Community of Caring

Who We Are


Our History

Community of Caring started with a few bags of donated groceries in 1980. Mother Mary Beth Kennedy and Elder Charles Kennedy responded when they saw a need to feed the hungry. From there, with the help of dedicated volunteers, they began passing out food bags every week. Soon they were serving hot meals from the kitchen at their church, House of Prayer Church of God in Christ, and began the Erie tradition of offering free hot meals on major holidays.

As the homeless population grew, the need for shelter became imperative. The shelter began with a few bunks in the back of the church.

food pantry

After Elder Kennedy retired from ministry, the main body of the church was converted into office space with the help of grants from the Erie Community Foundation, Erie County, and others. A chapel preserves some of the original furnishings of the church. The rest of the first floor holds offices and a conference room. The ground level contains the bunkhouse with room for 12 individuals, the public dining room, and a commercial kitchen. There are laundry facilities for the men, a shared bathroom, and a bunkhouse bathroom. The second floor originally housed the women but now houses 12 men. The Women now stay at Mary Rose Sanctuary which was originally a drop-in shelter for women operating from 7 PM until 7 AM. that can house up to 19 women. Mary Rose is now self-contained with kitchen and laundry facilities and a backyard complete with a garden. This short term housing provides the women safe shelter as they work towards self-sufficiency and permanent housing.

As the need has grown, so has Community of Caring, adding more programs and housing units. Today, 7 buildings provide housing and services for up to 60 people. The food pantry hands out grocery staples three times a week, making it one of the oldest continually running food pantries in town.