Daystation Women’s Group

Posted On July 18, 2013 By | No Comments on Daystation Women’s Group

Ellen Reader, VHCB AmeriCorps State Daystation Community Support Specialist, and Maggie Thuma, former Daystation and Single Case Management BSW intern, have brought their vision and passion to the Daystation’s Women’s Group.

Driven by a common interest, Ellen and Maggie put their heads together to provide an unmet need to the womanly presence that frequently (albeit in smaller numbers than the men) passes through the Daystation doors. They wanted to create a space where women would feel welcome and safe to share their stories with their peers.

This isn’t the first women’s group, and I don’t think it will be the last – Ellen Reader

When sitting down with Ellen, she was very clear on why the Women’s Group is such an important resource for female clients in the Burlington community: “Men make up the majority of the single adult homeless population. Women are the minority and have their own distinct struggles. Because of this, I wanted to offer them a time and space once a week to focus on themselves in a safe and welcoming environment. The goal was to not focus on finding jobs or housing, but rather to focus on their personal well-being, including a nutritious meal.”

Other Daystation programs already focus on finding housing and jobs, the Women’s Group serves to complement these other services.

“Finding wellness coaches and yoga instructors to volunteer their time and expertise was actually quite easy – it seemed that the group’s goals resonated with them. And I was able to offer various craft workshops, including paper beads, quilling [pictured below], and flower pins. Game nights were also a big hit, especially Taboo.”

Quilling craft projects designed by Daystation Women’s Group.

When active, the group meets weekly. In the winter, they gathered for dinner. This spring, they had weekly breakfast gatherings.

“The group was well received and had consistent participation from a handful of women that changed as women entered and left shelter,” Ellen said.

The realities of homelessness and the life of transience it engenders means the faces of the group are always changing. And, sometimes as people move on, the group goes dormant until the guests need it again.

“The acceptance and compassion shown to the transgendered women who joined us, the woman who came in with a whole bouquet of felt flowers for her wedding the week after learning to make them, the comfort and support given freely to those telling difficult stories, the fact that they felt safe sharing such personal words, and the smiles and laughter shared – during the game Taboo in particular – proved the value of the shared space.”

Ellen is confident more women’s groups will form in the future as the need arises once again. Together in their shared space, these women will create their own light and warmth.

“Every couple of years a new women’s group seems to get started, and I believe that will continue. The struggle of making it last is the changing faces of the group. Everybody has different interests and needs, and finding a way to address all of those to keep women engaged isn’t always easy. For example, yoga was a big interest initially, but at the end, none of the current participants were really into the idea. I’m not sure what the future holds for the women’s group, but I believe it will be back at some point, and each time it’s offered, it makes an impact.”

Categories: COTS Shelters, Homelessness, Staff and Board
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