Tax credit program makes things happen at Our Lady's Inn

Missouri legislators last week overrode Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of an expansion of the the state's maternity home tax credit program. And the women who oversee Our Lady's Inn were ecstatic. After all, those tax credits help make things happen at the emergency shelter and maternity home program for women and their children.

In fact, the longtime tax credit program, which has been expanded to $2.5 million this year, gave Our Lady's Inn the push it needed to open its second home in St. Charles County in 2006. The original home opened in 1982 in south St. Louis.

According to executive director Peggy Forrest, Our Lady's Inn benefited from $151,000 in allocated tax credits last fiscal year. That amount in donations was doubled, as the program provides a 50 percent tax credit to individuals and businesses who make donations of $100 or more. Last year, 14 maternity homes across the state took part in the program. This year, Our Lady's Inn was allocated more than $105,000.

"We have a number of donors who call and ask if we have the tax credits (available)," Forrest said. Donors will hold their gifts until Our Lady's Inn receives its annual allocation of tax credits. Others who normally donate will increase their gifts because of the program, she said.

"It's crucial to raise funds to support our mission," Forrest said.

Our Lady's Inn almost always is at capacity at both locations. The shelter receives more than 50 calls a month from people who can't be accommodated because of space limitations, according to Gloria Lee, former executive director and now operations director.

Many of the women who come to them struggle with addictions or have mental health issues, Lee said. Counselors and nurses on staff work with them to ensure both mom and baby are healthy. Volunteer attorneys assist with legal issues, and moms attend workshops and other programs to help achieve goals in parenting, education, employment and housing.

Forrest, who testified before a House committee in favor of the tax credit program expansion, said she's seen the transformation in many women who come to them.

"They're in a more stable place where they can find a job and eventual housing," she said. "That is transformative."

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