The Urban Hound at St. Francis House and Humphrey the Boston Terrier

The Urban Hound at St. Francis House and Humphrey the Boston Terrier

Everyone’s path to employment is unique, and so are St. Francis House’s workforce development services.

To strengthen our portfolio of options, St. Francis House partnered with The Urban Hound, Boston’s premier dog care, training, and grooming facility, to open The Urban Hound at St. Francis House in October 2019 offering relevant and accessible hands-on employment training for our guests.

Through a 6-month paid internship, the Dog Care Academy provides skill-based training and creates career pathways in the growing pet care industry for the individuals St. Francis House serves. Currently, the Dog Care Academy is in its first session at both The Urban Hound at St. Francis House at 50 Boylston St. and the Urban Hound’s flagship location in the South End.

While this new initiative brings a much-needed amenity to the downtown Boston neighborhood, it also gives an opportunity for the local community to get involved with making a difference in the lives of our guests. Humphrey the Boston Terrier has been spending more and more time at The Urban Hound at St. Francis House, and we got a chance to chat with his mom, Heather Campbell, dedicated volunteer and longtime friend of St. Francis House, about bringing Humphrey to The Urban Hound! Heather and Humphrey are pictured here with Humphrey’s favorite Urban Hound supervisor, Jillian.

  1. First, please introduce yourself and your pup! 

Humphrey and I live in an apartment near Boston Common with my husband and the youngest of our three grown children. (The oldest, by the way, is a staff accountant at St. Francis House!)

As a family we’ve been in the Boston area for over twenty years, which for me is the second time I’ve lived in Boston, since I also went to school and had my first couple of jobs here. Humphrey is our second Boston terrier, just over a year old, and still full of puppy energy.

  1. Tell me more about your experience with St. Francis House – when did you learn about us? 

I’ve been aware of St. Francis House for a long time but really got to know it first-hand when we moved downtown from the suburbs in 2014.

  1. How long have you been volunteering? Why do you volunteer with St. Francis House? Do you volunteer with other organizations?

I’ve been volunteering in the kitchen, and to a lesser extent in the clothing room, since 2014.

When we moved downtown I was looking for local opportunities to volunteer, and St. Francis House is not only nearby but also addressing an issue that has become more and more prevalent in the city over time, the problem of homelessness.

All of us who are fortunate enough to have a home know how important that is, not just for the obvious reasons that it provides shelter, stability, and a base of operations for our lives, but also for our overall sense of wellbeing and our physical health. But especially when you live downtown, you realize there are so many people who are deprived of these essential benefits because of circumstances that have developed in their lives in spite of their best efforts to change them. That realization is more than enough motivation to volunteer st SFH.

On top of that, though, I’d also like to say that it’s a lot of fun – the camaraderie among the volunteers I work with on a regular basis means that I really look forward to my mornings in the kitchen!

In the past, I was a volunteer for over ten years at REACH, an organization that provides shelter and services for survivors of domestic violence, and for several years was President of its Board of Directors.

  1. When you first heard about Urban Hound at St. Francis House, what was your reaction?

Great idea! The neighborhood really needed a “doggy daycare” facility, and what better than one that will also provide job training for the guests of St. Francis House?

  1. What was the decision to start bringing Humphrey to Urban Hound? 

We often need someone to look after Humphrey when we all have commitments outside the home and had never previously found a really satisfactory solution in the neighborhood. Just as important, dogs also need socialization with other dogs, and a day at the Urban Hound gives Humphrey more of that than we can otherwise provide.

  1. Will Humphrey continue going to Urban Hound? What does he like most about his days at dog daycare? 

If it were left to him, Humphrey would be at the Urban Hound every day! In fact, whenever we take him for a walk on the Tremont Street side of the Common, he thinks that’s where he’s going and starts pulling on his leash and trying to get across the street to his buddies at the day camp! If we then start heading away in the other direction, he locks his legs in an attempt to change our minds.

What does he like most? Running around with a toy in his mouth, egging the other dogs on to chase him. We’re told that he does that all day long! And then when he comes home, he sleeps like a baby.

Luxury. Comfort. Style. Community: The Urban Hound is open for daycare 7 days a week and offers both full and half-day daycare options, structured walks, and training and grooming services. Dog Care Academy interns spend a significant amount of time as onsite to gain hands-on experience, develop transferable skills, and learn about the industry under the guidance of Urban Hound professionals.

