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Hope Scope: Volunteer Appreciation with Nancy

We have awesome volunteers here at the Mission and we want to celebrate all of them! We love them and appreciate how they help our guests and staff with so much passion. Many people have partnered with us in our outreaches at Boston Common, cooked delicious lunches and dinners for our community meal program, donated clothing, and more. A BIG shoutout to all our superstar volunteers, you are the best! For those who are unfamiliar with our volunteers, we have a very special guest today: Nancy. Nancy is someone who volunteered at the Mission since high school! In fact, she found an essay that she wrote about her first-time serving at the Mission recently that we wanted to share with you. Read on to find out more about her amazing journey volunteering from her teenage years to the present. 1. Can you tell our readers about yourself, your background, your journey on how you ended up as a volunteer at the Mission? My name is Nancy Hinckley and I started early I guess with the wanting to volunteer and help the homeless, I don’t know if it’s because I grew up the daughter of a pastor, so I was kinda born into like the whole helping people. But, it started in high school and ironically enough I had told Mauricia, the volunteer coordinator, that, “I’m pretty sure I went to the Mission in high school, I’m almost positive”, and I was digging through some old things and I found an essay that I wrote and I was like, “oh my word, I did”. It was called the Kingston House back then, which everyone know is interchangeable, so I went there for the first time in high school. I remember I wanted my high school youth group to know what it was like to be homeless so I actually, I made them all go outside without their coats on. Some of them, it was a big deal, some of them smoked cigarettes back then so they were afraid that we were going to go through their coats and take whatever- so I made them go out on a cold night and then, so we arranged to go to the Mission and did the church service and served a meal. And then, I still loved that and I ended up going to Gordon College and again found my way back to the Mission for a trip as part of our student ministry group. Lynn Simon was the dean of chapel there at the time and she was affiliated with the Mission at that point and she brought us there. So again, I served there, same thing we did like a church service and meal. That was probably back in ’94, I’m old. I graduated from Gordon with a degree in psychology. I didn’t end up going to grad school, I wound up working. But I always kinda thought about volunteering. And, I had actually had a full-time job with Nextel communication which became Sprint, which is now T Mobile, and I’m still there all these years later. But I also had worked part time in radio, which I loved, and I did that for about 5 years and then I decided to leave radio and I wanted to do something with my time that was of better use. And I just looked up the Mission because I remembered being there, and that was back in 2004 of October, and I started there and I’ve been volunteering ever since. I did actually work there for about 3 years, I ran the kitchen on the weekends, the kitchen supervisor, so I did that for 3 years as well on the weekends. It’s been weird not being able to volunteer the past year due to COVID and everything. I’m looking forward to getting back out there, it’s left a big hole in my life. It’s funny because you think you’re helping them, but they actually help you too. It kinda keeps you grounded and keep things in perspective, you know. 2. What inspired you to write this essay about your first time volunteering at the Mission when you were in high school? You know what’s sad, I don’t know. I feel like my memory is so bad. I’m wondering it was typed up on a typewriter back in the day, so I imagine maybe I did a paper on it for school. That’s all I can think of because I don’t know why I would sit down at a typewriter and type something up. I would journal and stuff, but I must have had to write an essay for school or write an essay about my experience. It was very formal, it was funny. 3. I really appreciated reading in your essay about how you were feeling nervous and full of anticipation during your first time hosting a church service and serving meals. I think it’s something many people kinda feel like they would relate to you about because they might want to get involved at the Mission or another organization, but they’re unsure about it. Do you have any words you would like to say to someone who wants to volunteer? I know you’ve been here for many years so you’re fully confident, ready to go, but for those who haven’t taken the first plunge yet, any words about volunteering? Homeless people are not what you think, you used to see these videos of dirty people with backpacks, it can be anyone, it can affect any of us. We always say we’re all one paycheck, one drink, or one drug away from being homeless. They’re people just like us, it’s someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, daughter. They’ve had some bad things happen to them, some people, some