Over in the South End of Boston, Rosie’s Place is making a difference. It’s all in the numbers: In their Dining Room, they serve 104,000 nutritionally balanced meals annually, and through the food pantry, they send 2,000 women home each month with fresh groceries and non-perishable items. They open their shelter doors to 250 women a year, whom they then help find permanent homes and connect them with the services they need. Ninety-five percent of guests who receive in-home support from Rosie’s Place are able to remain housed thus breaking the cycle of homelessness. Over the course of a year, the organization impacts the lives of more than 12,000 poor and homeless women.
On June 21, Sean Clarke, president of Clarke Sub-Zero/Wolf of New England, and his team hosted an open house in their 7 Tide showroom to benefit Rosie’s Place. The event came together with the help of Lynn Kaplan, board member of Rosie’s Place. Since the nonprofit runs on only non-government donations, the intimate gathering gave the staff an opportunity to engage with the audience and really dig into the good work that they do every day.
Just before a tour of the Clarke showroom, Sue Marsh, president of Rosie’s Place, addressed the audience. “Thank you to Lynn and to Sean for having us here in the showroom and giving us an opportunity for us to talk with you and talk about Rosie’s Place,” said Marsh, who has led the organization for close to 20 years. She said their organization runs on a philosophy of unconditional love, and they are able to provide support for each individual’s varied needs. Some women might need a bed and a wholesome meal while others are benefiting from educational courses in English and computer basics. “We welcome every woman who comes to our door and we help them take steps towards dignity and opportunity and we help them feel safe and secure,” she said.
We visited Rosie’s Place in the South End after the event, and the kindness of staff members was clearly evident the minute we walked in the door. R.B. Michael Oliver, Director of Fundraising, gave the tour, which circled through the overnight shelter, dining room, classrooms and food pantry, where Lisa Lee was stocking perishable and nonperishable items. “We are different because we are set up like a store, so people can come and choose items that they need,” she says. Items are dropped off daily—in fact, a delivery had just arrived from Boston College—and fresh produce comes in from local farms.
While walking through the space, one can’t help but notice the myriad of framed portraits that hang on the walls. These are works of art, which are part of a greater mission at Rosie’s Place to help women who have lost so much find the mediums and the confidence to share their stories. “When we’re dealing with poor and homeless women who are so marginalized, their stories are not heard and they’re not even encouraged to be told,” says Oliver. “We are trying to encourage the women who turn to us for help to find their voice and speak for themselves. The goal is for them to not only be an advocate for themselves, but also be able to speak up about their ideas, thoughts and experiences and to share them with an authority that only comes from within.”
Rosie’s Place relies on events, such as the one here at 7 Tide, to help them spread the news of their work and also to seek support from people in the community. Any little bit can help, too, whether it’s a donation or your time. Future events include the Funny Women, Serious Business luncheon on Tuesday, October 16 from 12 to 2 p.m. For more information, visit rosiesplace.org.