Learn more about The Urban Hound at St Francis House or stay up to date by following The Urban Hound at St. Francis House on Facebook!

Food, shelter and other fundamental needs at St. Francis House with support from Bank of America

St. Francis House is thrilled to receive support from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation this past year, enabling us to invest in our basic needs programs and services. This funding has allowed St. Francis House to help improve our guests’ economic mobility through a multitude of services we provide every day in the St. Francis House Day Shelter at 39 Boylston Street.  

Everyone eats at St. Francis House 

St. Francis House serves a nutritious lunch and breakfast to everyone who walks through our doors – we never turn anybody away. This past year, we served 5,903 unique individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty in the Commonwealth. From providing nutritious food and daytime shelter to showers, access to medical care, clean and seasonally appropriate clothing, and mail services – we connect our guests with all of the resources they need in one building.   

We work to ensure that those experiences, day after day, build on one another and create a solid foundation for people to transform their lives. Once their hunger is alleviated and their basic needs are met, our guests are able to better prepare for the next step on their pathway to stability, such as counseling services, participation in our Sullivan Family Moving Ahead Program or exploring our new job training program through the Urban Hound at St. Francis House.

Providing access to basic needs for vulnerable populations is critical to strengthen our community, enabling us to create a bridge between addressing the most present, basic needs of today, to imagining a brighter future tomorrow for our guests.  

Corporate Partnership Opportunities 

Your company or organization can learn more about how to get involved with St. Francis House by contacting Shannon Arnold at or by calling  617-457-1004.  

Help support our 2020 Day of Renewal!

Every May, we host a Day of Renewal. This year, our event will be held on Friday, May 8, 2020.

Our Carolyn Connors Women’s Center is a safe refuge with customized programming for our women guests. Occurring around Mother’s Day, this event is an opportunity for our ladies to reclaim their identities as women, mothers, daughters, sisters, and grandmothers.

The day-long program includes spa pampering, and beauty activities, closing with a lovely luncheon program.

We need your help

We expect around 80 women to be participating, and are planning gift bags, helping them enjoy what can be an emotionally weighty time around Mother’s Day with some special indulgences.

We need your help in ensuring we have sufficient materials for our guests. Please consider contributing to help ensure an incredibly revitalizing day for these ladies! All items can be donated in our lobby. Please specify that they are for our Women’s Center.

Beauty Activities – we can only accept new products.
  • Nailpolish
  • Makeup for the beauty activities
Gift Bags
  • Gift cards from CVS, Walgreens, or Dunkin’ Donuts in $5 increments (we cannot break down larger gift cards, so we appreciate when all of them are in $5 increments!)
  • Full size toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash, soap, toothpaste
  • Jewelry, unused makeup, hairbrushes, other beauty products

Grab an extra item the next time you swing by the store! 

Where do I drop off my donations?

When you come to the lobby, please let the lobby attendant/staff member know that your items are for the Women’s Center. St. Francis House is located at 39 Boylston Street, Boston MA 02116. We are steps from both the Chinatown (orange) and Boylston (green) MBTA stations.

Honoring Black History Month with Melnea Cass: The Woman Behind the Boulevard

“If we cannot do great things, we can do small things in a great way.” – Melnea Cass


In honor of Black History Month, Tim Bulla, the Associate Director of Clinical Supervision at St. Francis House and a self-described “history geek”, sent out an email to our staff in which he wrote about Melnea Cass, the great African-American activist for whom Boston’s Melnea Cass Boulevard is named. We wanted to share Tim’s thoughts and some of the highlights of Melnea Cass’ remarkable life.

Here’s Tim:

As many of you know Melnea Cass Boulevard and Mass Ave are portrayed in social media as “Methadone Mile”. This connotation and description perpetuates the negative stereotype and stigma for those suffering from the “disease of addiction“ and substance use disorders. Little to no attention is paid to the individuals seeking treatment or to our many colleagues who are on the front lines providing help and hope. 

But Tim wanted to go beyond that “Methadone Mile” designation and learn about who Melnea Cass was.

Known as the “First Lady of Roxbury,” Melnea Cass was a civil rights and community activist who played a role in virtually all of the civil rights and social justice initiatives of the 20th century. As a young woman, after the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote, Cass registered African-Americans to do so. She was active in efforts to improve employment options for African-American workers, fighting for opportunities that she herself had been denied. (Although she was the valedictorian of her high school class, Melnea Cass couldn’t find work in retail, and ended up doing domestic work until her marriage.)

