The Interview with Roseanna Means and Linda Cundiff
Health Care Without Walls is a non-profit dedicated to providing free, compassionate medical care, education, and advocacy to homeless women and children in greater Boston. TPC liaisons Barbara Elfman and Darline Heikkinen interviewed founder Roseanna Means and COO Linda Cundiff to learn more about this new addition to the TPC family of grantees.
Can you tell us about the community you serve? Do you see this community expanding or retracting?
The number of women we serve has grown – most recently we have seen an increase in women who are older and those who are pregnant. It is difficult to know the actual number of homeless women because when the City of Boston does its annual count of the homeless, we believe that many women are not included. Recently, a bill has been proposed by state representative Kate Hogan to create a commission to explore methodologies and ways to better serve the homeless women all around us. To support that effort, we met with Mary Lou Sudders, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and a lobbyist, Mary Ann Hart, to advocate for the women we serve.
As you approach the 20-year anniversary of Health Care Without Walls, tell us what the organization had been able to accomplish and describe three goals for the organization going forward.
We believe we represent women experiencing homelessness across the lifespan like no other group. We know we have changed a lot of lives. We are proud of the curriculum we have created for MDs and nursing students. We have been an effective, necessary bridge to moms and elders.
Our goals are to focus on Direct Care and strive to pay our nurses market rate; our volunteer physicians receive no compensation for their work. We are striving for long-term sustainability and are working to establish a strong revenue structure through community partnership contracts. We are also looking to expand our partnerships with other community-based programs that care for homeless women. Currently we are connected to Rosie’s Place, Women’s Lunch Place, and other shelters and social service programs. We need to scale up Bridges to Moms, bring in an ED, and try to find a connection that works to get chronically homeless women into permanent housing. Our other major challenge is to develop a succession plan for leadership of the organization.
We want to focus on our strengths and put our effort where it works best. We would like to effectively expand our Bridges to Elders Program in conjunction with Rosie’s Place and also forge similar partnerships for our Bridges to Moms Program.
Tell us about how TPC’s grant is being used, and what the impact of the funding is to date.
You can actually see the results of the funding you provided to us. We have created videos, which are accessible via our website, that help to tell the story of the work we do. We believe these videos deliver a very compelling and strong message and we have received very positive feedback from viewers.
Are there other ways that TPC members could help you?
Our highest priority is adding new members to either our Board of Directors or to the Event Committee for our 20th anniversary event, which will be held in October 2019. We would be delighted if TPC would participate in a letter writing campaign to promote the legislative action described above. We can provide a template for TPC so members can write their representatives, asking them to support this bill.
What is most gratifying about the work you do?
We know we make a huge difference in the lives of women who are in the most difficult situations one can imagine by providing free health care from amazing caregivers who generously give of themselves.