They talked about the dangers of smoking—and the possibilities for quitting. They talked sun, skin cancer and sunscreen—and novel new makeup products that even your skin tone and block the dangerous rays. They talked exercise and nutrition (Miss Lydia's homemade pineapple upside down cake notwithstanding)—and pledged to participate in the Health Care for the Homeless 5K this fall. And they talked birth control and safe sex—and self-respect and self-care.
On Wednesday, May 11, 30-plus female clients at Health Care for the Homeless gathered at the downtown clinic for weekly women's group and a special lunchtime discussion about women's health to mark National Women's Health Week, May 8-14. Young, middle-aged and more seasoned; dressed up and dressed down; vocal and quiet—they all engaged in animated chatter about getting healthier and helping each other do it.
They all listened. They all laughed. And they all experienced the sense of community they themselves created. One said she'd never attended a group before, she only comes to the clinic for her appointments and leaves. But after coming to this particular women's group, she committed to coming back. "This is especially good for me, because I have depression," she said. Being in a social setting with other women who also have struggles made her feel better, she said. Less alone.
“Women’s Group provides a safe place to talk,” group facilitator and therapist Lydia Santiago says. “Women don’t have to feel ashamed for anything they talk about there.”
After a full hour that concluded with group photos and goodie bags filled with personal hygiene products, they all went in their own directions—to doctor's appointments, job interviews—all thanking and hugging each other, and all promising they'd be back for more very soon.