mental illness, a lot of addiction. But, if you remember they’re just people and the majority of them are so grateful and nice and they just want to be seen. They’re worthy. A lot of people don’t see the value or their family and loved ones haven’t seen their value. Just remembering that, they’re just one of us. Do we have episodes once in a great while? But they’re so few and far in between. And those of us who are regulars so to speak that are out there a lot, they do respect us. I mean I can’t tell you, I’ve jumped in a middle of a fight and they’ll listen to us. I haven’t gotten punched yet. As I said, it’s very few and far in between. They’re people, they’re worthy of compassion, I would say they’re kind of broken or people that were forgotten. They just want to be seen and valued. Sometimes, a kind word is worth more than a sandwich that we’re handing out. 4. What is your favorite part of volunteering at the Mission? I know you said it helps keep you grounded. Is there a particular experience or conversations you have with people that keeps you grounded or makes your day? I think it’s really been the relationships. You know, it’s funny because my dad is a pastor and I’m like, “I don’t know how you’re a pastor” because if you say the wrong thing from the pulpit sometimes, like he likened Jesus’s birth to being in an outhouse you know because he was born in a manger, people will get very fussy about certain things. I’m like, “I don’t know how you relate to them” and he’s like, “Well, I don’t know how you relate to the homeless” and not in a bad way, but I think it’s just that I have this ability to kinda talk to people where they’re at and I don’t, you know, no judgement. I don’t know, I think it’s the connections I’ve been able to form, and those relationships that hopefully you know, I mean they’ve changed me, they made me grateful for all that I have. I always think of like one guy was having a really bad night and there’s a gentleman who used to come in for the meal every Sunday and he would always come in at the end; and he came in late one night and I had a massive plate put aside for him because I knew he would be coming in and he was so grateful! And as I’m leaving, I’m like man, you know I was feeling really down and whatever, and as I’m leaving, I look and see him on the curb eating his plate and I’m like oh my gosh! I mean he was so grateful and here I am feeling sorry for myself about I don’t even remember what I was bummed out about. But I’m like have a home to go home to, got a couple of dogs waiting for me, I have a good family, and this poor man is just grateful that I saved him a plate and he can sit and eat. Yeah, I think it’s really been the relationships that were formed and hopefully, like I said, make a difference or at least help someone feel valued and loved and cared about. 5. What makes you hopeful while you’re working, volunteering, or in life generally? It is people like Eddie. I don’t know Eddie personally, but being involved there, you see people a lot of times come back through because they are struggling again. But man, when you see those people come that are recovered, they’re living a good life, they have a job, they have a home, there is hope, it can be done. For all the people who come in and are frustrated or feel like they [can’t], you can do it, and there are resources, and I love seeing those people come back and share their stories and provide hope to others because I personally have never, thank God, have been homeless or had to experience that. But, there is hope and you see it in so many success stories and that’s what really makes me happy, news that it can be done and they can have a good life. It goes back to they need to know that they’re valued and they’re worth something and that there is someone out there who will invest in them. But, there is hope. 6. Do you have any last words or advice you would like to share with our readers? I guess it’s don’t underestimate the value of kindness. People you know, we’ve all been through a lot, we’ve all had a lot of things happen and I think none of us know what the other is going through. Like I said, one drink, one drug, one paycheck, people are out there that have lost their job because they’re injured. It’s not the same that it used to be, there’s just so much that goes on. Just compassion and kindness can go a long way, and just saying a kind word to someone can sometimes make a huge difference cause you really don’t know what anyone is going through. And to just judge people for being homeless, you don’t know where they’re at or what they’ve been through. So that’s really my thing is don’t assume that they’re all drug addicts, they don’t want to be out there doing drugs, they don’t want to be living that life. Don’t underestimate the value of kindness and understanding. Give people a shot. Here is the very essay that Nancy wrote about the Mission in high school. It’s great to see how she has given and learned so much from here time here. If you would like to volunteer, reach out to us at volunteer@brm.org. We’d love to have you partner with us. Thanks for tuning into Hope Scope today. We hope you are inspired and uplifted to help people.

