The last time I looked, Travelers Aid helped people in train stations and bus stations who were lost or confused or needed a translator. The website still notes that history.
“Travelers Aid Family Services began in 1916 as an all-volunteer effort, one of hundreds of organizations that emerged around the country in response to the needs of the thousands of new immigrants arriving in the United States each day. The agency, which was incorporated in 1920 as the Travelers Aid Society of Boston, provided help with housing, transportation, and employment to new immigrants, stranded travelers, and the poor at Boston’s train stations and docks.”
I wish when I directed a stranded Amtrak passenger to the Travelers Aid office office this morning that today it has the deeper purpose of ending homelessness. Oops.
The traveler was a pleasant if anxious man in his 40s who had come up from Virginia to meet a flight his 14-year-old daughter was taking from Greece. Not knowing our wily ways up north, he gave money to another train passenger who asked for $10. After he got off the train, he realized his wallet was gone.
Amtrak police were surly and told him to go a Boston Police station to file a report — but didn’t tell him how to get there. He wandered around for a couple hours. Then he stopped me and asked where the police station was.
I am pretty wary of these hard-luck travel stories. People of all ages make them up on the subway (one woman has a different story every day about why she doesn’t have the fare for Fitchburg or Worcester), but the traveler was only asking for directions to a police station that I didn’t know how to find.
So I sent him to Travelers Aid across from South Station. At least there will be kind people there, right? Even if he isn’t homeless and doesn’t fit their new mission? I sure hope so. if you know anything about Travelers Aid today, please tell me.
Photograph: Travelers Aid Family Services