About Us

We help the mother and child who have been asked to leave a shared residence.
They learn where to get counseling for their emotional needs. They are able to purchase a car so that mom can keep her job. They learn to set up a budget and do their own banking. They learn to trust and love again.
We help the woman who has worked for 30 years and now finds herself homeless with a permanent disability.
She learns to live independently with her new physical restrictions. She learns what her rights are concerning her disability and how to access the benefits she has paid for all these years. She learns to accept her reliance on disability assistance with dignity.
We help the young woman who dropped out of high school and had a child, whom a social service has taken away.
She gets her GED and starts taking classes at the Technical school. She learns parenting skills and how to prepare nutritious meals. She is learning to be independent and responsible for her actions.
I never thought, never dreamed, that at 50 I would find myself homeless. I started working at 13 babysitting for two boys down the street. At 15 I worked in the concession stand at the ball park. In high school I was a cashier at a grocery store and continued to work there to put myself through college. I had a decent job until the recession; I was unable to find work and went back to the beginning, babysitting for a young mother in my neighborhood. I love children but I could not replace my previous salary. I got so far behind in the payments that I lost my home. My parents passed away about 10 years ago and with them my safety net both financially and emotionally. I was at a loss when one of the women at church referred me to the House of Bread and Peace.
Then winter came and the bottom dropped out of my world. . . Last fall my children and I were living in a house with just enough income to pay the rent, utilities and keep gas in our 1983 Volvo to get me back and forth to work. In November and December the temperatures dropped into the 40’s and we found out how little insulation was in the walls of the house we were renting. What had seemed like a great deal in the summer and fall, plenty of room and low rent, became a nightmare with our first cold weather utility bill. Quickly we got further and further behind by more than $1000. By spring we were evicted and I am ashamed to say spent two months living in our car. With school approaching I needed an address to enroll the kids in school. The House of Bread and Peace is where we came to get things back together.

Funding

The House depends heavily on private donations to provide for our residents and so whatever we can to keep costs down. Without donations from individuals, churches, and businesses we simply could not keep the doors open. We also apply for Grants when available. Some of the funds applied for and received on an annual basis are provided by Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) provided through the City of Evansville (Department of Metropolitan Development) and also through Indiana Housing and Community Development Association (IHCDA).

Our History

The following is a short history of the House of Bread and Peace written by founder Sister Joanna Trainer. She lived with her homeless friends at the house for 21 years and provided loving concern and care for hundreds of women and children who shared her home. She is retired and living with her Sisters in Ferdinand, IN.

It all started when we prepared a Christmas dinner for the poor in 1979.

I was very concerned about the hunger the poor people experienced. At the end of the meal they wanted all our leftovers. That really bothered me. So, I went to Clark Field and talked to him about my concern. He said, “Let’s start a Catholic Worker house.” I replied, “Let’s do it.” I don’t think he really thought I meant it, but I was ready and sincere.

We asked a couple of ladies to pray with us for about a year in 1980. Then, in 1981, Clark and I went to the downtown churches to ask the pastors if they thought a soup kitchen would be needed. Of course, the answer was yes. However, it took us a while to find the pastor who was brave enough to allow the House of Bread and Peace to use their kitchen. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was the generous one. So, on November 14, 1982, we opened the soup kitchen on Saturdays. I worked in the soup kitchen every Saturday feeding the very poor for two and half years. Sister Joanna’s Table continues to serve meals on Saturdays at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Finally, I went to Clark again to finalize our plans to open a Home for Homeless Women and Children. I was determined to find someone who could live with me. We had said we eventually would open a home for homeless people, and I wanted to carry out our goal.

I found Sister Sharon Fitzpatrick, a Franciscan, who was interested in living with me for a few years. For one year, Sister Sharon and I looked for a decent house for the homeless women and children.

On August 29, 1984, we, with donations, bought the house for $8,500 from Permanent Federal Bank. After much discussion and organization, it was decided by a group of eight persons to establish the rules and guidelines for accepting homeless women and children. It was decided in this manner because the Rescue Mission accepted only men. After many renovations done by my relatives and friend volunteers, we opened the House of Bread and Peace at 516 Adams Street on January 14, 1985.

In 1998, I received a call from the Department of Metropolitan Development asking if we would be interested in some land to build a new House of Bread and Peace home. I said yes very definitely because we needed more room. It took about a year for the process, and we were able to buy the land for $1. The land is on Chandler and Line Streets. Don Gore and his son, Chris, built our new home with help from many resources, volunteers, and donations. We opened our doors for the homeless women and children at 250 E. Chandler in August 2000. I worked as director of the House of Bread and Peace for 21 years. I loved every minute!