As we rush headfirst into the holiday season, the Women’s Fund team has been reflecting on Feast Table of Our Future, the spoken-word poem Women’s Fund commissioned from Manon Voice to demonstrate the resiliency of women in our community. The Feast Table of Our Future is the inspiration behind our December blog series. We chose to highlight several grantees and talk with them about our collective table.

This year has been hard. For many women and girls in our community, their Feast Table may not only be missing the people they love but may also be missing a nutritious meal. Maybe they don’t even have a table or a safe, affordable place to call home. It’s impossible to hear Manon Voice and not be filled with wonder at the resiliency of the women in our community.

Here’s what we know about the resiliency of Flanner House – a recent Women’s Fund grantee – and their thoughts about our table.

For 122 years, Flanner House of Indianapolis has helped people of the Northwest side of Indianapolis move from self-reliance to self-sufficiency. By focusing on education, employment, wellness, peace and safety, economic development, and food justice, Flanner House serves the evolving needs of its community. During the pandemic, Flanner House was deemed essential and continued to provide services to its families. Due to CDC restrictions, however, they shut their doors in March and shifted all programs and classes online. Staff found ways to stay connected with families by setting up virtual check-ins and making personal phone calls to provide encouragement and comfort. In addition to existing programs and services, Flanner House pivoted to become an E-learning site and began providing healthy meal options to families in need, delivering up to 200 meals to families daily.

Although the Center reopened in June, following CDC safety guidelines, they are not serving the same number of people they have in the past. Numbers are down, which means revenue is down. However, they continue to serve those with the greatest needs and are finding new ways to help their families, including hosting a monthly job fair for those who are struggling with unemployment and cut wages due to COVID-19. Eighty percent of the people served by Flanner House are single mothers, which is why support – like the most recent grant from Women’s Fund – is critical. These funds will help provide essential services to single mothers during COVID.

Women’s Fund values the significant work Flanner House is doing in the community and wanted to hear from them what it means to be together at our community table. Here’s what Debra White, Deputy Director of Flanner House, had to say.

Q.          In your opinion, what does the Women’s Fund table look like?

A.           It’s a truly inspiring table filled with individuals who embody the culture of our community.  They are creative, diverse, and allow space for all women and girls to be heard. It’s also a very informative and resourceful table. I feel honored that Flanner House is at the table.

Q.          What does the Flanner House table look like?

A.           Our table is filled with generations of people who have been served by Flanner House: grandmothers, mothers, fathers, and children. Our table is filled with rich history, growth, and success. Food and drinks at our table are served on fine china and crystal, like when the seniors would come for high tea. We would reminisce about our past and focus on our future. 

Q.          What do you hope our community table looks like in the future?

A.           A table that is welcoming to all. A table without judgment and where people do not feel less than.

Q.          How can Flanner House play a role in supporting more women and girls at the community table?

A.           We will continue to collaborate with as many organizations as possible to ensure that women and girls – and specifically single, African American mothers – are heard. We will provide quality health care, healthy food options, and meaningful social service options so that our women and girls are strong and whole when they take their seats at the table. 

Women’s Fund is committed to creating a true “feast table for our future.” We invite you to join us at our table and help make a difference in the lives of women and girls in central Indiana.