Women's center's new, larger site gives hope for homeless - Tucson News Now

Women's center's new, larger site gives hope for homeless

Source: KOLD Source: KOLD
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Old has become new near downtown Tucson, and it comes with new hope for homeless women on the corner of S. Park Avenue and 21st Street.

It's a welcome home for those without one. Sister Jose's Women's Center (SJWC) welcomed visitors to a grand opening Sunday at their new facility at 1050 S. Park Avenue. The building is 9,000 square feet, and a major upgrade from their old facility. It's more space for them to serve those in need.

"Homeless women, in the community, can come in. They can receive a bite to eat. They can take a shower. They can do a load of laundry. Women are very vulnerable on the street," said Executive Director Jean Fedigan.

Sunday's grand opening was a chance for volunteers to show off the new site. According to the women's center's website, the new facility will allow the non-profit organization to expand existing programs and "increase our capacity to offer critically needed services for homeless women in Tucson."

"Oh my gosh! You can't imagine the difference," said volunteer Jacquelyn Kemp. 

If you attended Sunday's festivities, you wouldn't have had to imagine the old site. You could physically see the old building bursting at the seams. There were pictures posted on the new walls, showing the old 18th Street site, where volunteers were struggling to help those struggling homeless women survive.

"We got by every day. We survived every day. We never turned anybody away," Kemp said.

It's now a rejuvenated chance to help. And it's a learning experience for volunteer Linda Hutson, who knows she is helping herself by helping others.

"What I find are women are the same as me - their desires for a good life, for health, and for happiness," she said.

"I've got to know lots of the ladies. Their struggle is everybody's struggle. Some people are able to continue on. And sometimes they get stumbled, and they can't," Kemp explained.

The old shelter got more than 12,000 visits last year and was bursting at the seams, according to the SJWC website. The new building has enough space for up to 35 women at one time to sleep comfortably, as well as a large community room for meals and conversation, and a classroom with computers for Employment Readiness training.

To learn more about the SJWC, click here.

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