The Providence In-town Churches Association (PICA) was formed in 1974 when the nine inner city churches joined together to address the needs of the poor by establishing the PICA daily Food Pantry which has been in continuous service since that time. The Pantry is now one of the largest in the state. Over the years other programs were instituted and sunseted as the needs changed: Leisure Learning, In-reach, and Resident Advocate to name a few.
In the early 1980’s, as a response to the increasing numbers of homeless people downtown, the Friday Meal Site, the main site for the homeless on Friday nights, was started and also continues to this day. It is staffed entirely by volunteers and serves a sit down dinner each week.
In 1986, PICA became a separate 501c3 non-profit with support from member churches and the community at large.
In 2004, as the numbers of homeless people seeking services at PICA kept increasing, the Homeless Outreach program was started by a formerly homeless volunteer. Initially PICA provided clothing, toiletries and outreach, but this program has grown to three staff people. Case managers provide intensive, holistic case management as well as basic needs items.
The SOAR (SSI/SSDI Outreach and Recovery) program was instituted in 2010, thanks to a grant from the United Way. PICA staff saw that many of their clients were eligible for SSI, but that the process took three to four years to access the benefits which include being able to live in subsidized housing, health insurance and a bus pass. Our SOAR staff person serves as the client representative at Social Security and the Disability Office. She has assisted guests in receiving their benefits in three months instead of three years.
PICA provides a continuum of care, offering services to the homeless ranging from basic needs to housing; assists in getting benefits; and, once housed, providing food security through the Food Pantry.