Kip Tiernan: A Leader in the Fight Against Homelessness
Homelessness can be defined as an individual lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence (McKinney-Veto Homeless Education Act, Section 725). Because homelessness can be a short or long-term problem, it is difficult to accurately calculate homeless figures. The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that there are 634,067 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States. This includes people of all genders, ages, races, and backgrounds. According to the Campaign to End Child Homelessness, 1.6 million children experience homelessness annually (2012). In total, approximately 3 million individuals are experiencing homelessness each year (National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty). Homelessness is a problem that is very personal. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends, and veterans are being affected. We must come together as a society to work toward combating this problem.
Kip Tiernan was an inspiring leader in the fight against homelessness. Her greatest accomplishment was founding Rosie’s Place, the first homeless shelter for women. Kip Tiernan was born on June 17, 1926 in West Haven, CT. She was raised by her grandmother after her parents passed away when she was still a child. She got expelled from boarding school in the 1930s for consumption of alcohol. In 1947, she moved to Boston to study jazz at Boston Conservatory. Unfortunately, she again got expelled for drinking. Kip then joined Alcoholics Anonymous, which would eventually completely change her life. After obtaining sobriety, Kip began a successful career as an advertising copy writer and eventually opened her own firm. She also worked with St Phillip’s Warwick House, a Boston based Catholic civil rights and anti-war movement ministry. St Phillips took Kip into housing projects, jails, and hospitals where she saw the needs of poor and homeless individuals throughout the city. (Rosie’s Place, 2011)
Kip was astonished when she saw women trying to pass themselves off as men in order to get a meal in Boston homeless shelters. She researched the issue and found out that all the shelters in Boston and all other major U.S cities only served men. At that point in time, society did not recognize homelessness as being a women’s issue, but Kip envisioned a place where women were welcomed with open arms. She immediately sprung in to action as she thought it is our duty as citizens to help those who cannot help themselves. Kip said, “together we can change the world if we are only willing to care enough” (Rosie’s Place, 2011).
Kip strived to create social change by addressing the issues that homeless women were faced with. On Easter Sunday 1974, Kip started Rosie’s Place in an old abandoned grocery store. It became the first drop in and emergency shelter for homeless women in the United States. Kip decided on this name because it is inviting and sounds like the name of a friend’s house.The mission of Rosie’s Place is to “provide a safe and nurturing environment for poor and homeless women to maintain their dignity, seek opportunity, and find security in their lives” (Rosie’s Place, 2012). It’s core values are to be welcoming, give unconditional love, be fair, and provide non-judgmental treatment, encouragement, alleviation of suffering, independence, and finally pursuit of social justice. Every single person is referred to as a “guest”. The most remarkable quality of Rosie’s Place is that no government money is accepted. All the funding comes from private donors which deters Rosie’s Place from government demands and policies.
Rosie’s place offers many different programs. The food programs include a dining room and a food pantry. According to the Rosie’s Place website, the dining room serves 75,000 nutritionally balanced means to women and their children each year. The dining room is a very welcoming place, reinforcing the core values. The women sit...
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