LEWISTON — After several years of fundraising, applying for grants and renovations, the Center for Wisdom’s Women is finally opening the doors to Sophia’s House, a long-term residential community for women who are survivors of trafficking, incarceration and addiction.

Sophia’s House, located at 143 Blake St. in the former Saint Patrick Convent building, will officially open at noon Friday, Dec. 13, with a ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by an open house with tours until 3 p.m.

Klara Tammany, executive director of the Center for Wisdom’s Women, said that Sophia’s House will be a long-term recovery community offering six private rooms for women who have been victims, and five apartments for women living on fixed income.

Tammany said that she and a group of volunteers took over the Center for Wisdom’s Women in 2008, and it “quickly became clear that the problems the women carried with them” was more than a day center could handle.

“The women’s center offers a safe space for women to heal from adverse life experiences, but it’s a day-center,” Tammany said. “Some of the women coming through need more help than a day center can offer.”

In 2014, Tammany said that she learned about Thistle Farms in Tennessee, a women’s center founded in 1997 that offers long-term, community-based, holistic support for women survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction.


“I came home and said to the board (of the women’s center), ‘This is what we have to do. They want their model replicated across the country,’” Tammany said. “We started looking for a way to make it happen.”

Tammany said several things happened within a short period of time: St. Mary’s Health System donated the former Saint Patrick’s Convent building, which had been vacant for 16 years, to the Center for Wisdom’s Women.

“That was huge for us, since it helped us qualify for affordable housing grants,” Tammany said.

In Feb. 2018, the women’s center received a $500,000 housing grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston.

“We were a relatively small player against huge developers trying to get that grant,” Tammany said. “It helped us that the building was donated, that we had a good program and good community partners behind us.”

From there, the grants and fundraising came rolling in, Tammany said.


“We got some smaller grants, a couple of $25,000 grants, and raised about $600,000 from private donors alone,” Tammany said. “That means we’ll be opening on Friday without a mortgage, which is huge for us.”

Tammany said there are six “single-room occupancies” on the third floor where the women in the recovery program will live.

On the second floor, there will be five rent-generating apartments, according to Tammany, which will house “survivor leaders.”

“These are women who have survived trauma and will be in the building to support the women in the recovery program,” Tammany said.

Tammany said the building is constructed in a way to “encourage engagement with the rest of the residents.”

“All 11 residents will have a shared meal once a week, and they’ll take turns making it,” Tammany explained. “The whole house is a community, so they’ll be sharing management of the building.”


Tammany said that Tricia Grant, a survivor of trafficking and an educator on human trafficking prevention, was hired as program coordinator of Sophia’s House.

The Dec. 13 grand opening will end with a dedication and blessing of Sophia’s House.

Regina Mullins Greenlee, one of the first women to graduate from the Thistle Farms program, will be in Lewiston for the grand opening and will speak after the dedication of the building.

Greenlee will also be the featured speaker at the Great Falls Forum at the Lewiston Public Library on Thursday.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.