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Honoring Kip Tiernan of Rosie's Place: A reflection from parishioner Gary Sandison

October 4, 2018

Coming to Trinity’s neighborhood October 6:  Rosie’s Place will dedicate a memorial to the founder of the first women’s shelter in the country, Kip Tiernan (1926-1911).  She changed the lives of so many women who were homeless, battered, addicted from all economic status.  She had an unyielding commitment to social justice creating better lives for Boston’s poor and forgotten.

The sculpture, located on the wide sidewalk on the west side of Dartmouth Street between Boylston and Newbury Streets, is comprised of three stainless steel arches that people can pass under.  Passages from Kip’s writings are engraved on the columns holding up the arches, making her voice still heard to all who pass by.

I knew Kip from when I was in the Mayor's Office and my lasting impression of her is that she was tough and tender, easy with tears for her "guests" as she referred to the women she sheltered. She had a raucous laughter and easy smile. Passionate!  

Having the memorial smack in front of me as I enter and leave my home is a constant reminder of “as you have done to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done to me.” (Matthew 25:40)  I live in the midst of my homeless neighbors with all the messiness and heartbreak.  

Kip’s legacy is a testament to the power of one person saving her world. She inspires me to be the best God intends for me to be, shining a bit of hope in my corner of the world.

More about the Kip Tiernan Memorial celebration on October 6

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Trinity Church works every day to ease the pain of those around us, and we’re working with partners to find short- and long-term solutions so that all people may have adequate, stable and dignified housing and support services. Currently, nearly 100 Trinity parishioners regularly volunteer to help feed, house, and provide friendship and comfort to our homeless neighbors, including:

  • Trinity’s Verger, Bob Yearwood, is well-known in the neighborhood among people who are homeless for providing an understanding ear and food gift cards.  
  • Trinity Church has been a supporter of the “Housing First” approach to ending homelessness that centers on providing people experiencing homelessness with stable, permanent housing and services as quickly as possible.  In 2006, in partnership with Pine Street Inn, Trinity Church purchased “Yearwood House,” a Single Room Occupancy building with 22 units to provide housing for formerly chronically homeless men and women. 

Volunteer for one of Trinity’s homeless ministries 

Loving God, we give thanks for the life and legacy of Kip Tiernan, and for all who work to so that all people may have adequate, stable and dignified housing and support services.  As winter comes, we hold before you our sisters and brothers who are without shelter in this city and in all corners of your earth. Guard them, guide them and sustain them.  Form us all more and more in the image of your generous and fearless love as we together seek a world where all are warm and safe. Guide those in authority in this city and grant them courage and creativity in providing for all without shelter. This we ask in the name of Christ who brings eternal light to our darkness in this holy season. AMEN.