Born in Reading, Mass, Dick Rogers grew up in a middle-class home, graduated high school and received a business degree from Suffolk University. He spent 20 working years as a buyer and general merchandise manager for Purity Supreme supermarkets. In the interim, he got married, bought a home and raised three boys. Dick’s aspirations were high and he left his job to own and operate three franchised Lil Peach stores and then added two Hallmark stores. After he sold all five stores in 1989 and was waiting for his next opportunity. The next opportunity did not come soon enough.
After a divorce, his three sons graduating college and living out of state, along with no job prospects, Dick began living on the streets of Reading and Wakefield for a year. Dick became isolated and pushed his family away, while depression turned into suicidal thoughts. His future was bleak until he met his ex-wife on the streets. She assisted him in finding shelter and he landed at the MHSA Bristol Lodge men’s shelter in Waltham in May 1993. After receiving much needed behavioral health support and medications, Dick stayed
at the shelter for one year and began volunteering at the MHSA soup kitchen. Things began to turn around.
Dick started working as a janitor at MHSA and recalls receiving his first paycheck as one of his most memorable events in his adulthood. Dick got an apartment in Waltham and became the program director of the MHSA soup kitchen in 1998 and serviced clients with a new sense of empathy. He was open about his journey with clients and told them, “I know what it takes to get from where you are to where I am now. I will work hard for you, but you need to also work”, Dick commented. After serving almost 12 years at the soup kitchen, Dick stepped down and now volunteers with local nonprofits, helps with fundraisers and enjoys time with his six grandchildren. Dick concludes, “having to work my way back from homelessness and using the guidance from the people that worked with me, I am now dedicated to give back to others that are now in that situation”.