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Mission Scores Well in Coronavirus Testing Results

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.

We are Thankful for your generous support for the Day of Thanks to help families and the Homeless

We are Thankful for your generous support for the Day of Thanks to help families and the Homeless

Last week, the Mission held its annual Day of Thanks with Trotter Elementary School on Monday, November 22nd, and then a Thanksgiving Dinner with resident guests on Thanksgiving Day, November 25th. The Mission has been holding the Day of Thanks for 29 years to assist the homeless and the poor who lack resources to have a Thanksgiving meal. Thanks to the help of donors and volunteers, the Mission successfully gave out over 100 Complete Thanksgiving meals to parents in need at Trotter Elementary School in Dorchester. Parents in need received turkeys, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, vegetables, squash, scallop potatoes, cranberry apple juice, and pies in their meal kits. With various ingredients, parents in need were able to provide a nutritious and delicious feast for their families from their own kitchen at home. On Thanksgiving Day, numerous volunteers joined the Mission in preparing and serving meals to homeless guests. The Mission is grateful to everyone who helped create a warm and hopeful Thanksgiving for the homeless and those in need. We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family!

Socks for Everyone!

Socks for Everyone!

In just over a 2 week period, The TJ Show on Boston's 103.3 Amp Radio collected more than 15,000 pairs of socks from generous listeners. Morning show co-hosts TJ and Loren and Producer Matt helped to promote the drive in part by interviewing several Mission clients, including our own Food Service Manager, Dennis, about the challenges of homelessness and the benefit of socks. The drive capped off with a brief interview of John Samaan and a fun-filled delivery with dozens of boxes and bags carried from 5 different vehicles!

Hope Scope: Behind the scenes with Courtney and our Newsletters

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: Volunteer Appreciation with Nancy

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.

Volunteers Spotlight with Men on a Mission

Volunteers Spotlight with Men on a Mission

Every year, volunteers with a variety of skills come to the Mission to help homeless men and women. Many of them have stayed with us through the years. In today’s blog, we want to spotlight a group of faithful volunteers who have been with us since 2011. This group is called Men on a Mission. Men on a Mission is a group consisting of Dan McKee and a group of men from Connecticut. During their last visit, we were able to have a quick interview with them to learn more about their volunteer life at the Mission. 1. Can you tell us why you decided to start Men on a Mission? We want to help those in need. Our mission to help those in need started 10 years ago when we built a home in South Dakota. We have been doing projects at least twice a year ever since. The bathrooms at the Mission were our next project, so we have been coming ever since. 2. How did you come up with the name Men on a Mission? The original name was Mission Mafia, but even though we are not church-affiliated, a lot of members are and they didn’t agree with the name. In the end, we decided on Men on a Mission. We host a yearly concert or golf tournament fundraiser, so we can come to Boston to do projects. 3. What do you enjoy most about volunteering at the Mission? The interaction with the staff, clients and, guests is awesome. There have been longtime friendships made, and Dan often comes to Boston to help former clients in need. 4. What inspires you to volunteer with us? Even though most of us are from Connecticut, Dan is from Boston and has strong ties here, so he wants to do what he can to help the homeless here in Boston. The Mission is also always in need of people with skills, so there is always something to help the Mission with. The Mission greatly appreciates all the projects that Men on a Mission have taken on to help the homeless in Boston. When they volunteered this month, Men on a Mission participated in outreach, served in the kitchen, did some painting and electrical work, and worked on numerous other projects. Their consistent support has made the Mission a better place for the homeless. Thank you, Men on a Mission! We can’t wait for your next visit again! If you’re interested in volunteering and creating an impact like Men on a Mission, head over to https://www.brm.org/volunteer and fill out the google form to start making a difference in homeless lives.

Mission Chair Elizabeth Wins 2022 Myra Kraft Community MVP Award!

Mission Chair Elizabeth Wins 2022 Myra Kraft Community MVP Award!

For 25 years, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation recognize exceptional volunteers who give back to their communities with the Myra Kraft Community Awards program. On June 8th, our chair, Elizabeth Keeley, became one of 26 recipients to receive an award for her contributions to helping those who are experiencing homelessness and hunger. Through the award, the Mission received $10,000 to further our cause of transforming and empowering homeless lives to achieve healthy and self-sufficient lives. “I am honored to be selected for this award named for Myra Kraft’s philanthropy and commitment to volunteering. Thank you to the Kraft Family and the New England Patriots for recognizing the valuable and essential contributions made by volunteers to nonprofit organizations.

