Rosie's Place Winter Newsletter 2020

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WINTER 2020 A Home for the Holidays Supporting Guests Through Our Helpline Our President on a Warm Holiday for Our Guests Ways to Get Involved This Month


A Christmas Carol Goes Virtual

A Home for the Holidays



DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY COLLABORATIVES Tenisha Saget’s role has continued to change and expand over the 12 years she has been with Rosie’s Place. Her first role was working with volunteers and, after a few years, she transitioned to the Advocacy program, helping our guests. When our School Collaborative in the Boston Public Schools was launched, Tenisha managed our service delivery in more than 50 schools. She now oversees the outreach efforts of both the School and Court Community Collaboratives and our Advocacy Helpline. What prompted Rosie’s Place to establish the Advocacy Helpline? When COVID-19 hit, it was easy for us all to feel alone and isolated, especially the poor and homeless women who count on our Advocates for support, help and many times, simply a listening ear. We knew we had to find another way to maintain our connection to our guests and to reach the many more women in need due to the pandemic. So we expanded and enhanced our School Collaborative Helpline—which was established as a way for moms to reach us or leave messages with us if they were unable to meet with an Advocate at their child’s school—to create the Advocacy Helpline. With more staffing and advanced technology, it’s become an immediate and effective way for us to be there for our guests at a time when they need us most. What are some of the unique aspects of the Helpline? When a woman calls the Helpline number– supported by a staff of 13 Advocates and three managers–she will reach a call center with features similar to conventional customer service lines. She’s able to choose a language for the call, either English, Spanish, Haitian Creole or Portuguese (which I speak), and she will be directed to the appropriate Advocate. Our guests tell us that they love immediately connecting to someone live. In the event a caller must be put on hold, we let her know what number she is in the queue and frequently update that number. We have found that this helps lessen the frustration of waiting for our callers. After hours, women can leave a voicemail and we will return the call within a day. These upgrades allow us to handle a larger volume of calls and increase our responsiveness to women who may be experiencing barriers to assistance in so many other areas of their lives. What type of services do we offer? Just about every Advocacy service we offered on-site we now provide through the Helpline. And we’re creative with the technology. Many women text us photos of rent and utility bills, documents and notices, so we can review them together and help resolve any issues. Often, we’ll mail paperwork we’ve helped fill out or MBTA passes to guests. Women having difficulty with unemployment benefits are referred to our Job Specialist, who will reach out to them. With so many children learning from home, moms who have lost their Internet access are turning to us for the funds they need to have it restored. In this way, we recently helped a family with five children get back on track for at-home learning. Are you seeing new areas of concern among the women we assist? Women who have never wanted to accept food stamps are now asking for help applying for them. Their families are hungry, feeling the loss of the meals their kids received at school. And maintaining housing, which is always a challenge for our guests, is becoming harder than ever. We’re hearing from women who have lost jobs and are overwhelmed with back rent, owing anywhere from $500 to $15,000. We are able to offer financial support as well as assistance with debt management. Our Legal Program has been looking into letters our guests are receiving from landlords telling them they have to leave without following the proper legal processes. The continuing impact and chaos brought on by COVID-19 has made our guests fearful and even more vulnerable. We are bracing ourselves for a difficult winter.

Grace speaks of her childhood, growing up in a small village in Cameroon, with a nostalgic smile. While her family didn’t have much themselves, they somehow always found they could spare something for their neighbors who had even less. In her home, acts of sacrifice and kindness were commonplace. Years later, Grace carried the lessons of her upbringing with her as she travelled on her own to Boston to reunite with her daughter and grandchildren. Her first time out of Africa, Grace was awestruck by America and grateful for the opportunity to live with her family. Unfortunately, this new home was a precarious one. Just months after she moved in, Grace’s daughter lost her job and, soon after, the apartment they were all sharing. The family had no choice but to separate. Alone in a new country and forced to ask strangers for help in a language she didn’t speak—Grace was overwhelmed.

