She was raised by her grandmother after her parent’s passed away when she was still a child. She got expelled from boarding school in the sass for consumption of alcohol. In 1947, she moved to Boston to study Jazz at Boston Conservatory. Unfortunately, she again got expelled for drinking. Kip then Joined Alcoholics Anonymous, which would eventually completely change her life. After obtaining sobriety, Kip began a successful career as an advertising copy writer and eventually opened her own firm. She also worked with SST Phillips Warwick House, a Boston based Catholic civil rights and anti-war movement ministry.
SST Phillips took Kip into housing projects, Jails, and hospitals where she saw the needs of poor and homeless individuals throughout the city. (Roses Place, 2011) Kip was astonished when she saw women trying to pass themselves off as men in order to get a meal in Boston homeless shelters. She researched the issue and found out that all the shelters in Boston and all other major U. S cities only served men. At that point in time, society did not recognize homelessness as being a women’s issue, UT Kip envisioned a place where women were welcomed with open arms.
She immediately sprung in to action as she thought it is our duty as citizens to help those who cannot help themselves. Kip said, “together we can change the world if we are only willing to care enough” (Rookie’s Place, 2011). Kip striver to create social change by addressing the issues that homeless women were faced with. On Easter Sunday 1974, Kip started Rookie’s Place in an old abandoned grocery store. It became the first drop in and emergency shelter for homeless women in the United States. Kip decided on this name because it is inviting and sounds like the name of a friend’s house.
The mission of Rookie’s Place is to “provide a safe and nurturing environment for poor and homeless women to maintain their dignity, seek opportunity, and find security in their lives” (Rookie’s Place, provide non-judgmental treatment, encouragement, alleviation of suffering, independence, and finally pursuit of social Justice. Every single person is referred to as a “guest”. The most remarkable quality of Rookie’s Place is that no government money is accepted. All the funding comes from private donors which deters Rookie’s Place from government demands and policies.
Rookie’s place offers many different programs. The food programs include a dining room and a food pantry. According to the Rookie’s Place website, the dining room serves 75,000 nutritionally balanced meaner to women and their children each year. The dining room is a very welcoming place, reinforcing the core values. The women sit down at a table and are actually served by volunteers, as opposed to the lunch line style of service most shelters provide. The food pantry allows more than 1800 omen per month to take home 20-40 pounds of food (Rookie’s Place, 2012).
The women are encouraged to go grocery shop for free from Rookie’s Place’s inventory. They can select from a wide variety of brand name foods and high quality products. The food pantry reinforces the value of dignity Kip worked hard to establish. This separates Rookie’s Place from other options because instead of being handed a bag full of generic goods, these women can actually hand select the items that they prefer. The housing program includes both an emergency shelter, as well as long-term sousing.
The Overnight Emergency Shelter allows women to stay up to three weeks (Rookie’s Place, 2012). Rather than going from shelter to shelter each night, this provides women the stability they need during a rough time in their life. With Rookie’s Place’s longer housing, women can rent rooms and have access to shared kitchens and bathrooms. Kip’s main focus was not geared toward the housing program, but rather on education and advocacy. It provides these women with a cheaper alternative to renting an apartment by letting them simply rent a room while they get sack on their feet.
Rookie’s Place acknowledges that education may be a key piece in helping these women become successful; therefore, they offer free morning, afternoon, and evening classes. This gives the women equal opportunities to attend without time constraints. The classes include English as a second language, GEED classes, literacy classes, and computer classes. The guests can also learn valuable skills and tools through the art program known as the Women’s Craft Cooperative. The Women’s Craft Cooperative employs women to deign and handcrafted Jewelry.
In addition to costing the confidence of these women, it also gives them experience in a work environment. Developing Job skills will allow them to better themselves and eventually rise from homelessness. The advocacy program at Rookie’s Place is the most beneficial to its guests. Rookie’s Place Public Policy Programs has two levels: guest empowerment and statewide advocacy campaigns. In the guest empowerment level, advocates meet with 10,000 guests annually (Rookie’s Place, 2012) to assist them with housing, healthcare, education opportunities, employment opportunities, and legal advice.
Guests feel comfortable with confronting these issues because of the trusting, non-judgmental environment set forth by Kip. Addressing these issues with the guests can help encourage guests to get involved in administering social change themselves. For example, they offer voter education as well as public policy council trainings. The second level of the Public Policy Program is statewide advocacy campaigns. The advocates focus on issues that address the critical needs of the guests of Rookie’s Place. They have led successful campaigns involving access to food stamps and absence abuse treatment.
These programs could be the preventative measure keeping a women from entering the cycle of homelessness. Therefore, Rookie’s Place not only provides assistance to homeless women, it aims to prevent homelessness all together. Initially, Kip focused on a small subset of the homeless community; however, over time she began expanding her focus to all homeless individuals. In addition to founding Rookie’s Place, Kip played a key role in the founding of Poor People’s United Fund, Community Works, Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, Boston Women’s Fund, ND the Boston Food Pantry, now known as the Greater Boston Food Bank.
Kip had an altruistic, whole-hearted passion for helping the homeless. Not only did Kip form these organizations, she’s was hands-on and actively promoting the goals herself. Kip described herself as a “prisoner of hope” (Boston Globe) meaning that she was consumed by the idea of making this world a better place. Kip lived by the philosophy, “Never be afraid to speak truth to power”(Boston Globe). What she meant by this was that individuals in power may not always have the best interest of people n mind and it is our responsibility to speak up.
Jonathan Scott, a dear friend of Kip, published an article in the Boston Globe. He said, “l heard Kip address a crowd on the grand staircase in the State House. She called for us to be “staunch warriors in the walk toward Justice,” to fight against the “mean-spirit of government” (Boston Globe). She made it her mission to give a voice to those who weren’t being heard. Homeless women were not being recognized or provided assistance. Kip Tirana was the voice of these women, telling stories few wanted to hear.
Kip wasn’t afraid to peak truth and take action which is why Rookie’s Place is still assisting homeless women to this day. In conclusion, Kip was an exceptional leader in the fight against homelessness. She recognized that women were affected by homelessness during a time society only recognized men struggling with being homeless. The founding of Rookie’s Place changed the way society viewed homelessness. Maria Fascination, the executive direction of the National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty said, “Kip was a prescient first responder to a need that would only continue to grow” (New York Times, 2011).
Kip gave the poor and homeless women a voice and most importantly gave them the necessary tools to fight for themselves through her many organizations. Jonathan Scott said, “She had that aura of a leader, the powerful presence of a visionary and the unforgettable stature of an activist who was actually doing something so tangible and concrete about social injustice” (Boston Globe). Each organization she began and each fight she fought made the problem a little bit smaller and society a little bit better. Kip once said, “To eliminate the cause of suffering is our reason for living.
By helping the homeless we become free and liberated. Keep on keeping on. Do the best we can, then try to do more” (Boston throughout her life. She began by helping a small subset and eventually went on tried to combat homelessness throughout an entire state. Boston Mayor Thomas Minion said, “Every day of her life she lived for social Justice, and the lives she saved were untold” (Boston Globe). On July 2, 2011, Kip Tirana past away after losing her battle to cancer. She will forever be remembered for her selflessness and vast contributions in the fight against homelessness