Rita, Viola and Sharon always sit together. Viola is Sharon’s mother, and Rita is Sharon’s best friend. The Well Community is their meeting place. “Rita was my neighbor at the apartment building I lived in and invited me to come to The Well with her one day. She has been coming for years, but I joined about six years ago. We come here most days and talk to everybody,” Sharon says.
The three women love to visit with others and, despite daily struggles with mental illnesses and several other physical issues, they easily engage with members at The Well. “Providing a safe and comfortable environment for community is one of our primary goals,” says Alice Zaccarello, Executive Director. “There are few places, very few places, where individuals whose lives have been sabotaged by mental illness can enjoy time together.”
Sharon has had three open heart surgeries throughout her lifetime, each one with higher odds against survival. “I was a born with a hole in my heart. Instead of having four valves, I have three. Each time the doctor told me I might not make it, but each time I recovered really well,” Sharon shares.
“It’s a miracle she’s still standing today,” Viola, says. “She has eight siblings, and she was the one I had to pray about the most because I just didn’t want her to be taken away from me. I took care of her so long, and now she takes care of me by bringing me to this place.” Sharon invited her mother to come to The Well Community last year, and Viola has been coming consistently since. “I love coming here and sitting with the friends I’ve made and laughing with them,” Viola says. “I love having somewhere to hang out during the day.”
Rita is a long-time member of The Well and a resident of Oak Cliff for more than half of her life. “I moved around a lot growing up because my father was in the service. We moved over here from Spain when I was five, and we had a big culture shock,” Rita says. “We decided to stay and actually grew to like it.”
Rita, Viola and Sharon come when The Well Community opens at 9:30 a.m. so they can hear the daily devotional around 10 a.m. Lunch is served at noon, and afterward they always help clean up. “Viola is the momma of all of us, and Sharon is my sister at heart,” Rita says. “I’m so glad they’re here to make me laugh and take care of me.”
Every Wednesday, The Well Community staff passes out clothes given to The Well by generous donors. Sharon and Rita always share the clothes they receive. “A lot of the clothes don’t fit Rita, so I take those, but I give her my socks or jackets and such. We take care of each other. Sometimes we’ll show up with something for each other that is the same. One day we both brought the other a lemonade,” Sharon says.
These three women stick together day after day. They lift each other up in spirit and help with practical needs, despite their own limited basic provisions like food and stable places to stay. Through the challenges, at The Well Community they find that their comfort and hope is firmly rooted in their friendships.
When poverty results in homelessness, loneliness and despair are often overwhelming. For those like Rita, Viola and Sharon who come to The Well Community, life can be full and meaningful. Members are able to thrive with a such a support system. The Well Community fosters conversation and fellowship among its members, as well as with the staff and volunteers. Consider how you would like to support and serve The Well Community. Contact us today.