No longer was she overwhelmed by the road ahead of her. With the support of Rosie’s Place, she was ready to walk it. When the pandemic hit in March, Grace was staying with us once again and was one of 20 women whose typical three-week stay in our shelter was extended indefinitely. In the midst of so much uncertainty, Grace was relieved to find constancy and comfort at Rosie’s Place. For months, she continued her work with our team to navigate the legal issues of her immigration and the many challenges of securing stable, affordable housing. Together they translated and completed all the necessary forms and follow-up to ensure her place on the waiting list for a housing voucher.

It is with great joy that I am writing this note to you. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to you for your hospitality, patience, kindness and professionalism…finally I have my own apartment and I am overjoyed…I will continue to visit this community that has sheltered me, fed me, and helped me with all my legal and health issues…Please accept my infinite gratitude and I hope you know that I appreciate all the help you gave me. To all of you: Thank you! Thank you!

- Grace She found refuge in a nearby city shelter. There she met a woman who told her about Rosie’s Place and offered to join her on the bus ride over to visit us. Grace met one of our Advocates, whom she was relieved spoke a dialect she could understand. Asking for help is hard, and asking it of those who don’t speak your native language is even harder. They were able to communicate in French, with Grace explaining her situation and our Advocate in turn explaining how Rosie’s Place could help her. At last, Grace felt like her voice could be heard. For the first time in too long, she felt hopeful. As good timing would have it, the next morning, a bed opened in our Overnight shelter. And by the next night, Grace was settling in for her three-week stay with us. A New Start Without the constant worries about where she would sleep and how she could eat, Grace was able to start working with our team of Advocates and Housing and Legal Specialists on the complex process of finding stable housing. They helped her to fill out the many applications she was required to complete in English. Over the next two years, Grace spent almost every day at Rosie’s Place. She enjoyed the friendly company and delicious meals she found in our Dining Room and enrolled in the English classes offered by our Women’s Education Center. She was delighted to be a part of the classroom community and relished the chance to learn the language of her new home. Grace also took part in meditation and yoga classes through our Wellness Center, which she says helped to ground her during a time of tumult. Advocates connected her to health care and then help with the transportation to and from her visits to her physical therapist. Grace felt like she was claiming control.

In June, Grace got the news she had been waiting so long to hear—housing was within reach—and she could at last make a home of her own in America! Coincidentally, Grace’s new apartment is right around the corner from Rosie’s Place. She took this as an omen because as she says, over the years we’d become family, and it’s always nice to have family nearby. And just like family, we were happy to help Grace move into her new place—providing furnishings and household items she needed to make it a home. From her new address, Grace wrote to us: “It is with great joy that I am writing this note to you. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to you for your hospitality, patience, kindness and professionalism…finally I have my own apartment and I am overjoyed…I will continue to visit this community that has sheltered me, fed me, and helped me with all my legal and health issues…Please accept my infinite gratitude and I hope you know that I appreciate all the help you gave me. To all of you: Thank you! Thank you!” Today, Grace stays connected to her Rosie’s Place family—visiting our Food Pantry and checking in with that same Advocate who first greeted her about any questions or concerns she has with her housing. She looks forward to celebrating the holidays in her new home and plans to cook her favorite foods and visit online with her family and friends. She was thrilled to receive early holiday gifts from Rosie’s Place, but she says the best present is knowing that we will be here for her for as long as she needs us. Growing up in that little village in Cameroon, Grace never dreamed that in America she would make a new family and a new home. Thanks to Rosie’s Place, she found both.

