Brookline Teen Turns Apartments into Homes for Hearth
Brookline resident, Thomas McMahon, soon to be 13, may be an old soul. Young in years, his heart resides with Boston’s elders, particularly those without homes.
Through Temple Beth Avodah located in Newton Centre, McMahon learned about Hearth, Inc., a local non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating homelessness among the elderly. As part of the social justice curriculum, the synagogue adopted the mission and drew together a large team of sixth graders to participate in Hearth’s annual “Winter Walk to End Elderly Homelessness.” Among those who walked and raised money for Hearth were McMahon, his mother, Sarah Queen and younger brother, Ben.
Since then, the cause has stayed with him. McMahon’s grandmother is 83-years-old. She is legally blind in one eye and quickly losing sight in the other. She is also battling Parkinson's disease which limits her mobility. His grandmother’s ailing health keeps Hearth in McMahon’s mind.
“My grandmother is very lucky to have children and grandchildren who can support her because many elderly people do not,” says McMahon. “I cannot imagine her living alone out on the streets. This is why I want to help. If each of us can do a little bit to help others it will add up to a big difference in the world.”
This June, McMahon will become a Bar Mitzvah, a Jewish rite of passage, during which he will read from the Torah for the first time. In lieu of gifts, he is asking for his guests to make a donation to Hearth’s Adopt-a-Room program, which will benefit Hearth’s newest affordable housing development, Olmsted Green. Hearth’s model is to provide wrap-around services for all its residents integrating housing, mental health and medical care with social services so that even very frail elders are able to live with considerable independence in their own apartments.
On top of staying on the Dean’s list and playing saxophone in the school band, McMahon has also been sharing his mission with other members of Temple Beth Avodah. The teen stood in front of nearly a hundred synagogue members during Friday Shabbat services to talk about Hearth and his fundraising efforts. His goal is to raise more than $5,000 for the nonprofit.
Olmsted Green is set to open this month and will provide 59 units of permanent service-enriched housing in Dorchester, bringing the total number of Hearth units to 196. Funds raised through the Adopt-a-Room program will help provide furnishings and personal items for the new residents, transforming apartments into homes for many, who have nothing. Olmsted Green still has 30-units that need to be furnished.
Hearth is currently looking for individuals and companies to aid the Adopt-A-Room program. Patrons can get involved on a variety of levels to help a Hearth resident in need. visit www.hearth-home.org.
About Hearth, Inc.
Hearth, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the elimination of homelessness among the elderly in the Boston area. Founded in 1991, Hearth develops and operates affordable, service-enriched housing geared for homeless and low-income elders, assists elders in locating appropriate and affordable options in other community housing through its Outreach Program, and provides important support and stabilization services, all necessary to ensure permanent housing placements.