The new year brings new beginnings at Boston Rescue Mission. We are ecstatic to announce the launch of Hope Scope, our first blog series! While interning at the Mission, I have been deeply inspired by the continual support and care that our staff, volunteers, and donors have provided for many years, unwavering throughout the pandemic. Whether you are a long-time member or just getting involved at the Mission, I hope the stories we share will uplift and encourage you throughout 2021.
In February, I had the pleasure of interviewing a person who adds so much heart to our community. Meet Dennis, former client who became a dedicated staff member and has been serving at the Mission for 25 years! We asked Dennis a few questions so you can get to know him better.
1. Can you tell our readers about yourself, who you are, your background, what you do, anything you want to share.
It’s a long, long, long, story. The shorter story is that I grew up in foster homes and I believe I kinda knew that when I was young, and I called myself a misfit. I felt like I didn’t have any family, I used drugs to take away my pain. I started to smoke marijuana and do other drugs. Then, I found a young lady and had a couple of children. The sad part is that I encouraged her to do it. She ended up leaving me and I ended up in the street and feeling more pity for myself that I lost my family. Thank God that He brought me to the Mission. At the Mission, it made me find self-worth and feel good about myself. He gave me a job here that I can give back. I’m giving myself a pat on the back because I was very good at it because I had a connection with the guests.
I want the people to be treated like guests, I like to say outside guests because just because they’re in the street doesn’t make them any less a person, I learned that when you give people love and respect, they give it back.
When I was a shelter staff member, I already knew many people in the streets because I was one of them. Every once in a while, I get a wise guy. But, the Mission gave me my life back. I truly mean that, believe that. I love doing what I do here. I love the people who work here, they’re beautiful people. They’re not just my coworkers, they’re my friends. Right now, it’s hard because of COVID, we can’t bring in as many guests as we used to. It’s hurtful for many of us, I hope they open more places for people so they can keep the 6ft distance. But, the people are really nice, people are really gracious about giving to the Mission. We need more donations to keep the Mission. The donations keep everything running.
I’m grateful that I’m working, I know a lot of people are now. I feel bad that there are people who are hungry, but we don’t know where they are. I hope if anyone knows someone, they will reach out to me or our volunteer team, and we will try our best to fulfill our needs.
I’m HIV positive, I struggle with that everyday. Other than that, I’m healthy. God’s been good to me since I came here, I really believe that. I get a lot of satisfaction from working here. They used to call me the mayor of Boston, people know me.
2. Walk me through your journey at the Mission in your shoes. What does your day look like?
I had a lot of different positions here, from Shelter Director to Food Services.
Now I come in, I wait for someone to give me a call, I go pick up food donations, clothing donations. I am person if anyone needs anything, they come to me. I am a go-to person.
When I was the cook, I first started working with a gentleman in the kitchen and he taught me how to run a food kitchen. I put 14-15 hours a day into the kitchen, I loved it and learned how to be a decent cook. If anything is going to put a smile on someone’s face, it’s giving them a full belly and good food. I was then shelter staff for 9 years. We used to have more funding and programs back then before COVID, we used to have a new entry program for women coming out of prison, women’s program, men’s program, four different types of men’s programs.
I wait to pick up donations, I’m the head driver. When I’m driving, I’ll find people and ask them if they want to go into detox, they will call me or I will call them, the whole thing is they have to want to go in number one, it’s like I said, I am the go-to person.
3. What motivates you in the morning, what gets you fired up?
Knowing that I’m coming here and having the privilege of helping somebody. There is a lot of need out there. Knowing that I can help one person, one day. That’s why I come 6 days a week and have been coming for 25 years.
Giving people respect also motivates me. People are going to walk all over them because Boston is a busy town, you stand out there long enough, you see someone passed out, you see a lot of people walk by because they are used to it. And what if they don’t want help? That’s where someone like me comes in to convince them.
I can’t say enough of this place. Back when I was on the streets, there was not much going on at the Mission. They only had a 3 o’ clock meal. So, I had to get funding. I’ve seen the Mission build up to help a lot of people. And I talk to people who came here 20 years ago who are now doing great. They build their foundation here and do great. They complete the program, get their lives together, get an apartment, I have some clients who bought a house, finding a job, get married and have kids, that’s what gives me the motivation to get up everyday.
4. Everyone at the Mission has done a phenomenal job providing services to the Boston homeless community in the middle of COVID-19. It is amazing to see how the staff adapts to changes and continue to help clients in multiple ways. Is there any particular event or memory that stands out to you while working here during the pandemic?
What really amazes me is the Mission has such low numbers. We had 4 staff members and 6 clients that got infected during this time and for the amount of people we serve here, the numbers were so low.
Masks were required, we spray doorknobs, kitchen tables, and constantly clean here. I’m amazed at the low numbers. I believe God kept us safe.
5. How do donors and volunteers add to the work being done here?
Their contributions go a long way. We do a great job going to outreach and feeding hundreds of people. It takes money to run this place, and I think we do the best we can with funds that come in here.
6. Do you have any final words that you would like to share anything with our readers?
Once COVID ends, I believe you should call up our volunteer team and come volunteer and see what we do. It’s one thing to hear about it, seeing is believing. A lot of people want kindness, they want love. They come see and give someone love and conversation, it goes further than people can imagine. My last words are volunteer! You’ll see firsthand of all I’m talking about. Feeding somebody, give a little bit of love talk, tell them they are a human being and worth it. If you want to volunteer get in touch, if you want to donate
And read the Good Book.
Thanks for tuning in with us today to hear about Dennis’s journey. If you are interested in reading Dennis’s full story, you can find it on Page 62 of Parables to Live By. You can receive a free digital copy of the book here: https://www.brm.org/publications