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Downtown women's center to chooses the name, 'Women's Hearth'

Drawing on the symbolism of the word “hearth” with its imagery of community and home, the warmth of a fire, a circle of women and a place of nurturing, healing, growth, safety, welcome, food and nourishment, the former Women’s Drop In Center chose a new name for its new building at 920 W. Second:  Women’s Hearth.

The letters in “hearth” also include the words “art,” “earth” and “heart,” which reflect what happens at the center.

The move from one building to another and the name change symbolize a new beginning for this community of women in downtown Spokane. 

In the process, program staff made an intentional effort for greater inclusion in the circle of love and healing, growth and wholeness to expand ownership and investment in the larger building. 

Center participants, volunteers and staff shared in the search for a location, in raising funds, in suggesting design, in making the move and in setting up Women’s Hearth in the new space.

Some tears were shed around leaving the old haven for women, but the building was too small and in need of repair. 

Women held a remembrance ceremony there to honor the walls and the space, as they began their celebration opening the new facility on July 8.  They processed from the old center at 218 S. Howard to the West Second building.

Lea Anne Potter, member of the community, described her experience: “We gathered at the empty nest once more, all that remained were some of our most prized artifacts and a dark, dingy, dirty, leaky space.  The only sign of life was Chester, the Ficus tree.  Everyone who came would leave with a piece of the love we all created. 

As we walked down the street to the Women’s Hearth we sang, talked smiled and rejoiced.  As we entered the new space with our love gifts, the feeling of the Hearth began to warm us.  As we lit a candle and spoke of hope, love and caring, that feeling was alive again all around us, keeping us safe and warm.  The magic was back for me.  We are the magic and warmth.  We are the women.”

Ginny O’Brien Edwards spoke to the new building:  “Hello, new home!  How spacious and bright you are.  Although you’re still a work in progress, you are home.  I belong here, a part of this ever-changing and growing family.

I have had the chance to put some of my own labor and sweat into making you an even better community.  All the things that made the ‘old’ so special are now here within your walls, with even more room for growth,” Ginny continued.
“You will always be a part of me no matter where life’s path takes me, but I will always be a part of you, too, and that’s what keeps me grounded—knowing I belong.”

Ginny likened the building as a work in progress to the women who gather there, also works in progress. 

She expects that miracles quietly will continue to happen in lives of people within the walls. 

Women’s Hearth is one of three programs administered by Transitions, a non-profit organization dedicated to sponsoring and initiating programs that foster personal growth and wholeness of women and children in need. 
Other programs of Transitions are Miryam’s House and the Transitional Living Center. 

Transitions is a project jointly sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters, the Sinsinawa Domincans, the Sisters of the Holy Names and the Sisters of Providence.

Tours of the Women’s Hearth can be arranged or people may drop in between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. for an informal visit. 

For information, call 455-4249.

By Deidre Jacobson, Fig Tree editor - Copyright © September 2004