Our President on Giving Our Guests a Warm and Bright Holiday

Holiday Skate by Sam Vokey

Dear Friend: Winters have always been hard for poor and homeless women. The dark and cold weather makes stability all the more difficult—and survival all the more dangerous. For our guests, meeting their basic and critical needs is now compounded by an unrelenting pandemic. So much is constantly in question and at risk: Where will I sleep? What will I eat? Where can I be safe? How can I keep my paycheck and keep myself and my family healthy? Pay rent or pay for heat? Thanks to friends like you, every day and night, Rosie’s Place provides unwavering answers with unconditional shelter, sustenance and support. Whether it’s giving the immediate help of a hot shower and a good meal, or long-term assistance with housing and employment searches—we remain a lifeline for thousands of women in need who have nowhere else to turn. While this season more women than ever are counting on us for help, we know they are also counting on us for hope. With your support, we’re able to provide both— making sure that the holidays will be warm and bright for our whole community. Indeed, there will be friendship, music and good food and cheer that even our face masks can’t conceal. The Dining Room is festively decorated as we welcome homeless guests to join us in celebratory, though socially distant, meals. Our Food Pantry is providing hundreds of women and their families with all the fixings for their own holiday feasts. And our Holiday Store is delivering gift cards and gift bags to hundreds of women who would otherwise be without. At Rosie’s Place, we know that when we give our compassion, we give hope. Undoubtedly, where there is hope, there can be joy. And joy is powerful. We couldn’t give all that we do without all the love and support you give us every day. While the pandemic has kept us apart from so many and so much that we hold dear—you have kept us close. Thank you. Your acts of generosity are acts of solidarity that nourish our community. And your friendship is our very best gift.

ay Ways to Help at Holid Once again this year, we are reaching out to our guests to offer them warmth and comfort at holiday time. Help us brighten the season for women facing difficult days ahead by getting involved in any of the following ways. Thank you! 1. COLLECT HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR GUESTS Coordinate an effort with your workplace, school or family to collect gifts for our guests. Due to pandemic related constraints, this year we are only accepting $25 gift cards to CVS, Walgreens, Target, and Old Navy as well as bath and body gift sets with lotion, body wash and body spray (from stores such as Bath & Body Works). All donations should be sent directly to the attention of Shelli Stevens, 889 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02118 by December 16. We encourage donations to be shipped; however, if you plan to drop off holiday gifts, please contact Shelli at Learn more at 2. BENEFIT ROSIE’S PLACE WITH A DIGITAL EVENT Consider making Rosie’s Place the beneficiary of your virtual holiday gathering. Or launch your own Facebook fundraiser at You can find theme ideas at 3. HELP STOCK OUR FOOD PANTRY Start your own drive to contribute much-needed groceries to our Food Pantry without having to leave home! Food purchased through YouGiveGoods will be delivered directly to Rosie’s Place and distributed to women in need. Please go to to create your customized online drive.


4. SEND CUSTOMIZED HOLIDAY CARDS Support Rosie’s Place by ordering 10-packs ($20), variety packs ($26) and custom orders of 50+ cards, available in nine classic Boston scenes by renowned local artists Thomas Dunlay and Sam Vokey. Visit to design and order your custom cards or browse pre-packaged options at 5. DONATE OUR MOST NEEDED ITEMS Disposable surgical masks and fabric masks, as well as disinfectant cleaning and sanitizing products, continue to be our most sought-after, everyday items. If you are able, please mail or contact Shelli Stevens at to arrange a time to drop them off to us at 889 Harrison Avenue, Boston. Your donation will help us keep Rosie’s Place safe and healthy for our guests. Please note: Due to COVID-19, we are unable to accept any other donated items at this time, e.g. clothing, toiletries, furniture, etc. 6. GIVE TO ROSIE’S PLACE Visit to support our vital work with women who rely on us with a convenient monthly donation or a one-time gift. Thank you!

Rosie’s Place

accepts no government funds and relies instead on committed supporters like you!

