Campus & Community

Community Works proves truth of its name

3 min read

The Community Gifts Through Harvard campaign is a reminder that you can help those in need with a tax-deductible donation to the charity of your choice through payroll deduction.

You never know who you’ll meet in life and what effect certain relationships will have on you – or how they will affect those around you.

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Kip Tiernan and Fran Froehlich, two longtime soldiers in the war on poverty, inequality, homelessness, and other social justice issues, met more than 30 years ago. It was only after the two kept running into one another at the same community meetings that they realized they had a lot in common, especially their desire to help the less fortunate.

In 1982, they co-founded Community Works, a cooperative fundraising effort that counts 31 Boston-area community service organizations as members. In addition to providing basic services (such as food and shelter), these organizations are dedicated to social justice issues – dignity, equality, and opportunity – for the people they serve.

Community Works is also concerned with providing a stable source of support for organizations that may not be well-known or large enough to raise money on their own. Workplace-giving programs, such as Community Gifts Through Harvard, are its primary source of such support.

“Harvard was the first university that we approached when we first started so it was really the first group that came through for us. We have a lot of gratitude for that,” says Tiernan.

Community Works is the second most popular choice for Harvard donors (behind the United Way of Massachusetts Bay) and Harvard is the group’s highest educational institution contributor. Harvard employees donated more than $20,000 for the organization last year, and the organization hopes for even more support this year. The money is split evenly among all the member nonprofits.

“At Community Works, we support organizations on the smaller side so the donations really have an impact … our niche is supporting and sustaining organizations that would otherwise be invisible … in underserved, underresourced communities,” says Froehlich, who also holds the title of executive director of Community Works.

Tiernan, who turned 80 this past summer, is probably best known for founding Rosie’s Place, a shelter and service provider for homeless women. On Friday (Nov. 17), papers representing 35 years of Tiernan’s work are being donated to the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Tiernan says Harvard is the right place for her papers. “I’ve been asked by other schools but Harvard means a great deal to me. … I’ve always maintained great ties with the academic community there, and I feel personally delighted that they would keep asking me for my papers over the years.”

Tiernan and Froehlich were Bunting Peace Fellows at Radcliffe in 1988-1989, and Tiernan received an honorary doctorate in human services from the University in 1989.

The two women recently wrote a book together, “Urban Meditations” (Poor People’s United Fund, 2006), based on their years of experience working with the poor. “It’s certainly been called outcast theology. It’s not your momma’s meditations,” says Tiernan.