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Former Homeless Street Outreach Counselor
“It is terrifying to imagine what Boston would look like without the basic human decency of the Elders Living at Home Program.”
Nick first came in contact with the Elders Living at Home program, in the 1980s, while working on Pine Street Inn’s outreach van. For years he had been patiently working to build a relationship with a long-term homeless man named Victor. Anyone who spent anytime in Boston Common in those years would recognize Victor. He often wore a white captain’s hat, red shoes, and a plaid blazer. For more than a decade he spent his days and nights outside, homeless.
Nick’s goal was to get Victor to trust him enough to agree to work on housing. It took three years but Victor finally agreed. And the place Nick turned to for help was ELAHP. He knew they would not only help find a place for Victor to live, but also would help him stay there. After much work, the day finally came…Nick stood with Victor outside the door of Victor’s new apartment. “The person who handed Victor the key,” Nick remembers, “was Eileen. Victor held the key tightly in his hand and murmured, ‘Ah, the key to heaven…”
“The name—Elders Living at Home—says it all,” Nick says. “It’s a very simple, yet profound concept. It seems obvious…dignity, empowerment, respect, compassion, and humility.”
A few years later Elders Living at Home helped Nick’s Father, Jonathan. Jonathan had been homeless for five years at that point. ELAHP helped him find an apartment. “Which was no small feat,” Nick remembers. “My father did not present himself as what you might call an ideal tenant.” His father kept that apartment for nearly sixteen years, on his own, with regular visits from Eileen and her staff. “And when it was time to transition him into the next phase of his life,” Nick says, speaking of the point at which his father needed an assisted living facility, “again, it is unlikely it would have happened if not for the Elders Living at Home Program and Eileen.”
In thinking about ELAHP now, twenty-five years later, he is grateful for having been involved with them, professionally and personally. “It is terrifying to imagine,” he says, “what Boston would look like without the basic human decency of the Elders Living at Home Program.”