The Worcester Area Mission Society was created in the early 1800s by Congregational Church deacon and industrialist Ichabod Washburn to provide food, clothing and other forms of assistance to immigrants who came to Worcester. He erected a mission chapel on Summer Street where workers could worship without having to pay for their pews, and he operated a successful industrial school for youth that later in life inspired his gift to the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). In the 20th century WAMS continued to be a trailblazer as it sponsored the first Habitat for Humanity home in Massachusetts, located on King Street in Worcester, supported resident-led neighborhood reinvestment at a time when this action was not a common occurrence, helped create the first congregate housing for senior citizens in Massachusetts, and supported the establishment of the first housing program for people living with HIV-AIDS.
The WAMS mission is to work with individuals and community partners to inspire economic and educational equity through social change. Our vision is focused on programs and activities that fuel inclusion, voice and opportunity for all.
- We collaborate with Clark University and Woodland Academy (a public elementary school located in the South Main Street area of Worcester) to offer hands-on, STEAM-integrated, academic and social-emotional summer learning to K-6 students. The program also includes internship opportunities for local high school students.
- We collaborate with Worcester Family Partnership, the Main South CDC, the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester, and other organizations to bring new educational opportunities to children and youth in Worcester.
- We advocate for equity in education and other factors that affect the lives of children and families.
- We provide learning opportunities through webinars and other presentations on important issues in our communities.
- Through ReachOut Worcester, we offer opportunities for middle and high school youth not just to learn about urban challenges such as homelessness, but to engage in the essential social justice practice of listening as a first step toward relationship building. We can also offer similar opportunities for adults who want to want to make a difference.
- Through the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP!), we help groups of young people learn practical planning and financial skills through projects that benefit community causes.
- We identify community needs and run short-term drives to meet those needs, such as new winter coats for kids, water for COVID-19 vaccine equity clinics, and books for children who don’t have enough access to reading materials at home.
We want to go where the needs are and find partners who want to collaborate with us on meeting those needs.