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2015 Diamonds and Pearls

$150 will help Lydia's House Diamonds and Pearls program provide Etiquette classes to 10 girls

Lydia's House

Lydia's House was incorporated in the District of Columbia in June 1990 to address the social needs of low income at risk families living in abject poverty.  After a 2 year tenure at a transitional shelter for homeless families and witnessing the staff comb through donations and giving the residents what they didn't want, Lydia's House founders Eugene and Patrice Sheppard made a decision that they could better serve families by providing tangible services regardless of why they were needed or who needed them. Lydia's House has three program areas: Growing Children, Strengthening Families and Changing Neighborhoods.  Since 1990, we have grown from a fledging start up non-profit with a volunteer staff of 2 and budget of $25,000 to an institutional community resource with an operating budget of $666,273 in FY15.   

Under our Growing Children platform, Lydia's House safe, structured out of school time activities for children and youth ages 5 to 18 with programs in Washington, DC, and in Aurora, North Carolina.  Lydia's House will open a site in Atlanta, Georgia for children ages 5 to 12 in January 2016.     

Lydia's House Growing Children program in Washington, DC is Diamonds and Pearls, a peer to peer mentoring program for girls' ages 12 to 18 with a focus of developing healthy self-esteem, social skills, and educational achievement. Mentoring is a critical component of the development of the next generation. Our mission is to help young teenage girls build self-esteem, develop leadership skills, and value community service. We use peer-to-peer mentoring tactics. We connect youth with a responsible and caring adult. Diamonds and Pearls meets weekly with the young ladies and help develop life skills. We talk about building healthy relationships, friendships, preventing bullying, budgeting, and college prep. Developing a well-educated and well-rounded young lady can help build a stronger community and future. We also invest in the community through community service and special community projects.   

Lydia's House Growing Children program in Aurora is TLC (Teens Leading Change). TLC began operating in the Aurora/ Richland Township serving the towns of Aurora, Edward, and Blounts Creek.  These rural communities have been determined being most at risk of being labeled a food dessert.  TLC established itself as a community resource by partnering its programming with Be Global, Inc. where teens were recruited, participated in workforce development and entrepreneurial training coupled with developing and managing a community garden.  TLC operates the community garden, taking on the responsibility for planting, tending and growing fresh fruits and vegetables then selling the produce to local residents as a Roadside Stand.  TLC participants currently manages the garden and sales while earning a stipend for their work.     

Lydia's House Strengthening Families platform has established the organization as a full service HUD approved Housing Counseling Agency.  Lydia's House Housing Counselors are all HUD and NeighborWorks America Certified to provide Homeownership Counseling, Foreclosure Prevention Counseling, and Financial Management Counseling to include Credit and Debt Management, Home Maintenance, First-time Homebuyer Education, Rental Counseling and act as the underwriter for the District's down payment and Closing Cost Program that provides up to $44,000 in down payment closing costs.       

In response to the Foreclosure Crisis in Prince George's County, MD, Lydia's House established an office in 2013 to exclusively provide Foreclosure Prevention Counseling for households in Foreclosure Hotspots throughout the county.  In 2016, we will added homeownership counseling and rental counseling to the services provided to residents living in Prince George's County Foreclosure Hotspots. 

Lydia's House, Changing Neighborhoods platform is to acquire brownfield properties and develop them into affordable housing opportunities for low-income residents in the District of Columbia. Most recently, Lydia's House completed a $17 million mixed use project-Trinity Plaza. Trinity Plaza provides 49 affordable rental units for households making between 30 - 60% of the area median income. Trinity Plaza also provides 5,000 square feet of new retail space. Lydia's House is also increasing its work and presence in Aurora, NC by expanding its current work.  In April 2015, the only grocery store within a 12 mile radius closed. 

Due to the success of the community garden through the Teens Leading Change (TLC) programming, Lydia's House has been requested by the local Aurora/Richland Township Chambers of Commerce to lead the development of the Aurora/Richland Township Farmers Market. This project includes the construction of an outdoor pavilion to host a covered market that can be made available to rural and low-income residents at least three times a week, offering fresh and affordable local meats and vegetables to the community. Our model is unique in that instead of simply requiring local farmers to sell their own produce as vendors, Lydia's House will serve as distributer of the produce in the Richland Township. In turn, local farmers will have access to a relatively consistent and stable market in the Richland Township and the ability to accept SNAP/EBT benefits while local residents will have access to a stable, more consistent source of healthy and affordable produce in their community.