Why We Give –  Lydia’s House

Why We Give – Grantee Profiles

Because giving is at the very heart of Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund, we feel it is important to share stories about those who are most impacted by the generosity of our members.

This month, we highlight Lydia’s House, a 501(c)(3) organization that works in faith to end domestic violence by being a place of healing and a voice of hope for abused women and their children.
We hope you are inspired by these real life impact stories.


Tonight, Jessi will sleep.
For the first time in more years than she can remember, she will sleep peacefully. She won’t jump from the bed at the slightest sound, peering in terror into the darkness, fearful that he’s coming home angry again.
No, tonight, as she lays her weary head to the pillow, she is calm. Her children are safe, and they too, seem more relaxed.
Her oldest, at 5, has come out of his shell, and is laughing and playing with the other children here at Lydia’s House. And her youngest, at just 2, no longer wakes up crying in terror in the middle of the night.
As a family, they’ve all come so far in just the few short months since they moved in to Lydia’s House.
For Jessi and her children – and dozens more like them – their wait to move into the transitional housing at Lydia’s House could have been months or years longer.
They could have languished on a wait list, living in a shelter or at a friend’s home, or even waiting in fear to leave the home where they were in danger from their abuser.
But thanks in part to the members of Spirit of St. Louis Women’s Fund, (SOS) that wait list has gotten smaller over the last three years.
” Over the last three years we’ve increased our capacity in order to serve more women who are victims of domestic violence,” said Karen Kirk, executive director of Lydia’s House.
Three years ago, Lydia’s House, a transitional housing program, could serve just 35 women and 50 children. Today, they serve 50 women and 85 children at one time.
“We’re able to serve our waiting list faster and we’re able to house more women at one time,” Kirk said. “We’re able to serve the needs of the women in our community who need us the most. We are the largest transitional living facility in the state for domestic violence victims and one of the largest in the country.”
Many women decide to leave their abusers when they’re pregnant, so Lydia’s House often has women with newborn babies.
“The best part of my day is that when we go home at night and realize that those children and those mothers are having a safe night and don’t have to worry about who is coming through the door,” Kirk said. “SOS helps save lives every day here.”
In 2017, the SOS members voted to award their first-ever multi-year grant to Lydia’s House. Over the course of three years, the nonprofit has received $100,000.
“The great thing about SOS funding is it helped us stabilize our Lydia’s Ladle project,” Kirk said. “Since the inception we’ve had 26 women work there.”
Lydia’s Ladle provides the women who live at Lydia’s House with jobs where they can gain job skills, build resume, develop references and establish a working routine.
“For many, this might be the first time that they are financially responsible for their children,” Kirk said. “It helps provide a professional work environment for women who may have never been employed or worked outside the home before. It fosters good work habits, and creates an immediate source of income.”
The women who come to Lydia’s House have walked away from everything – their homes, previous jobs and in many cases, most of their belongings.
The goal of Lydia’s House is to improve the quality of life for the women and their children and to help them find their way to safe, independent living. By working at Lydia’s Ladle, the women are taking a major step toward those goals.
But the jobs at the Ladle are also set up to make sure the women have ample time to focus on their other major priority – the kids.
“The biggest thing that we do is provide that opportunity for those parenting skills,” Kirk said. “The women come to work after the children have woken up and been given a good meal. They end their work day before they children get home from school.”
The families can live at Lydia’s House for up to two years; the average stay is around 17 months. Most women move on to permanent housing and independent living.
Beyond the grants, Kirk says SOS has helped Lydia’s House and the families there in immeasurable ways.
“SOS is such a respected organization in our community, it’s a great connection to say we partner with SOS,” Kirk said. “I think it leverages funds very rapidly. Everyone wants to be a part of a healthy organization and it allows us to do that.”
Lydia’s House has also partnered with other SOS-funded nonprofits thanks to connections made at SOS events.
IFM Community Medicine, a SOS grantee, now has a clinic inside Lydia’s House and provides healthcare to the women and children, Kirk said.
“The networking that we do through SOS has been a valuable resource to us and to our women and children,” Kirk said. “It’s so important when you’re in nonprofits, leveraging those good community resources.”