Who We Are
Ethos is a private, nonprofit organization that assists the elderly and disabled to live at home. We serve over 3,000 individuals and families, primarily in the Boston neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, West Roxbury, Hyde Park, and Mattapan. Ethos offers a wide range of high-quality, discounted services and support, delivered at home, and in the community.
The Ethos Nutrition program started in 1973 and is one of more than 5,000 local Senior Nutrition Programs in the United States. Through its home delivered meals (Meals on Wheels) and congregate meals (Community Cafés) programs, Ethos provides well over 2.1 million meals to seniors who need them each year. The organization also offers nutrition check-ups and counseling from a licensed dietitian, as well as a variety of activities and programs at many of its Community Cafés.
In 1972, Massachusetts Office of Elder Affairs issued a call for grassroots coalitions to support a program to keep elders out of nursing homes. Called “Home Care,” it was one of the nation’s first efforts to create an alternative to the institutional models of caring for the elderly that had prevailed since the poorhouse.
That August, a group of southwest Boston seniors and providers formed the Ad Hoc Coalition for the Elderly. In its first report to the state, it found “meager resources wasted by duplication… and lacking organized means of efficiently referring older people to sources of help.” It was a problem the group decided to take on.
In March, 1973, the Coalition incorporated as Southwest Boston Senior Services – the city’s first, neighborhood-based not-for-profit organization devoted solely to keeping the elderly and disabled at home.
One year later, it began operations out of a Roslindale storefront with a staff of four and funding for one elder lunch site and a Meals on Wheels route.
Today, that agency is Ethos, a $43 million organization that promotes the dignity and independence of thousands of elderly and disabled persons. Despite years of growth, Ethos remains rooted in the principles of care, compassion, and community that guided its founders.