Dr. James Joseph O'Connell Honorary Degree Citation
May 20, 2012
As Mother Teresa once said, "At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by, 'I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.'" Today you, Doctor O'Connell, will receive a diploma honoring these very acts, as Stonehill College acknowledges its deep admiration for your role as founder and president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.
Since your graduation from Harvard Medical School, you have been a pioneer in homeless health care, founding the nation's first medical respite program in 1985. The original shelter slept twenty-five. The 104 beds in your current facility at the Barbara McInnis House provide true hospitality for homeless men and women whose needs range from rehabilitative to palliative end-of-life care. Each year, your organization serves over 11,000 patients in two hospital-based clinics and over 80 shelters and outreach sites in Boston. Your dedication to the cause of homeless health care has meant company and comfort for those who would otherwise suffer alone.
Your leadership goes beyond founding the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. Your manual The Health Care of Homeless Persons is the definitive guide for homeless health care. You also serve on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, and Boston University School of Medicine, transferring your knowledge, skills, and passion for your work to the next generation of medical students.
The motto of the BHCHP is "Medicine that matters," and over the past 27 years, you, James O'Connell, have proven just how much yours does. Because you have worked tirelessly and creatively to eliminate health disparities throughout the United States; because you share our mission to create a more just and compassionate world; and because you live out, quite literally, Mother Teresa's challenge, Stonehill College is proud to confer upon you, James J. O'Connell, honoris causa, the degree of Doctor of Humanities.
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