'Miracle Messages' Connecting Homeless With Their Families

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- The holidays are a time to connect with family--but for the homeless, that connection may be hard to make.

That's where the Pine Street Inn's new "Miracle Messages" technology comes in. 

The system, which was donated to the shelter, links the homeless to volunteers who work to re-connect them to their family members.

Pine Street Inn's President and Executive Director, Lyndia Downie, told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens how it works. 

"The guest here at Pine Street Inn comes to a kiosk in our lobby, Skypes in to one of the volunteers, and they say 'I'm here at Pine Street Inn, I'm homeless, and I haven't seen my family in five or six years,'" she said. 

Volunteers at the start-up company then try to track down the relative or friend on social media based on info given to them by the guest--and if that person wants to make a connection, Miracle Messages makes it happen.

pine street inn miracle messages

The Miracle Messages kiosk at the Pine Street Inn. (Facebook/Miracle Messages)

"If they find someone, they say, 'Look, we are in touch with a guest at the Pine Street Inn, he or she would love to reconnect with you, and are you willing?'" Downie said. "Not everybody does say yes, but we hope it's a start for people to reconnect, and a start for people to begin the journey out of homelessness."

She said it means a lot for the homeless to have help reaching out.

"I think that it is the best present, especially this time of the year, someone who's homeless can have," Downie said. "I think there is a lot of shame in being homeless, and many people have been afraid and ashamed to reach out to their family. They understand how bad things have gotten for them, and they think their family would not want to see them."

Downie said that's true in some cases, but in others, family members are looking for guests, but the guests don't know that.

She said there's already been one success story.

"We had one gentleman who did it a few weeks ago, who wanted to reconnect with a friend who now lives in Florida," she said. "She said yes, they have since reconnected. He's working, and he's saving up his money to buy a bus ticket to go down there and meet her. I hope that turns into something spectacular for him."

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Carl Stevens reports

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