LEWISTON – After closing last July, a local drop-in center for underprivileged women is open part time because supporters have volunteered their time and raised nearly $30,000.

Operating with volunteers, the Center for Wisdom’s Women is open 9 a.m. to noon Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, acting director Klara Tammany said.

The center has received grants from the Maine Community Foundation and the Zeist Foundation.

Despite the tough economy, donations have been slow but steady, Tammany said. “So many are $5, $10, $25 and $50, all the way to one person who anonymously has been paying the rent of $1,250 a month.”

“People have been very generous,” she said, but “we need a lot more” to open the center full time.

Hoping to grow closer to their goal of raising $75,000, supporters are launching a direct-mail campaign, Tammany said.

“The board put together a list of people they knew, at least 200 names,” she said. “We sent p ersonal letters with a brochure all over the country.”

It’s the first time supporters have issued a direct appeal. Even if people give $5 or $10, it adds up, she said. “And it broadens our donor base, which helps us when we apply for grants.”

The goal of the center, the only place of its kind in Maine, is to provide a safe place that supports and empowers women. The center offers hospitality, listening, and personal and spiritual guidance respectful of all faiths, Tammany said. Women are given information on local resources and healthy life choices; they have access to support groups and activities, and a chance to network and build friendships.

More money is needed to allow the center to be open more hours. Because of budget cuts that have restrained social services, places like the women’s center are especially needed now, Tammany said. “We’ve had calls from agencies in town looking for places to refer women to. Some case workers bring their clients to the center.”

Volunteers began working to reopen the center last summer. It was run by the Daughters of Wisdom in Islip, N.Y. That religious order said it could no longer sustain it, and the nuns who staffed it were near or past retirement age.



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