Mary Elizabeth Ryder founded Mary Ryder Home in June 1930, along with a group of concerned St. Louis citizens, who witnessed first-hand the devastation the Great Depression caused, especially for women who were abandoned, homeless, and without support. Initially the Home provided shelter to indigent women and helped them find employment so they could regain their independence. Every day of her life, Mary Elizabeth Ryder gave more than just a helping hand to the frail and helpless—she provided a safe haven and care without regard to their ability to pay. For many of the women, the opportunity to stay at Mary Ryder Home was the first time in their lives they felt safe and well-cared for.
At its inception, the expectation was that Mary Ryder Home would close its doors once the economy recovered. However, the Great Depression merely highlighted the need that many women, particularly older women, had for safe shelter and someone to care for them. Therefore, Mary Ryder Home has evolved and continues to provide a safe home for vulnerable women in need of assistance who have few, if any, other options for care.