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Providing help, dignity to the homeless

Deborah Conway gathered clothing for a new guest at Rosie’s Place, a shelter for women.
Deborah Conway gathered clothing for a new guest at Rosie’s Place, a shelter for women.Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe

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It’s called the “shelter shuffle,” the unstable life of the chronically homeless as they move from one shelter to another seeking temporary respite from the streets.

Homelessness leaves people — especially women — vulnerable to violence, health risks, and emotional despair, said Deborah Conway, a longtime worker at Rosie's Place, a Boston shelter for poor, homeless, and abused women.

“If we are just able put a roof over their head, provide clothing, and a warm meal,” said Conway, 48, “this is a huge step toward giving them dignity as a human being.”

Q. You’ve been with Rosie's Place for 14 years. What changes have you seen?

A. I never imagined I’d see this many single, homeless women. Many are 45 to 55. There’s a rise in young women.

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