A year ago, the Community Center at Visitation (CCV) established a Drop-In Program for women actively engaged in prostitution in the Kensington Neighborhood of Philadelphia. The Drop-In Program provides an opportunity to reach out to, connect, and build relationships with women in this vulnerable situation of prostitution, poverty, and, usually, homelessness in order to invite each woman to look toward a next positive. The program is a front-line service, enabling women to address immediate needs while offering them connections to other services. The Drop-In is open Thursday and Friday evenings from 9:30pm-12:00am. As its second year begins, the center is committed to strengthening and expanding the program, particularly in adding Street Outreach on Thursday and Friday evenings around 6:00pm.
The Drop-In Program is foremost a venue where women, who are typically socially isolated, are welcomed into a judgment free community. From the Program, women have been placed in hospitals, shelters, and with families or friends. Women are able to receive a healthy meal and a warm greeting two nights per week. Women currently prostituting are on the periphery of society and work in a neighborhood that is, itself, an outcast from the rest of Philadelphia. In the sharing of food and stories in the center’s kitchen women know they belong and are heard, this societal belonging will bear an impact on women who are everyday isolated and used. The impact of the Drop-In is also on those who choose to serve. It is an opportunity, as one volunteer shared, to “be present with another in her humanity.”
The Drop-In Program is staffed primarily by committed volunteers and Social Work Interns and its basic supplies (a meal, hygiene products, and coats) are donated by other volunteers and center partners. We would like to invite you and your organization to take part in this developing and essential ministry. We provide training and policies meant to increase the safety of the women and the Program’s Volunteers. Please consider committing yourself to one night per month for either the Drop-In or Street Outreach and know that I am happy to meet with you to answer any questions. We look forward to working with you in this important endeavor.
Please contact me with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-426-9422 ext. 34203.
Sr. Karen Owens SSJ
Community Center at Visitation