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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:
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.
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?
Rev. John Samaan
President and CEO
The TJ Show Sock Drive Collects more then 41,000 pairs of socks!
After Mission guests received more than 16,000 pairs of socks thanks to #TheTJShow sock drive in 2018, morning show hosts TJ, Loren and Producer Matt upped their game in 2019. For nearly a month over the holiday season, listeners of #1033AMPRadio opened their hearts to Mission guests in the form of sock donations, sometimes by the thousands. In the first week, the station partnered with the Jonas Brothers to award tickets to individual contestants who gathered the most socks. 10 contestants raised just over 16,000 pairs of socks...just in the first week! Over two more weeks, the TJ Show aired interviews of Mission staff and clients and visited Brothers Marketplace to close out their goal of gathering 30,000 socks for Mission guests. But listeners don't stop giving just because the goal has been reached. In the weeks before Christmas, several thousand more socks arrived at the station. And, several more donors referencing #TheTJShow delivered thousands more socks directly to the Mission. All told, listeners, their friends and family flooded the Mission closets with more than 41,000 pairs of socks! From all of the Mission guests, residents, staff, and supporters, thank you so much to #TheTJShow for their wonderful platform, the staff at #1033AMPRadio for all of the promotional support, #BrothersMarketplace for hauling thousands of socks to the Mission, and all of the community members who brought relief to homeless feet!
For Lease - 3,800 sq. ft. Space for Non-Profits
Located in Downtown Crossing within walking distance to South Station, Park Street T stop, numerous restaurants, Roche Bros. supermarket, and some of the city's most exciting residential and commercial developments, 25 Kingston Street is owned by Kingston Investment Property Trust. FEATURES 3,800 square feet on the entire 6th floor Owner occupied and managed Combination of private offices and open area No tax escalation to qualified non-profits Competitive pricing/sub - $40s/PS Available July 1, 2020 Negotiable term For more information, please contact: Allison Kinyua Director of Finance Kingston Investment Property Trust 25 Kingston Street, Basement Level Boston, MA 02111 T: (617) 338-9000 ext. 1202
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!
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.
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.