“It’s essential for every community to have a place like this,” says Wellspring volunteer LaVon Rader. Wellspring, the newest addition to the St. John’s family of programs, is a daytime resource center just for women in the heart of downtown Green Bay that has been serving the community for nearly 20 years. Formerly managed by Lutheran Social Services, the center provides a peaceful, caring place to connect with other women who are facing similar issues and difficulties, especially when their lives get very challenging. For many women in transition, Wellspring serves as another family, a place to belong, a friend away from home – with programming focusing on mind, body and spirit.
Wellspring serves more than 300 women who visit more than 4,200 times a year seeking peer support, personal growth opportunities, resources and referrals. Gender-specific care is important. “Many women have been abused, and it is important to have their own place,” says program director Angela Cheslock. “Some women say they purposefully do come here because it is only women. They can talk about women’s issues and concerns.”
In her 21st year as a Wellspring volunteer, LaVon states simply, “I use my sense of humor; I practice compassionate listening.” She adds, “There are people looking for jobs, trying to get paperwork organized for getting an apartment and learning to ride the bus.” Because of inequity,” LaVon says,” the homeless situation isn’t getting any better.”
Angela explains that Wellspring is a place for emotional connection and peer support. “Everyone is close here – like family,” she says. Guests bring in food to cook and share, and women look out for each other and help each other. Many describe Wellspring as a “lifeline.”
However, like St. John’s Homeless Shelter and the Micah Center, Angela sees that mental health issues are concerns of their guests. She says,” Mental health awareness is a big issue. Despite mental illness, people should be treated and valued the same.”
The one thing Angela wants any woman needing help or thinking about reaching out to Wellspring to know is that “You are welcome, valued, loved and accepted.”
For more information about Wellspring, visit: https://www.stjohnhomelessshelter.org/wellspring.