When Hingham resident and HomeStart board member William Boynton walked into the HomeStart’s Annual Winter Celebration at the State House, he knew he had done good work.
The event, held this past Wednesday, celebrated more than 150 HomeStart clients who have successfully moved into and maintained permanent housing through the Boston-based organization, which works with over 50 shelters in Greater Boston to get people out of shelters and keep people from going homeless.
“I spent two hours serving mac and cheese, that’s what the board members do to give back to our clients,'' Boynton said.
"They go by you and you look them in the eye and you realize how appreciative they are and all they can do is say how thankful they are. Thank you for the meal, for giving your time, for everything you do. It puts everything into perspective. I never miss it. It’s pretty incredible.”
One of three board members from Hingham, Boynton said the event is inspirational. People who have been down on their luck stand up in front of everybody and detail their story, talking about how HomeStart saved their lives.
It’s only more incentive for Boynton and other members to raise money continually to address the ever-growing need of homelessness in the community.
The need has practically doubled since 2009, said Linda Wood-Boyle, executive director for HomeStart, and the company’s services have likewise continued to grow in importance.
“The cost of putting a family in a shelter is $30,000. We are able to help someone stay into their house for $1,200. Our approach is front door-back door. Help people getting out the back door of shelter while stopping the flow into the front door,” she said.
The organization has a 90 percent retention rate, which not only works to get families into affordable housing, but keep them there – following up with clients to set up a budget, and teaching them how to be a good neighbor or tenant.
Wednesday’s event helped highlight their success. Families were awarded certificates recognizing the length of time they had maintained permanent housing, and they received lunch provided by Redbones of Somerville.
“If you know anyone on the street, reach out, offer a hand to help and let them know about this program. It does work, it does save lives,” she said
Although the event was mainly to recognize the efforts and wherewithal of the clients, Wood-Boyle says it also helped highlight the efforts of the staff.
“Our Annual Winter Celebration, where we recognize the tremendous achievements of our clients in maintaining housing whether it is for two weeks or 12 years, underscores the tremendous impact our staff has in providing stability for clients and on preventing homelessness,” she said.