EVANSVILLE, Ind. — All volunteers at The House of Bread & Peace are women the nonprofit once helped — which might say as much about its impact as anything ever could.
“The House of Bread & Peace will always have a piece of my heart,” said Melissa Moberg, a volunteer who lived in the organization’s 13-bedroom shelter house in Evansville in 2013 and again in 2014.
Now employed, living on her own and nurturing healthy relationships with friends and family, Moberg said the short-term emergency shelter saved her life.
House of Bread & Peace provides single women in crisis with housing and critical guidance and connections to social service agencies. Moberg needed those things after shuttling in and out of prison and jail, getting mired in an abusive relationship and alienating anyone who ever cared for her.
“I was totally defeated — broken mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally,” she said. “It was like I was a baby learning to crawl again. I needed help with my social skills, finances, health, transportation.”
The critical help came from House of Bread & Peace Director Sarah Wolf, who Moberg credited with “showing unconditional love that I’d never felt.” Wolf guided Moberg to local social service agencies who could help with medical issues, counseling and permanent housing.
“There were a ton of opportunities there if you took advantage of them, that she helped provide,” Moberg said. “And then daily, speaking with me. She believed in me. She was the light at the end of my tunnel. She never gave up on me.”
Entering its 33rd year next month, House of Bread & Peace opens the doors of its shelter to women with and without dependent children. The house can accommodate 23-26 women and children, depending how many of the latter are around.
The goal is to help homeless women get into safe, affordable housing with incomes to sustain it through employment and, if necessary, public aid.
The need is still as immediate and compelling as ever, Wolf said.
“We stay full every day of every year,” she said. “Our phone rings every single day.”
Founded in the early 1980s by Sister Joanna Trainer and beginning in Trainer’s personal residence, House of Bread & Peace moved into its current two-story house in 2002 to accommodate more clients. The record-keeping was spotty in the early years, but Wolf estimated the nonprofit has helped as many as 2,500 women over more than three decades.
The nonprofit has three employees, including a night house manager.
“We’ve had women stay here one or two days, and some stay for several months,” Wolf said. “We’ve had moms come back from the hospital right after giving birth, and we’ve had women in their 40s and 50s.”
Loni Connaway, a current shelter resident, spoke to the continuing relevance and vitality of House of Bread & Peace.
“They’ve helped boost my confidence to be the confident person I am today,” Connaway stated in an email message. “They also welcomed my children as if they were their own and are guiding me in the right direction to make sure that we get into a home to call our own again.
“They’ve become nothing less than family.”
Everyone in the shelter has had one or another of the issues that so often result in homelessness — substance abuse, abandonment, job loss, the death of the family breadwinner, a personal health crisis.
As long as those issues plague single women without resources, Wolf said, The House of Bread & Peace will be needed.
“We’re still here. We’re still doing this the best that we can every day,” she said.
Source: (Evansville) Courier and Press
Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, http://www.courierpress.com
This is an Indiana Exchange story shared by the (Evansville) Courier and Press.