Hope Scope: Goodbyes and New Beginnings with Eric

Welcome back to Hope Scope. We are excited that you are joining us for another amazing interview. Today, we want to highlight a special guest who has directed the tech side of the Mission for over 17 years. Meet Eric, the Manager of Information at the Mission! He has helped run our operations and website. We are so thankful to have had someone as dedicated as him in our staff. Eric is leaving the Mission and starting a new opportunity as a consultant to further help people with his IT knowledge. It is bittersweet, but we know he will continue to do great things and make a positive difference. As part of our goodbye, we want to remember the good times and commemorate his years of service in this article. Keep on reading below to learn more about what Eric enjoys best about the Mission and lessons he will carry with him to his new beginnings! 1. Can you tell our readers about yourself, your background, your journey on how you came to the Mission? Hi Friends! My name is Eric, and the journey of this tall midwestern orange-juice lover’s career begins in Michigan. After college, I dipped my toes into the family sales business, but really wanted to work in IT instead. I loved working for a non-profit in D.C. and in tech-heavy Silicon Valley during the dot com bubble. It was 18 years ago that I came here, saw Pedro Martinez pitching for the Red Sox, and fell in love with the city of Boston. In-between temp jobs, I answered an ad for an IT volunteer at the Boston Rescue Mission. Little by little, I was fixing problems and improving systems, and next thing I know, I was promoted from volunteer to the Manager of Information! 2. You have been the Manager of Information of the Mission for over 17 years! What has been your favorite part about working at the Mission? Must I pick one favorite? How about I highlight 2 items and an honorable mention. The first element has to be the cause. Hunger and homelessness are such simple parts of living, and helping those who go hungry without a home is so important. But Mission staff really shine when they’re treating the underlying causes of homelessness. Most of us know someone who has struggled with dependency on alcohol or drugs, and it can be devastating; a person can lose everything. In my eyes, guiding someone through that grueling process of unlearning addictive behavior is one of the most challenging and most important jobs anyone could have. Secondly, the Mission excels at being a flexible organization. Whether it’s utilizing the skills of employees, volunteers, interns, and residents, crafting strategic plans, juggling operations, defining creative funding streams, or storing in-kind donations in a small downtown space, the Mission has tried a lot of things and found a lot of success. On a personal level, I took advantage of this flexibility to fill a lot of different roles over the years, and really gained a broad view of how a nonprofit works. Honorable mention: the kitchen. It’s worth a short story in itself. Tens of thousands of meals are served each year, from the simple to the extravagant, from a modest kitchen in a basement in the heart of Boston. Managers and shift leads practice flexibility with food and staffing every day. Food donations come in constantly, but they vary. Residents come down to help with shifts, but many need “mental health days” as they rebuild and transform themselves. Through it all, people come together over meals, share their experiences, and support each other along their journey of transformation. 3. What inspires you or motivates you to help people with your tech skills? I’ve always loved both to learn and to teach. I went back to school a couple of years ago to earn a masters degree in cyber security, a critical part of keeping companies’ data safe. If I can help to teach people about the role they can play in protecting the operations of great causes like the Mission, that will help to inspire me each day. 4. We just want to thank you for all that you have done for our guests and all your years of service at the Mission. Everyone at the Mission will miss you. As you begin a new chapter in your life at a consultant firm, what is one thing you will take away from the Mission to your new job? There are so many interwoven parts that make up a smoothly running nonprofit organization. Learning many of those features that support food service, shelter operations, and programs that transform the lives of people who are struggling gave me great insight that I can apply to the nonprofit and for-profit clients who also need IT help where I’m consulting now. 5. Do you have any final words that you would like to share with our readers? Your support really is critical to the people struggling to get off the streets and into homes. When a person at the Mission can see the people around them healing and rebuilding themselves, a community emerges that cares for and supports itself. Mission staff and volunteers, and often guests’ family members can see that community lifting up its members and inspiring each other along their journey. We try to tell those stories as best we can, to show you how much your engagement means to our homeless neighbors. Thank you so much for caring.

