- Celebrating Moms
- WHEEL Brunch Commemorates Goals Reached
- By Janice Price
With a basket of chocolate kisses in her arms and a smile on her face Rose greeted the women at the door of Common Meals and invited them inside to WHEEL's second annual Mother's Day brunch and celebration.
WHEEL [Women's Housing Equality and Enhancement League], is a grassroots organization of homeless and formerly homeless women who saw the huge need for more services and shelters for women in Seattle. Begun in 1993, they are a self-managed organization, unique to Seattle, of women helping themselves and other women in similar circumstances find food, shelter and a place to be safe.
Inside the restaurant, Michele and Vivian greeted each woman as she arrived, some with hugs if they knew them and others with warm handclasps. They seated everyone at beautifully set cafe tables complete with flowers.
Bernard and other volunteers served coffee, juice and smiles as Chef Zane performed magic in the kitchen. Conversation mixed with upbeat background music as women socialized while they ate what, for some, would be their only meal of the day.
In the kitchen of Common Meals, whose staff donated the facilities for this event, Zane and his intrepid band from Boomtown Cafe created a delicious, nutritious, and beautiful meal from food donated by Zane himself. (Boomtown Cafe performs this very miracle five days a week at Angeline's Day Center, serving dinner to approximately 70 women each night.)
Rose was the mistress of ceremonies for the awards celebration. "We are here to celebrate being women, to celebrate all the goals that WHEEL has reached this year, and to announce our new goals."
These achieved goals are impressive. One of the most stirring was the expansion of the Federal Building Shelter for Women through the Summer months, since the streets are no less mean in July than they are in March. The Federal Building, which used to shut down its shelter in April, has become the first Federal Building in the nation to operate a haven of this kind.
As the Secretary's Representative for HUD, Bob Santos, friend and supporter of WHEEL, was instrumental in making this project successful. His wife Sharon Tomeka, who is running for King County Council seat #5, watched as "Uncle Bob" was made an honorary WHEEL Woman, and was enthusiastically applauded by all.
The project to serve dinners five nights a week at Angeline's was another WHEEL/Boomtown Cafe victory, and WHEEL thanked Boomtown Cafe for their efforts with an award and applause. Both WHEEL and Boomtown Cafe hope to both expand the program to seven nights a week and add a hot lunch service also.
Philippa Nye of the Archdiocesan Housing Authority and Catholic Community Services received heartfelt gratitude for her help in past projects and for support in formulating the means for WHEEL to effect their next big goal: providing new, permanent housing for women 45 and over. WHEEL hopes to enjoy the support of their Belltown neighbors in accomplishing this dream project.
After the awards were handed out, Vivian bestowed a surprise award: she read poems she had written to each of the recipients. which were both moving and beautiful.
Even when the ceremonies were over, people lingered. Bob Santos and Sharon Tomeka stayed to chat with their friends in WHEEL, as did Jane Nolan, Seattle Mayoral candidate.
When people finally drifted out, it was with renewed hope and community. Many also possessed a determination to continue speaking out on behalf of women everywhere.
~originally published in Real Change, 1995. As of 2002, WHEEL has had eight annual Mother's Day brunches, one served by the Older Women's League at Tent City 3.