I am proud to support the critical work of the Boston Rescue Mission which has resulted in tens of thousands of individuals experiencing homelessness to live healthier and more productive lives. Volunteering with different organizations over the past 40+ years has increased my understanding of and empathy for the serious challenges many of our neighbors must
contend with in life. These volunteer experiences have enriched my life and for this, I am most grateful.” The Mission is extremely proud of Elizabeth for her achievement and thankful to the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Foundation for recognizing the efforts Elizabeth has taken for our neighbors in need in Boston. Check out the news below: Press Release:

Wear Hope on Your Sleeve!

Wear Hope on Your Sleeve!

You asked for 'em. We got 'em. Bright, hopeful Mission t-shirts! ​ We kept the same great classic designs on the front and back for a simple, understated look. This time we added two new colors - a royal blue and an Irish green in addition to black and orange. ​ Shirts are $10 apiece and available in sizes small through 2XL. Contact Mauricia at (617) 338-9000 ext. 1230. or volunteer@brm.org for yours or for gifts. ​

A Note of Kindness

A Note of Kindness

We're blessed by our supporters in so many ways...sometimes with kind words, like these from Marge and Jack: ​ Thanks for your thanks. We have been regular contributors to Boston Rescue Mission for many years. I remember vividly what first convinced us of the value of your Mission. It was an invitation to come to the BRM facility and see how our contributed dollars are being put to work.​ Seeing the rooms, the beds and the other facilities and hearing how they are used on a regular basis made us realize how important our dollars were to helping the unfortunate among us. We intend to continue our contributions and we wish you well in your mission. ​ It's faithful givers like Marge and Jack that reach those in the greatest need. And please contact us at info@brm.org if you would like a personal tour of our downtown headquarters. We'll be glad to show you around!

John and Dennis on Mix 104.1

John and Dennis on Mix 104.1

The Mission was so glad to welcome WZLX and iHeartRadio personality Sue Brady to our volunteer team. Sue's passion for people who are homeless and in need led her not only to shifts in the Mission kitchen, but to connect further with Mission residents and guests and present them with opportunities in the community. ​ In her travels, Sue led Mission President John Samaan and Food Service Manger Dennis Gaskell to Mike Mullaney, host of the New England Lifestyles program airing on Boston's Mix 104.1. The link above plays a 30 minute segment with Mike, John, Sue, and Dennis (left to right below) speaking about homelessness, addiction, life on the streets, and how the Mission transforms lives at risk.

Bank of America Builds Opportunities for Mission Residents and Guests

Bank of America Builds Opportunities for Mission Residents and Guests

For more than a century, we've helped to give people at risk the tools they need to restore a healthy balance in their lives. Thanks to support from Bank of America, hundreds of residents and guests at risk of homelessness, hunger, incarceration, and substance abuse can restore their own stability and bring economic opportunities to their families. When enough families strengthen their economic outlook,  a community of vulnerable people becomes strong and vibrant. We're grateful to the Bank of America Foundation for the generous support that strengthens individuals, families, and their communities.

Remembering Billy O

Remembering Billy O

The Mission was saddened by the unexpected passing of former employee Billy Oranczak on September 7, 2018 at the age of 66.  Working first as a cook and later as Food Service Manager, Billy served the Mission’s clients for eight years until his retirement in 2015. Under his leadership, the kitchen and meals programs provided over 10,000 meals per month to those in need.  Believing in the power of community effort to feed hungry people, Billy formed lasting partnerships with local restaurants, grocery stores, businesses, and churches, encouraging them to provide nutritious food to the Mission at little to no cost. He established relationships with both TD Garden and the Boston Red Sox, resulting in creative and even gourmet food donations. Passionate about eradicating hunger among children, he initiated school-based food pantry programs in two lower income neighborhood schools, ensuring access to food outside of the normal school day.  A naturally gregarious person, Billy was known for his humor, transparency, and approachability.  He was rarely at a loss for words and freely shared his personal story as both a testimony and an encouragement to the Mission’s many clients and volunteers.  He enthusiastically worked with thousands of volunteers and formed meaningful, impactful relationships on behalf of the Mission.  Billy’s presence will be greatly missed.