Neighborhood House

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church and the Founding of Neighborhood House

The seeds for Neighborhood House were sown in 1966 by the Interchurch Women of Rochester who were already running the Clothes Closet.  In 1966, St. Philip’s formed a Community Relations Committee that reported regularly to the Vestry.  This coincided with the election of June Schroll to Vestry who then chaired the Community Relations Committee.  Discussions as to what role this new committee might encompass included working with the Interchurch Women to assist poor families with a wide range of problems.

The ideal situation would be cooperative community-centered services to offer a wide variety of assistance aimed toward helping families become self-supporting, rather than the stop-gap type of help that was then being used.  Special concern was expressed for children of such families. 

By September, 1966 needy families were being referred to Interchurch Women with back-to-school needs.  In December, June Schroll reported on the great need for help for families in the area.  Some families are extremely poverty stricken and need balanced overall help, she reported.  Discussion followed as to the Vestry’s and Church’s role in meeting these needs.  A variety of viewpoints were brought out during discussion.  Should organizations within St. Philip’s meet these needs or should we partner with community organizations.   Opinions were expressed that the Church should play an active role as a basic part of its responsibility; how extensively and to what depth must be considered.  Senior Warden, Robert Wagner suggested that Mrs. Schroll bring to the next Vestry meeting a proposal embodying a concrete approach to the problem.  The Rector, Mr. Schutze, suggested designating one or two of special plate collections for such needs. 

In January, 1967 progress was being made on efforts to form a community-based service committee to offer all kinds of assistance to families in need.  Four churches were initially interested in the project and additional support was expected from other member churches of the Interchurch Women.  A proposition was made by Mr. Wagner, supported by the Vestry, that because the helping of the needy is a church function, the St. Philip’s Vestry pledges its assistance to Interchurch Women of Rochester in its efforts to start such a program.  

The first funding provided by St. Philip’s was $100 which was set aside from the Easter offering in April, 1967 and was given to the Interchurch Women.  Support and cooperation in establishing the new community service committee was received from Oakland County Family Services and the Rochester Ministerial Alliance.   During the summer of 1967 Interchurch Women continued their work with the Clothes Closet and sent three children to summer camp including two with special needs.  By December families were being referred by Oakland Family Services for clothing and other needs. 

Interchurch Women assisted seventy-one families at Christmas with cooperation of various organizations and churches.  This help included additional food baskets and gifts for each member of the families, supplementing the dinner baskets given by other groups.  The hope was to reach all families needing help next year.  Interchurch Women met with the Ministerial Association in December to organize a community Service Committee and seek office space in town to serve various groups working on community needs.

By February, 1968 plans were coming together for a community counselling center as recommended by the Ministerial Association and lay representatives from each participating church.  The purpose as explained by June Schroll and Senior Warden, Ray Lawson, was to offer a facility to coordinate all services for needy families.   Support would come from area churches as an excellent ecumenical opportunity to indicate the church’s concern for community needs.  Lawson moved that St. Philip’s donate $100 towards support of this project to get it started.  The motion carried with Vestry indicating enthusiasm and continued support for the Center to fill a very real need in the community.

At the March Vestry meeting Ray Lawson reported that the $100 voted last month was used to start the Center which would be known as “Neighborhood House.”   He said funding from all the churches will be adequate for the first six months.  Community Chest support will likely be needed in the future. Mr. Schutze nominated Ray Lawson and June Schroll to the Neighborhood House Board which was approved by Vestry.

By April, 1968 Neighborhood House was in service.  They had formally organized, and publicity was starting with much support and interest from the community.  Funding continued from St. Philip’s and the other churches in the community, but it was obvious early on that additional funds would be needed beyond what the churches could offer.  The need for additional community services continued to grow and other agencies joined forces with Neighborhood House and the need for more space was evident.

Two names stand out from our parish Vestry minutes in the founding of Neighborhood House.  June Schroll was elected to Vestry in January, 1966 and was the vestry person who reported monthly on activities of the Interchurch Women. Based on her reports she was a driving force in the founding of Neighborhood House. In 1964 Mrs. Schroll was President of Interchurch Women.  By 1967 Ray Lawson was also involved in planning for the yet unnamed community resource center.  Both were appointed to the Board of Neighborhood House by St. Philip’s and Ray served as one of its early Presidents of the Board of Neighborhood House.


St. Philip's signature ministry is hunger. We are a supporter of the local ecumenical organization, Rochester Area Neighborhood House (RANH), a private nonprofit community service organization that assists individuals and families in need by providing such items as food, clothing and transportation services. RANH partners with area churches, social service organizations, businesses, and local residents to help neighbors in crisis move toward self-sufficiency. Neighborhood House is staffed primarily by volunteers. Sudden job loss, divorce, death of a spouse, or another tragic event can change everything for an individual or a family. RANH recognizes the basic need of residents in crisis and responds with emotional and financial assistance. St. Philip's participates in collecting food on a continual basis, participates on the board, and collects and distributes holiday food baskets each year.

If you or your family are in need of food, clothing or other services provided by Neighborhood House click here to be directed to the Client Services page of the RANH website where you may begin the application process.

Over 250,000 meals are provided annually to local families in need by the RANH Food Pantry Food and 75% of this need is provided through private donations.  If you would like to donate to either the Food Pantry or the Clothes Closet check here for the list of current needs.  Food and clothing donations may be brought to St. Philip’s or delivered directly to the Food Pantry or Clothes Closet.