About 3 years ago, on a Saturday evening, a homeless woman chose our front bench to sleep on for the night. For fun, someone set her clothes on fire. When the Pastor arrived early Sunday morning she found her sitting in ashes and burnt clothing. Several members stepped in to help: going home to get clothes, feeding her breakfast, and taking her to the Emergency Room. At that moment we all realized just how dangerous it was for homeless women to exist safely on the streets. Out of that knowledge the Lifted Spirits (formally Women’s Gathering Place) was formed.
We opened a Drop- in Center serving 40 women three afternoons a week. Most of our women are over 40 years of age. Volunteers provide a hot lunch and snacks. We built a clothes and toiletries boutique where the women are allowed 5 items each time they come. We provide a washer/dryer for the women’s use and on Monday and Friday “Dignity on Wheels” sets up their shower van so that the women are able to shower and do small loads of laundry. We have a quiet room where women are able to sleep uninterrupted until the Drop-in Center closes. We also have an agreement with Gardner Health Van that comes once a week providing free medical care and referrals.
We have been blessed by the creativity of our volunteers who have taught painting, crochet, yoga, creative arts, gardening, beading and jewelry making and even simple techniques for massage. We maintain relationship with other community and private agencies to help the women find housing, job training, and computer skills and support groups for sobriety, anger management, and domestic violence. We have even been able to put our women in touch with a program that gets non-violent crimes expunged from their records.
We have become a place of refuge for homeless a woman, which not only feeds the body but also the soul. It is a place where women are able to build community with one another and encourage one another. Our staff is made up of primarily volunteers who have a heart for what we do and grow to deeply care for each one of the women who enter our doors. Lifted Spirits has become an important place of peace and mutual love for many homeless women in the San Jose area.