Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Giving back: the philosophy behind Hen and Barley Press

Wednesday, April 29

Jenny writes: "As owners of a stationery company, Carolyn and I believe that written communication is an important, necessary part of life. As mothers, we believe that all children are alike in spirit, and that literacy is crucial to fostering that natural spirit.

"These beliefs, and our guiding principles of Give, Invite, Gather, inspire us to donate products and a percentage of sales to not-for-profit organizations dedicated to improving the literacy and welfare of underprivileged children."

To date, Hen and Barley Press has donated more than $4,000 in products to a wide range of organizations, one of which is Mary Lou's Place, the domestic violence shelter for women and children at the YWCA Evanston-North Shore in Evanston, Ill.

"Mary Lou's Place was created in 1980 as a five-bed volunteer-run shelter," says Julie McBratney, communications manager for the YWCA Evanston-North Shore. "It has since grown to a 32-bed residential facility with six transitional housing apartments. Here, women and children, including boys up to the age of 12, can access emergency shelter for up to 90 days."

When a woman arrives at the shelter, her immediate needs, as well as those of her children, are addressed. Residents are assigned a private room, as well as clothing, bed linens and personal supplies. Women's advocates and children's counselors provide daily individual and group counseling sessions, parent/child workshops, and specialized workshops such as health education, job readiness and financial literacy. All services are free of charge to residents.

"This important combination of emotional and practical support enables residents to find within themselves the ability to achieve self-sufficiency," Julie says. "We plan to use the materials from Hen and Barley Press in our daily counseling sessions, as well as in our art therapy program, as part of our residents' healing process. "

To learn more about Mary Lou's Place, and to support their programs, visit

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