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 workingmen 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 WPI. A foundational presence in Worcester history, 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 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 AIDS.
Today’s WAMS is focused on programs and activities that fuel inclusion, voice and opportunity for all. We collaborate with Clark University and Woodland Academy (an 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-5 students that also includes the intentional support of current and future urban-based educators. We offer opportunities for middle and high school youth (most of whom come from our surrounding UCC churches and are by and large not impacted by the systemic inequality and marginalization that so many others in our community face), to engage in the essential social justice practice of listening as a first step toward relationship building. We offer similar opportunities for adults who want to want to make a difference.