EWE Spirit Grant Recipient Story:
In our recent round of grantmaking, EWE Spirit Foundation added Light House to our list of grant recipients. We’re proud to be supporting the meaningful work this organization is doing, as exemplified by this story:
Just weeks before the Covid-19 crisis began, Cynthia’s landlord decided to sell her small rental
apartment. She couldn’t find an affordable alternative, so she and her two children moved into
a hotel. At the time, she was working full-time in a warehouse, and her oldest daughter was
providing food-delivery services, but their combined income barely covered their daily living
expenses and nightly hotel cost. Cynthia did not have a local family network to turn to for help. With no time or energy to find better housing, she feared that they’d soon be living out of their car.
The family lived on the brink of homelessness for six stressful months before a hotel manager
told her about the Light House, a nonprofit organization providing a wide variety of services not only to address homelessness but also to prevent it. Scared and exhausted, Cynthia visited the Light House’s Safe Harbour Resource Center. While waiting to meet a case worker, she was given a meal and a winter needs bag, filled with thick socks, a scarf, gloves and a warm yellow hoodie that she still wears today.
The Light House staff gave Cynthia food, clothing, toiletries and a hotel voucher to use until
they could help her find affordable housing. Once her family was securely housed again, she
was able to attend and graduate from the organization’s employment training program,
designed to help clients work up to more stable employment and housing situations.
Looking back on her difficult experience, Cynthia remembers, “I had not been able to talk to
anyone honestly about what my family was going through. As I was talking to [the case worker], I just started to cry. She was so kind and helped me think through what solutions we could focus on together.”
As in Cynthia’s case, one of the biggest hurdles for families teetering on the edge of
homelessness is trust. Since 1989, the Light House has developed effective methods for building trust in the community, so they can often intervene before clients suffer from the snowball effects of losing housing. “It frequently starts with just a warm shower and a meal,” says Jo Ann Mattson, executive director of the organization, which offers emergency shelter for 45 individuals and up to five families; operates five transitional housing properties; distributes healthy pantry items and vital basic need items to thousands of food-insecure neighbors; and runs an innovative, public-facing restaurant that provides training and work opportunities to clients.
When the pandemic began, the Light House Bistro took on the food services that hundreds of
volunteers provide in normal years. In 2020 alone, the Light House served more than 80,000
meals, moved more than 83 shelter residents and homeless community clients into safe,
permanent housing, and stabilized more than 385 households that were unsheltered,
chronically homeless or at risk of homelessness.
“Since the Covid-19 crisis began, individuals and families struggling with homelessness have
turned to The Light House in record numbers,” says Jo Ann. “Keeping up with this increase in
demand has been a challenge, and we are deeply grateful to the EWE Spirit Foundation for
partnering with us during this difficult time. Their generous donation to our programs and
services will help provide the food, shelter, case management and hope our struggling
neighbors so desperately need as we continue to face this crisis together.”