Home Starter Kits: History and Mission

The Home Starter Kit program was begun in December 1993 by Neil and Emily Morris after the death of their son who had schizophrenia. Neil and Emily, long-standing members of the Church of the Resurrection, helped found the Lane County Chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. With support from the Episcopal Diocese of Western Oregon, they began educating congregations throughout western Oregon about challenges faced by those with mental illness and their families.

Neil and Emily Morris Receiving the
Laurel Hill Community Award (2008)
Home Starter Kits were first provided to clients of Laurel Hill Center. Other programs serving individuals with mental health issues were soon added. Individuals with Developmental Disabilities were added to the client base in 2006. In 2007, the HSK program and St. Vincent DePaul’s First Place Family Services joined together to provide Home Starter Kits to families who leave that program to move into homes or apartments.

An early church grant to the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Eugene, helped build an economic base for the program in 1996. Additional small grants helped expand the program. Beginning in 2007, the HSK program became a multi-congregational ministry. Currently, St. John’s Episcopal Church (Springfield) and St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church (Eugene) are all actively involved.

The Home Starter Kit program is an all-volunteer ministry led by the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, in partnership with other local churches and social service agencies in the Eugene/Springfield area. We provide basic kitchen, bedroom and bath goods to individuals and families transitioning out of substance abuse treatment, homelessness, abusive spouse relationships, mental health programs and prison. The Episcopal Bishop Grant Funding grant funding has helped us restart this desperately needed service (see below for details regarding the EBOF grant).

The program strongly supports the four Strategic Directions outlined in the Diocesan Mission Plan, including: Congregational Life, Diocesan Mission, Leadership Development and Gospel Justice. The kits provide dignity and love to diverse, underserved and vulnerable individuals and families transitioning into new homes after traumatic experiences and setbacks. It gives them some sense of normalcy and respect as they begin their first step back into permanent housing. Ministry volunteers are also strengthened through this program by developing deeper connections with fellow human beings during a tremendous time of need in their lives. The program provides local mission work that allows our congregation to live out our identity as faithful witnesses to God’s love.

Being consistent with the Baptismal Covenant is an important part of this ministry. One important statement in the Baptismal Covenant asks, “Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” The program serves Christ in all persons through providing basic home supplies to help lift vulnerable people into permanent, safe housing. Christ’s love to the world is shown to those in need by the caring and love provided in each individual kit. Evidence of vitality is readily demonstrated by volunteers’ time and energy given over the 25-year history of the program.

The program has a proven track record that addresses needs effectively and efficiently. This ministry began in 1993 and has experienced tremendous growth. All funding we receive goes directly to the kit contents. Staffing is provided in full through volunteer hours. We receive kit requests from our partner social service agencies such as Laurel Hill and Shelter Care. In 2016, we filled 352 kit requests, serving 466 adults and 350 children!

For information on donations or to help prepare and deliver kits please contact Neal Mandich at (541) 393-6948‬ or nealwmandich@gmail.com.

The HSK Packing Party takes place each Wednesday at 1:30pm in the COR Parish Hall. Volunteers are always welcome. Contact Neal for details.


Home Starter Kit Program – 2018 Episcopal Bishop of Oregon Foundation Grant Application

Grant application / Project Narrative

HSK Sustainability Plan

HSK Performance Measures Plan

HSK Communications Plan

ShelterCare letter of support