Edina resident Kimberly Rynders was once a single pregnant teen whose dysfunctional family turned her away. Now, Rynders is a happily married mother of five, new grandmother and is the larger-than-life director of Tapestry Pregnancy and Family Resource Center for women and children in crisis. (The organization will undergo a name change this month.)
Jess Meyers was 21, single, pregnant and afraid. Now, thanks to Tapestry, her 2-year-old son is thriving and Meyers is taking college classes.
“Many people have considered us a crisis center for pregnant teens,” says Rynders. “But of the 4,300 women who came to us last year, only 215 came to us pregnant. Most of the people we serve today are single mothers in a variety of crises. They come to us with complicated, stressful circumstances that often take deep investment on our part to help solve.” Crises range from deterioration of health to changing relationships to loss of jobs, benefits, child care and a place to live. “Our ‘why’ has a new focus,” says Rynders. To that end, Tapestry will soon announce the organization’s new name and logo.
An organization like this by any name would be as sweet. “Something sacred happens when barriers come down and we are no longer clients and staff but a community of people sharing our stories in an authentic, transparent way. We call it life on life ministry,” says Rynders. She has and always will be committed, she adds, “to meeting women where they are and allowing them to write their own stories.” Meyers, for example, had a part-time job and health insurance when she faced the prospect of single motherhood. Her concerns were less about money and more about confidence facing the future, alone, with her child. “Knowing Kimberly had faced the same issues as me made a huge difference,” says Meyers. “She gets it.”
Services are provided in six major areas—medical care, mental health care, crisis intervention, education, vocational training and employment readiness. For mothers-to-be, Tapestry absorbs all prenatal medical expenses except midwife services and delivery. If clients do not have insurance, they get help applying for medical assistance. Every woman has access to mental health services, including one-on-one and group counseling. Meyers, for example, worked with a therapist while pregnant, and for a year after her son was born. She also took advantage of classes in life skills like parenting, money management and nutrition.
“We are definitely not a one-size-fits-all undertaking,” says Rynders. She cites the example of a college student who was $60 a month short in budgeting for her last year of school, and was, as a result, unable to afford adequate child care. She would have had to quit school and forfeit her degree. “We matched her up with a donor to whom education is particularly important,” says Rynders, as a part of a “Closing the Gap” initiative. Many other gaps remain, however. Needs for stable housing and high-quality, affordable child can be hurdles in moving moms from homelessness and dependence into self-sustaining employment.
Through the years, Rynders has counted on the generosity of many donors, including the Minnesota Twins Wives’ Organization. And guess who is currently donating her time ? None other than Jess Meyers, who hopes to help other women learn how to live their best lives.
If you would like to donate or volunteer, call Kimberly Rynders at 612.823.0301 or check out their new website.