By Julie McCay Turner
On Election Day — Tuesday, November 6 – Bedford’s Town Historian John Dodge will be at the John Glenn Middle School, Bedford’s polling place, collecting funds to benefit St. Francis House, New England’s largest day shelter.
“There’s nothing worse than being homeless,” says Dodge, “and I want to do all I can to help.” In the nineteenth century Bedford had a “poor farm” on Springs Road, and its cows and chickens were counted in the annual Town Report. “People without homes of their own lived on those farms,” Dodge continued, “but they are a thing of the past and now poor people often have no place to go.”
More than20 years ago Dodge read a Christmas-morning newspaper story about St. Francis House and its founder Fr. Louis Canino’s plan to establish a day shelter for Boston’s poor and homeless population. Dodge offered his hand-colored engravings to decorate the shelter’s walls and struck up a long-term friendship with Fr. Canino that has blossomed into a continuing commitment to St. Francis House.
In addition to his Election Day efforts, Dodge conducts an annual Coat Drive, collecting hundreds of warm winter coats for St. Francis House guests. This year’s Coat Drive will take place on Saturday, November 17, in front of the Bedford Shopping Center.
Located in the heart of downtown Boston, St. Francis house serves over 800 poor and homeless men and women a day, 365 days a year. Its basic and rehabilitative services overlap and build on one another to provide guests with continuous and comprehensive care.