“I’ve always loved to garden,” says Becky as she bends over to pick a few ripe cherry tomatoes. “I grew up in New York State, and my parents had a big garden – I started helping them when I was a young girl.”
Becky came to Boston in 1975, when ‘rents were low’. She worked in various administrative jobs and raised two children.
Then rents started to rise quickly. She was laid off from a job during an economic downturn and was unable to find work. “I was already struggling because of the high cost of living in Boston –it was hard to save money.” Eventually, after exhausting her unemployment benefits, Becky became homeless.
She started drinking and wound up on the streets for several years. She remembers those years as being really tough. “I would never want to go through that again,” she says.
Becky has been sober and living at Tuttle Street for six years now. “I am so grateful to be living in a safe home in a nice, quiet neighborhood,” she says.
Each year, she has slowly expanded the garden. “This summer I grew kale, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and tomatillos,” she says. ”I love to cook with the vegetables from the garden.”
“Gardening is a nice way to spend time outside, and it’s something that gets results. Lots of people from the neighborhood come by and watch me work – and offer advice.”
Now Becky has something else to be grateful for. She recently became a first-time grandmother and looks forward to getting to know her new granddaughter.
For most of us, our home is a safe haven, a refuge where we go to relax and reflect. Our larger community connects us to something beyond ourselves. Our communities may take the form of a school, religious organization, workplace, team or club. These connections help shape who we are and answer our need for belonging.
When men and women are homeless, they have not only lost a place to live, they have also lost that critical connection to family, friends and the community. They feel isolated and alone.
At Pine Street, our vision and our goal are to support people in rebuilding their lives. We not only provide the physical structure of a home, but also the support necessary to connect back to a community and a sense of belonging.