1970sSister Eileen Murphy, a Catholic nun with the Sisters of Mercy, begins to serve dinner to 30 homeless men at a three-story tenement house in south Providence. In 1976 she launches Amos House from her small soup kitchen at 56 Somerset Street, gathering free food from the city’s farmer’s market and a restaurant on Federal Hill. Named after the Old Testament prophet who stood for social justice, Amos House provides free lunches to 100 hungry people a day, seating 32 at a time.
1980sAmos House adds breakfast to its menu. To support the growing soup kitchen, Sister Eileen teams up with eight other groups to form the Fund for Community Progress, which raises money through payroll deduction programs. In 1983, her vision of a “Cathedral for the poor” is realized with the building of Amos House’s bright new dining hall at 415 Friendship Street, right around the corner from the small soup kitchen. 56 Somerset Street is transformed into a shelter for homeless men. In response to a growing homeless population spurred by a national recession and welfare cuts, Amos House also opens a women’s shelter, a transitional residence for homeless families, and a rooming house for women with special needs. Substance abuse counseling is offered to residents and guests. Sadly, Sister Eileen passed away in 1983. Sister Carol McGovern, another Sister of Mercy, and Jim Tull begin to co-direct Amos House.
1990sSister Carol is known not only for making scrumptious pancakes at Amos House’s dining hall every Friday morning, but for her tireless work raising funds to provide food, clothing and shelter to the poor. Jim leads Amos House in advocacy work such as organizing for the national Housing Now campaign, resulting in the passage of the National Affordable Housing Act of 1990. Amos House also helps pass an act to set up low-cost housing and support programs in the state. Sister Judy Soares joins the Amos House staff as its first social worker. By this time, the agency is serving free meals to 600 people six days a week. Following Jim’s departure and Sister Carol’s death in 1995, Deborah Brayton becomes the next Executive Director, expanding Amos House’s board, fundraising efforts and influence in the political arena.
2000 & BeyondAmos House receives a Proclamation in 2001 from Providence Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci for 25 years of service to the city’s most disadvantaged residents. The same year Eileen Hayes becomes Amos House’s fifth Executive Director. A period of tremendous growth follows, including the launching of the Amos Culinary Education & Amos Carpentry Training programs, a 90-Day Transitional Housing Program emphasizing recovery from addiction, the Amos House Works social enterprise (now consisting of three businesses) and the purchase of six rooming houses and three apartment buildings to house homeless men and women. Under her leadership, Amos House also added a Literacy Program and Mother Child Reunification Center. The agency's staff has grown to over 50 people. Today Amos House is a leading social service agency in Rhode Island, managing the largest soup kitchen in the state, providing social services to over 15,000 people a year and housing nearly 150 men and women a night. More than 400 adults have graduated from its training programs. Amos House continues its long tradition of advocacy work. We are helping people help themselves.