The following excerpt is from an interview with Monsignor Frank Kelley, a founding member of Pine Street Inn who is still active in the organization today.
Monsignor Kelley grew up in Roslindale and went to Boston College High School and Holy Cross College. He later became part of a group of activist priests, known as the Association for Boston Urban Priests, who advocated for social justice.
“Pine Street Inn’s original location – 8 Pine Street (in Chinatown) – was a big brick building with four stories, and it was going to be knocked down. Paul Sullivan and Jim Buckley (Pine Street’s founders) were there, and we just started meeting. We knew we had to find a way to finance this building, and get men off the streets. We couldn’t do it as a religious body. That’s when we decided to organize ourselves as Pine Street Inn.
When deinstitutionalization was happening in the ‘70s, we had to rethink how we were going to run this place. We started raising funds to purchase a property for those who were homeless. The South End area was completely different at that time. It wasn’t a desirable part of the city but even then, people weren’t happy about having us here.
Pine Street was founded on a culture of dignity and respect, no matter who you were or where you came from. Paul Sullivan would always say: ‘You’re the guest in our house.’ To this day, we still refer to everyone as our ‘guest’.
In memory of Paul Sullivan, Pine Street opened up a new era when we moved towards permanent housing. Paul did not want people in shelter for the long-term – he wanted us to get to permanent housing.
The key thing about Pine Street is its capacity to reinvent itself. Today we have a clear sense of who we are and what we can accomplish.
Pine Street is a significant organization in the city, and we have helped shape the culture of Greater Boston.”