BOSTON, Massachusetts—Tanya Wright was an angel that went back to heaven way too soon. She was born in 1956 and died on Saturday, 1 June 2013. Tanya affected hundreds of people in her time here with us. She wasn’t just a mother, a sister, an aunt and a best friend, she was everybody’s best friend at Rosie’s Place. She was introduced to Rosie’s Place by her mom, then she received help from Rosie’s Place, and finally she embarked on a lifetime career by working as an advocate at Rosie’s Place. She had a smile for you when you walked through the door, whether she was having a good day or not. She lended an ear when others would’ve ignored you. She made you feel that whatever your problem was, she was going to do her best to help you solve it, no matter if it was big or small.
Hundreds of her fellow co-workers and guests turned out on Wednesday at Rosie’s Place to give their condolences to her family and to share funny stories about things that she’d done. One friend of hers who works in the overnight program shared a story about her, and also sang a nice song which Tanya loved. She could barely hold herself together while she was singing. She brought tears to the eyes of several people who had showed up to honor the memory of Tanya. A second friend who worked with Tanya shared a story about how she had gone on a trip which included a cruise. When Tanya got back, she had taught the ladies in the overnight program to line dance. Other people had stories that were almost as funny, but for the most part people were very saddened by the loss of Tanya. One guest stated that Tanya had helped her many times and understood what she was going through. She had reminded her on more than one occasion that she needed to get her life together. Tanya gave this woman advice on more than one occasion, and she listened to her with her whole heart and even utilized much of her advice. Many people agreed that no matter what her problems were, Tanya made everyone else’s problems seem more important. She fought for 14 years to help people less fortunate than herself, all while fighting her own personal problems. Several people had known that she had breast cancer. What they didn’t know was that she was still going to fight to help as many people as she could, until the day God took her back to heaven to be with her other friends and family members who had passed on before her.
I spoke with her niece last week on May 30th, and she’d told me that Tanya was in the hospital again, but that this time it was due to her having two strokes because of stress. Her niece believed that the strokes were caused by Tanya being unhappy about another relative being in legal trouble. She asked me to pray for her because she didn’t know if her aunt was going to survive the two strokes.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that Tanya had died. I got the bad news on Monday when I went by Rosie’s Place the way I normally do. I feel very saddened now by the fact that one of Tanya’s daughters who works at Rosie’s Place will no longer be able to see her mom walk through the door with a smile to light up the room. She’ll never be able to go to lunch with her again, or have fun with her mom and her baby when they’re not at work.
Once in 2010, while I was still homeless and staying at Rosie’s Place, I asked the overnight supervisor if I could stay out a little longer so I could sell SPARE CHANGE NEWS papers. She told me I needed to be in by 10 p.m. While I was selling papers outside of the Cheesecake Factory at the Prudential Center, I saw Tanya sitting on a bench nearby. She didn’t recognize me, because I kept walking back and forth and she was preoccupied with her family. I made it to Rosie’s Place on time, and the next day I asked Tanya if she had had fun at the Cheesecake Factory. She said she had been taken there for her birthday by her family. She’d enjoyed it a lot but said that her family didn’t need to make such a fuss and go so far overboard for her birthday. She would have been happy if they’d just taken time out and made her a special dinner at home.
She was humble, even though she knew that she didn’t need to be; it just wasn’t in her to be arrogant. Her love of helping people superceded all of her problems. Her love of helping people caused her to fight through breast cancer in order to come back to work after being gone for several months. She fought to live for the people who were important to her despite the fact that she suffered two strokes. She fought through homelessness to become the advocate that everybody loved dearly. It may sound a little insensitive, but in my opinion, I’m glad she’s with God and no longer in this realm of reality any longer. She gave her heart and soul to helping me and the thousands of other women who came to Rosie’s Place for help. We should be grateful that our lives were blessed to have known her. We should be happy that she’s no longer suffering from diabetes and breast cancer, and that she’ll never have another stroke. Yes, she was taken from us too soon, but I say we’d be selfish if we only wished for her to be here so we could keep enjoying her company. She deserves to be at rest with God and free from the sufferings of this world. We will always miss Tanya.
– Beatrice Bell