News Releases
May 30, 2024

John G. Brooks Honoree Rosie’s Place: Turning Hope into Help for 50 Years


When Rosie’s Place was founded by Kip Tiernan in 1974, it became the first emergency shelter for women in the nation. Now, 50 years later, it’s “so much more than that,” says President/CEO Leemarie Mosca. 

Serving more than 12,000 women each year, Rosie’s Place still provides sanctuary for poor and homeless women with nowhere else to turn. In addition to shelter, though, Rosie’s Place today serves as a multi-service community center that offers women—in addition to emergency shelter and meals—ESOL classes, legal assistance, wellness care, one-on-one support, housing and job search services, and much more. 

It is because of that holistic approach – their focus on meeting the legal needs of their clients along with providing other critical services – that Rosie’s Place will be honored with the John G. Brooks Legal Services Award at the BBA’s upcoming Law Day Dinner on June 13.  

“Our mission is to provide a safe and nurturing environment to help poor and homeless women maintain their dignity, seek opportunity, and find security in their lives,” said Mosca. “Through our Legal Program, we offer in-person and remote legal services in areas of housing, immigration, family law, employment, CORI sealing and debt management, in partnership with Greater Boston Legal Services, Rian Immigrant Center, and pro-bono attorneys. Last year alone, our Legal Program assisted nearly 1,000 women with legal aid and resources.” 

A deeper dive into the assistance provided by Rosie’s Place showcases the impressive depth of support it offers. In FY23, Rosie’s Place: 

  • Completed more than 29,000 visits with guests, more than double from the prior year, both on-site and through its Advocacy Helpline. 
  • Served more than 103,000 nutritious and culturally inclusive meals, a 63% increase from the previous year. 
  • Ensured that 100% of the 92 guests who worked with its Stabilization Advocates remained housed and stable. 
  • Provided safe and welcoming respite for thousands of women with a range of basic but critical lifelines that included 2,297 showers, 854 loads of laundry, and over 3,700 appointments to use private phones or computers. 

This is, of course, not easy work. Mosca says the women who turn to Rosie’s Place are often facing urgent and complex needs, from eviction, homelessness and joblessness to deportation, custody issues and more.  

“Connecting our guests with the expert help they need to access the justice they deserve can be overwhelming and extremely difficult,” noted Mosca. “Lacking access to technology, receiving services in their second language and requirements that create feelings of intimidation, fear, and confusion are just some of the obstacles they face.” 

Yet even in the face of such difficult barriers, the staff of nearly 100 at Rosie’s Place is ready to meet them head-on. Its multilingual team knows that, for the women who come to them, a feeling of defeat or despair is often unavoidable—which is why, in addition to tangible support and resources, helping to maintain the right mindset is of the utmost importance. At the heart of its services, Rosie’s Place strives to remind its guests that every woman is resilient and resourceful, and that one’s past and present need not be her limits. 

The difficulty of their work, however, allows for a sense of great pride in their successes—and, despite the uphill battle many of their guests face, there is no shortage of success.  

Take, for example, “Lucy,” who called the Legal Helpline at Rosie’s Place in a panic because she received a notice to quit from her landlord and said there was no way she could move out by the date on the notice. Well-versed in the eviction process, Rosie’s Place provided a legal advocate, who identified that the back rent owed related to difficulty Lucy had in completing the recertification process for her housing provider. The legal advocate then helped Lucy assemble the documentation needed and communicate with the housing provider to finish the recertification process; as a result, Lucy was able to resolve her housing crisis without having to suffer the consequences of a court eviction record. 

Stories like Lucy’s are common at Rosie’s Place; you can read dozens of others on their website and in their past newsletters.  

“We are heartened and proud when we are able to help a woman remain in her home, at her job, in the country, or with her family,” Mosca said. “Through our Legal Helpline, various on-site clinics, and work in the community, we give our guests the most comprehensive and compassionate assistance we can.” 

In order to provide that assistance and sanctuary unconditionally, without eligibility requirements or expiration dates, Rosie’s Place receives no city, state, or federal funding, instead relying solely on grants from foundations (including a Boston Bar Foundation IOLTA Grant in 2023) and the generous support of individuals and corporations to fund its operations.  

“We are grateful to the Boston Bar Foundation and others for supporting our critical programs and services for poor and homeless women,” Mosca said. “That support allows us to continue turning compassion into action and hope into help for our community’s most vulnerable.”