East Parish Housing Ministry was started in the early 1980’s by Dolores and Roger Abbott, Starks residents themselves who saw great need in the area and felt a Call to help. Initially and for many years, EPHM was a ministry of Mission at the Eastward, a cooperative Presbyterian parish comprised of several community-outreach ministries and small, rural churches, including the former West Mills and Starks churches (which congregations have since joined to form the United in Christ Presbyterian Church in Starks). In 1990s, EPHM split off from MATE to become an independent corporation. To this day, however, EPHM and MATE have a close, “familial” relationship: you will see many of the same people working with both ministries, and many of EPHM’s work groups chose to stay at the Camp at the Eastward, MATE’s lovely, rustic church camp located among the hemlocks just outside Starks village.

EPHM’s housing ministry began with church youth groups from “away” coming to work on local homes in Starks. As time passed, however, the realization that need knows no municipal boundary became self-evident, and EPHM’s mission extended well beyond the borders of Starks to neighboring communities where no similar services were available. Time also saw the opening of the Helping Hands thrift store in the old Corn Shop building, where clothes, household goods, school supplies and even furniture donated by our friends from away were made available to local families at affordable prices. Many a time, families who had been burned out or otherwise lost everything were given a fresh start out of Helping Hands inventory. About 10 years ago, the Starks Food Bank was transferred to EPHM from the town of Starks, and now operates out of an efficient, modern building – built by work groups! – on property lying between the Corn Shop and the Village Green. Today, the Food Bank supports some 60 local families.