Safe Haven helping older homeless women, seeks financial assistance to meet rising mental illness costs

ST. LOUIS - A St. Louis non-profit safe haven giving a permanent to homeless women says, it needs help to keep up with demand.

Tim Butler, the Executive Director of Mary Ryder Home on Olive Street said that the home has been taking in more women who are struggling with mental illnesses, leaving the facility dealing with rapidly increasing costs to treat them.

The home caters mostly to elderly women but Butler said the population is changing, requiring more assistance to meet their immediate needs.

“They have tended to be a little bit younger and they have greater needs,” Butler explained, “in many cases, they were on the streets or living in unsafe conditions.”

Though not supported by any government funding, the home is vital in trying to address issues surrounding homelessness within the city.

Butler said the non-profit receives funding from the United Way of Greater St. Louis, and donations.

“That does not cover all of our operating expenses, it does not cover our capital expenses,” said Butler, “we are also providing services to women every day and that requires staff and we all know what’s happening with healthcare benefit, costs with those are way up.”

Meanwhile, 53-year-old Karin Kitab who suffers from diabetes said two years ago, costs to treat the disease wiped her clean financially, leaving her with nothing to cover rent or even feed herself properly.

“I would’ve been dead, on the streets, dead,” Kitab said, “it was very difficult, I was lonely in my apartment, I had no friends or anybody to come by and see me.”

With a proper diet, medication and a daily workout regimen Kitab has been able to bring the crippling disease under control.

“They used to be in the 600’s, now they’re down to 100’s,” Kitab explained.

For women like Kitab, the home is a place to not only find hope but gain stability.

“It’s a second chance in life,” she said, “a purpose to live and to be happy.”

The home is scheduled to host its Jubilee Celebration benefit on May 5 at Ameristar Casino Resort and Spa.