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If you’ve read Doreen McGettigan’s blogs on 1010ParkPlace then you know her life hasn’t been easy. She was sexually abused by a priest when she was eight; raped at 13 by her mother’s boyfriend; her house burned down when she was 14; she married and had her first baby in her teens, and her youngest brother was brutally beaten—by an angry mob—in a random road rage incident. He was left for dead, suffered severe brain damage and died a few days later. It was an unspeakable act that divided a town as well as Doreen’s family.

Instead of succumbing to what could have taken down the strongest of warriors, Doreen became an outspoken advocate for victim’s rights and the homeless.

Doreen McGettigan is a freelance journalist, award-winning blogger, a speaker and an author of two books that have stayed with me long after I put them down. This week I called Doreen to talk about Bristol Boyz Stomp and The Stranger in My Recliner. Here’s what she said when I asked,

“How did Sophie, an 80-year-old homeless woman come to live with you?”

“It was about 9:30pm, and my husband called and said, ‘Honey, can I bring this woman home to spend the night? She’s really old, has no place to go, and I don’t know what to do.’ I hung up and panic set in. How is it she’s that age and has no where to go? Where’s her family? What if she’s mentally ill? I got really nervous, and then she walked in the door. She was the most pitiful sight I’d seen in my life.

“Sophie smelled putrid and looked like she was starving to death. She had eight plastic shopping bags and guarded them with her life. I made her a cup of hot tea and noticed she didn’t have any teeth, so I made her some scrambled eggs, offered her a bubble bath and set up my sofa for her.”

Doreen is brutally honest about her disgust, at times, with Sophie. In essence, Doreen and her husband adopted a difficult child with special needs and obnoxious habits. Even so, they cared for Sophie for nearly three years. The Stranger in My Recliner will challenge what you think about the homeless and the broken government assistance program.

Doreen’s other book, Bristol Boyz Stomp, rivals any true crime book I’ve ever read.

She takes us from when her brother, David, and his friends were brought to intensive care, to the failings of the justice system and her family’s subsequent effort to move forward with her lives. Since David’s murder happened in a small town, it was the topic of conversation everywhere. Even though it was a heinous crime, some of the locals said it was an example of “boys will be boys.”

Doreen’s empathy for people is striking. A great book challenges us to make the world a better place. Doreen has done that with both of her books. Her brother, David, and Sophie would be proud.

Love, Brenda


  • Anita Villar-Bell November 11, 2017 at 12:14 am

    This is remarkable Doreen. What a life.

    • Brenda Coffee November 13, 2017 at 6:06 pm

      Thank you, Anita! Doreen is, indeed, amazing! Brenda

  • Hilda Smith November 11, 2017 at 2:39 am

    An amazing lady.

    • Brenda Coffee November 13, 2017 at 6:06 pm

      Isn’t she though? Thank you, Hilda! Brenda

  • Joanna November 11, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Doreen is an inspiration. In spite of all the tragedy in her young life, she has become a wonderful, kind, educated, successful lady. Kudos!
    I will certainly check out her books. Thank you for sharing her story, Brenda.

    • Brenda Coffee November 13, 2017 at 6:08 pm

      You’re welcome, Joanna. Doreen impresses me more than most anyone I know. She knows what’s important in life and has such empathy for people. Brenda

  • Donna O’Klock November 11, 2017 at 10:07 am

    I was looking for a new book to read… so grateful for this review. I love Doreen’s articles and this is a topic close to my heart.

    • Brenda Coffee November 13, 2017 at 6:09 pm

      She’ll be happy to hear that, Donna. xoxox, Brenda

  • Carol Cassara November 12, 2017 at 5:34 am

    Writing is cathartic and I am certain that getting these experiences down on the page was healing.

    • Brenda Coffee November 13, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      Hi Carol, Your life and experience has taught you a lot about life and healing. So right about writing being cathartic. I think it’s a major reason we all blog, don’t you? Thank you, Brenda

  • Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski November 12, 2017 at 6:31 pm

    I’ve read “Stranger in My Recliner” and it was wonderful. I couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend it. Doreen is insightful and keeps it real.

    • Brenda Coffee November 13, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      You have? You’ll love “Bristol Boyz Stomp!” During the period of time I read it, I had a lot going on that left me with really having to work hard to carve time out to read, but this book almost called my name every night. I had to get back to it. “Insightful and keeps it real…. ” That’s one of the reasons I think Doreen is special. She doesn’t suck up. Thank you, Rebecca! xoxox, Brenda

  • LA CONTESSA November 13, 2017 at 9:20 am


    • Brenda Coffee November 13, 2017 at 6:15 pm

      They are, Elizabeth! How many people do you know who would bring an elderly, woman, with “issues” into their home, care for her for nearly three years and then be there for her until she died? And this was a woman who was difficult to even “like.” xoxox, Brenda

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