Growing the Live-in Community at Karen House

As we look to the future, one of our primary needs is people power! We are looking for new community members!  The information below is available for download here and feel free to  contact us (karenhousecw@gmail.com) for more information!

What is Karen House?
Karen House has a 40-year history of providing hospitality to people who are unhoused and doing social justice work in St. Louis. We are part of a larger Catholic Worker movement founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin that includes autonomous houses throughout the country. Some of us are Catholic, some are not, and we have a diverse space in terms of race, gender, religion and sexual orientation. Our house is big, friendly,
and full of life and love.

How does Karen House work?
Karen House does hospitality to 15-30 people at any one time, and also provides food, warmth, love and supplies to anyone who comes to the door in need. We are dependent on a network of local volunteers who volunteer, cook meals, and donate money and food. A small intentional community of volunteers runs the house, which includes coordinating volunteers, making consensus decisions together and doing work around the house.

What are some of the primary needs of Karen House?
Our major need right now is for more Community Members! As we look to the future, we see the need for some additional people power. Community Members live in the house in our intentional community, helping to coordinate our hospitality work.

Tell me more about being a Community Member!
Karen House is an amazing place for people to live out their values. Our intentional community co-creates the hospitality at Karen House, sharing life and work together. Community members typically live at the house and have part time jobs for additional income (because it is communal living, room/board, food, utilities, etc. are all provided). Life at the house is fulfilling, challenging, and never boring! We do this work through the lens of social justice, and so our community members are often involved in other projects as well: organic farming, local LGBT organizations, and local racial justice work, to name a few.

What is the process of becoming a Community Member?
Two initial steps are: 1) Read our Values Statement and determine if it is a good fit with your values, and 2) Volunteer at the house and get to know what the house is like. 

General Outline of Process- After they have volunteered for a period of time taking house, many folks become interested in participating even more in the day-to-day work of the house. Here’s the general process of joining the KH Community:

  1. Wonderful person expresses interest to any community member in joining the KH community.
  2. The community brings this interest to a meeting, to discuss if it’s a good time to accept a  new person (this is determined by how things in the house are going, community numbers, if we are already in process with a new person, etc.) If yes,
  3. We send the interested person a copy of our Values Statement so that they know more about the community and whether it’s a good fit for them.
  4. The interested person comes to meeting to talk about their interest – what is drawing them, why they want to move in, etc. If the community agrees,
  5. The person moves in and does 2 month trial period, learning about how the community runs the house, more about CW philosophy, etc.
  6. After 2 months, the person goes on a retreat to discern whether they want to fully the community. If yes,
  7. The person has another discussion with community, and community decides!

We welcome your questions – feel free to contact us directly for more info!