Massachusetts Nonprofit Spotlight: Women's Lunch Place

This feature is part of a recurring series on Massachusetts nonprofits, through which Boston Mamas Founder + Editor Christine Koh donates her digital real estate once a month in order to shine a light on great work that is happening in this fine state to help those in need. If you work at or know of a fantastic Massachusetts nonprofit worthy of feature, fill out this form!

This month’s spotlight is on Women’s Lunch Place, an organization that serves healthy breakfasts and lunches to women in the Greater Boston Area who are experiencing homelessness and poverty, while also providing basic necessities and services that help restore dignity and hope. The responses below are written from the voice of Women’s Lunch Place staffer Rani Wise.

What is the story behind Women's Lunch Place?

Women’s Lunch Place was started in November 1982 by friends Eileen Reilly and Jane Alexander, who saw there was a need among women who were homeless for a safe place to go during the day. Reilly and Alexander met as volunteers at Pine Street Inn, an overnight shelter for men, and noticed that women dressed as men in order to get a meal and bed. Being dressed as men put these women at risk from males at the shelter and on the streets. Reilly and Alexander decided to do something to change this and after searching for a place, they were welcomed by members of the Church of the Covenant in Boston’s Back Bay. Twelve women were served a hot lunch prepared by Reilly, Alexander and other volunteers in the basement of the church. Today, the dining room is open from 7:00am-2:00pm Monday through Saturday. Our mission still is to foster respect and dignity for every woman with no questions asked.

 Image courtesy of Women's Lunch Place

Image courtesy of Women's Lunch Place

What are the core community activities of Women's Lunch Place?

At Women’s Lunch Place, we care for Boston’s most vulnerable women with dignity, foster their resilience, and empower them to pursue their dreams. We serve healthy breakfasts and lunches, and we also provide basic necessities and services that help restore dignity and hope. Also, the Spaghetti Dinner is Women’s Lunch Place’s signature fall event, which began more than 30 years ago as a homemade fundraising dinner in the shelter.

 Image courtesy of Women's Lunch Place

Image courtesy of Women's Lunch Place

How has Women's Lunch Place made an impact?

In 2017 we:

  • Provided 104,625 meals to our guests
  • Helped 595 women through advocacy
  • Helped make possible 4,556 showers, 3,928 naps, 3,855 loads of laundry
  • Provided 425 attorney consultations
  • Provided 3,172 medical visits
  • Collected $1,024,431 estimated value of in-kind donations          
 Image courtesy of Women's Lunch Place

Image courtesy of Women's Lunch Place

What's an example of how Women's Lunch Place has made a difference?

When a woman decides to walk through our doors for the first time she is committing an act of courage. By coming to us, she is one step closer to living a better life. Staff and volunteers welcome her with respect and dignity.

What does Women's Lunch Place need most right now?

1. Monetary donations for programs and staffing

2. In-kind donations of basic necessities (shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, etc.)

3. Volunteers in the kitchen and resource center

 Image courtesy of Women's Lunch Place

Image courtesy of Women's Lunch Place

Thank you, Women’s Lunch Place, for all you are doing for women in the Greater Boston area! If you want to support Women’s Lunch Place, an easy way would be to share this feature. And another great way would be to drop them a donation!