Heartfelt best wishes for the holiday season,

“I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to have access to great psychiatric care…I’ve been doing it for 15 years and still counting. You see, the pain of poverty and abuse runs that deep…From the great care I received, I was able to go from being in the middle of a vast ocean to building a bridge over a tiny, tiny puddle of my past… Now imagine if I didn’t have access…to care. If there was no one who cared enough to talk to me—where would I be? Who would I be?…But, in Boston, there’s Rosie’s Place. A place where the pains of poverty…of homelessness are understood through love.”

Leemarie Mosca

please support

Rosie’s Place

by making a donation online at or by sending a gift in the enclosed envelope. we thank you! 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 to help poor and homeless women to maintain their dignity, seek opportunity, and find security in their lives. President/CEO Leemarie Mosca Director of Communications | Jamie Doyle Editor | Michele Chausse Communications Coordinator | Contributor Mikayla Mercado Design Colette O’Neill We’d love to hear from you! Please contact us with your comments at or 617.318.0265.

Excerpted from an inspirational talk by actor and activist Rosie Perez, the featured speaker in our Funny Women…Serious Business Broadcast Event video that streamed online and aired on WCVB-TV in October. Watch the video at

Rosie Perez


“Personal experience tells me that I can overcome fear and it is important to try, and there will be gains.” -Xiuzhen W. “It is hard for me to learn English. I learn English in class and improve every day. I like my teacher and classmates. I feel lucky to be able to come to Rosie’s Place to learn English. Around the world people speak English and I want to speak English also.” -Ke N.S. Excerpted from the writings of two of the more than 90 Women’s Education Center ESOL students who participated in our winter Writing Café and contributed stories to the fifth book of their collected stories, Living Our Passions, Breaking Down Walls.

Sandy Mariano

“…I think that all of us, all the shelter providers and those who work with lowincome and homeless folks in the area, are all very worried about vulnerable populations, especially women, who are often much more [likely to be] taken advantage of…the conditions are awful…And if you have a mental health issue or a substance abuse issue or a history of trauma or all three, it becomes even more difficult to navigate the streets and keep yourself safe. So any time you see more people on the streets, you know that people are being victimized, you know that people are being taken advantage of, and you know that people are encountering further trauma…It’s very concerning — all of it.” Excerpted from an interview with Rosie’s Place Chief Program Officer Sandy Mariano for a story that appeared October 19 on regarding the recent increase in women living unsheltered in Boston. Read the story here:



Rosie’s Place staff and friends expressed their appreciation to our supporters with an aerial shot that concluded the video.

Once again, the Rosie’s Place community showed its unwavering support of our work, enabling us to raise $720,000 through our signature fundraising event, Funny Women…Serious Business! In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our annual luncheon took on a new format this year as a broadcast event with a video program featuring longtime friend of Rosie’s Place, Rosie Perez. An audience of more than 1,000 of our friends came together–remotely–to celebrate our mission and help raise funds that are vital to the survival of poor and homeless women in our community, especially now. We were able to exceed our goal thanks to the friends, table hosts and sponsors whose generosity was integral to the success of the event, including Presenting Sponsors: Bank of America; Brightsphere; Globalization Partners; Christina and Michael Gordon; Anne Kubik and Michael Krupka; Kristen and John Maxwell; Michele May and David Walt; Deb and Mark Pasculano; and SingleCare, as well as Presenting Centerpiece Sponsor Neiman Marcus. We are also grateful to everyone whose participation brought the video to life: co-emcees Susan Wornick and Karen Holmes Ward; authors and former luncheon speakers Piper Kerman and Loung Ung; former SNL cast member Rachel Dratch; Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and First Lady Lauren Baker; Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh; and Latoyia Edwards, NBC Boston; Kim Khazei, WHDH 7; and Vanessa Welch, Boston25 News.

Did K ? You


If you’re looking for a last-minute stocking stuffer, a key chain crafted by our Women’s Craft Cooperative artisans is the perfect solution! Brightly colored and distinctive, each key chain contains a mix of glass and silveror gold-plated beads, and is approximately 5”6” in length. You can also choose from an array of tree ornaments and bookmarks as well as our selection of striking necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Browse and order online at now!

