Ruth’s House of Hope, a women and children transitional shelter and nonprofit organization founded in Faribault, received a $20,000 grant from the Mary Kay Foundation last weekend.
According to a release announcing the grant, the Mary Kay Foundation observes National Domestic Violence Awareness Month by awarding the grant to women’s domestic violence shelters across the country.
Two other Minnesota-based shelters, one in St. Cloud and one in North Branch, were among the more than 150 shelters that received the grant nationally.
In order to choose the recipients of the grant, local Mary Kay consultants play a valuable part in the process. While they are not able to nominate shelters, they do play a role in “nagging” them to apply for grants, according to local Mary Kay consultant Jean Wakely, of Northfield.
“It was always on our list of grants to apply for, and we were always hopeful,” said Ruth’s House founder Ruth Hickey. “Jean Wakely kept bugging me about it every year. She has been a real champion to continue to help us apply and not get discouraged.”
Wakely noted that Ruth’s House was hesitant to apply for the grant after 10 years of not receiving it, but opted to do so anyways. Hickey was glad she did.
“It really comes at a critical time for our organization,” said Hickey. “This year we happened to have a shortfall in our budget. [The grant] came in at a perfect time.”
“As she heads toward the holidays and the dollars are thin, this allows her the spending room to get the basics that they need,” added Wakely.
With Halloween events for the kids, Thanksgiving dinner for the residents of Ruth’s House and Christmas to follow, the shelter was in need.
“This was a time when she needed to be uplifted,” said Wakely. “I’m so thankful that Mary Kay chose to write her a check. It’s a huge boost going into the holiday season.”
By receiving the grant, Ruth’s House becomes ineligible to apply again for three years, but the recognition in 2016 is important, explained Wakely.
“I couldn’t be happier for Ruth,” she said. “I couldn’t be more happy for what it will benefit, namely the clients of Ruth’s shelter. She takes care of everybody.”
As far as spending the $20,000, it can be done in any way Ruth chooses − from mortgage payments to new pots and pans for the house. As Hickey explained, there is no shortage of areas in need, but the ultimate goal is simple.
“It’s going to be programming for our women and children,” said Hickey of how she plans to spend the money. “We want to keep the doors open so we can staff our shelter 24 hours a day and provide our residents the opportunity to heal and grow in a safe shelter.”
Besides the sheltering, Ruth’s House helps victims with counseling, job searching and tutoring. Hickey’s efforts in these areas stem from her belief that this type of violence cannot go unnoticed in the area.
“There is so much domestic violence and sexual assault happening in our community that nobody is aware of,” she said. “We see traumatic stories time and again.”
Hickey said that women and children who have been sexually abused carry with them long-term mental health consequences.
“It can change your brain structure,” she said. “And to reverse that is incredibly hard.”
According to the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, the number one unmet need in the state is safe shelter for victims of domestic violence, resulting in domestic violence being the number one reason women are homeless.
Through her efforts, Hickey is hoping to combat these statistics, and the addition of the Mary Kay Foundation grant will only help.
Over half of Ruth’s House’s budget relies on community donors and foundation grants each year. For that reason, Hickey noted how grateful she was for the community support over the past 13 years of operating Ruth’s House.
This year, however, Hickey and her staff can enjoy some wiggle room in their tight budget.
“God knows that this was the year that we needed it and we got it,” said Hickey of the timely grant. “It will help us continue our work and give us much-needed safe shelter for women and children.”