At Schlesinger Library, Community Works explores women in poverty

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The number of homeless families in Massachusetts seeking shelter in hotels and motels is at an all-time high, while one in seven in Massachusetts relies on food stamps. Yet the Massachusetts legislature is considering a wallop directed at people in poverty—a welfare reform act aimed at fostering economic independence but which make access to cash assistance even more difficult.

Fran Froehlich, director of Community Works, an umbrella organization of 34 nonprofits that come together with a common vision, opened a panel discussion with these facts on November 12. She went on to describe Community Works and its membership as groups that “imagine what the world would actually look like if it were just, fair, and inclusive.” Together, the social justice organizations that make up Community Works work toward realizing that vision.

Marking seven years of collaboration between the Radcliffe Institute’s Schlesinger Library and Community Works of Boston, the library hosted a program, “Women Living in Poverty,” with brief presentations from seven activists who lead organizations combating poverty and its cruel effects. The annual event remembers Kip Tiernan, founder of Rosie’s Place, with speakers and a panel discussion around issues affecting women. Kip Tiernan’s papers are among many treasured collections held by the Schlesinger Library that document women’s work for social justice.