Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Local Resident on Skid Row

Resident Shirley, Volunteer Lynn Hall Russell, Resident Francine, Resident Manager Tanja and Resident Graciela of the Downtown Women's Center

Lynn Russell, who has lived in the Hancock Park area for 23 years, spends two days a week volunteering at the Downtown Women’s Center (DWC).

The Center, located on San Pedro, right in the heart of “Skid Row”, was the first in the nation to provide permanent, supportive housing specifically for women. There are 71 residential apartments and non-residents are welcome to stop by for a meal, a shower, for job training, medical or mental health services, or just to relax.

In 2003, when Lynn’s children had left home, she was still working as a lawyer, but wanted to do something meaningful, to give back to the community. She saw an ad asking for volunteers at the Center – there are no coincidences.

Every Wednesday evening, Lynn heads down to the Center with cheese and crackers, ready to sit and listen. (I know there are many days when I wish someone would turn up with food and an open ear and I’m not dealing with what these people are dealing with.) The Center recognizes it is important to help these women feel respected and part of the community. And for her part, Lynn feels much more informed about what is really going on in Los Angeles.

As well as the Wednesday evening group, this Rimpau Boulevard resident also heads a current events group on Tuesday mornings. She reads the newspapers before she sets off and is ready to discuss what is happening in the world. Often the group veers off topic – but many good conversations come from not sticking to the agenda. One woman commented to Lynn, “We may have fallen on hard times, but we haven’t lost our minds.”

By reaching out to these women who have been marginalized by society, they are given respect. And it’s a win-win situation: after listening to what these women have endured, Lynn says it really helps her keep her own worries in perspective.

It is a credit to the Downtown Women’s Center that there are many different ways to help out – visit the DWC Website or schedule a visit and have a coffee at MADE by DWC, a lovely cafe and gift boutique, that offers organic tea and coffee and delightful hand-crafted products created by the women of DWC.

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Gillian Wagner
Gillian Wagner
Gill Wagner, is a resident of Windsor Square and President of Hope-Net’s Board of Directors.

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