By Angela Cheslock, Wellspring Program Director
“Wellspring is my safe place.”, “I come here when I feel depressed.”, “I thank God for this place. I don’t know what I would do without ya’ll.”, “You all are my family. I love you.”, “I have nowhere else to go.”, “Wellspring keeps me grounded.” -Wellspring guests
These are just a few of the words offered up to us in humble gratitude by our guests on a regular basis. They are spoken from such raw emotion and with a vulnerability that makes them even more bittersweet. They deliver both a sharp pinch and a comforting squeeze to our hearts simultaneously.
Wellspring’s goal has always been to empower women and to see each woman leave a little better than when they came. We strive to educate, assist, be a shoulder to lean on in times of crisis as well as a friend to celebrate with in times of joy. Not only that, but we make it our goal to brighten our guest’s day as much as possible, knowing that ours may be the only kind, positive or healthy interaction they have that day.
“The volunteers and staff really care. That’s why I come. They take the time to ask how you are doing. They sit down and talk to you and really take the time to listen.” Jeannine A.
When we received the news that Wellspring would need to temporarily close due to the Safer at Home mandate, we as staff were most concerned about the mental and emotional well-being of our guests during this time of seclusion and isolation. Upon re-opening, we discovered the impact that our programming and relationship building truly had on them. We saw it in the numbers and it was relayed to us through the stories they told.
During a workshop we call, “Reflections” the group participates in an inspirational reading followed by a discussion. A guest shared with us, “I don’t know how I made it through. I was so lonely. I missed you guys so much. I did better than I expected though. I would picture this workshop and you sitting there just like you are now and I would imagine Pat doing Art and Anxiety and Patty doing Attitude of Gratitude and it got me through.” She would remember the things that we talked about and treasure the happy memories, the shared laughter and the joy filled conversations.
We were greeted on re-opening day by guests lined up at the doors waiting to come in. We had never had such early risers in the past! If our impact was ever in doubt, Covid-19 proved that it is strong indeed. Attendance is up, workshop attendance is higher than it was pre-Covid-19 and participation within workshops has increased. We attribute this to the high mental health needs of our guests and the intense effects of loneliness that social isolation caused from sheltering in place.
One thing that has remained a constant is that many of our guest are appreciative as always. They want to show their gratitude by giving back by helping with cleaning, sorting donations, or contributing ideas. We can all agree that this experience has taught us to appreciate each other just a little bit more. Even though Covid-19 divided us for a brief time, we are unified once again and stronger for it.