In the early 1980s, Sister Jane Morrissey and Sister Cathy Homrok lived in the North End of Springfield. Noticing the increase in poverty and the needs of their neighbors, they dreamed of turning an abandoned home on the next street into a neighborhood center to help those around them who were struggling. With three fellow Sisters of St. Joseph and one lay person, 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.
The Gray House continues to help people meet their immediate needs and address the root causes of poverty by operating the Food Pantry, Adult Education Program and Kids’ Club. With a poverty rate that exceeds 45%, the North End is one of Springfield’s poorest sections and one of the poorest in the state. As poverty became a city-wide problem, The Gray House stretched its service boundary and now serves people from all neighborhoods in Springfield as well as some surrounding towns.