Thirty-two years ago, Sister Eileen Murphy, a Catholic nun, started a soup kitchen in South Providence to provide dinner to 30 homeless men. She named it Amos House after the Old Testament prophet who promoted the rights of the poor.
Today, Amos House serves free breakfast and lunch to as many as 800 people nearly every day at its dining hall at 415 Friendship Street.
But the agency is much more than the largest soup kitchen in the state.
It also provides vital social services, housing, job training programs, literacy training, a catering micro-business and advocacy support to serve more than 15,000 people each year.
“Our goal is to help people move toward stability in their lives,” said Eileen Hayes, president and CEO of Amo House. “Our motto is ‘Helping people help themselves’ because we believe that with support people can change their lives for the better.”
Toward that end, Amos House provides intensive case management for its residents every weekday and a wide range of walk-in services for anyone in crisis. Services include offering bus tickets, personal hygiene items, and help with applying for benefits to rental and utilities assistance, substance abuse counseling, and legal aid.
Amos House’s 90-Day Transitional Housing Program helps men and women who are homeless and want to achieve sobriety. It serves 21 men and 13 women. Both programs emphasize recovery through a 12-step program based on a honesty. Participants must commit to making changes in their lives, including living within a clean and sober community. They participate in a structured program involving case management, goal setting, support groups, and life skills classes.
Six years ago Amos House started its first job training program. The Amos Culinary Education Program (ACE) is a 12-week program that has provided over 250 men and women with culinary skills leading to jobs in food service for some people. Last November the agency launched the Amos House Carpentry Training Program (ACT), which trains people for jobs as carpenters in the construction field. This 13-week program combines classroom and practical hands-on experiences developed by the National Center for Construction Education and Research. Through both programs students can receive national certification, hands-on experience and job placement assistance. The next classes begin on January 14 for ACE and March 5 for ACT. Pre-registration and interviews are required.
Amos House also has launched a micro-business. It is Amos House Works, a catering micro-business started in 2004. Since then it has expanded from serving healthy lunches in school cafeterias to catering fine cuisine for corporate meetings and operating a food kiosk. This spring Amos House Works will open a restaurant, the Friendship Café, on the corner of Broad and Friendship Streets. The catering business provides jobs for five people.
Amos House is also a champion for the rights of the poor and homeless. The agency engages its residents, guests and staff in advocacy work related to poverty and housing.
The agency continues to serve on the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless of which it was a founding member. All of its programs and services help the agency fulfill its motto: “Helping people help themselves.”
Amos House is located at 415 Friendship Street. To learn more, visit www.amoshouse.com or call 401-272-0220.