Friday, June 5, 2009

After the Fast, Closing Words from Kip

Thanks to all of you who have responded to our three day fast of moral witness at the continuing cruelty visited upon our poorest citizens in Massachusetts. Thanks to all of you, our cup runneth over! This is our third fast in twenty years, always for the same reasons: for atonement, for redemption, for repentance, for resistance, for forgiveness of the poor for what we as taxpayers have allowed state legislators to do in our name.

More Speakers from Day 3 of Fast

Fran Froehlich, Co-Director of PPUF and Director of Community Works spoke about how important small organizations are in pursuit of social justice and how important it is to support their work. Community Works raises money for thirty-one small social justice non-profits that serve folks who have always been at the end of line when the goodies are being handed out. Fran spoke of the catastrophic increase in need that these agencies are coping with.

Marie Turley, Director, City of Boston Women's Commission reported on the proposed budget cuts to services for victims of domestic violence.

Jim Green, director, City of Boston Emergency Shelter Commission spoke about the proposed budget cut that would deny families with income between 100% and 130% of the poverty line access to shelter.

Lew Finfer, long time activisit talked about his concerns at the elimination in the state budget of youth violence prevention and job training programs. Massachusetts has a three billion dollar budget deficit due to corporate tax breaks and lack of state income tax increases.
Pat Maher, Nurse for Cambridge Health Care for the Homeless, spoke about the lack of comprehensive services for homeless women.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Boston Globe Article about Kip's Fast

Please read this article!

Young people from ROCA, including Stuart Herrara, Chino Kan, Mercedes Pagan, and Jennifer Gonzales, gave performances and testimony about how the programs there had helped them.

Mary Quinn, Rene Scott Gray, and Laurie Taymor Berry talked about the struggles for equal justice for poor women at the Boston Women's Fund and Survivors, Inc.

Diane Sullivan, from Homes for Families, talked about the 2700 families living in shelter and the 700 in motels. The voucher program has not been funded and could result in more families becoming homeless.
Day three of Kip's fast was opened with a message from Pat Baker, Chair of the Massachusetts Food Stamp Coalition: "Our work continues today in honor of and inspired by Rosie's Place founder Kip Tiernan. She seeks to raise awareness of the continued growth in homelessness and hunger facing the Commonwealth, and to call on elected leaders to own their responsibility to appropriate the funds needed to ensure the Commonwealth meets these most basic human needs."

Molly Baldwin, Director of ROCA, read a letter from Ray Champlain, a prisoner who is fasting in solidarity with Kip. He delineated in his letter the cuts in rehabilitation services for prisoners and the increasing acts of violence towards prisoners.

Before we ended yesterday, Gabriella Snyder Stelmack spoke about the 24% increase in need at the Bread of Life food program in Malden. She reported that Director Tom Feagley was fasting in solidarity with Kip.

Debbie Socolar from the Boston University School of Public Health spoke about the importance of including nutrition and safe housing in the definition of health care.

Former Director of the City Mission Society David King talked about his greatest fear: that we really don't want to solve the problem of hunger and homelessness. Bigger and more shelters and food warehouses for food pantries seem to announce that this problem will always be with us, that it must be institutionalized.

Jane Zerby from the Unitarian Universalist church in Jamaica Plain talked about the increasing numbers of people waiting in line for two hours for a bag of groceries at their newly founded food pantry. Jane and Bob Golden, among many who have brought in food, volunteered to take the donated food to this new pantry.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Susan Mortimer and Betty Reid Mandell from Survivors, Inc. talked about the humiliation visited on welfare recipients by case workers and legislators. Both talked about trying to mobilize the fight against poverty and injustice and not against poor people.
Mary Woodman Amato read out part of a poem: "The only war we need to win is the war that intends to deny what we all witness each and every day: the injustice of poverty and hunger."

Article from WBZ on Kip's Hunger Strike

She is a hero among the homeless. And now 82-year-old Kip Tiernan is putting her health at risk to help again.

The founder of Rosie's Place is on a three day fast to raise donations and awareness for poverty and homelessness. "We love what were doing and love what has to be done and we're never gonna stop," says Tiernan.

Inside the Old South Church in Boston Tiernan, along with others from the Poor People's United Fund will not eat for three days. It is not easy, but they say it has never been so bad for the needy. "Our children are suffering, our old ladies and men and dying and they are looking at canned dog food, but even that's too expensive," says Tiernan.

Her friends and supporters say Tiernan is amazing. "She is very courageous. For anybody to go on a fast is something… for her to do it after all these years is really something" says her friend Mark Harvey.

They have had calls of support and e-mails from people all over the country who say they are fasting for the cause as well. "We felt like we had to say something. We couldn't stand by anymore," says Fran Froehlich with the Poor People's United Fund.

