Each day for nearly six years I steered my car down South Huntington Avenue as I drove to work at the MSPCA-Angell in Jamaica Plain. I could drive that route blindfolded having become accustomed to the pace of publicizing stories at a 24-hour veterinary hospital and its hundreds of daily patients.
A few hundred yards before I turned into our parking lot I always peered across the passenger seat at The Home. If you’ve spent anytime in Boston you know what people mean when they say “The Home.”
Its full name is The Home for Little Wanderers but most residents shortened it. I like to believe that the locals shortened it to show their roots but I always cut off the last few words because they were a reminder of the helplessness an orphaned or homeless child must feel before entering its care.
As I drove by, day or night, I wondered what circumstances brought each of the children to this oasis along South Huntington. My mind would also drift to the experiences they would enjoy now that they were in the hands of such a caring staff.
Today, The Home is making news since it is shuttering its facility and moving to a new headquarters. The Boston Globe’s Yvonne Abraham wrote a heart-wrenching piece (A Final Goodbye to a Longtime Refuge, 8/30/12) featuring a now 101 year-old recipient of The Home’s care back in the early 1900s. In her coverage, Abraham perfectly encapsulates what The Home can do for the “wandering” children of Massachusetts, especially when centenarian Paula Townsend is given the spotlight.
Townsend was still crawling when her father ran away to Hollywood and her mother surrendered her 12 suffering children unto the Home For Little Wanderers. This red-brick Jamaica Plain building, opened in 1915, was the first home she knew.
With few words Ms. Townsend expresses her youth, lost when her family abandoned her and regained when she was provided a home:
“I didn’t know what a home was,” Townsend said. “I didn’t know what a mother was.”
Someday I hope there will be homes for all of the children back in my home state. Until then, I’m happy knowing that The Home exists, no matter where they open their arms.