From Survival to Success
The WELL Place provides perspective and encouragement
She may be a single mother struggling to afford food and rent. She might be healing from domestic violence. She could be an empty nester longing to be more involved in the community. Too often she may feel alone when facing certain challenges in life. But there are others out there, and DIANNE JINWRIGHT wants to bring together women with similar experiences for support and insight.
“Sometimes if you could just hear a different perspective and encouragement, then you can move past these difficulties,” says Jinwright, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and founder of The WELL Place in Wilmington.
The Women Encouragement Living and Learning Place started in early 2020. While temporarily halted due to the pandemic, the nonprofit has been getting back up to speed with online programs and is planning in-person activities at its South 16th Street office.
“Our tagline is encouraging the well-being of women,” says Jinwright, who also serves as the nonprofit’s president and holds a doctorate in strategic leadership.
The WELL Place has several components: Affinity Teams to connect women with similar situational challenges, seminars, and advocacy areas related to those issues, Creative Expression Sessions for women to share their stories, and a Teen Girls Support Program.
Six fictional women – Angela, Brenda, Cathy, Debra, Elaine and Faye – are the faces of the Affinity Teams. Their different backgrounds guide WELL Place programs.
“They’re really personas of the women that we focus on trying to help,” Jinwright says.
Six Affinity Teams:
*Team Angela: a single mom of young children who works a minimum wage job but needs public assistance to help with food and housing.
*Team Brenda: a single mom of teens she wants to send to college; she works a salaried job but has been passed over for promotions.
*Team Cathy: a military veteran who wants to further her education and who has suffered from sexual assault and domestic violence.
*Team Debra: a retired mom of adult children who wants to find affordable health care and become more involved in the community.
*Team Elaine: a college-educated, married mother of adult children who has grown apart from her husband and wants to pursue her own interests.
*Team Faye: a divorced, gay woman who enjoys the outdoors and wants to help others be comfortable with their sexual orientation.
Jinwright, a Brunswick County native with a background in business administration and financial management, worked with the WELL Place’s board of advisors – Dr. PATRICIA HOLLIDAY and Rev. KIMBERLY WALKER – on how to structure the nonprofit’s programs.
The nonprofit held an Affinity Team session with a woman concerned about raising her school-aged children, working, and reaching goals – which relate to Team Brenda, Jinwright says, adding they gave her tips on assessing her existing skills and encouraged her to continue her self-improvement.
“We will contact her when we get at least two more women who identify with Team Brenda to see if she is interested in meeting in person with the team,” Jinwright says.
Affinity Teams include experts related to women’s needs, such as a parenting counselor, maternity expert, child care center manager, or financial advisor, Jinwright says.
The WELL Place has held some seminars, including one on how to overcome the emotional trauma of assault. Future planned seminars include one on helping women speak up for themselves at work.
The nonprofit also advocates for promoting affordable childcare and Black maternal health and for ending violence against women.
Tell us more about Affinity Teams and related programs.
Jinwright: “They would be women who can relate to her story, as well as advisors or therapists. We gave baby diapers away to a needy mother, those are the kinds of programs we do for Team Angela. For our Team Elaine we’re going to get some marriage counseling in, and we’re going to get AARP to talk to our Team Debra members. It just depends. We guide our programs around the different situations.”
What motivated you to start the WELL Place?
Jinwright: “Being empathetic to women and my personal belief that if anyone can manage their mind and find a way of expressing how they are feeling, talking, getting more information on different situations, they can feel better.
Getting that mind in a better state of well-being was my emphasis, trying to help women do that. Because I think everybody struggles.”
Tell us about specializing in leadership.
Jinwright: “Focus on what we’re trying to do and find the resources and the people to get things done, and try to look forward into the future of what we would like the situation to look like. Then put the time in, the research, to get it done. It bothers me when organizations meet but we don’t have a strategy, don’t know why we’re meeting. Why are we doing what we’re doing? You lead the people, then you ought to know what you’re trying to achieve.”
What are your hopes for the future?
Jinwright: “We want to be a community resource. We’re developing networks that will bring women into our programs, as well as our system to refer women that come to us that need help from other programs available in the area. We’re all about helping women feel better, encouraging them to move past difficult situations. We don’t all need therapy but everybody needs help in some way, and we’re trying to be the link in the chain.”
To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.
Want more WILMA? Click here to sign up for our WILMA Weekly email and announcements.