Rosie’s Place came about because its founder, Kip Tiernan, was particularly struck by a number of women who tried to pass themselves off as men to get a meal in men-only Boston shelters, as there was no shelter for homeless women in the city. Kip envisioned a place where women would have a bed, a meal and a place other than the streets to meet and rest - a place where they would be loved unconditionally.
On Easter Sunday in 1974, Kip founded Rosie’s Place in the old Rozen’s Supermarket on Columbus Avenue with $250 donated from friends. Kip and four other volunteers named the shelter Rosie’s Place because it held no connotations and sounded like it could be a women’s coffeehouse or favorite aunt’s kitchen. Since that time, Kip’s vision has helped Rosie’s Place evolve from simply providing shelter to offering solutions. In 1977 Rosie’s Place purchased its first building, a five-story row house in Washington Street in Boston’s South End. Shortly after Rosie’s Place’s 10th birthday on April 24, 1984, fire destroyed the top two floors of the Washington Street building. Plans for a new main location at 889 Harrison Avenue then began to develop. Serendipitously, the proposed location was the site of St. Philip’s church where Tiernan had originally volunteered. The new building was dedicated on June 2, 1986. The Washington Street building was then converted into a lodging house, and became Rosie’s Place’s second permanent home for thirteen women. In the early 1990s Rosie’s Place turned an eye to the growing number of women suffering from HIV/AIDS, and in 1995 Rosie’s Place converted a triple-decker in Dorchester into a home for women living with HIV. Economic empowerment, literacy and education also became issues that Rosie’s Place addressed through adult education classes and coordination with Shelter Legal Services and Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. This laid the groundwork for future collaborations with a dozen organizations that brought services onsite directly to the guests. The Women’s Craft Cooperative was formed in 1996 and began “turning buttons to brooches.” Rosie’s Place continues to add services to meet the needs of its guests, including an Adult Education program that provides dozens of women with free on-site ESL, GED and Literacy classes, and a Public Policy program, which was established to create change in legislation that affects poor and homeless women.
Rosie's Place provides safe, dignified temporary housing for hundreds of women each year. For some women, ready to take significant steps to change their lives, Overnight serves as the bridge between housing and homelessness.
The Adult Education Program at Rosie’s Place presently consists of three core areas: English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, Literacy Tutoring and a GED (high school equivalency test) preparation program. All classes offered by the Adult Education Program are free of charge.
Full-time advocates work one on one with guests to help them find permanent solutions to the challenges that face them in housing, employment, and physical and mental health. Advocates schedule approximately 6,000 appointments with guests on a yearly basis, and work to help more than 100 women find a home of their own and avoid eviction.
Rosie’s Place serves lunch and dinner seven days a week to approximately one-hundred and fifty women and children each day. Each meal shift is coordinated by two Rosie’s Place employees with the assistance of 10 to 20 volunteers who provide friendly conversation and support for guests in addition to preparing and serving meals.
Rosie's Place Groceries looks like no other food pantry: set up like a small retail store, it is stocked with juice, cereal, canned goods and more. Through Rosie’s Place Groceries, more than 700 households receive food each month, helping tight budgets stretch a little farther.
For many of the formerly homeless women who live in our housing, the chance to live somewhere, especially somewhere safe, warm, clean, affordable and dignified is a first-time experience. Both of our houses offer private sleeping quarters and shared kitchen, baths, and common areas.
Established in 1996, the Women’s Craft Cooperative (WCC) creates a collaborative work environment where women obtain job readiness skills, learn craft skills, as well as elements of merchandising.
The Kip Tiernan Social Justice Fellowship honors the lifelong work of the founder of Rosie’s Place. The Fellowship enables a woman to carry out a special project that will further the mission of Rosie’s Place.