Large Donation Helps Lydia Place’s Mission

In its most basic definition, a home means a place to live. Four walls, two windows and one roof.

In reality, the word “home” comes with more complexity. It’s a place to measure how tall the kids grow and how to make coffee in the morning, and a place to put a welcome mat in front of the door.

Families and individuals experiencing homelessness are subject to hardships throughout their lives that stem from a prominent concern—living without a place to call their own. Breaking the cycle of poverty is a difficult challenge made harder without a foundation—like a house—to grow from.

Emily O’Connor is the executive director of Lydia Place, a community-based nonprofit. The organization works to provide housing to community members who are currently without. Additional services increase access to clothing and medical care designed to support people working toward self-sustainment.

Housing is the basic building block toward gaining independence, O’Connor says.

“If folks are struggling and they don’t have that place to start rebuilding their lives, then it makes it hard,” O’Connor says. “How can they focus on building a life that is full of opportunity and enrichment for their kids when they’re worried about how they’re going to make it through the night?”

Lydia Place recently received a huge boost—a pledge for a $400,000 donation from Ben Kinney Companies, an assortment of software, training and real estate businesses with an office in Bellingham. Founder Ben Kinney, who spent part of his childhood growing up in the small town of Oso, owns multiple real estate franchises with Keller Williams that started in Bellingham and has grown to include operations in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom.

The gift, announced in the spring, will provide the funds for purchasing or building a new housing property. At least a portion of this new unit will be dedicated to single fathers and their children who are in need of a home, O’Connor said. This donation allows Lydia Place to expand its service capacity to dedicate resources toward a specific population within the community which is currently being overlooked, O’Connor said.

“When families get caught in poverty, we really see that families struggle,” O’Connor said. “We are particularly focusing on developing some units of housing for dads with kids, which fills a gap in our community.”

In a press release, Kinney expressed the important role businesses have to give back.

“Poverty and homelessness is a multigenerational issue,” Kinney says. “We must help stop the cycle of poverty, homelessness, hunger, and abuse in our communities.”

Lydia Place also hosts fundraising events to help support the programs and services it offers. On June 7, the organization hosted its popular Handbags for Housing event, which raised over $90,000.

“Having a safe place is step number one,” O’Connor says. “It’s the first step. It’s not the only or the last one.”

Want to read more? Check out our story about another non-profit by clicking here.

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"In its most basic definition, a home means a place to live. Four walls, two windows and one roof. In reality, the word “home” comes with more complexity. "