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Wellspring Women's Center

Community Partner Spotlight, July 2010

service learning student checking woman's blood pressure.

A landmark to the Oak Park community since 1987, Wellspring Women’s Center provides a safe, caring, and drug-free environment for low-income women and children.

“Every woman is treated as a guest,” said Sacramento State Child Development lecturer Judy Judd, Ph.D. Guests are “respected and offered help that promotes health, wellness and education.” Wellspring Women’s Center’s mission of “hospitality with dignity and love” is present in all the work that it does—from the nutritious breakfasts served to counseling, referral services, and emergency assistance.

“Wellspring strives to foster the innate goodness and personal self-esteem of our guests,” said Executive Director Sister Judy Illig with pride.  “We seek to support them as they journey from simply surviving to thriving.”

The incorporation of Service Learning through Community Engagement Center has brought students to Wellspring to enrich their education.  Sacramento State students benefit by applying their skills from the classroom in a real world environment. For Wellspring guests, service learning students augment the small Wellspring staff to provide one-on-one support. According to Sister Judy, guests find it encouraging to see that there are people who will come and listen to their stories, and that these are people who care even though the students don’t personally know the guests.

Sister Judy finds the Service Learning program to be “very well organized and developed.”  She said, “Community Engagement Center has helped keep our organization informed and connected to other organizations.”

Wellspring connects students to a variety of different activities during their service.   “The nursing students have really brought out awareness and the guests have taken their advice to see their physicians regarding their health,” said Sister Judy. According to Denise Wall-Parilo, RN, MSN, Associate Professor of nursing at Sacramento State, “The clients have been especially appreciative of the blood pressure screenings that our students perform and the health education they provide.”

service learning student and Sister Judy discussing painting with Wellspring guest.While service activities are tailored to fit the specific learning needs of each academic discipline (for example, nursing students help educate guests on nutrition and creating a healthy lifestyle, child development students work with parents and in the Children’s Corner, and social work students provide case management) every student assists in the kitchen, helps serve, and greets guests at the door so that each student has a full, well-rounded learning experience at Wellspring.

According to Dr. Judd, students who have participated in Service Learning at Wellspring “have found the experience educational and enjoyable.  Students examine their interest in future careers in non-profits, social work, and child care and enrichment.”  Wellspring Women’s Center hopes that every student leaves with a concrete idea of how a non-profit organization operates as well as the desire to consider the non-profit sector as a potential career choice.  

For alumnae Yi Yang and Genelle Smith, participation in Service Learning has led to careers with Wellspring Women’s Center.  Yi Yang, a coordinator for the Children’s Corner Program, was a social work student at Sac State who started her career at the Center as an intern.  Genelle Smith, who received her master’s degree in social work at Sac State, is currently a social worker and counselor at Wellspring Women’s Center. Smith also serves as mentor to Sac State graduate students.

Contributed by KT. Aquino and TH. Nguyen


Each year, more than two thousand Sacramento State students, faculty, staff, and alumni participate in programs and projects sponsored by Community Engagement Center. Programs such as Alternative Break, AmeriCorps Students in Service, Sac State Serves, and Service Learning fulfill our mission to facilitate learning and engagement by linking campus and community for mutual benefit. Through Spotlight, Community Engagement Center will highlight outstanding individuals and programs advancing community engagement in the Sacramento region.

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last updated: 7/12/2011