Benefits of Community Meal

Every Wednesday evening we serve a meal for the women and children of Lydia’s House. The meals are provided by various faith communities, professional organizations, individuals and businesses.

These community meals are an important part of the programming at Lydia’s House. If asked why, we might talk about the benefits of sharing a meal together, or just giving the women a break from preparing and serving one meal. What we know, however, is that for many of our residents the community meal is important because it may be one of the healthiest and most substantial meals they eat all week.

Food insecurity is an important issue in Missouri and across the country. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) defines food insecurity as “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods.” In 2013 approximately 16% of the population in St. Louis County was considered food insecure, and that percentage increased to 22% if you only counted the children in the county. In that same year, 14% of households in the U.S. were classified as food insecure.

Reducing food insecurity is not a simple task as the reasons for food insecurity vary around the globe. In the U.S., major causes of food insecurity include unemployment, high housing costs, low wages and poverty, lack of access to food stamps and medical or health costs. Until we are able to get a grasp on how to reduce the pervasiveness of food insecurity, we can continue to donate to food banks or homeless shelters. And here at Lydia’s House we will continue to serve community meals.

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped make the community meals a possibility, from those who prepare and deliver the food to those who help serve the food and clean up after the meal. If you are interested in getting involved with the community meals, please e-mail us

TANF and Domestic Violence

You may have heard reports from the most recent Missouri legislative session about something called TANF. This may be a well known acronym in political circles or social service organizations, but there may be many folks who do not understand what TANF really is or does.

So what is TANF?  And why are we writing about TANF in a blog hosted by an organization that works with abused women and their children?

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is a government program “designed to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency. States receive block grants to design and operate programs that accomplish one of the purposes of the TANF program.”

The overall goal of TANF is to offer short-term assistance (right now TANF benefits can be received a maximum of 5 years) so that hopefully families will be able to find employment and not have to rely on welfare.

“TANF provides monthly cash stipends via Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) which is used like a bank debit card to pay for rent, day care, and even for the purchase of food.”

In Missouri, the maximum benefit provided for a family of three is $292 per month ($3,504 per year)***

As a note of comparison, the federal poverty guideline in 2015 is $11,770 for a household of one.

So what does all of this have to do with domestic violence?

First of all, we know that domestic violence affects all socioeconomic classes.  Domestic violence is not just an issue for those living in poverty.  That being said, we recognize that women living at or below the poverty level will have fewer resources and choices when she decides she must leave an abusive situation for her safety and/or the safety of her children.

Folks who work in the field of domestic violence have discovered that access to financial support, such as TANF, is very important in helping abuse victims feel like they have the resources they need to leave an abusive relationship permanently.  One of the reasons victims return to the abuser is because they are not able to financially support themselves and their children.  Funds from TANF may provide the extra financial boost needed to allow abuse survivors and their children the time they need to heal, get back on their feet, and become independent.

In other words, for abuse survivors, TANF can be a crucial part of a safety plan that allows them to not only have the choice of leaving an abusive relationship, but to also have the resources they need so they do not feel they need to choose to return in order to survive.

TANF can have a positive impact on the lives of abused women and their children.

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Celebrating 20 Years!

Saturday, March 7th is the annual Night for Hope and Healing, the gala to benefit Lydia’s House.

It’s a special year in the life of Lydia’s House as we celebrate 20 years of ministry.  In the past 20 years we have served over 700 women and children.  That doesn’t sound like many until you remember that for the first 10 years, Lydia’s House only had room to serve 12 women and up to 18 children.  It was 10 years ago that our capacity tripled.

As we prepared for the gala this year, we had the opportunity to sit down with two of the founders of Lydia’s House, Mary Albert and Dawn Stringfield.  It was inspiring and humbling to hear about the birth of Lydia’s House from two of the people who were there.  And it was a reminder that faith has always been a guiding principle for the organization as a whole.

As we celebrate this 20th year of ministry, we cannot say enough about all of our supporters, volunteers and donors.  So many churches and organizations and individuals have stepped up to help make Lydia’s House a reality, and to make sure the ministry continues to live and grow.  We have been served by dedicated staff and board members, and we appreciate their commitment to the organization and the many women and children who have passed through our doors.

Domestic violence is a tragic reality in our communities.  Thank goodness places like Lydia’s House continue to live on, places dedicated to being a “place of healing and a voice of hope for abused women and their children”.

We look forward to seeing everyone attending the gala.  We will eat and laugh and celebrate, while at the same time we will be raising hope, awareness and the funds needed to keep our mission and ministry alive.  Cheers to the next 20 years and beyond!

A Poem for Winter

I’m a falling snowflake,
so tiny and so small.

I don’t seem to matter,
but to those who see me fall.

Some say we all just look alike
and groups us all as snow,

And some will see we change.
the farther on we go.

We’re hurried with the wind,
and brushed aside by some,

While others stop to see
the wonderment we’ve done.

And all too soon our journey,
it comes to an end,

But we’ve touched along the way,
loved ones, foes and friends.

I’ve seen tears and I’ve seen smiles,
heard laughter and heard pain,

And though not many noticed me,
I was there, just the same.

So when next you see a snowflake,
take time to look and smile,

Remember, each one of us a miracle,
each one of us worthwhile.

I could be an autumn breeze
or bird against the sky

But, I am just a snowflake,
… Or am I?

Written by a Former Resident of Lydia’s House

Veteran’s Day

This past week we celebrated Veteran’s Day, a day to remember and appreciate all of the veterans who have served the United States in any branch of the military.  Even though there are over 20 million veterans currently living in the United States, for the most part the veterans are quietly going about living their daily lives.  Periodically veterans will become the focus in the media as we remember the anniversary of an historic battle or as concerns are raised about the availability of quality healthcare for veterans.

In recent years there has also been more emphasis on veterans and the effects of PTSD.  PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, can occur after experiencing a traumatic event.  It is not hard to imagine that veterans would experience PTSD, especially those who had combat experience.  As we gain more understanding about PTSD and its effects, hopefully more veterans will be able to receive the help they need and deserve.

One of the things we have learned in the domestic violence field is that survivors of domestic violence may also be diagnosed with PTSD.  It is sad to think that women and children may be living in situations bad enough to cause PTSD, but perhaps we should not be surprised because survivors have compared the violence in a relationship to a “battlefield”.  The ways in which domestic violence is carried out by one partner against another are horrific, demeaning and frightening, making a battlefield out of a home that could be safe and loving.

Like our veterans, we hope that domestic violence survivors will also have access to the help and support they need to understand and live with PTSD.  And in this season of gratitude we give thanks for everyone working to make sure that veterans, domestic violence survivors and others have access to the support and services they need to not only live with PTSD, but to live lives that are rich and full.