Since 1995, Franciscan Peacemakers has been ministering on the streets of Milwaukee reaching out primarily to women engaging in prostitution but also to the homeless and families living in poverty. Franciscan Peacemakers reaches out to people in need through food, personal care items as well as an invitation to leave the streets behind. Simple bag lunches are handed out as a way to feed but also to form relationships and trust.
In 2012, there were discussions as to how we could serve particularly the women better who prostitute on the streets. We were getting frustrated with programs that are currently offered to women who want to leave the streets and make healthy life changes because most times funding for a woman would run out after 60-90 days. Failure is the norm and the woman is blamed for not succeeding. We wanted to offer something more concrete, more holistic, and more transforming. We then came up with Clare Community and Gifts for the Journey.
Clare Community which is named after St. Clare of Assisi, opened in May 2014. Clare Community is a 2-year spiritually based program which will provide housing rent free to women seeking to leave prostitution and alcohol/drug abuse behind. The vision of Clare Community is that of women growing individually and collectively, while living in community.
To coincide with the development of Clare Community is Gifts for the Journey, our social enterprise that will provide opportunities for our women of Clare Community. At Gifts for the Journey, the women of Clare Community and other Franciscan Peacemaker participants will create bar soaps as well as bath and body products that are as good for the earth as they are for the body. Purchases of Gifts for the Journey products directly benefit the women by whom they were made.
While working at Gifts for the Journey, women learn skills in manufacturing, packaging, marketing and sales, and administration. It is a supportive workplace where women acquire the skills they need to earn a living wage.
For more information, to volunteer, or to help financially support this endeavor please visit us at www.franciscanpeacemakers.com or call us at 414-559-5761