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Women's shelter gets facelift by Tech Catholic Community

Volunteers from MIT Tech Catholic Community will spend Veteran's Day weekend painting and refurbishing a women's shelter in Devens, MA.

Tech Catholic plans to send 30-35 volunteers each day from November 10-12 to Sylvia's Haven to repair and clean six apartments located on the grounds of Fort Devens, which was shut down by the US Army in 1995. Members raised $800 for paint and other supplies by selling Halloween sweets and pumpkins in Lobby 10.

Before taking on the project, assistant registrar Ri Romano and John R. Jochum, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science, visited the shelter, which is run by 71-year-old Sylvia Anthony.

"Sylvia is an amazing woman," said Ms. Romano. "She is living proof that one person can make a huge difference. Who among us could envision ourselves at the age of 71 running a shelter for women and children who have no place else to go? It's really a privilege for us to be able to do this for her."

Sylvia's Haven serves as a transitional home for about 45 mothers and 70 children. The residents include single pregnant and parenting women, who stay there for about two years while developing life skills that include managing money, careers, health resources and parenting. The residents agree to abstain from drugs and alcohol and adhere to a curfew. They also contribute some of their income to pay for heat and electricity.

MIT Tech Catholic Community adopted the shelter as a result of a column on Sylvia's Haven by Boston Globe columnist Eileen McNamara.

Funds and volunteers are still needed. For additional information or to volunteer, contact Ms. Romano at or Mr. Jochum at

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 1, 2000.

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