Volunteer Positions Open Again!

The Boston Rescue Mission is once again accepting volunteer applications from fully vaccinated individuals! Simply email mdarvish@brm.org or navigate to our volunteer page to sign up!

Sign Up to Receive Email Receipts

Friends like you help people who are desperate climb out of vicious cycles of addiction, homelessness, and poverty. Our residents and guests are deeply grateful for your support. To reduce cost and go green, the Mission began providing gift receipts via email only as of January 2021. Please email gifts@brm.org to ensure we have your correct address. Others will receive a printed gift statement in January 2022 for all 2021 gifts. Thanks!

Hope Scope: Behind the scenes with Courtney and our Newsletters

Meet Courtney, our graphic designer at the Mission. He is the artist behind all our beautiful newsletters and has been a part of the Mission for over 16 years. We’re so excited for you to hear his funny story of how he ended up at the Mission, what makes him passionate, and more so keep on reading! 1. Even though some of our readers never met you, there is a good chance that they have seen your work already. You are the graphic designer for the newsletters at the Mission, an invaluable part of the team, but before that you had a robust career working both in the NYC and Boston area. Can you tell our readers more about yourself, your journey, how you ended up at the Mission? I just had a meeting with a bunch of other people at the illustration program at the Rhode Island School of Design, which is where I went to school, and we were all giving our different perspectives. My perspective is a bit unique because that is the only school I applied to. I was the class artist, and I was the guy who did the posters and cartoons in the newspapers, so I thought I was pretty hot stuff. I went to Rhode Island School of Design thinking I was going to be Picasso and about three weeks in I realized that that was not going to be the case because I had Da Vinci over here and Matisse over there, and you’re in an art school with everybody who is so incredibly talented. So, I went from painting to illustration because I had to make a living. I got married in my sophomore year two weeks after I turned 19 and we had formal wedding, I had a child by the time I graduated. My now my ex-wife and child stayed in Rhode Island and I went down to New York to get a job. I had gotten an A on my portfolio, I was in the world of illustrations, and I did a lot of great work, but there were no full-time jobs for illustrators. So, I met the art director at Viking Press, and he said, “Why don’t you take these illustrations and put them into commercial settings?” That was like the third month of me looking for a job. I was desperate, I went back up to Rhode Island and rejiggered my portfolio and suddenly I became a graphic designer. I got a job in two weeks and I was off to the races. I worked for sales promotion agency in NY, from there I taught for a year at my own former school. Then, I went to New Hampshire and my ex-wife and I started a gallery, and I was going to do freelance work, but the stress took a toll on our marriage. We separated and went back, separated, and went back, and then we divorced. I stopped at the first city I came across, which was Boston, and I worked for a variety of corporate art departments. I started with Radio Shack and then went to First National Stores. I didn’t really like advertising. I had freelanced and I had part-time taught at the Boston Center for Adult Education and at what was then Butera School of Art, which was a school on Beacon School that is no longer there, and Montserrat school in Beverly. Then, one of the people that I had recommended for a job reciprocated and recommended me for a job at Bunker Community College. I went to the interview, got the job, and the person who was there for one semester went on elsewhere. So, from 1978, I ran the graphic design, or what we called it in those days, Graphic Art and Visual Communication department, and I pretty much started the department and kept it going. This was all pre-computer. So, by the time the computer came around, I was already freelancing and using computers in my freelance work. I was very fortunate to have a friend of mine who worked for