Children’s Toys • We have a limited need for children’s toys. Please contact us if you are interested in organizing a toy drive.

Finishing Touches • Gift bags • Wrapping paper • Ribbons and tape Holiday Gifts • Bath and body gift sets with lotion, body wash and body spray (from stores such as Bath & Body Works) • Sets of hats, scarves and gloves Your generosity will help brighten the season for our guests and their families. Please contact Katie Amoro at 617.318.0211 or for more information and to arrange a drop-off time. We hope to receive all holiday donations by December 9, 2016. Thank you for your support!

We are pleased to announce that author Jeannette Walls will share her story of struggle and survival growing up in an unconventional family at our FWSB luncheon this year. The annual event, which brings together 1,700 supporters to celebrate Rosie’s Place’s unique mission, will be held on Thursday, October 13, 2016, from noon to 2 p.m. at the Hynes Convention Center. We are looking forward to another sold-out event and to surpassing last year’s record-breaking proceeds of $700,000! Jeannette is author of the bestselling memoir The Glass Castle, which is being adapted into a movie starring Academy Award winner Brie Larson. The book recounts the nomadic, poverty-stricken upbringing Walls and her siblings had at the hands of their deeply dysfunctional parents, who were themselves homeless in their later years. At times harrowing and at times hilarious, her story is one of triumph against all odds as well as a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a flawed family. The memoir spent an unprecedented 261 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list. The afternoon will be co-hosted by longtime emcee extraordinaire Susan Wornick, along with her WCVB friend Karen Holmes Ward. They will be joined by anchorwomen from Boston television outlets: Kim Khazei, Kate Merrill, Shannon Mulaire and Vanessa Welch. This event is made possible through the support of Headlining Sponsors Bank of America, Christina and Mike Gordon, Linda and Jay Hooley, Michele May and David Walt, OMAM and Deb and Mark Pasculano, Presenting Centerpiece Sponsor Neiman Marcus Natick and Leading Sponsors Boston Interiors, Holly and David Bruce, Eastern Bank, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, J.Jill, Anne Kubik and Michael Krupka and Pioneer Investments. At the luncheon you’ll have the chance to network with other Rosie’s Place supporters, shop for gorgeous jewelry made by our guests, win a fabulous centerpiece from Neiman Marcus Natick and hear the inspiring stories of the women of Rosie’s Place. All proceeds from the afternoon help provide food, housing, advocacy, education and employment opportunities—and so much more—for the 12,000 women who visit us each year. “Every year at FWSB, we celebrate Rosie’s Place and the loyal supporters and new friends who are key to keeping our doors open for every poor and homeless woman who wants our help,” says Executive Director Sue Marsh. “In the best of times, our guests work hard to make ends meet; in the meaner times, they count on Rosie’s Place even more. From food programs like our Dining Room and Food Pantry to material assistance and advice provided through our Overnight, Advocacy and Outreach programs, we aim to help women meet their biggest needs, right now. Thanks to our committed luncheon guests, we are able to make all this possible.” You can support Rosie’s Place by becoming a sponsor or by purchasing your tickets today. Tickets are $175; to order, visit For questions or sponsorship information, please contact Katie Amoro at or 617.318.0211.We hope to see you on October 13!

Friends of Rosie’s Place Fall Night Out



September 22, 2016, 7:00 - 8:30 pm Harpoon Brewery, 306 Northern Ave, Boston

Join Friends of Rosie’s Place for our Fall Night Out! You’ll have the opportunity to try both old and new Harpoon favorites while meeting other young professionals and learning about our critical work. Tickets are $25 and include a variety of beer samples from Harpoon Brewery, cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes and other light refreshments. This is just one of many exciting fundraising and networking events in and around the Boston area we are planning. For event details, or to join our planning committee, contact Kristen Leonard at or 617.318.0232.

WBUR’s A Christmas Carol Tuesday, December 20, 2016, 7:00 pm Omni Parker House, Boston

Save the date for the 14th anniversary of WBUR 90.9 FM’s reading of the Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol. You will hear your favorite WBUR personalities bring this timeless tale to life at Boston’s historic Omni Parker House, the site of Dickens’ first reading. Tickets are $60 and all proceeds benefit Rosie’s Place. Tickets will be available in November; check back at for more information. 889 Harrison Avenue Boston, MA 02118


Rosie's Place Fall Newsletter 2016  

Recent news and stories from Rosie's Place

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