“OTR was founded in the mid 1990s by a recent Harvard graduate who worked at the student-run shelter and realized there is a whole community of people who were falling through the cracks of social services. At the time, many services for the homeless claiming to be inclusive would screen women out because of issues like substance abuse & addiction, mental health issues, domestic violence situations, etc. and require people to prove readiness for services. The basis for OTR was to create a very low threshold for entry and not have a timeline-centered program of how long people have before they should be ‘cured.’ These issues that took a lifetime to develop are not going to disappear overnight — sometimes a 90-day program isn’t enough.
Our house, the Safe Haven, really becomes home for the women who come here. They can use our address as their permanent mailing address, relax and watch TV, check email, do laundry, take a shower, enjoy meals, and so much more. With a holistic approach, we aim to let these women become comfortable, form relationships with the staff, and lead us to understanding their needs and allowing us to help them access the services they need. They are the experts in what they need and we’re creating an environment where their initiative can flourish.
Our programs have a huge emphasis on building relationships and trust. Some of the main issues associated with homelessness include substance abuse, medical and mental health, and legal issues. In dealing with these issues, many of the women have had experiences that lead them to not trust people, specifically in the social services, healthcare, and legal systems. We work with them to provide and connect them to the services they can trust.
A big initiative of ours is the Keep the Keys program — emphasizing the importance of continued services after women have found housing. There are many opportunities that just aren’t an option when you’re homeless (e.g. jobs, healthcare, getting an education) because it’s just too difficult or chaotic. Those opportunities tend to open up for the first time in many years once a woman has secured housing. We’re invested in these relationships long-term and want to be a part of that journey and ensure their continued success.”
— Martha Sullivan, Benny Wheat, Charyti Reiter, & Delphene Mooney of On The Rise
On The Rise would like to send a special thank you to their local partners, volunteers, and interns for all the work they do to keep the organization running! For more information about the organization, visit ontherise.org!