Francine

Francine is a writer and her pen name is France. At 62 years old, she has been coming to Wellspring for 25 years.

“I wrote a poem about homelessness,” Francine said and then recited it:

 “Dark was the night and cold was the ground

I wake up in the morning and got to start all over again

Feeling great, but strange at the same time

I’ve asked god to help me to hang in there

His answer to my prayer is hold on, joy come in the morning

Thank you Lord for just one more mile”

 

When Francine first started coming to Wellspring’s original storefront on Broadway, she was experiencing homelessness.

“We had four people giving us coffee and donuts and then it got bigger and bigger,” she said.

“To make a long story short – God was good and Wellspring was even better,” Francine said. “I didn’t have shoes, they gave me slip-ons. They were so good. It was so sad – if you saw me, you would have cried.”

“No matter how bad I looked, no matter how crazy things got, they were so good to me,” she added. “It was Sister Esther and Sister Catherine and Sister Claire. They helped me so much. One time I was just asleep on the table and they let me go into the chapel – there is a little room in there and they let me sleep for two hours.”

Francine experienced homelessness because she was on the run from her abusive boyfriend.

“It started out nice and then things got crazy,” she said.

She would sleep in the Emergency Room at Sutter Memorial Hospital and then walk for an hour before Wellspring opened up for breakfast. She would sit and eat breakfast at Wellspring until 11:30 am and then walk over to the Women’s Civic Center across the street for lunch.

She also frequented Maryhouse, a daytime hospitality shelter for homeless women and children at Loaves and Fishes.

“They gave us clean underwear and t-shirts every morning,” Francine said. “We could stay there all day or we could go to the library at Loaves and Fishes. It was a blessing.”

Francine would clean people’s houses to make money.

Loulou, a woman who she was cleaning for invited her to live with her if she agreed to be her caregiver. Loulou had cancer and Francine took care of her for six years.

She lived in Loulou’s backyard out of a trailer that another man who cleaned for gifted her when he left Sacramento for Miami, Florida.

“You should have seen me child,” Francine said. “I was so good with Loulou. The doctor said that I extended her life for two years. Her spirit came and visited me after she died. Her picture is on my wall and I really miss her.”

Loulou lived in the fab forties and when she died, she gave her home to Francine.

Now, Francine comes to Wellspring with her granddaughter.

IMG_5743
Francine, Sister Judy and her granddaughter who she takes care of.

“I come here for the good spirit and to be around people who I know are going through something,” she said. “Maybe we are all going through the same thing at different stages.”

“When I come here, I can feel life lift up again because the people, they generate a chain reaction of warmth,” she said. “And then when I’m with the kids [in Wellspring’s Children’s Corner], that’s even better because it takes me out of myself.”

For Black History week, she wrote a poem about Maya Angelou called “In Flight:”

“This is my answer to Maya Angelou’s poem,” she said.

Now I know why a caged bird sings

It sings for freedom, but doesn’t really want to be set free

Have you ever wondered what a bird is a thinking or a feeling in flight to its destination

Or maybe no destination at all

Just cruising, traveling and scoring high in the sky to be nearer to God

On its return flight, it hurries back to its old familiar stomping grounds

Its safe haven called home

It will take another flight again

Now, I know why a caged bird sings

It sings for freedom, but doesn’t really want to be set free

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