Thanks to friends like you, the doors of Rosie’s Place remain open as we persist through the pandemic. And while the ways we provided emergency and support services had to be adapted, we are proud that they were delivered with the same unconditional love that is the hallmark of our work.
We have experienced challenges at every turn, across the organization, but we also learned a lot, and this learning helped us evolve our services – the Food Pantry moved to a tent in the parking lot and eventually to our Education Building, allowing for ease of access for our guests; the kitchen began offering prepared and to-go meals, giving guests access to nutritious food throughout the day. We also witnessed the resiliency of our guests, staff, and supporters.
Now, forty-seven years since our founding, the mission and work of Rosie’s Place is more vital than ever. We are so grateful that you have chosen to stand with us.
Emergency Services: Daytime and Overnight Shelter, Food Programs, and Wellness Center
Daytime shelter at Rosie’s Place looks different these days. Inside Rosie’s Place we have dedicated our space to homeless women who have nowhere safe to shelter during the pandemic. The shelter gives our guests access to medical screenings, showers, a place to rest with space for physical distancing, support services, and much more.
In FY21 the Overnight Program had a total of 21 stays, with 21 different guests. Due to COVID-19 we extended the guests’ stays until August 1, 2021, in this way we ensured the long-term safety of these women for the entirety of the year and a half ahead. We implemented strict COVID-19 precautions to ensure guest safety. And we helped 70% of those staying with us access vaccinations. And we were able to place 13 guests in stable, permanent housing.
The Dining Room is a place where guests come for nourishment of many kinds – food, friendship, and support. In FY21 we hosted many celebrations including holidays and birthdays, screened movies, decorated with flowers, and treated our guests with surprise fun activities. The Dining Room served 9,411 breakfasts, 15,389 lunches, 19,995 dinners and 5,322 brunches totaling 50,117 meals.
Last year our Food Pantry doubled its capacity to serve 250 women a day. Today we are seeing close to 350 housed women a day at the pantry, triple the number we were serving compared to the days before the pandemic. The program now disributes pre-prepared bags of groceries, instead of having women select food from our indoor pantry. This shift helped us serve more housed women safely while securing and distributing enough food to meet the increased demand. By year’s end, in-kind donations totaled $371,526.90, and Food Pantry visits totaled 38,752, more than ever before.
The Wellness Center implemented many of the safety precautions necessitated by the pandemic. Working with long-time partners Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program and Healthcare Without Walls, Rosie’s Place provided on-site COVID-19 symptom screening to 11,657 guests, both emergency and surveillance testing, and provided access to vaccines for our guests.
Support Services: Advocacy, Legal, and Stabilization Programs
The Advocacy team reimagined the way that they provide support to our guests. In addition to one-on-one services for our homeless guests who came in person to Rosie’s Place – seeking help with everything from Charlie cards and Mass ID’s, rental and utility arrearages, and even funeral expenses – we established an Advocacy Helpline where housed guests seeking assistance could call in from wherever they were. The total number of advocacy visits for the year was 18,747 – an increase of 40% over the prior year, with most of the service– 10,996 –provided via the Helpline.
The Legal Program at Rosie’s Place provides holistic legal services in a warm, caring, and compassionate manner, assisting with the accessibility of the legal system. In the past, guests connected with the Legal Program mostly in person, at our legal clinics. Due to the pandemic, the Legal Program launched the Legal Helpline. In FY21, 766 guests used the Legal Helpline to connect directly to Legal Program staff–often these calls represent guests who reached out for more than one issue – and through direct referrals from Rosie’s Place advocates.
The Stabilization Program worked with 60 guests in FY21, where we provided support to keep women housed and healthy. Over the past year we worked with many management companies, landlords and housing agencies to support issues around tenancy. All guests remained housed and stable over a most difficult year.
Opportunities and Steppingstones: Public Policy, Education & Workforce Development
Despite the distance imposed by the pandemic, our Public Policy staff connected with several hundred guests and community members over the course of the year. Through our Action Network portal and emails 524 individuals were inspired to reach out to their legislators. Further, by bringing census workers to Rosie’s Place a record 633 women were counted in the 2020 Census.
We also joined a task force with partner organizations focusing on equity issues related to COVID-19 such as vaccine distribution and the classifying and prioritizing of vulnerable populations and essential workers. This collaboration was crucial in bringing the vaccine to our guests and staff in early 2021.
The pandemic posed challenges for Women’s Education Center (WEC), in FY21, but turning to online technology and smart phone apps, WEC was able to serve 127 students remotely, through Zoom, an online app called Cell-Ed, and Teaching Calls.
Helping women to access employment is a cornerstone to stability. Our Workforce Specialist meets with guests to assist in writing resumes and cover letters, undergo online job searches and help with applications, review employment benefits, and many other work-related issues. In FY21, our Workforce Specialist worked with 100 guests on 255 job related visits, with the goal of entering the workforce, moving up in the workforce, and thriving.
We look forward to sharing our next progress report with you later in 2022. On behalf of all of us at Rosie’s Place, thank you for your partnership. We are grateful for you kindness and generosity.