Joyce Kyles founded Walking Into A New Life (WIANL) back in 2010 when, following her own transition out of an abusive marriage, she became aware of the gaps in support available for women looking for a fresh start.
“One of the biggest challenges was simply meeting day-to-day necessities and needs. Food, gas or transportation, daycare, somewhere to stay – all of the physical, tangible things you may not be prepared for when you finally take that first step out,” says Ms. Kyles. “Many people assume that if, like me, you have a college degree or were doing ok financially, that you can just start over. It’s never that simple.”
The organization originally began by providing clothing, shoes, food, etc. – anything they could get their hands on and pass along. They also used donated spaces to hold events with activities for kids and create opportunities to enjoy safe and supportive community. Next, WIANL shifted some of its focus to creating and distributing self-care kits with make-up, beauty products, and gift cards. Of all the items they were able to provide, the gift cards seemed to be the most popular and the most helpful. Since needs varied as much as the individuals they were serving, it made to sense to begin to provide higher-value gift cards so clients could apply them towards whatever expenses they had, from food to utilities to rent.
The importance of Ms. Kyles’ work has only grown in the age of COVID-19. Domestic and child abuse rates have increased alongside unemployment. At the same time, donations of resources have decreased. WIANL looks to help close that gap. Last year they were able to support more than 60 victims/survivors. With the funds from this grant, they will be able to provide flexible spending cards to an additional 40 women and their families to meet immediate, tangible needs.
WIANL also includes a relocation component, which provides temporary emergency housing assistance or transportation to homes of friends and/or family, plus wraparound counselling and other support once their clients are out of harm’s way. In addition, Ms. Kyles is developing educational programming around self-sufficiency and self-sustainability, which will address subjects like on starting a business, financial literacy, career readiness, and more.
Ms. Kyles was nominated for the award by previous Nation of Neighbors recipient and Royal Neighbors Chapter Leader, Crystal Chatman, founder of Beautiful Spirited Women. “We remain humble, appreciative and thankful for the consideration to support our work, as we love what we do and the community we serve,” says Ms. Kyles. “This cause is very personal for me. I give my whole self to this work, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else!”
Nation of Neighbors is a Royal Neighbors of America philanthropy program that honors women leaders who are impacting the lives of women and girls. Each year, recipients are selected for an empowerment grant to support their work. To date, Royal Neighbors has awarded more than $2 million to women across the country.
For more information and program details, click here.