Addressing the Problem of Women’s “Homelessness”

Logo of the Association

A partnership between the Saint Vincent Teams (FFESV), the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVP) and the Congregation of the Mission (CM) resulted in the establishment of a Drop-in Center for around twenty women at 97 rue de Sèvres, Paris. Named Accueil Louise et Rosalie, it was able to boldly open on November 12, 2020, in the thick of the quarantine imposed by Covid-19.

With the leitmotif “go to the peripheries” all partners worked hard for three years to overcome many obstacles, each playing its “piece”:

– the Congregation of the Mission for providing the place;

– the Saint Vincent Teams and the Saint Vincent de Paul Society for finding sources of funding and looking for an interior designer to transform an area of 160 m2 into a practical space that meets all standards, which are numerous in France. (It was necessary to install a freight elevator for the small elevation between the courtyard and the place; allowing access for a wheelchair into the tiny kitchen of 10 m2 , etc.). The photos with this article offer you a glimpse of the successful venture.

Certainly, health measures restrict the days, the hours of reception, the number of people welcomed and the meals served, but not the women volunteers who are all there for the rendezvous!

In the morning, the women meet with the coordinator of the day who prepares a prayer related to the service; a dialogue follows. They also benefit from meetings with professionals who serve in the center, from times of spiritual nourishment, and from regular “re-readings,” a reflection and sharing on past events in order to better live in the present.

A Daughter of Charity offered to carry out pedicure services…

The Association has chosen a flexible arrangement, considering that “event, that is God”(Sr Suzanne Guillemin). Everything is a possibility…

Thus, women familiar with “homelessness” find in the Center a warm, unconditional welcome and a well-heated room; there are showers, washing machines, driers, a computer, a small place to sleep or simply to lie down, and a meal served following sanitary regulations. Workshops have already been organized during which, for example, Christmas decors were made. These women who currently frequent the place have contacts with social workers, were sent by other associations, have called SAMU Social (telephone number for emergency medical and welfare service for homeless people), were able to consult with a “Solidarity Guide,” or arrived in the center by “word of mouth.”

We wish this new Association the best of the journey, marching in the footsteps of Providence!

Madame de Villeneuve, Head of ACCUEIL LOUISE ET ROSALIE

Interview with Madame de Villeneuve, Head of Accueil Louise et Rosalie.

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