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News from The Boston Home

Celebrating "Mama" Marie Etienne

"Marie is a wonderful woman. Her dedication and commitment to caring for our residents is admirable. I truly feel blessed to work with Marie. She inspires us all to give of ourselves to others."

- Christine Reilly, CEO

On January 31, 2024, Marie Etienne retires as a Certified Nursing Assistant at The Boston Home (TBH), a role she has performed with loving care for 28 years. "I remember back in 1995, I used to walk from my home on Gallivan Boulevard to go to my job in South Boston. At that time, TBH was building the new wing. I would see the construction happening, and thought this would be a good place for me to work. I applied on a Tuesday, and that same day, they called me to schedule an interview that Thursday. I have been here ever since!" Marie's seniority has earned her an affectionate nickname among residents and staff: "They call me Mama Marie. To me it's a sign of love and respect." Read more...

January is National Mentoring Month!

The Boston Home is proud of our role as teaching facility, and with the new academic semester comes a new season of student engagement with our residents and staff. In this issue of News from The Boston Home, we are highlighting both the new student faces on our campus, and our ongoing work to deepen and grow our collaboration with academic partner institutions.

New Student Cohort Joins Our Rehabilitation Team

Anna Maria Sorrenti

Anna is a second year behavioral neuroscience student at Northeastern University (NU). The Boston Home (TBH) is Anna's first placement through NU's co-op program. She is excited to learn about clinical care in a community with a long-term, largely stable residential population. After just a few weeks at TBH, Anna is enjoying working on physical therapy with residents, and generally helping out with needs they may have, such room organization. When she's not at TBH, multi-talented singer Anna is cast in several upcoming musical productions!

Rylie Ellam

Rylie is completing the last semester of her Masters of Speech Language Pathology (SLP) program at Northeastern University. Her clinical placement at TBH is Riley's first opportunity to work with an adult community, as she has largely focused on pediatric SLP, which is her intended career path. Rylie has been impressed with TBH residents' positive attitudes and support for one another, and has found that working with individuals with multiple sclerosis has increased her interest in the swallowing aspect of SLP. "Previously, I might not have said that swallowing was as interesting to me as other aspects of SLP. However, now I see how much it impacts a person's quality of life. Everyone wants to be able to eat and enjoy food. So, the idea that, through therapy, I might be able to help a person get back to eating the foods they enjoy, or, help them to do so longer, is very meaningful!" Rylie has a busy academic schedule, and looks forward to some time off after completing her degree this spring. When she does have time off, Rylie enjoys spending time outside, hiking, or relaxing with her cats and some music.

Alexandria Lembo

Alexandria is a doctoral student in the Occupational Therapy program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Health Professionals (MGH IHP). Alexandria's professor, Kevin Berner, OTD, OTR, ATP, formerly worked as an Occupational Therapist at The Boston Home (TBH). He recommended that she develop a research project for a placement at TBH. From January through April, Alexandria will be researching ways that readily available technologies can help people with multiple sclerosis who are experiencing cognitive decline. Alexandria is working with existing technologies that many TBH residents already use such as Amazon Alexa, exploring new features such as Alexa Skills, and also looking into new technologies and apps. She says it is rewarding to help individuals find resources for continued success despite their disability progression. Alexandria lives in Saugus, and enjoys meeting up with friends to explore Boston.

Alyssa Pereira

Alyssa is completing the final semester of her six-year Physical Therapy program at Northeastern University (NU). She plans to pursue in-patient rehabilitation with a focus on neurology patients. At The Boston Home (TBH), Alyssa appreciates the team approach of supporting residents in adapting to progressive disability by meeting each individual where they are and setting achievable goals. Alyssa notes that she is gaining valuable experience in specialized physical therapy skills at TBH, such as bed mobility, rolling, transfer training, gate training and use of the parallel bars. Alyssa is currently preparing for her Physical Therapy Board exams, and loves to stay active by getting outside for a run.

Integrated Behavioral Health at The Boston Home

Over the past year, Director of Social Services Liz Gee has been working with clinical field practice coordinators at Boston College (BC) to designate The Boston Home (TBH) as an Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) training site for mental health counseling students. IBH is a relatively new program of study at BC, and, already, a significant number of students are choosing this focus in their graduate degree training. IBH emphasizes the importance of working with an interdisciplinary team to provide comprehensive treatment to clients, which is a strength of TBH’s approach to resident care. Gee notes: “IBH students learn to triage and consult with other disciplines including psychiatry, nursing, medical, life enrichment, and rehabilitation to develop a treatment plan.”

This is an exciting partnership for TBH in that, once officially designated an IBH training site, TBH would still welcome general counseling students from BC and other graduate schools, and would likely host at least one BC student per year specializing in the IBH program, which would augment our in-house behavioral health supports. It is also an important opportunity for students in that it allows access to a very unique community. Gee explains: “Most counseling students expect to do their clinical internships at schools or outpatient clinics and they tend to not get much exposure to the multiple other factors in client’s lives such as their community, their relationships with peers and family, the physical living environment, policies in their community, etc. General counseling tends to focus mostly on the individual’s mental health whereas IBH considers the different systems in the person’s life/environment as potential resources or barriers when formulating interventions and treatment plans. For example, if a resident is having difficulty falling asleep at night, a general counselor might consider if the resident has anxiety at night and work on ways to cope with that so that they get to sleep. An IBH counselor would probably think about the person’s anxiety as well as the surroundings, such as environmental noises, medication schedules, shift changes, how active the person is during the day, diet, etc., which is the way we approach care at TBH.” Gee expects the new program could begin as early as fall 2024, and looks forward to beginning to interview student candidates.

Save the Date: Black History Month Presentation

The Mary Eliza Mahoney Project

Sunday, February 25, 2024, 1:30 PM

at The Boston Home

Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first Black woman in America to graduate from a formal nursing program and the first to earn a professional nursing license. She was one of 42 students admitted into the New England Hospital for Women and Children Training School for Nurses in Boston, Massachusetts. Mahoney is believed to be one of only three people in her class to complete the challenging 16-month program in 1878. (Heather Kays, AANP, Read more about Mary Eliza Mahoney...)

Following the passage of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote,  Mary Eliza Mahoney registered to vote in Boston's Ward 13 on August 18, 1920. Today, researchers from Simmons University are partnering with the Boston City Archives to document and share stories of pioneering Boston women voters whose names are recorded in the 1920 voting registers. "We are all interested in expanding the story of women's suffrage in America," says Erin Wiebe '22, Simmons University. "These registers record women of color, immigrant women, and working class women who aren't discussed as much as the more famous leaders of the movement. Working women in the city who signed their names to the [register] deserve to be called suffragists, too." The searchable database that the research team is creating is called the Mary Eliza Mahoney Project in honor of the Dorchester native.

In celebration of Black History Month, The Boston Home is proud to welcome Professor Laura Prieto and the Mary Eliza Mahoney Project team for a fascinating presentation on their exciting work. Families and friends of The Boston Home are warmly invited to join residents and staff for the event.

For more information, or to RSVP, please contact Victoria Stevens, 617-326-4310 or

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