(© MMIX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Beginning of the Fast for Solidarity

Live from Old South: Georgia Mattison of PPUF talked about how frustrated she was to learn there were resources available to assist hungry people through an expansion of the Food Stamp program but no resources to admininster the application process! When she talked with Kip about it, Kip responed by initiating the idea of holding a fast to highlight this problem.

The Notifiers, a singing group from Brookline High School, sang a rousing 'Stand By Me' and 'We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest'.
Rev. Nancy Taylor of Old South Church opened the Fast with a Prayer written by Father Michael Quoist called "Hunger." I have eaten. I have eaten too much, I have eaten because others did. Because I was invited, Because I was in the world and the world would not have understood: And each dish, each mouthful, each swallow was hard to get down. I have eaten too much, Lord, when ten, a hundred, a thousand unfortunates though out the world at that very moment twisted in pain and died of hunger before their despairing families.
Ann Withorn, professor of social policy at UMASS Boston.... comments not exact words...
We can't talk about the middle class if we can't talk about poverty.
Poverty makes people scared then we see an increase in violence at home and on the streets.
It's the over privileged we need to worry about- not the underprivileged.
Thank you Kip for bringing us together to stand up for the things we care about.

Beginning the three-day fast


Nancy Taylor, pastor of Old South Church, opened the three-day fast by saying, "We surround Kip, who's fasting for the poor and hungry- those who are hungry who have been humiliated by the decisions that have been made about our common dollars."

Marjorie Clapprood followed Kip and spoke about the history of her family's struggle to make it --- day by day.

Don Wells talked about renewing our moral center, and thanked Kip for being our guide over so many years.

Mark Harvey and part of his band AARDVARK contributed the spirit of music to this communal meditation.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Kip's fast to start next week

Kip's fast to begin soon --- sounds like lots of people will be coming on Monday!
Teens from ROCA will be performing!
Nancy Taylor will be speaking, as well as Matt Dumont...many more joining the fast.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Invitation to Kip's Fast, beginning June 1

In order to bring attention to the ongoing plight of the poor, Kip Tiernan, founder of Rosie’s Place, a sanctuary for women, the Greater Boston Food Bank, which distributes millions of pounds of food a year, and the Poor People's United Fund will begin a public fast at Old South Church, June 1st at noon. All are invited to witness with Kip.

I have decided to begin a public fast at Old South Church. Why? There are a number of reasons, all of which make good sense to me:

For atonement: We should atone for what we have allowed to happen to all poor people in this state, in the name of fiscal austerity or plain mean-spiritedness. We should atone for silently participating in a holocaust, by our consistent denial of reality of what really happens to poor people when we remain silent.

For redemption: I feel redemption can’t be too far away, if atonement is part of the circle of hurt. We must bring hurt into public expression. It’s the most visceral announcement that things are not right.

For repentance: We have, as citizens, much to repent for, for what we have and have not done, to ease the suffering of our sisters and brothers who have no lobby to protect them.

For resistance: I think the time is ripe for all of us who are disillusioned and who feel powerless to renew our spiritual values and come together in some kind of community of resistance, with a clear vision of how things might yet be.

For hope: It is the wellspring of all human energy. If it is true that energy comes from the embrace of the inscrutable darkness, there’s plenty out there! But together we have the opportunity to come into the light of understanding and compassion once again.

I invite those who want to support me to come and begin to share some dreams and hopes.

It is a way we can come together in some kind of thoughtful harmony, around the issues of poverty and deprivation.

There are now at least 10, 000 people per month who can’t get on food stamps because there aren’t enough case workers. We urge the state to get those 10,000 folks on food stamps now. We urge the state to find immediate housing for the thousands of homeless now. This atrocity has been going on for at least three decades. ENOUGH.

I welcome your presence with me and hope you will feel free to speak to those issues most pertinent to the health and welfare of the poorest victims of this latest onslaught.

All movements that have mattered to us have begun with a spiritual base and a need not to be isolated.

Perhaps this is a foolish gesture, but I’m committed to it. For me, it is truly a way to find hope together.

We ask you to bring a donation of food for local pantries.
Join Old South Church’s Rev. Nancy S. Taylor in standing with

Kip Tiernan & Poor Peoples’ United Fund

in a


Old South Church in Boston
Boylston & Dartmouth Streets @ the Copley T

Fast with us. Pray with us. Mourn with us.
Hope with us. Rage with us. Give with us:
Bring non-perishable food items for donation to local pantries.

“We should get down on our knees and beg forgiveness of the poor
for our charity to them.” - St. Francis of Assisi

Where: Old South Church’s main sanctuary

When: Monday, June 1, 12noon -6:30p
June 2, 10:30a-6:30p
Wednesday, June 3, 10:30a-6:30p

Visit: or call 617-262-5922