Our mission is to help neighbors facing hardships to meet their immediate and transitional needs by providing food, clothing, and education.
In the early 1980s, Sister Jane Morrissey and Sister Cathy Homrok lived in the North End of Springfield. They began noticing the increase in poverty and the needs of their neighbors. They would walk by an abandoned and deteriorated house located a street away and dream of turning it into a neighborhood center to help those around them who were struggling. With the help of three other Sisters of St. Joseph and many friends, Sister Jane and Sister Cathy bought 22 Sheldon Street and for two years, they and countless volunteers renovated the 17 room house. In 1984, the five Sisters opened The Gray House and began to provide services to meet the civic, social and educational needs of their neighbors.
Today, The Gray House is a private non-profit social service agency that is still located in and serving the North End of Springfield, Massachusetts. With a poverty rate that exceeds 45%, the North End is Springfield’s poorest neighborhood and one of the poorest in the state. Over 11,000 people reside here and they struggle to meet their daily needs. The mission of The Gray House is “To encourage our neighbors in transition to achieve a more stable, safe, productive and spiritually satisfying life through education and community service.”
For more than 28 years, The Gray House has helped its neighbors meet their immediate needs and address the root causes of poverty. The Gray House has done this by operating the Food Pantry, Thrift Store, Community Education Support Program and Kids’ Club. In 2011, over 8,000 people were helped by these programs.
The Gray House Food Pantry provides food to people in need. On average, 40 - 60 families totaling 270 individuals receive food assistance from the Food Pantry each week. Last year, nearly 8,000 individuals received food assistance.
The Gray House Thrift Shop provides clothing for men, women and children as well as hygiene products, and household items.
Once these basic needs of food and clothing are met, people can concentrate on improving their situations and hopefully transition out of poverty. Since one of the key indicators of poverty is a lack of education, The Gray House Community Education Support Program (CESP) and Kids’ Club provide educational services.
CESP provides educational services to adult learners. CESP offers English for Speakers of Other Languages services, basic skills (reading, writing and math) tutoring and beginner English conversation classes. Many of our services are offered in a one-on-one setting, providing our students individualized lesson plans appropriate to their learning level. Over the past few years, the program has grown to include literacy development for resettled refugees. There are approximately 75 adult learners enrolled in the program at any given time.
Kids’ Club is our after school and summer program, which helps children between the ages of 7 and 12 who live in poverty. By providing support and encouragement at an early age, we hope our students will stay in school, improve their grades, graduate and get jobs, breaking the cycle of poverty.
Every Monday through Thursday between 3:45 and 5:45 p.m., 15 children come to The Gray House to get help with their homework, participate in healthy, creative activities and enjoy a nutritious dinner, while surrounded by supportive and positive role models.
In addition to our mission, The Gray House continues to operate in accordance with the belief of our founding sisters; “The Gray House is a place where peace is lived and learned and hope is shared.” This belief has helped us create a welcoming, encouraging and supportive environment, which assures our neighbors they will be treated with respect and dignity when they come to The Gray House.
* Names have been changed to preserve confidentiality.