February 5, 1988, THE CENTRETOWN NEWS, Page 15
‘The Well’: an alternative for women
by Sarah Gilbert
On a bitter winter day, just after lunchtime, the church basement is filled with women talk- ing and the warm smell of food and coffee.
The Well, the only women’s drop-in centre in Centretown, will celebrate its fourth anniversary at the end of February. With 30 or 40 drop-ins a day and new ideas for programs, the centre is getting stronger and more innovative all the time.
New things at The Well include a weight loss program several women are organizing for themselves. The centre is also planning to show films once a month for entertainment.
The Well is located in the basement of St. Luke’s Anglican Church on Somerset Street. Sally Eaton, a female priest, opened the centre in 1984 to provide a haven for women who were feeling lonely or isolated.
Evelyne Uniat is a young woman who has been going to The Well for a month. “I came because I saw the sign on the door. I wanted to meet people and I wanted to help people. I was new, I just got here from Vancouver.”
The centre has two paid coordinators but it’s basically run by volunteers.
“Most of the women who come here help out,” says volunteer treasurer Beth Cook. “It’s their place.”
Cook says The Well tries to operate like a democratic family. The women decide what they’re interested in and the coordinators organize the programs that are wanted. There have been speakers on health problems, addiction, menopause and non-traditional occupations for women.
“Women can come here and make friends, put their lives back together, get in touch with a training program, or go back to school,” says Kendra Forbes, a co-ordinator.
When it first started, The Well occupied only a tiny part of the church and it was only open three days a week. It has now expanded to a much larger area of the basement and is open Monday to Friday and Sunday afternoons. Funding for The Well comes from the region, the province and individual donations.
The centre includes a dining room and a well-equipped kitchen, where the kitchen co-ordinator and volunteers prepare a hot balanced lunch every day. There is also a carpeted common room scattered with chairs and couches and a play area for children.
Women come to The Well to meet people, to get out of the house, to eat a balanced meal, to help and be helped.”
Cook says that although a number of the women are in the low-income bracket, “there’s no restriction. All women are welcome to come and see if it’s a place for them… Women from all sorts of different backgrounds come here,”
Ellen Savicky has been coming for a year. Washing pots and pans from lunch, she says, “I come because I work with my friends. We work together. We’re women.”