Posted By: Patricia M. Flannery, Esq. on Dec 9, 2013 10:26:00 AM

From left to right: Maeve Bacon, Loretta Connolly, Dawn Venuto, Sandi Goodwin.

“The Thornton Law Firm toy drive grants wishes and provides all family members with a real boost during an already tough time. Words cannot describe the joy on our clients’ faces as they receive their gifts. “

– Tom Lorello, Executive Director of Heading Home

Do you know the average age of a homeless person in Massachusetts? It’s …. 8. Eight years old is the average age of a homeless person in our state. Families are now the homeless population’s fastest growing segment, comprising more than one-third of the homeless population. According to the Massachusetts’ Coalition for the Homeless, as of October 29, 2013, there were approximately 4,100 families with children and pregnant women in Massachusetts’ Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter program. On any given night in Greater Boston, more than 7,000 people are homeless, including 3,000 children.

Each December for over 20 years, Thornton Law Firm employees have purchased holiday gifts for families and children living at the Heading Home emergency, transitional and permanent housing facilities in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, Malden, Everett, and Quincy, MA. Each year, TLF employees contribute by purchasing gifts – household goods, clothing, and toys – for a list of families and individuals provided by Heading Home. Each person on that list gets two “wishes”. This year, Thornton Law Firm volunteers Sandi Goodwin and Dawn Venuto will buy over two hundred presents, which then are each individually wrapped.

Heading Home began in the late 1970s, and is dedicated to solving the homelessness crisis and providing solutions. Their mission is to end homelessness in Greater Boston by providing a pathway to self-sufficiency, starting with a home, and with critical education in life skills, financial literacy, and job training. This model has proven effective over the years. Heading Home’s clients, once housed, have a 93% retention rate after one year of being stabilized in their new homes.

Maeve Bacon, development associate for Heading Home, explains the organization’s approach to their clientele: “Especially amongst the homeless population, one size never fits all”, she says. “We have women and young children fleeing domestic violence, new immigrants that are not very fluent in English, or very young mothers, for instance… Heading Home’s approach is to provide a spectrum of services that address the unique needs of each client so that she or he may obtain permanent housing as quickly as possible – and remain stably housed”.

Here are some markers of Heading Home’s success over the years:

new units of housing created since 2006

clients served annually

700 families
placed into permanent housing since 2010

client retention rates in their permanent housing programs for 8 consecutive years


staff members

of expenditures go directly to their programs and services

“Organization of the Year”
awarded by Boston/SF’s 2011 Real Estate Awards

*Source: Heading Home

If you would like to donate to Heading Home, please go to their donation page here.