Food and Clothing Program
"It began with one house and one family. It was a dream and a vision. It was Mary House."
Bill and Sharon Murphy started Mary House out of their own home in 1981 in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC. Their goal was to take in one homeless family at a time to live with them and their small children. Along with their commitment to continue their service to the homeless, which started for Bill in 1973 when he was a senior at The College of the Holy Cross and for Sharon growing up poor in Detroit, they wanted to teach their children on a very personal level about the importance of caring for those in need.
Mary House, modeled after Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker House, has received no government funding for the services it provides. As the need for housing for homeless families in DC has continued to grow, with the help of the private community, Mary House has grown as well. Starting with one family and one house, Mary House has evolved into an organization that owns and operates out of 5 different apartment complexes, housing up to 50 families at a time.
In 1995, Bill and Sharon were both part of war trauma teams sent to refugee camps in Bosnia by way of The National Organization of Victim Assistance, and after returning, added resettlement of war displaced refugee families to Mary House’s mission. In all, Mary House has successfully resettled hundreds of families seeking refuge from crises occurring all over the world. While families have come everywhere from Bosnia to Iraq to Ethiopia, Mary House’s primary population remains immigrant families from Central and South America who have fled from violent situations in their home countries.
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