a law firm management company as a writer. He needed an art guy, so I was the art guy. He would write brochures for law firms because the early 80s was the first time they could advertise themselves. So, he wrote the brochures and I designed and produced them. I got into the computer aspects of design and then brought that knowledge to the college and I convinced the college to transition to computers. So that went really well, the department grew, we hired more faculty, and it’s now a pretty substantial program. Because they’re a community college there is a high variety of students. But, many of them, I would say a third, go on to art school. Matter of fact I just got a message on LinkedIn from a student who wanted a recommendation because he’s been the art director of NESN New England Sports Network for 15 years. Many of the students go on to four-year colleges. So, I had the the ideal world because I had a teaching job that I loved, paid the bills, etc., but I also had a freelance studio, so I would finish teaching and go to my studio. I didn’t have a boss. One day about 15, 16, 17, 18 years ago, I shared a studio with my fellow Bruce Jones and he was of Bruce Jones design. I already had my freelance clients and I had another income, so I wasn’t out searching for clients while Bruce was. He gets a call one day from Curt Brettin, from the Boston Rescue Mission. Curt is looking for a graphic designer, but Bruce is up to eyeballs in work. Bruce is a very very nice, good person and he didn’t want to just shoo him away so he asked me, “You think you can do this newsletter? Could you produce the newsletter?” So, I called Curt and here the story begins. Working with Curt has been a divine pleasure, no pun intended, he’s just a great guy. He’s such a steady guy. Of course, now I’ve been doing it for so long now, 15, 16 years easily. Everything that is done is resident in my computer, I have all the logos, the typeface, the Pantone Matching System colors. I think my value with the Mission, besides doing the work, is institutional memory because I’m the only one who knows the typeface of the logo. I make contributions to the Mission that are outside of my payment from the Mission, I think it’s very valuable and underreported, so many people have never heard of it. 2. What is your favorite part about designing newsletters? I told this to so many people, [my favorite part] is reading the stories. Hearing how people’s lives are very different because they came to the Mission, knowing how to present those stories so they’re readable etc. In terms of the newsletter, the story is the issue. They have small appeals and large appeals and those are mostly aesthetic decisions, like falling leaves for fall, but the biggest impact for me is the personal stories. I’m sitting here and looking at this person’s picture for 6-7 hours, you just look at this person’s eyes and he/she is finally recovered and he/she has finally won this battle. Here’s this person’s story and I’m silhouetting the person and I’m changing the color and I’m looking at the person, one in the front and one in the back. You’d have to have a heart of stone to not be touched. 3. Do people ever ask you if you are Red Sox fan or Yankees fan? So, I grew up in the era of the Yankees, the Yankees, the Yankees, the Yankees. Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Gil Hodges, in Rockaway there is an avenue named after Gil Hodges. But, coming up here, how can you not [be a Red Sox fan? I had a friend of mine who grew up with me and he came up here with his son looking at colleges, and I met him for lunch. He’s a high school friend, and he said, “What’s the deal with the Red Sox?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Half the people in the city have Red Sox hats on? What’s the story? If that large percentage of people in NY had Yankees hats on, the hatmaker would be a millionaire.” 4. Any final words for our readers? I think the Mission does incredibly valuable work, I think every person I met there has been 100% committed, I volunteered there on Thanksgiving or Christmas, one thing that struck me was how comfortable the clients are at the place, in the place, with the place, with the people, with the environment, everything. That’s a testament for what a good job they’re doing.

