March 13, 2024

Join Us to Hear From Tracy Kidder

Please join us for a thought-provoking conversation with Tracy Kidder, author of New York Times Bestseller, Rough Sleepersa powerful story of an inspiring doctor who helped to create a medical system for the homeless people of Boston. 

The Community Foundation is honored to partner with the NYS Writers Institute, MVP Health Care, Unity House, HATAS, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany and the Schenectady City Mission to support a community wide conversation with WAMC’s Joe Donahue sharing the story of how one person has impacted countless lives with his compassionate care.

Nearly forty years ago, after Jim O’Connell graduated from Harvard Medical School and was nearing the end of his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Chief of Medicine made a proposal: would Jim defer a prestigious fellowship and spend a year as a doctor to homeless citizens? Jim took the job because he felt he couldn’t refuse. But that year turned into his life’s calling—to serve the city’s unhoused population, especially the “rough sleepers,” people who sleep on the streets, in the rough.

Today, Dr. Jim and his colleagues lead an organization that includes clinics affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital and the Boston Medical Center, and a host of teams that serve special groups. One of these is a street team who reach rough sleepers by van. Tracy Kidder spent time over five years riding with Dr. O’Connell as he navigated the city at night, offering medical care, socks, soup, empathy and friendship to some of the city’s endangered citizens.

A symptom of the systemic failures that feed American poverty—racism, childhood trauma, violence—homelessness afflicts a broad and diverse population. To treat their many illnesses, Dr. O’Connell emphasizes a style of medicine in which patients come first, joined with their providers in what he calls “a system of friends.”

This magnificent, deeply researched, and inspiring book explores how one doctor has changed countless lives by facing one of American society’s most shameful problems, instead of looking away.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, including a campus map and directions visit the NYS Writers Institute Website.

The event is free and open to the public.