A recent article in WORLD Magazine highlights the work of a New York City faith-based organization that is helping women escape poverty and achieve self-sufficiency. The Bowery Mission, known primarily for its historic men’s shelter, is one of the few faith-based charities in Manhattan that also houses a center dedicated to helping homeless women. Through the distinctive red doors of the Bowery Mission Women’s Center, women of all backgrounds—including prostitutes, drug dealers, and addicts—can find a second chance at independence and a flourishing life.

During a 9- to 18-month program, women assisted by Bowery Mission have the opportunity to go through life skills classes, job training, and personal development. Career counseling and job placement programs help women achieve and maintain financial independence, while tutoring, mentoring, and community life restore their sense of self-worth.

Bowery Mission understands that homelessness is merely a symptom of a larger, underlying problem in a hurting woman’s life. Whether a client has experienced financial or sexual exploitation, substance abuse, or chronic health issues, Bowery Mission Women’s Center recognizes each woman as unique person in need of physical, relational, and spiritual healing.

The center’s commitment to restoring women to wholeness—not just meeting their immediate material needs—has resulted in noteworthy successes: Sixty women have graduated from the center’s programs over the past five years.

Faith-based and private organizations like the Bowery Mission play a profound role in alleviating poverty by addressing the relational and social breakdown—like abuse, broken families, and addiction—that so often leads to material need. Despite the important work of religiously motivated charities to alleviate poverty, threats to conscience rights of faith-based organizations are growing. Just this week, the Department of Health and Human Services mandated that all insurance policies provide free coverage of contraceptives and sterilization, with little protection for faith-based charities that may have moral objections to providing or paying for such procedures.

The increasing disregard for the rights of conscience of faith-based organizations jeopardizes the good and necessary work of faith-based organizations. Where government chooses to involve itself in cultural and moral debates, like mandating access to contraceptives at others’ expense, policymakers should guarantee robust conscience protections for institutions whose work advances civil society.

To learn more about Bowery Mission Women’s Center, check out WORLD Magazine’s recent article on the organization.