Eventually, as she grew older and frailer, Linda was given one of the 10 transitional rooms at the shelter, a room that she could call her own. For Linda, whose past was a mystery we could never solve, who suffered from mental illness that was so debilitating that we were never even able to successfully collect the information required to allow her to apply for social security benefits, St. Patrick's became home, the staff her family.
Linda lived safely and was well-cared for until her death. It was Linda's long-time nurse from Boston's Health Care for the Homeless along with shelter guests and the shelter staff that cared for Linda that gathered for her memorial service this spring. In the end, Linda had what we all want-people who cared about her.
Sadly, there are more Lindas living in our communities than ever before, as the holes in our safety net continue to widen. Community services for those living with mental illness are underfunded and those that exist are stretched beyond their capacity to serve all that require such services. Every afternoon, St. Patrick's is forced to turn some women away, an anxiety-filled reality, as it is never safe to be a woman alone on the street at night.
To discover more about our work go to www.ccab.org
Debbie Rambo is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.