As we continue to go out once a week to meet with women on the streets and deliver food and other necessities, we are working toward the next phase of our plan: a drop-in center. This would be a place where the women could come to take a shower, sit down and eat a meal, wash their clothes, or just rest in safety and comfort for a few hours. Most importantly, it would provide additional opportunities to build trust with them. We would have a social worker on staff to serve the ones who are ready to discuss the options available to them for recovery and restoration. Although the center would be a key component to increasing the success rate for follow-on programs such as residential communities, its primary purpose is to serve the women where they are right now so that they will see that someone cares about them and that they have not been abandoned.
You probably have many questions about this concept, so we’ve tried to anticipate a few of them here and will answer more as they arise.
First, would women on the streets of Memphis be likely to participate in such a program? The answer is a resounding yes! When we explained the idea of a drop-in center during a recent meal delivery, the women’s faces lit up with excitement. Several even offered to volunteer during the hours the center would be open. The things we take for granted seem like luxuries to them and would go a long way toward helping them regain a sense of self-worth.
Second, would the center offer overnight accommodations? No, the center will be open for a few hours a day, two or three days a week. It is intended as a temporary respite from the streets and would not replace residential programs. It is only a step in the path to full recovery.
Third, would there be a maximum number of visits a woman could make? Absolutely not, and this is very important. We would not pressure any woman to make changes before she is ready, and we would not turn anyone away unless she is a danger to others. It will take some women longer than others to develop the trust that is needed to move forward. Some may never get to that point. Either way, they are human beings who deserve the care we will offer.
Fourth, what would it take to open a drop-in center? Our immediate need is to locate a building near the area where we are currently serving the women along Summer Avenue in Memphis. And as with any program, we need start-up funds, sustaining funds, and volunteers.
Finally, what can our supporters do to make this vision a reality? Pray with us for guidance as we move forward. In addition, funding will be needed to obtain a building and renovate it to suit our purposes. If you are a Facebook user, you can start a fundraising campaign to help us fund this stage of our work. Or you can make a one-time or recurring donation using the button below:
In the meantime, we welcome support for the weekly meal that we offer. If you want to provide a meal or a portion of a meal, contact Sandra at (901) 800-8840.
For more information, read about a drop-in center in Chicago.