How did I get involved with Spare Change News? It came to me in a dream. After spending the summer doing research for my fourth book, Haunted Boston Harbor, I became obsessed with the historical back story involving the rusty, old bridge connecting Quincy’s Moon Island and Boston Harbor’s Long Island.
“Mayor, tear down that bridge,” I would say over a microphone while giving historical tours with Boston Harbor Cruises and passing beneath the obviously dangerous Long Island bridge. “It’s not safe.”
I was interested in the asylum history of Long Island. The former hospital turned shelter on the longest island in Boston Harbor inspired Dennis Lehane’s book Shutter Island. The brick buildings are creepy. Ghosts, like the lesser-known Woman in the Scarlet Robes, supposedly walked the shoreline looking for their Revolutionary War-era loved ones.
Long Island, like most of the island in the harbor, has a history of housing the city’s “undesirables,” those traditionally marginalized by the status quo. It became a safe place for those who had no where else to go in Boston. It was home to the city’s largest homeless shelter and a substance abuse treatment program. Hundreds were evacuated when Mayor Marty Walsh shut down the bridge due to concerns over its structural integrity.
I became emotionally entangled in the Long Island crisis. I wanted to help. But, I had no idea how to do it. I reached out to several advocates helping those displaced from the island. People, especially those who were in drug-and-alcohol treatment on Long Island, were dying.
One spiritual leader told me to pray. I did. After having a rather profound dream, I received an email from a friend about the new editor-in-chief job at Spare Change News. For me, this opportunity is a gift from above. It’s a huge honor to be a part of a newspaper that empowers Boston’s homeless community.
It’s time to make a difference.
Contact Sam Baltrusis via email at firstname.lastname@example.org