Helping Boston’s Homeless During Coronavirus Pandemic

MGH Institute for Health Professions

The city’s largest homeless organization cares for more than 11,000 people each year, meaning there is certainly enough need for Keyes’ commitment. “This type of work can wear on you sometimes,” he readily admitted, “but I do this because it is worthwhile.”

When he isn’t checking patient temperatures or helping coordinate the tests, he spends two nights a week seeing patients at the Southampton Street Shelter, the largest men’s shelter in Boston. In addition, he also works at the respite program at the Barbara McInnis House, a 106-bed facility in the city’s South End where the homeless can recover following hospitalization.

This is not Keyes’ first time working with the underserved. As a 13-year-old, he started volunteering in a program at New England Disabled Sports, designed to help individuals with disabilities hike, ski, and participate in other outdoor activities. For a kid who often thought about going into health care, the job was life altering. “I had the opportunity to start volunteering and said, ‘This looks cool’ and the idea of working with underserved populations has never left,” said the 29-year-old Somerville resident, who still volunteers at the New Hampshire nonprofit.