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Rosie's Place awards $40K fellowship to South Boston resident

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  September 9, 2013 09:26 AM

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The women’s shelter Rosie’s Place has awarded the 2013 Kip Tiernan Social Justice Fellowship to a South Boston woman working to help incarcerated women with mental health issues.

Allison Haar, a recent law school graduate and South Boston resident, received the $40,000 fellowship to support her Dorothea Advocacy Project, which will provide legal advocacy for incarcerated women in New Hampshire with serious mental health issues.

The fellowship honors the life and work of Rosie’s Place founder, Kip Tiernan.

Over the fellowship year, Haar will offer legal representation to women in county jails and state prison, and to recently released women struggling with reentry issues. Initial efforts will focus on helping the women apply for benefits before they are released, “so they can leave incarceration prepared to be healthy, housed and productive on the outside,” Haar said in a statement.

Each client will be paired with a female attorney or law student who can provide personal advocacy and serve as a support system and positive role model.

“I seek to change the lives of the women who face the dual challenges of mental illness and criminal history,” Haar wrote in her proposal. “I believe that women in prison face different challenges and have different needs than male inmates. I also believe they are uniquely strong. My mission is to use legal education, zealous advocacy and personal mentorship to end the cycle of poverty and recidivism.”

Haar said she was inspired by the work of Dorothea Dix, a woman who pioneered mental health reform in New England.

The South End's Rosie’s Place, which works to provide a safe and nurturing environment to help poor and homeless women maintain their dignity, seek opportunity and find security in their lives, offers the fellowship annually to a woman to develop and carry out a special project that will further its mission in New England.

“Through this Fellowship, we hope to provide a woman with the resources to realize a vision – just as Kip was able to do, forty years ago,” Rosie’s Place executive director Sue Marsh said in a statement. “This Fellowship embodies the same spirit and commitment that was the basis of Rosie’s Place’s founding.”

Rosie's Place, which was the first women-only shelter in the country when it was founded in 1974, provides meals and shelter while also creating permanent solutions through advocacy, education and affordable housing.

“Having the support of Rosie’s Place during the development of my project not only makes things possible financially, it defines the ideals I should hang on to and the level of impact I should strive for,” Haar said in a statement.

Haar received her J.D. degree from New England School of Law in 2013, matriculating through the Sandra Day O’Connor Full Tuition Merit Scholarship. She clerked and interned in the areas of criminal law and mental health law. Haar also holds a B.A. degree, cum laude, from Emerson College.

E-mail Kaiser at Johanna.yourtown@gmail.com. For more news about your city, town, neighborhood, or campus, visit boston.com’s Your Town homepage.

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