By Delila Keravuori
Ex-Coast Guard cook Ronnie Hamilton said that as a child growing up in Charlestown, he was scared of the Pine Street Inn – a homeless shelter and service center in the South End.
However, after living through more than a few rough, cold winters on the street of Boston as an adult, he landed just in the place that he was so scared of – the Pine Street Inn – and ironically, that scary place was exactly the place that helped turn his life around.
He graduated from the Inn’s Food Service training program on Friday, June 23, at the Inn.
When alcoholism caused Ronnie to become homeless, the 55-year-old Charlestown native turned to the Veteran Affairs Boston Healthcare System’s shelter for homeless veterans, but got kicked out for drinking. A caseworker there referred him to the Pine Street Inn, where Ronnie stayed for two years even though he said he used to fear the “rough South End neighborhood.”
Eight months ago, Ronnie moved into the Inn’s supportive housing program and participated in the shelter’s Food Services Training Program, preparing food for the Pine Street Inn cafeteria and for customers of iCater—the Inn’s catering business.
While at the shelter, he also attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
“I was ready to give up when I first started at the Pine Street Inn,” Ronnie said, but added that he learned the importance of perseverance throughout his time there.
Although he is still searching for a job, Ronnie found permanent housing in Dorchester prior to graduating from the Inn – a milestone that at the Pine Street Inn does not go unnoticed.
“It’s great to have my own set of keys,” Ronnie said. “It means a lot.”