Meet Board Member Mark Doyle.
Years on Board: 4
People ask me “why St. Francis House?”
My answer is varied but always emphatic. As with most things you can usually trace it back to formative years and impressions that are made and that are lasting.
My parents sacrificed so that their children were able to attend parochial school. In my 12 years at St. Mary’s of Lynn, I was blessed to be able to obtain a college preparatory education. But even more than that, I gained a foundational springboard rooted in compassion for the human condition and the plight of others. This can manifest itself in amazing ways throughout life.
In our household a common phrase was one known by many- “there but for the grace of God go I”.
I remember early memories of familial involvement with St. Vincent De Paul and all of the great work they did for families who had fallen on hard times. It was always clear to me that one small twist of fate could impact people in ways that are sometimes cruel and that the extended hand could make a difference.
I also recall periodic visits to Arch Street Chapel in Boston, which had strong symbolic meaning for my parents and the family. It is only recently that my 85 year old mother told me of the time that her and my late father came out of Arch Street and there were many homeless people eating sandwiches off the hood of their car. My parents were pleased that someone had provided means for them. That piece of the tale comes back later.
Charitable Giving Campaign
About 7 years ago I began to volunteer at St. Francis House doing the variety of tasks that they offer like kitchen assistance, clothes sorting and mock interviews for participants of the Moving Ahead Program. These activities were coordinated via our Charitable Giving Campaign at my employer, Natixis Investment Managers. At Natixis, charitable work is in our DNA. We work with many charity partners in true partnership. It is a grass roots effort and a model that we believe strongly in. Our partnership with St. Francis House is something that we are very proud of, because of the exceptional core capabilities that they provide. The St. Francis House team consists of 75 individuals who regularly participate in many aspects of assistance. About four years ago I was honored to be asked to join the Board of Directors.
Back to “why St. Francis House?”
I was struck by their tagline of ‘rebuilding lives” and their mission to combat homelessness. That is so powerful. When you look at the core capabilities that they offer – from basic daily sustenance items like food, clothing and a shower, all the way through various programs to heal, get people housed and back to work it is truly amazing. The great news is that anyone can enter this continuum of care at any point, based on where they are at. The staff is tirelessly dedicated to the cause in a manner of compassion the likes of which I have never seen. They continue to plan and develop for the next chapter of St. Francis House so as to help combat homelessness and further the plight of each individual that crosses the threshold. Everyone deserves that shot.
It was only when I got more involved with St. Francis House and understood their history did I realize that their origins were rooted in the distribution of sandwiches at Arch Street in the 1980s. When the demand became too great the operation was moved to the current Boylston Street location to help alleviate congestion. Then it dawned on me that my Mom’s story harkened back to the genesis of St. Francis House. I remember nodding to myself and calling that one of life’s ah ha moments.
If you are considering getting involved with St. Francis House – I encourage you to take that leap. You will be amazed by the journey and every helping hand counts. Come along with us.
– Mark Doyle