Catholic Workers of Mercy



Catholic Worker Movement

Boise Catholic Worker

Our Purpose

Dorothy Day Place, Inc was formed for the express purpose of providing supportive housing to the chronically homeless population in Boise, Idaho.

The Dorothy Day Place for women and the Thomas Merton House for men are Catholic Workers of Mercy houses. By addressing tangible needs, such as shelter in a safe, non-threatening environment, employment as well as mentoring, dental, medical and mental health care, we afford individuals who use our services to take steps towards positive personal change.

The houses are managed by Ellen Piper, an Outreach Minister for Sacred Heart Catholic Church of Boise. In addition, we have volunteers that build relationships with residents as is appropriate, conferring dignity and respect upon each resident regardless of their circumstances and/or needs.

We focus on mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellness of each resident.


Our unique approach to homelessness through community includes, but isn’t limited to, the following:

  • “Road maps” (wellness plans or goals) that are developed for each person to help facilitate their first exposure to orderly living.
  • Meals in community to develop healthy friendships and effective social skills.
  • House meetings covering hygiene, house rules, job assignments and proper house communication skills/behavior such as conflict management.
  • Assisting and encouraging residents to find job opportunities within their abilities.
  • We provide transportation to job, medical and counseling appointments.
  • Help as needed to apply for disability benefits to include: filling out SSI applications, scheduling and attending SSI appointments.
  • Self esteem building activities such as gardening, carpentry and sewing to help restructure beliefs about oneself and one’s future.
  • Often participate as advocates for residents: For instance, we help residents negotiate the Terry Reilly Clinic, Crossroads Counseling Services, Vocational Rehab, Veteran’s Administration psychiatric department, AA meetings, Legal Aid Services, banks, to completing a GED, to name just a few community services we collaborate with.

The length of stay for each resident is individualized based on their personal needs. We find that the longer a person has lived on the streets, the longer it takes to overcome the lack of trust prevalent among homeless persons. Showing compassion while building trust becomes the mode by which relapses into homelessness are overcome.

We believe that life, dignity and the rights of the human person should be afforded to all, especially the most vulnerable and powerless in society, the homeless.

Dorothy Day Place, Inc. is a 501(c) 3 non-profit corporation.

We are currently focusing on making each house financially independent.

All donations are tax deductible and will go to cover utilities, resident basic needs and minor house maintenance and upkeep.

Donations can be sent to:
Dorothy Day Place, Inc.
Attn: Ellen Piper
2108 S. Kerr St.
Boise, Idaho 83705



Ellen Piper is a lay Catholic with a passion to serve “the least of Jesus’ brothers and sisters” who are chronically homeless.

She has served the poor for over ten years and has been a member of Boise Catholic Worker for over eight years. In December 2005, Ellen received the first Social Justice Achievement award given by Bishop Michael Driscoll for her work with the homeless.

She currently manages Dorothy Day Place for women and Thomas Merton House for men, both Catholic Workers of Mercy houses, while she pursues a degree in Mental Health and Addictions counseling.