Hope Scope: Positivity and Persistence with Eddie

Welcome back to Hope Scope! We’re so glad you are joining us again this week on our blog to catch up on all that happening at the Mission. If you ever come by our community meal program in the morning, you will smell an amazing breakfast wafting through the air. You might even have a chance to have a friendly, uplifting chat with the chef, Eddie, as you are getting the food. But, we know that not everyone is able to come and meet Eddie in person, so we decided to interview him so you can get to know him. Keep reading on to find out more about our amazing staff member! 1. Can you tell our readers about yourself, who you are, your background, what you do, your journey to how you came here, anything you want to share. Well, I used to use alcohol and drugs. Then, I came to the program here and I’m several years clean now. I had a rough start in life, but the Mission got me back on track. It’s an awesome place, it’s really there to help people. I felt so comfortable here, I decided to become an employee here. I did so well, they hired me. It’s an awesome place, I have nothing bad to say about this place at all. It’s really there for the homeless, the people that want recovery, people that want a change in life, this is really the place to make that change. 2. What’s your favorite part about the Mission? My favorite part is helping the homeless, I feed them and get their day started. I like everything about the Mission, they have a positive outlook on everything. They have a prayer group at 10:00, I like joining that. They’re really there for people that are stuck in life to help you move forward in life. They help people get out of that rut, try to get you towards a positive direction. Everything is positive about this place. I enjoy working here, I love being a part of it. A total part of it. 3. What motivates or inspires you to help people? Because I was in that situation and knowing that there are positive ways leading to a positive direction. I like to show my gratitude by showing it forward and helping people. I like doing the same things that the people who helped me did. I like helping people that need help, people that want the help, people that are grateful for the help. I enjoy doing that. 4. Bonus question for our readers: I heard that you make unbelievably delicious breakfasts. Can you share what the secret to making a good breakfast is? The secret ingredient? You got a lot of shelters that just throw anything up there. I don’t like doing that. I don’t like feeding the guests, the residents, something that I wouldn’t eat. That’s why I put out such a positive energy in the morning, a positive breakfast, something that everybody would eat. I make a variety, I put my heart and care into it because that’s what I would want. And, I was in that situation. When they hired me, I took a totally different route on how to feed them. I spoke with the higher up and they were like do what you want to do. So, I took over and that’s what I do, I give guests an awesome breakfast. 5. Do you have any advice for people who are looking to get involved or volunteer or maybe want to participate at the Mission, but they don’t really know where to start? That’s a tough one, you got to want to give back in life. Some of us, we get to certain places in life and we forget about people that need our help, you know what I mean. I love giving back. I’m not there anymore, but I want to show my gratitude for what this place has done for me. And, working here also shows me I don’t want to go back to that. So, it keeps me grounded. And in my situation, it works both ways. I’m giving back, but I’m also reminded of not going back to that. 6. I hear you mentioning gratitude frequently. Why is gratitude so important to you? Everyday is a blessing for me that I ain’t making steps backward. I’m thankful that I’m taking steps forward. As an employee here, it keeps me grounded to keep moving ahead in my life. I’m just so grateful for everything that this place has done for me. So, I give back, I go beyond what I’m supposed to do for the residents here because I’m so blessed for the stuff that I have in life. I want to give that back to the people here, to show them that life is not that bad, that life could be a lot worse. If I get 50 residents in one day and can help one person become positive, that’s already something accomplished. 7. Do you have any final words you would like to share with our readers? Honestly, the only thing I can say to that is never give up. Life is not as bad as certain people make it. Never give up, keep fighting, keep striving to move forward. This place is there to help you, but you got to want to help yourself too. Also, this place is a blessing.

Hope Scope: Tune in Tuesdays with Dennis

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

Mission Scores Well in Coronavirus Testing Results

In a May 2020 WBUR review of coronavirus testing results among Boston area homeless service providers, the Mission scored well. The Boston NPR news affiliate compared at least seven agencies providing day and/or evening services to people experiencing homelessness. They found that in larger shelters up to a third of nightly participants tested positive for COVID-19. When Mission staff and guests were tested in April, only one positive result was returned from an employee. Though without symptoms, the employee isolated and tested negative shortly thereafter. Since March, the Mission has instituted several measures to protect guests and staff against COVID-19, including mandatory face masks, hand washing, disinfecting of surfaces, 6 feet of social distancing, and sleeping changes, like more distance between beds and alternating sleeping guests head to toe.