We have begun offering free mobile COVID-19 testing in partnership with the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP). Through the spring, BHCHP staff are providing tests to people who are experiencing homelessness as well as to our guests and staff. We are glad and grateful for partners like BHCHP who help us keep our community healthy. The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Rosie’s Place. Just start shopping at and select Rosie’s Place as your charity of choice. Please keep this in mind the next time you shop at Amazon and spread the word to your friends and family!

Our friend Emily Helenius ran her first Boston Marathon in September for Rosie’s Place. Not only did she complete all 26.2 miles of the course, she, along with the two other members of the Rosie’s Place team– Jessica Huang and Patty Katsaros–together raised $15,000 to benefit our programs and services.

Many thanks to Lisa Wexler and her team at Elaine Construction, who donated and installed plexiglass partitions at the front desk in our lobby this fall. These panels help to keep our guests and staff safe, every day, as we deliver critical services to women in need.

Taking Action at Rosie’s Place

In the wake of COVID-19, the political landscape in our Commonwealth and our country has dramatically shifted. Since March, Rosie’s Place has prioritized its public policy efforts to respond to the effects of the pandemic. Our major areas of concern and action include the increase in homelessness, eviction prevention, and expanding access to affordable housing. We know how devastating losing one’s housing can be for women who are just barely getting by. With jobs lost, unemployment payments not enough to meet monthly rent and relatives and friends already doubling up in small apartments—the very real threat of homelessness looms over far too many of our guests. And once evicted, it’s incredibly difficult to find housing in the future. At Rosie’s Place, we understand, now more than ever, that housing is health care. And we believe not a single eviction due to COVID-19 should happen during this time. When the Massachusetts eviction moratorium ended in October, we fought for additional funding for eviction prevention programs such as RAFT, a program that provides rent assistance to low-income families and individuals and HomeBASE, a re-housing program for families experiencing homelessness. We won increases to both programs in the FY21 budget and programmatic changes that will make it easier for people to keep their homes and avoid homelessness. We also supported and won large investments to the State’s housing voucher programs. These wins are not the end of our advocacy. We will continue to fight to make sure the funds are properly used to help women experiencing homelessness find affordable housing that will keep them healthy and safe through this pandemic. Many of you helped us achieve these victories. Through our Action Alert Network, we told our legislators that we wanted them to meet the basic and urgent needs of the women we serve, by increasing access to affordable housing and by improving public shelter conditions, access to food, quality health care and more. And they heard us loud and clear! Massachusetts will begin a new legislative session on January 5, 2021, and a new federal administration will take office on January 20, 2021. In the coming year, we will continue to organize and advocate for the compassionate leadership and definitive action needed to improve the lives of our guests. We remain hopeful that our work will create change and grateful to have you advocating alongside us in these efforts. If you would like to join us in this work, become a member of our Action Network at

An Epidemic Within a Pandemic COVID-19 is having a devastating effect on people living with substance use disorders (SUD). And for those who are poor or homeless living with SUD, who were already struggling to remain stable in their housing or to survive on the streets—the pandemic has only raised the risks to their health and well-being. Data for 2020 already suggests that nationwide drug overdose deaths are on track to reach an all-time high, with some states showing increases of 20% or more over the same time frame in 2019. Addiction experts point to the global health crisis, which has left people depressed and isolated, disrupted treatment and recovery programs and contributed to an increasingly dangerous illicit drug supply. Working to address and alleviate this growing epidemic within a pandemic, Rosie’s Place has enhanced our services for guests living with substance use disorder. We recently brought a full-time Recovery Support Navigator (RSN) on staff. Recognizing that when a woman is struggling with substance abuse, she is likely struggling with many other challenges—the RSN links guests to recovery programs as well as wrap-around services such as our Mental Health Counselor, Housing Specialist and Legal Program. According to Chief Program Officer Sandy Mariano, “Our Navigator is a vital resource for our most vulnerable guests, meeting them where they are and forming relationships based on support without judgment. Her goal is to ensure the health and safety of our guests who are battling addiction while promoting and supporting their recovery.” We also partner with Victory Programs to bring a prevention team onsite weekly, offering women living with SUD information on treatment and harm reduction services. Through our Recovery Support Navigator, our holistic programs and services, and our partnerships with peer organizations, Rosie’s Place is working to connect more women to the help they so desperately need and deserve.

