Eleven times a day someone in Kent County is abused in domestic violence, and almost always the victim is a woman and a mother. Injured and terrified, these women are desperate for a safe place to go with their children. Enter the YWCA with a 24-hour hotline, a warm bed, food, clothing, and counseling in their emergency shelter for women and their children in downtown Grand Rapids. In November 2014, the newly remodeled and expanded shelter was christened the YWCA Wege Sojourner House.
The Wege Foundation’s lead gift allowed the YWCA to increase the shelter’s residential capacity to 76 women and children. Formerly called the Domestic Crisis Center, the Y’s CEO Carla Blinkhorn explained the new name “sojourner” suggests a place “for rest and escape.” The Wege Sojourner House, in the old Wilcox mansion built in 1904, allows these traumatized women and children to find comfort in a safe place where they can heal and regroup.
Sojourner offers childcare in big bright rooms giving their moms a chance to work on their futures: look for a job, apply to school, find a new place to live. The Junior League of Grand Rapids put in a whole new backyard called the Wellness Adventure Yard where the children can play and explore and feel safe in a secure outdoor setting.
Five hundred women and children came to this shelter last year. The sad news is that more will run from domestic violence this year. The good news is that the YWCA Wege Sojourner House has more beds for them this year.