Lutheran Settlement House is located at 1340 Frankford Ave. and has a rich history in not only the Fishtown community but also the entire city. Opened in 1902 by Lutheran nuns, LSH became a home away from home for people in the community.
“In the beginning, LSH was much more of a community center, so there were programs for kids. Some of our current seniors remember roller skating in the basement when they were children,” said Arianna Hall-Reinhard, development associate at Lutheran Settlement House.
The humble beginnings of LSH continued to grow as the community needed more assistance. It began offering aid to individuals and families through provisions of food and shelter, employment counseling, education and social activities for adults and children. LSH also offered Sunday worship and spiritual support for the community.
“It has deep ties to the community, and people remember it from when they were children,” said Hall-Reinhard on the impact LSH has had on the community.
More recently, the organization has developed into a service provider for domestic violence cases, youth advocacy and adult education. A significant amount of attention goes into its domestic violence assistance programs.
“There are only four domestic violence agencies in the entire city, so they kind of split up the work,” Hall-Reinhard said.
Between LSH and the other three agencies, they share the responsibility of running a domestic violence hotline. The hotline is open 24 hours, so shifts are split up among the four agencies. One thing LSH offers, that the other agencies do not, is emergency transitional housing for victims of domestic violence. It is an immediate, safe and private way for LSH to remove someone from an unsafe environment.
“We also have the Children and Mom Project, and that is training medical advocate to be in children’s hospitals. They work in pediatricts to assess if injuries or whatever brought them to the hospital might be caused by domestic violence,” Hall-Reinhard said.
If after the assessment it is determined the injuries were caused by domestic violence, then intervention occurs and the child is removed from the dangerous situation. The Children and Mom Project is currently working in four hospitals throughout the city.
“We do offer individual and group counseling, and support groups as well for domestic violence,” Hall-Reinhard said.
Another way LSH has assisted the community is through its teen programs. There are currently two teen programs specifically for teenagers dealing with domestic violence issues.
“The STAR Program, which is Students Talking About Relationships, and it brings in a dialogue about domestic violence to the teen dating level,” Hall-Reinhard said.
STAR is a peer-counseling group which works to create a safe space for students to openly discuss anything about relationships. Since many of the teens involved in this program have already experienced domestic violence in their lives in some way, it has shown them what is and is not acceptable in a relationship.
The other teen program at LSH is Teens 4 Good, a youth-led farm and nutrition initiative. Together the teens work to transform vacant lots into urban gardens. The program is run by youth from its transitional housing.
“All the teens that we have working in our garden through the Teens 4 Good program are employment over the summer for about 10 weeks,” Hall-Reinhard said.
LSH has also worked to better the lives of its community members by helping to educate them. It has offered various adult literacy programs for those who wish to finish their education. These programs main focus is on reading and math literacy.
“Typically, tutors work one-on-one with learners, either doing reading or math, because those are the two areas of biggest need,” Hall-Reinhard said.
The adult education programs at LSH are primarily volunteer tutor based. At this point in time, there are no paid instructors.
“Many of our students are people who have dropped out of the school system in high school or earlier, and a lot of them are people who specifically struggle with reading,” Hall-Reinhard said.
Lutheran Settlement House is also working to assist adults in learning about new technology.
“We also have computer classes that we offer, that for a small fee, folks can come and join in those and learn how to use the Internet, set up email accounts and create resumes,” Hall-Reinhard said.
Lutheran Settlement House is a community-based center which has offered a number of services to individuals across the city. Although the organization has faced several changes, it has stuck to its original mission which is “to encourage works of mercy.”