Your Legacy, Her Opportunity

From left: Amory Sivertson, Jack Lepiarz, Bob Oakes, Meghna Chakrabarti, Tiziana Dearing and Robin Young before the 17th reading of A Christmas Carol at the Omni Parker House in 2019.

Annual Reading of A Christmas Carol Set for December 18 As we approach the end of the year, please consider a tax-deductible donation to Rosie’s Place. Your compassion and generosity allow us to remain a lifeline for every woman who seeks our help.

Make a Gift Tax-Free from Your IRA IRA Rollover If you are 70 ½ or older, you may take advantage of the IRA charitable rollover: You can donate up to $100,000 to satisfy the minimum required distribution of your IRA account, while also reducing your taxable income. Your gift must pass directly from your IRA administrator to Rosie’s Place, and any transfer must be completed by December 31st of the corresponding tax year. For more information, please contact Matt DeAngelis at 617.318.0294 or

More Ways to Give The following are some types of gifts that also provide additional tax benefits. Gifts of Stock Donate an appreciated stock and avoid capital gain tax, while receiving a charitable deduction of the full fair-market value. To arrange a wire transfer, please contact Matt DeAngelis at 617.318.0294 or Donor Advised Fund Recommend a one-time or recurring grant to Rosie’s Place from your Donor Advised Fund. Contact your fund representative for details. For more information, go to Thank you! Rosie’s Place is a 501(c) (3) charitable organization. Gifts made to Rosie’s Place are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. EIN: 04-2582187. We are proud that 86 cents of every dollar raised goes directly to services for poor and homeless women.

On December 2, 1867, Charles Dickens began his first American reading tour of A Christmas Carol in Boston. Since 2002, WBUR has hosted a reading of this holiday classic at the Omni Parker House, the historic site of Dickens’ first performance, to benefit Rosie’s Place. While we aren’t able to gather with our supporters in person this year, the tradition will continue with a virtual performance by WBUR hosts and reporters Meghna Chakrabarti, Tiziana Dearing, Jack Lepiarz, Bob Oakes and Robin Young, with a musical performance by Amory Sivertson and Mike Moschetto. The readers, many of whom have taken part in this event for several years, imbue this timeless tale with drama, humor and warmth. This special event will take place on Friday, December 18 at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $25 for general admission and can be purchased at Please note: You will receive the exclusive online link and login information for the event prior to the broadcast. All purchases require a valid email address in order to send the information necessary to join the event. “We are so fortunate to be able to present the 18th reading of A Christmas Carol as a WBUR CitySpace Virtual Event,” says Rosie’s Place Director of Development Michael Oliver. “Most years the event is quickly sold out, so by presenting it virtually, there’s an opportunity for an unlimited number of people to experience this wonderful tradition now. I believe there’s no better way to share the holiday spirit!” This performance is made possible through the generous donation of talent and technology by WBUR as well as by sponsors Bearly Read Books, Dancing Deer Baking Company, Hood Eggnog, Firestone And Parson Jewelers and Porter Square Books. We are grateful to our wonderful friends whose contributions help to make this a most special evening. Please join us for this festive event that will delight your family as well as provide support for our ongoing work with poor and homeless women in Boston. Please contact Shelli Stevens with any questions at or 617.318.0211. 889 Harrison Avenue Boston, MA 02118