When Libby Hayes left as Director of Crossroads Family Shelter in East Boston in 2007 there was a huge void to be filled. After several interim directors that did not have the same people skills as Hayes, it seemed Crossroads had all been forgotten in the neighborhood until Audrey Savikas arrived on scene.
Savikas immediately settled into her new role as Director of Crossroads and began to make the homeless shelter’s profile well know again in the community through outreach and open houses.
Part advocate, part politician, part fundraiser, Savikas, like her predecessor, has worked day and night in the community fighting for more opportunities and funding for homeless programs while bringing attention to the epidemic of homelessness facing Eastie and the rest of the city and state.
For these reasons and her commitment to fighting for the area’s homeless, Audrey Savikas is the East Boston Times 2011 Woman of the Year.
Since its inception in 1985, Crossroads Family Shelter has become an oasis of hope—providing shelter for countless families in the area. Over the past year Savikas’ commitment to the shelter’s cause heightened her profile as an important community activist.
Throughout the year, Savikas held several successful open houses and legislative breakfasts where local elected officials were invited to discuss legislation and budget issues that may affect funding to programs like Crossroads.
At the same time these events celebrated Crossroad’s work, provided testimony from current and former residents while raising much-needed funds and awareness for the program. In 2011 Savikas was able define to Eastie and Crossroads supporters exactly what the shelter means to so many people.
When she first arrived at Crossroad’s last year, Savikas hadn’t seen much of Eastie and very rarely ventured far from her office on Havre Street.
Savikas had been far too busy keeping Crossroads on each and every supporter’s radar screen through these tough fiscal times.
After several interim directors and suffering major state funding cuts, Crossroads has retooled itself under Savikas.
“We really had to rethink how to keep going after we lost that significant amount of state funding,” said Savikas in April 2010. “We were on our own and I feared we’d have to start from scratch.”
Crossroads, Savikas said—who serves 15 homeless families in Eastie and 10 additional families at scatter sites—had seen an increase in the families it needed to serve at a time when funding was at its lowest. But through endless advocacy for the program Savikas was again able to turn on the tap of support that poured from community leaders, residents and former Crossroads families. Once again the shelter’s importance for homeless families in the area became unwavering.
After six months on the job Savikas said Crossroads had seen more and more people entering the system. With funding already stretched thin, Savikas decided to partnered with St. Mary’s Woman and Children Center of Dorchester.
This gave Crossroads the freedom of having some more flexible funding to serve families here in Eastie with more and better programming.
Also, one of Savikas’ goals of the year has been to bring all 10 of Crossroads’ scatter sites back to Eastie.
“This would reduce travel time for both staff and families trying to access our programs on site,” said Savikas. “I think this would bring Crossroads back to its roots as a community based organization.”