|OPEN HOUSE: Sisters Mary Berg, Carolyn Zahringer, Francis Bangert and Maria Drzewiecki (left to right) toured the new Wellspring and women’s overnight shelter during an open house event in September. The Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross and Associates opened Wellspring in 1998. (Renae Bauer photo)|
by Sister Francis Bangert
“There is an appointed time for everything,” we read in Ecclesiastes 3:1. This piece of wisdom came to me as I reflected on the history of Wellspring, a day drop-in center for women, begun and sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in 1998.
A Dream Team of four (two Sisters and two Associates) expanded over its 24-year existence. It included four directors; numerous volunteers from among our Sisters, Associates, friends and other generous women; and two sponsorships (Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross then Lutheran Social Services). Hundreds of women were served through the generosity of numerous donors. All have been a part of God’s timing.
Once described as a “living room” in city-center, Wellspring has been a home away from home for any woman who needed a safe place to experience dignity, respect, and acceptance without judgment. Whether at one of the Dousman Street locations or the Mather Street location, Wellspring was a place where guests could connect with other women facing similar issues and difficulties especially in challenging times.
Over the years, illness, aging, and death have changed the number of Sister and Associate volunteers’ involvement. More recently, Wellspring came under the umbrella of St. John’s Ministries, joining the day center for men -- the Micah Center. Under this arrangement, Wellspring, now on Walnut Street, continues to be a year-round day drop-in center and becomes the only women’s overnight shelter in Green Bay, operating from November to April. Women can still stop in and socialize as they have for the past 24 years but now they can access housing and employment programs.
From its inception, Wellspring’s organic growth has been the work of the Holy Spirit. This new venture is also the work of the Holy Spirit. Underserved women now have new cause for hope and empowerment because there is a resource “just for them.”
One cannot comprehend the work of God from beginning to end. For all that was, we remember. For all that is, we are grateful. For all that is to come, we are filled with hope.