Six months ago, Carol Halliday had enough to do as a mother of two and a department manager of Fidelity Investments.
Then she took on another job.
After watching "God Bless the Child," an ABC television movie about a homeless family that is forced to break up, Halliday called the station to find out what she could do.
"Homelessness nagged at me," said Halliday. "Being a mother, I can't imagine how homeless families cope," she added.
The next week, she and six other callers met with officials of Cambridge's Department of Human Service Programs, who suggested that they form a volunteer organization. Called Homeward Bound, their group now raises funds for shelters and support services for homeless Cantabrigians.
Yesterday, Homeward Bound marked its first success--helping convert two old parsonage buildings at St. Paul's African Methodist Episcopal Church near Central Square into eight temporary housing units.
At a dinner last night for groups that worked on the project, members hailed it as the first of many to make life easier for those who live on the streets.
During the dinner, Harvard's Associate Vice President for State and Community Affairs Jacqueline O'Neill presented organizers with a $10,000 check from Harvard Real Estate, the largest landlord in Cambridge.
The five activists who started Homeward Bound six months ago say they have drawn a dozen more volunhours per week. Consultant Joe McCafferty '86 a volunteer, said the group's rapid growth reflects both the commitment of its volunteers and the rate at which homelessness is increasing in Cambridge.
"Initially, nobody knew how to help," McCafferty said. "One of the main focuses of the group has been doing things: creating a volunteer clearinghouse for homeless charities, auditing books for other charities, organizing community awareness events."
The St. Paul's project was one of Homeward Bound's biggest undertakings to date, said Joan D. Hill, a Harvard employee and founding member of the group.
Volunteers started work last June on two buildings offered by St. Paul's Church for the transitional housing project. The first building, which houses two families, was completely refurbished in three weeks, with donated materials and labor, said Linsey Lee, assistant emergency services coordinator for the human services department. Familes moved in on June 30.
By yesterday, a total of five families occupied the newly refurbished buildings, she said.
More than 100 people and firms contributed time and money to the project, many helping out on weekends and after work, Lee said.
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