Haley House

Website: http://haleyhouse.org/

Mission: Haley House uses food with purpose and the power of community to break down barriers between people, empower individuals, and strengthen neighborhoods. We believe in radical solutions: solving problems at their root by challenging attitudes that perpetuate suffering and building alternative models.


How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Relevance?

  • As an organization whose programs are typically categorized as “direct service” we are consistently, directly in contact with the population we serve.
  • In the most tangible sense, our soup kitchen is designed with no significant division between who is serving vs. who is being served; the overlap is crucial to our culture and mission.
  • Relationships between shift-leaders, volunteers, and the guests are close-knit and honest, guiding us towards the most accurate picture of what needs are and how they’re changing over time.
  • In our housing, social enterprise, and educational programs, we also prioritize making space to reflect, share insights and perspectives, and adjust processes, systems, and programs accordingly.
  • Getting constant feedback can be overwhelming but it’s important for us to synthesize the information and use it to improve and remain relevant to those we exist to serve.


How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Impact?

  • In many ways, the direct service model allows for immediate confirmation of basic impact — guests walk through our doors hungry, and perhaps lonely, and they leave having eaten a healthy, made-from-scratch meal in the company of others.
  • We track how many meals we serve, types of ingredients we use, number of people in attendance, but we also recognize that these numbers don’t necessarily reflect outcomes or larger-scale systemic change around the core problem of hunger.
  • In our housing, we have a clearer picture of outcomes because the service we offer (low-income housing) is a more permanent solution to the root of the problem (homelessness).
  • By tracking the tenancy over time and other pertinent factors related to the transition out of homelessness, we are able to gauge our impact and outcomes with this population.
  • We gather a large amount of qualitative data, but are working to gain more quantitative data moving forward to paint a clearer picture of the overall impact of all of our programs.


How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Sustainability?

  • Our sustainability is ensured by our assets (including the buildings we own outright), our income-generating activities (including our social enterprise, sliding-scale training programs, rent subsidies), self-sustainability built into our programs (the innovative model of service in our soup kitchen), and our resistance to being dependent on one type of funding source. Other than rent subsidies from our low-income housing, we do not rely on governmental funding or contracts (unlike the majority of our peer institutions) and we are deeply committed to working in partnership to provide services to our guests whenever possible.
  • We have a long track record of stewarding relationships with funders (grants, foundations, individual donors) who are deeply committed to our mission and/or the population and geographic locations being served (Roxbury and the South End).
  • Haley House is proud to be “lean and feisty” as we prioritize the increase of wages for bakery cafe staff (included in our population served, as many of them come through our transitional employment program) while keeping administrative costs low.
  • We are proud to practice environmental stewardship by having compost programs for organic soup kitchen waste and running a highly sustainable, organic farm in Roxbury that produces thousands of pounds of produce for our nearby bakery cafe and soup kitchen during the summer.


How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Excellence in Management and Operations?

  • A top priority at Haley House has always been inclusion and community representation.
  • Since its start, the soup kitchen was run by members of the live-in community which was made up of volunteers and soup kitchen guests living in solidarity, a model that continues; no one has ever been paid to run the soup kitchen.
  • We continue to include guests, program participants, and the wider community in our planning and decision-making processes.
  • We ensure that our marketing and communications efforts cast a wide net to the general public for some of our programs and events (especially those that can help to solicit volunteers and donors) while still honing in on our different target populations for specific programs and opportunities.
  • We continue to strive to ensure our board best represents individuals tied closely to our mission with expertise and history with our geographic areas served and central programs (which includes long-standing South End and Roxbury residents, local restaurateurs, and development professionals).
  • Our volunteer newsletter goes out to 2000 people weekly and we fill 305 hours of weekly volunteer opportunities with 40-70 individual volunteers, many of them long-standing regulars.


  • Haley House is proud to host a large number of internships, volunteer opportunities, and other unique projects that engage young professionals and emerging leaders.
  • Many of these are established through long-standing partnerships with nearby colleges and universities (especially Boston College, Northeastern University, Tufts, and Boston University) where we have earned a reputation for offering students and graduates a great balance of direct hands-on service work as well as involvement with internal systems and administration work.
  • This population has been involved with Haley House by supporting us with grant writing, database management and optimization, business operations and finance, event planning, marketing and communications, fundraising, and more.
  • We rely on the energetic and innovative minds of young professionals to keep Haley House up to speed with new and developing technologies and methods.
  • In many cases, young people who get involved at Haley House and take on leadership roles, end up remaining in our community for years even if they move away or go into other professions.