Melnea Cass fought to desegregate Boston’s public schools. She was president of the local chapter of the NAACP. Active in establishing the local of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Instrumental in supporting the Job Corps. A founder of Freedom House. A charter member of Action for Boston Community Development, which helped people cope with the loss of their homes because of urban renewal. And she didn’t slow down as she got older. From 1975 to 1976 (when she turned 80), Cass chaired the Massachusetts Advisory Committee for the Elderly. In the meantime, she and her husband had raised three children, and Cass was involved in myriad lesser-known community activities, including mothers’ clubs and an embroidery club. Melnea Cass died in 1978.

Today, one of the biggest crises that the community faces is that of addiction, and there’s no doubt that Melnea Cass would have been helping to lead the battle. At St. Francis House, we’re part of the battle, supporting our guests who are in the throes of addiction and, through our newly opened Recovery Support Center, those who are on the road to recovery. In the near future, we will establish a licensed Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Outpatient Clinic, further embracing our vision of creating a full continuum of SUD support and services under one roof at 39 Boylston Street.

Like Tim Bulla, we’re optimistic:

If history repeats itself, which I believe it will, once we curtail and ultimately stop this opiate epidemic, Melnea Cass Boulevard will be restored, as it should be, to honoring Melnea Cass.

#MarathonMonday: Meet Brendan Stack!

Thousands of runners from every background will be crossing the finish line of the 124th Boston Marathon® which is held annually on Patriots Day. On April 20, 2020, six individuals will take on the oldest annual marathon in the world in support of St. Francis House and our life-saving programs and services. Starting today, we’ll be introducing each one of our runners in preparation for the big Marathon Monday in just a few short weeks!

1. Start by introducing yourself.

Hello! My name is Brendan Stack. I grew up in Wayland, MA, moved to Boston to study at Boston University and have been here ever since. I currently work in institutional sales for Pacific Heights Asset Management, a boutique mutual fund company.

2.  What has been the most challenging part of your Marathon training so far?

The most challenging part of my Marathon training has been learning to listen to my body to avoid injury. I have enjoyed making running a part of my routine and building up mileage but recently have been dealing with some Achilles soreness which has led me to mix in more rest days and slow my progression.

3.  Most people would never even consider taking on a challenge like this – how & why did you decide to run a marathon for an organization like St. Francis House?

On Patriots Day of 2019, I enjoyed the Boston Marathon from the sidewalk like I have every year for the better part of a decade. I had never considered running a marathon but that day I was struck with the question, why not? I had been looking for a new personal goal to work towards and the iconic Boston Marathon seemed like the perfect feat to pursue… In addition, I had been volunteering at St. Francis House for a while at that point and knew I would love to be a part of Team SFH if I could secure a bib!

4. When did you first get into running? How does it make you feel?

I have played sports and remained active my entire life, but have never run competitively or long distances. Running regularly is something I only started doing when my marathon training began. I look forward to my weekday runs and the challenge of my Saturday long runs. I am also enjoying increasing my calorie consumption as my runs grow longer!

5.  What part of St. Francis House’s work interests you the most?

The Workforce Development programs interest me the most. It is impossible to break the cycle of homelessness without employment and it is very difficult to find a job without the necessary skills. The success achieved in the Sullivan Family Moving Ahead Program (MAP), a 14-week job-skills training program, is extraordinary.

6.  Is there something about St. Francis House you wish everyone knew?

I wish everyone knew the extent of the services St. Francis House provides. It is probably most known for serving delicious and nutritious meals, but its impact goes much further than that. They also offer medical care, counseling, workforce development, housing and more. I was particularly impressed with the organization’s acquisition and conversion of The Union, a building located right across the street from SFH that now boasts 46 units of affordable, permanent housing. I think such an ambitious undertaking shows how committed SFH is to pushing the status quo of homelessness.

7. What would you say to someone who is considering running their first marathon? 

I would tell them to sign up! Even if you have never been much of a distance runner, I think committing to a race makes you immediately accountable. It becomes harder to be lazy when you have a concrete deadline on the horizon.

Good Luck, Brendan! 

Click here to support Brendan’s race to the finish line and help him reach his goal in support of St. Francis House.

Did you know you can meet Brendan, along with other Team St. Francis House runners, at Joe’s American Bar and Grill next month on April 8th at our Race to the Finish Line event? Check out tickets here!