We created the LifeWise Participant Recovery Fund to help our participants, many of whom are among the most affected by the shutdown of business from the COVID-19 crisis. They are experiencing job loss, reduced hours and loss of childcare.
Many of our families won’t receive unemployment benefits or the stimulus checks. Our Certified Financial Social Workers will use the Recovery Fund to get our families through this difficult time in a dignified way. In addition to our normal financial coaching and economic mobility programming, during this crisis we will help our families with their immediate needs of food, rent and utilities.
Our story began in 1902 when Kingdom House was founded as a settlement house. Middle class men and women provided education and resources to help the growing immigrant population of St. Louis. They created a place of hope, refuge, learning and connection. We’re incredibly proud these ideals have endured even as the community around us has changed and life situations are more challenging.
Our organization has experienced its own metamorphosis as it adapted to meet the needs of our participants in this changing environment. We listened to and learned from them. As we did that, we continued to move away from crisis service transactions toward holistic transformations. Our priorities have shifted to focus on an individual’s overall well-being.
Today, we have a model that is based on educational programming fused with personalized and supportive coaching. We see our participants taking measurable steps to better their futures. This evolution of our fundamental vision and approach led us to choose LifeWise STL as our new name in 2019. It conveys what we are about — helping people at every age live wisely.
Prior to the crisis, we operated a healthy food market in our building, which has been temporarily closed due to social distancing guidelines.
The LifeWise Market was open to the community, providing low-cost access to fresh and healthy foods that would otherwise be too expensive for purchase. There are many community options for free canned goods, but this model is unique in its provision of inexpensive fresh and frozen alternatives. Not a traditional food pantry, our market provides a dignified, quality shopping experience. The market is another example of how we provide a hand up, not a hand out.
The market is heavily subsidized. Groceries are sold at prices lower than at typical discount grocery stores. We accept cash and SNAP. Donated items help offset the cost of purchasing more expensive fresh foods.
We have a partnership with neighborhood low-income senior housing centers with the goal of providing low-cost fresh and healthy options and no-cost non-perishables. Unlike our traditional participants, seniors don’t have access to other shopping alternatives.