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The Women's Respite Program

The Women’s Respite Program, a ministry sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis, Stella Niagara, offers opportunities for rest and renewal to women in great need. Low-income single mothers, grandmothers raising grandchildren and women with cancer diagnoses are referred to us by social service agencies, hospitals or physicians who have identified them as women under great stress and desperately in need of rest and care. Women who ordinarily would not be able to afford a few days away to recoup, are offered 3 or 4 days at the Center of Renewal , a safe, quiet, clean and peaceful environment. They are invited to participate in activities that refresh and renew them in body, mind and spirit. Time for swimming, napping, sharing with other women, massage, prayer and reflection provide the kind of healing that is urgently needed but rarely accessed. The simple luxury of uninterrupted sleep or shower, a nutritious meal prepared for them and the fun of “shopping” at our boutique that offers a 100% discount, is an enormous gift.

We offer 4 programs annually. A four day program for low income single mothers in the summer, a weekend for grandmothers who are raising grandchildren, a weekend for women with cancer who are undergoing treatment, and a weekend for alumnae of our programs as a means of providing ongoing care and fostering supportive friendships among women who are often isolated.

Because the women who attend have very limited resources, they are asked to give a donation of $10 or whatever they can afford. All the funds to support our programs come from grants and donations from local donors, particularly women’s groups and family foundations – those who understand the enormous challenges faced by mothers raising families on their own with limited resources and often in dangerous neighborhoods. For 23 years we have been able to help women who tell us that the Women’s Respite Programs have been life changing and one of the most important blessings in their lives.

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J-Mill Funds at Work - Shopping at Respite.