I close my eyes and I remember the house as if it were yesterday—Marian McCarthy’s. She was my mother’s best friend from childhood and they had remained as close as sisters through their teenaged years and 20s, marriage and kids, thick and thin. My mother used to regularly bring my brother, sister and me to her home in Malden so the pair could catch up over tea and sweets.
She lived in a grey two-family with her husband and teenaged kids, in the unit to the right, as you face the front door. There was nothing remarkable about the house: a red oriental rug in the hallway, the living room, dining room and kitchen to the right, the stairs to the left. Linoleum floors, white walls. You’ve been in this house a hundred times. But the minute you crossed its threshold, you knew it was a home. It was palpable. And that was because of Mrs. McCarthy. She was welcoming, interested and always happy to see you. Even as an 8-year-old, I remember feeling validated in her presence, listened to. I’m not exaggerating when I say that you could feel the love.
I want people to have that same feeling when they pull open our glass doors and step into St. Francis House from busy Boylston Street. I want them to feel respected and seen. It’s what every single one of us wants and expects, but what too few of our guests experience in their lives. And as with Mrs. McCarthy’s house, it’s the people of St. Francis House, not the brick and mortar, that make it a home.
In this issue, you’ll read about several of those people—staff and board members as well as volunteers—who personify the warmth, the lack of judgment and the acceptance I felt in Mrs. McCarthy’s presence so many years ago. We strive to make this place feel like a home, in the emotional sense of the word, until our guests can find a physical one. You enable this hard and fulfilling work to happen, every single day, and we thank you so much for your support.
Sincerely, Karen LaFrazia