Hearth - Ending Elder Homelessness

News and Press Releases

Senior and his paintings find a home thanks to Hub program

Peter and his painting
Peter displays one of his many paintings (Photo by Mike Adaskaveg )
The Boston Herald
May 17, 2008
by Eva Wolchover

The flowers are finally blooming for some of the city's oldest homeless residents.

Hearth, a nonprofit organization based in the South End working to end elder homelessness in Boston, is finding homes for aging street people.

And one, an 80-year-old painter, is paying back his good luck with flower art.

"Eeryone wants flowers," said Peter, one of about 900 homeless adults placed in subsidized housing. "I've never painted so many flowers in my life."

Since moving into his own apartment at the Spencer House on Columbs Avenue, Peter paints up to eight hours a day. His one-bedroom apartment is crammed floor-to-ceiling with his whimsical flower paintings. He gives them all away free to friends, social workers and fellow residents.

"Some of these flowers do not exist in nature. This is a favorite of a former girlfriend," he said, pointing to a fiery red bloom in the center of a painting he raffled at Hearths' annual "Spring Fling" luncheon yesterday.

Peter, who is in remission from lung cancer, is one of the mroe than 900 homeless elders housed through Hearth's outreach program; an additional 136 seniors are housed in Hearth units.

After being diagnosed with cancer in 2006, Peter moved to Boston from Springfield for treatment at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He lived in a homeless shelter in Jamaica Plain, spending his evenings recovering from daily radiation treatments.

"It's definitly an amazing feeling to walk with peopel through this process, and make hpone calls and advocate for them; to get their furniture and help them get settled," said Stephanie Macgill, a case worker at Hearth.

All the flower art will go on dispaly at City Hall, with proceeds from the sale going to Hearth.

"The line is this - I'm 80 years old, you pay this much and then the day I keel over, they'll double [in value]," Peter said.

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