The Park Street Angels Project – just a dream for now
I have a story to tell, one I feel called to share...
Inspired by the Rev. James Forbes’ words that challenged, essentially, that “you can’t get into heaven without a [note] from the poor,” it’s the true story about my unintended encounter and resulting friendship with a disabled homeless senior and – together with friends Sue Straley and Jonathan Margolis – how we helped him find a permanent home in one of Hearth, Inc.’s many independent, supportive residences for formerly homeless elders in Greater Boston. Hearth, Inc. is the former Boston Committee to End Elder Homelessness.
I first told my story to Sue – who became part of the story – and she encouraged me to document it by keeping a journal and to share it with others. So I wrote and published Park Street Angels – a Chronicle of Hope. My story continued past the book, and it needed a place to be told. The Park Street Angels docudrama screenplay is an attempt to document the evolving friendships among and between Bob Wright and his newfound friends – through Bob’s adjustment to being housed and how he would make his way in a world where “survival” now wasn’t a one-day-at-a-time challenge; through facing some serious health issues together; through the circumstances of Robert “Bob” Wright’s death; and how he is remembered. (The story even continues past this writing as some of his family members – with whom he had lost all contact decades ago – have recently learned of Bob’s passing.)
It is a hope – and here’s the dream – that someday the Park Street Angels will be produced as a docudrama to put a face on elder homelessness and to inspire us – as a society – to think and act differently toward “the least of these.” Maybe we can’t do that one-on-one. I couldn’t; I needed the help of friends and an organization like Hearth. But an organization such as Hearth has the capacity and ability to provide services to unhoused elders, and could serve so many others in significant ways with just a bit more material support.
The objectives of the Park Street Angels Project are to:
Tell the inspiring story of the Park Street Angels, and about how “when two worlds meet, both [really can] change”
Put a face on the crisis of elder homelessness and raise awareness of the urgency of the need to address the unique challenges faced by the growing number of elders who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
Share real solutions with a broad audience and demonstrate how Hearth, Inc.’s model program has (1) made a positive impact on the lives of formerly homeless elders in Boston by providing them with outreach and supportive living facilities and (2) inspired and positively impacted development of housing programs like Hearth’s in other cities and towns
Provide a context for health and human service students and providers, as well as the general public, to discuss issues and solutions for addressing homelessness
Why do this at all?
Perhaps, in raising this issue, our health care and human service systems might continue the dialogue and provide more “trauma-informed care” by asking “What happened to you?” instead of “What’s the matter with you?” Perhaps a single mother is helped by a mentor who provides her teenage child with a supportive adult relationship and encouragement– sometimes making all the difference in whether that child stays in school and becomes a productive member of a community or gives up on life and her chances for succeeding by dropping out. Perhaps a “housing first” program is established so that mental health and substance abuse treatment might have a chance at being effective. Perhaps struggling families are supported through parent engagement and education resources.
For now the story is being shared through this website. Thank you for taking the time to walk along with me on this segment of the journey, as Paul Noel Stookey says, “for the love of it all.”
You can read the screenplay here: