By Roberta Gaither, Shelter Lead & WFS Certified Facilitator

Hope is something that everyone should have, yet this pandemic has taken it from so many. Sadly, in the midst of this pandemic, I have seen many women fall back into, or further into, their alcoholism or addictions. This is not because they want to or because they are lazy, but because now it is even harder to get away from people, places and things that are no longer serving them effectively. As businesses closed, or reduced their hours, many of our homeless sisters found themselves back in places they had fought so hard to get away from – places where they were forced to be around the drinking crowd because there was nowhere else for them to go. Some women were able to maintain their sobriety, but most were losing their positivity. The women needed help to maintain their sobriety and reduce negativity in their lives. Sadly, all of them were losing hope.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”  ~Desmond Tutu

Hope then came in the form of shelter now staying open 24 hours every day and our homeless sisters struggling to stay sober were no longer forced to head out into the space where alcoholism and drug addiction run rampant. This was such a hope inducing, positive change that the ladies really appreciated.

At this point, we were having a weekly women’s support group, but it was nothing like the Women for Sobriety (WFS) meetings are supposed to be and I felt like the group was not doing enough for the ladies. I then set out to become a Certified Facilitator of The New Life Program, which finally happened at the end of November, 2020. Since the meetings have become WFS meetings, and I have learned how to teach The New Life program to others, the meetings have grown. WFS teaches women that they are capable, competent, caring and compassionate and that their past does not need to victimize them. This is a group that was made by women for women. In this environment, women flourish, and are able to help other women flourish. WFS teaches women that by reducing negativity and creating your own happiness, you can have a better, sober New Life. I have watched WFS give hope and life back to women who never thought it was possible, to include myself.

If you are a woman struggling with alcoholism or addiction, please join us on Wednesdays at 2:30pm in the Wellspring room at the Women’s Shelter (411 St John St). Our group has grown a lot, but there is always room for more women who need us.

Roberta Gaither, St. John’s Women’s Shelter Lead and WFS Certified Facilitator
Contact: rgaither@sjehs.org