A staff made up of the homeless

Beatrice Bell
Spare Change News

Though they offer services from cleaning to asbestos inspections, what really sets Morning Starrs Cleaning Technicians apart from other housekeeping companies is their staff, most of whom are or have been homeless.The company is run by R C McCall, who first came up with the idea at Rosie’s Place.)

Most members of Morning Starrs Cleaning Technicians met at Rosie’s Place — these include their bookkeepers, Bernadette Barr and Brenda Acevedo; the driver, Lichy; the administrative team, Tina, Bernadette and Brenda; the cleaners, Candy, Jody and Kweli (R C ’s children) as well as Alfredo, Leota, Desiree, and Wonderful (R C ‘s friends); and Nancy, who is 90 years old and is considered their chaplain,

Morning Starrs Cleaning Technicians came to fruition when R C first met Brenda, Nancy, Bernadette, and Desiree at Rosie’s Place.

(BB) Who came up with the idea of Morning Starrs Cleaning Technicians?
(R C) R C McCall. I came up with this idea thirty years ago but I didn’t get started with it until twenty-five years ago. I started out with Burt’s Janitorial Services then 197 Friend Street Boston’s Legal Aide.

(BB) What made you decide to start the company?
(R C) I got sick and tired of seeing everybody grow and retiring and I wanted to be making cash for myself. It seemed like the more I worked for them the less I had until I found myself in Rosie’s shelter with nowhere to go and no money in my pocket. There I found other women like myself and I decided to talk to them and bring them aboard and ask them; “Hey Let’s start our own.” I already had the knowledge, training and wisdom; I decided to do my own. It was about three years ago when I said I was really going do it and last year when I put my foot down. This year is when I went forth and carried it out.

(BB) Do you think you’ll still be able to compete with Merry Maids and companies like them?
(R C) I started before Merry Maids and I don’t know what they did but I started from the ground up and from corners. I don’t just do things like making beds; you look at my card and you’ll see I do it all. I’m not out to Compete with Merry Maids. I’ve been cleaning since I was four years old out in the country woods in the shed. I didn’t compete with nobody then and I’m not going to compete with nobody now.

(BB) Are you reasonably priced?
(R C) I think so. Sometimes people will charge you $35.00 an hour for something and I’ll charge you $45.00 an hour but it’s worth it to pay a little higher in order to get what you want. Once I didn’t work for nothing except $.50 a week. It depends on the job you need done and the size of the work that needs doing as to what I charge. I think my prices are reasonable compared to other companies that do the same work as I do.

(BB) Where do you see this company in five years from now?
(R C) I see us way above level and doing just fine.

(BB) Desiree how did you get involved with R C?
(Desiree) I met R C at Rosie’s along with another friend of mines and she introduced me to R C. We used to talk to her all the time about our businesses and she said that one day she was going too get hers off of the ground. I let her know that she could do it and I kept encouraging her. R C has always been there for me for whatever reason because she’s a good person like that and I’ll always be there for her for whatever reason she needs me.

(BB) How did you meet R C Bernadette?
(Bernadette) I met R C through Brenda over at Rosie’s Place.
(BB) How’d you get involved?
(Bernadette) I never intended to become a part of this I just wanted to help out because that’s just who I am. I’ll do certain things for people from the heart just because I care. She said that she wanted some fliers and maybe business cards. Something I could do during my free time and I was happy to do it

BB) Is this where Miss Nancy comes in?
(Nancy) I also met R C through Brenda and I discovered that R C is a visionary. I’m ninety years old and I feeled when I met R C that she was a leader and like family since all my family is out in Houston.

(BB) Seems like you’ve helped a lot of people Brenda. How’d you get involved with R C?
(Brenda) I had been trying for two weeks to get a bed at Rosie’s when I finally succeeded. I seen her sitting in the corner of the room by herself and I don’t know; I couldn’t talk to anybody like her; everybody was just all into themselves and talking about themselves but not her. She was just sitting there by herself. The next day I went to work trying to get Welfare and everything but I still hadn’t captured that I was still homeless and then it just hit me one day and I seen RR C in the corner and I didn’t know who to go to; I just went to her and broke down and she helped me feel better. From then on I’ve been talking with her; one day she said; “Here’s my card.” It was an old card but I listened to her and what she was saying and I discovered I was seeing her hopes and her dreams.

(BB) Tell me a little bit about yourself Lichy.
(Lichy) I became homeless one day after I got fired from my job for telling them what I thought about them. I went into Rosie’s and I met Brenda there and she introduced me to R C. I told her about how I stood up for myself and she said it was good that I had stood up for myself.
(R C) We built a whole new world in a homeless shelter at Rosie’s Place.

(BB) What’s your story Leota and how’d you meet R C?
(Leota) I’m a wife and R C is an inspiration to me. She shows that a Black Woman can make it today even if she’s homeless. She shows a lot of strength in the way that she carries herself. Yes I can do what a man does and yes I know I am a woman and I’m gonna make it. That’s why I’m in this. I like the way she does it.

BEATRICE BELL is a writer and vendor for Spare Change News.

Beatrice Bell is a vendor and a writer for Spare Change News.

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