Back from the brink, Mattapan man helps the homeless

Jeanette Origel, Special to the Reporter
Jun. 19, 2014

A Mattapan resident has been named Difference Maker of the Year by the New England Patriots. Larry Adams, 64, has been volunteering for the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) for 23 years. He initially got involved to help himself.

“I was homeless in the street, a drug addict and I got ready to take my life one time and this lady stopped me from doing it,” Adams told the Reporter. “Come to find out it was Barbara McIinnis of the BHCHP.”

This encounter turned out to be the best thing that happened to Adams. He began to see doctors and got a different view on life.

“I just started helping people,” Adams said. “[BHCHP] gave me my life back so I was just trying to help someone else.”

Adams acts as a peer counselor for other homeless men and women and helped to create a Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) for the organization. The first-of-its-kind program solicits feedback from the homeless that shapes the programs that BHCHP offers its 12,000 patients.

Adams has been honored once before by the Patriots. Last December, during the last game of the season against the Buffalo Bills, Adams was asked to come down to Gillette Stadium along with about 14 other volunteers of the week.

“Everyone got $1,000 to donate [to their organization] but they had this one big check I didn’t know about for $10,000, and when they turned it around and I seen my name on it, I just stood there with my mouth open,” said Adams. “It was a good feeling. I didn’t have the slightest idea that was coming.”

“He is never at a loss for words, but his jaw dropped,” said Linda O’Connor, Director of Development at BHCHP. “He was incredibly surprised and grateful.”

Today, Adams is still volunteering with the program that gave him life back. He recently returned from the National Health Care for the Homeless Conference in New Orleans where about 800 homeless were in attendance.

“I’m just glad for BHCHP for being there because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be alive now and I wouldn’t be able to help anyone else,” he said. “There are people who are willing to give up but they keep putting one foot in front of the other just like I did.”