A social activist for the poor, the co-founder many social organizations, among them was the first women-only homeless shelter, “Rosie’s Place”.
Born Mary Jane Tiernan in Connecticut, and in her 20s moved to Boston to develop her advertisement and copyrighting career. Being a successful copywriter served her social activist work, as she explained: “Poor people need public relations, too”.
Her first encounter with the issue of homeless women was while she volunteered at St. Philip’s/Warwick House, a Boston-based Catholic Civil Rights and Anti-War Movement Ministry.
Tiernan noticed that there were no specific shelters for women and that they had to dress as men for their protection and to be allowed in.
In 1974, she opened the first US women-only homeless shelter, “Rosie’s Place”, which in time also provided women with support, solutions and aids in different fields of life.
She was the founder or helped to found many organizations which are still active and growing till this day. Among them are the Boston Food Bank, the Boston Women’s Fund, My Sister’s Place, and Victory House.
Kip Tiernan died of cancer in 2011 leaving a strong and ongoing legacy of social justice.
“We seek justice, not charity, and the journey to justice can only be made in the company of others”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- She was an orphan and raised by her grandmother.
- At 16, she took flying lessons and played jazz piano.
- Over the years she received many awards and honorary degrees.
- In September 2018, a memorial was dedicated to honor Tiernan’s contribution to the city of Boston (on Dartmouth Street between Boylston and Newbury streets).