A Retreat from Homelessness
For the founders of the Women’s Room 1,200 was the magic number. They had to do something for the 1,200 people sleeping on the streets each night in Pasadena, California.
After a survey revealed a gap in available services for homeless women with no drug, alcohol or mental issues, the Women’s Issues Committee (WIC) of All Saints established The Women’s Room, a daytime refuge for women who are alone and homeless.
Jackie Knowles and a group of dedicated women became the force behind the development of The Women’s Room, a day program of Friends in Deed, the social service arm of the Ecumenical Council Pasadena Area Churches. Jackie located donors to repaint and decorate a large storage area, converting it into an inviting room for the women to gather.
The Women’s Room, founded in 2007, is an entirely volunteer-operated day center that provides a retreat where women stressed from living on the street can reclaim their identity as something other than just a homeless person. They come for showers, to do laundry, to use computers and telephones, to take a quiet nap, to have a bowl of freshly made soup and to get their hair styled. They laugh. They talk. They feel like women. They are safe emotionally and physically. The Women’s Room assists them in finding additional services they may need.
Jackie continues to manage the program and aid in developing the vision. Jackie recruits, trains and coordinates the volunteers for the program. Over the past two years the number of clients visiting the Women’s Room has grown from 2 or 3 to 35 per week. The Women’s Room has helped seven homeless women find housing, directed 50 women to services through other organizations and assisted one woman to become regularly employed.
Jackie’s vision for The Women’s Room has proven to be a transformational experience for both the clients and the volunteers. “Surely the impact on our lives makes an impact wherever our steps lead outside the corner of Los Robles and Washington Streets,” confirms a volunteer at the Women’s Room.