35 years ago, Eileen Reilly and Jane Alexander acted on their concern for and determination to offer women in need a safe and welcoming community a refuge from the street and daily struggles. On a rainy Monday they opened the -alley door which was the first passageway for women in need to what would grow to become a community of volunteers and staff who offered hot meals and dignity to tens of thousands of women. Chili and comfort were served in donated china bowls to women at tables with fresh flowers and table cloths.
On November 15, 2017, we hosted a shelter party to celebrate WLP’s 35th Anniversary and it was a huge success with standing room only! There were balloons, a banner, lots of cheers and applause to welcome and thank everyone. Those who celebrated with our staff and guests were WLP Co-founder Dr. Eileen Reilly, past Executive Director Clare Reilly, Rev. Rob from COTC, Board President Anthony Leonard of Liberty Mutual, Lynn Petrasch – supporter from 1984, Mary Farrell, former staff and longtime kitchen volunteer, Board member and volunteer Linda Kreisel, Anne and David Bromer, benefactors of Creative Expression program, Anne is Board member and both are 22 year donors; and Board member Mary Carty of Back Bay.
To commemorate the first meal at WLP, kitchen staff and volunteers prepared bowls of chili and cornbread for guests and visitors.
For 17 years, WLP has been Ida’s home and she celebrated her 88th birthday with us in October. She shared her feelings about the WLP community being her other home. This letter read at the event represented sentiments shared by many women who call WLP home:
“You are making more of an impact than you can ever imagine. Providing us with a safe, warm, inviting “place” where we can not only nourish ourselves, but be with other women sharing similar unfortunate circumstances. You have no idea what this place does for our self-esteem, mental health, dignity and overall well-being, or do you? It sure seems so to me. Everything is so awesome and excellent, the smiles and caring nature of the staff and volunteers, the food, the environment. I honestly cannot believe this place exists – but God, I am so happy it does! I hope you realize how important you are to us, I hope you are blessed a million times over for your compassion and time you give to us. It is very much appreciated and someday when I am back on my feet, I hope to be fortunate enough to join the ranks of you!! Peace: Love to all of you!”
The critical work continues as more women rely on WLP to feed/fuel/nourish their bodies, minds and spirits in times of despair, poverty, homelessness and loneliness. Please join our community of caring with a donation of $35 to honor 35 years.