As the asphalt on 34th street breathes in morning sunlight, 200 women and children gather at Wellspring Women’s Center to start their day.
“Our goal,” said Sister Catherine Connel, one of the founders of Wellspring, “is for every woman and child to feel loved and cared for when they enter our doors.”
Once inside, the guests line up for breakfast – the morning ritual alight with community.
The counter where guests are served food from 7:30 am to 11:00 am each weekday morning.
Volunteers dollop yogurt, spoon fresh fruit, toast bread and parcel out salad on guests’ trays.
Freshly brewed coffee wafts from coffee cups as the women visit at tables accented by fresh cut flowers.
The center glitters with ornate paper cranes crafted by guests hanging from the historic firehouse’s lofty ceilings.
“The atmosphere is always beautiful, clean and comfortable,” says Sister Claire Graham, who with Sister Catherine Connel founded Wellspring in 1987. “That’s part of mirroring to our guests that we find them worthy of respect.”
Wellspring’s beginnings were humble, but filled with grace: “All we wanted to do was serve coffee and love people,” said Sister Claire. “We didn’t have a clue. What we had was a pink box of donuts and a 10-cup Mr. Coffee.”
Sister Claire reflects, “Wellspring has been an absolute miracle experience of responding to God’s call in my heart.”
A homeless woman named Jean embodies the center’s inspiration. The sisters met her begging outside a Sacramento bus station. After a sharing a meal with Jean, Sister Claire and Sister Catherine resolved to create an environment where women like Jean so in need of love could come to value themselves through the experience of being valued by others.
The purpose of this blog is to explore what Wellspring means to our guests, volunteers and staff — 28 years after the center’s founding.