New Tax Benefits for Non-Profit Donors

Did your tax situation change after the COVID-19 pandemic began? If so, you’re not alone. The U.S. government recently passed the CARES Act, which helps nonprofit supporters like you realize new tax benefits, including these: Gifts up to $300 are 100% tax deductible, even for those using the standard deduction. Contributions by cash, credit card or check only are eligible; gifts of stock are not. The maximum charitable deduction is raised to 100% from a previous limit of 60% of adjusted gross income (AGI) for individuals giving cash (not stock). Also, donations in excess of AGI may be carried over to future tax filings for up to 5 years. Corporations giving limit is increased to 25% of taxable income from a previous limit of 10%. As you consider giving plans moving forward, please consider how these changes might enhance your gift to the Mission this year. Thank you so much!

COVID-19 Update #3: Working Together Against COVID-19

I wanted to update you with some COVID-19 news coming from the Mission and agencies like ours. First the bad news: of more than 1,800 Boston women and men who are homeless and tested for the novel coronavirus, a staggering 596 people have tested positive, or more than 30%. The promising news? The virus has claimed only 2 of these lives so far, and the Mayor reports the confirmed positive rate is trending down. Your response has been amazing. I'm so thankful for your prayers, good wishes, and gifts that encourage our staff to serve during this challenging time. On this #GivingTuesdayNow, I encourage you to give again to support hungry and homeless people in greater Boston. With your help, we can continue to work together against COVID-19 and keep our homeless neighbors safe from harm. After welcoming my newborn granddaughter last week (at a safe distance!) I felt the beauty of new life washing over me. May the beauty of new life in spring come to you and your loved ones also. Blessings, John Rev. John Samaan President and CEO P.S. Thank you again for your heartwarming response, and for supporting our homeless guests!

COVID-19 Update #2: A Peek at the Pandemic

We've been blessed so far. Thousands of confirmed COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases have spread throughout communities in Massachusetts in a public health crisis not seen in generations. Yet in Boston's homeless community, symptoms are only just beginning to show.

With a sad heart, we discovered that our first woman with a documented case of COVID-19 stayed in our emergency overnight shelter late last week. She has been kept under quarantine over the weekend and those closest to her have been quarantined and are awaiting test results. We continue to take precautions that keep people as safe as possible - washing hands, wearing masks, and social distancing for all staff and guests. But we know there's a lot of work ahead of us. We may have just a peek today, but experts predict the full pandemic might peak in Massachusetts this month.

Your response has been so heartening! Thank you so much for all of your prayers, your donations, and your caring words. We're gratefully accepting your support as our expenses increase even more in the days ahead.

Blessings,
Rev. John Samaan
President and CEO

COVID-19 Update #1: Navigating a Public Health Crisis

Amidst the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, I wanted to take a moment to update you on the Boston Rescue Mission's continuing efforts to serve our most vulnerable homeless and hungry neighbors.

First and foremost, our doors are open and all of our staff continue to serve. We are working daily with officials with the Boston Public Health Commission, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and Boston Health Care for the Homeless to maximize the health and safety of our guests and staff. We're implementing protective measures like extra cleaning, temperature-taking, and mandatory hand washing. We're teaching best practices during a pandemic, like safer ways to cough and sneeze, social distancing, and which symptoms to watch for. We are suspending all shifts from outside volunteers until further notice. This follows city, state, and national guidelines to limit people who are crowded together and protects both our guests and members of the outside community. We are restricting food deliveries from individuals, offices, and small groups. Many of our trusted partners and new organizations continue to offer food donations even as events disrupt their own businesses. We are making emergency plans in the event that community infections increase. Though the Mission is no stranger to public health issues, we expect a pandemic on this scale to fully stretch our resources thin. We must continue to provide food, shelter, and guidance to homeless and hungry women and men. Your prayers for protection and guidance for guests and staff members are most appreciated.

And please won't you consider a gift to help us? This precarious situation brings many unknowns, including funding resources. We need your help. Will you give to help our guests navigate this public health crisis today? 

Blessings,
Rev. John Samaan
President and CEO