For many Tucson women experiencing homelessness Sister José Women’s Center (SJWC) is their only safe haven and the first step to recovery from homelessness. We are a Tucson-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2009. Our low-barrier day center provides unaccompanied homeless women with a stable and safe environment to recuperate from the daily struggle of homelessness and extreme poverty. The Winter Night Program provides overnight stays for women who would otherwise be sleeping outside; we provided 1562 overnights last winter. All of this was accomplished through the dedication and hard work of volunteers and university interns – they are the heartbeat of SJWC. We are more than a center; we are a community built upon the values of compassion, dignity and respect in a non-institutionalized setting. For many of our guests we are home.
A community where every homeless woman has a safe harbor and a path to a sustainable existence.
Sister José Women’s Center is dedicated to the care and nurture of homeless women in a welcoming and safe environment.
• each person’s unique gifts
• the beauty in each person
• the connection among women
• meeting each person where they are
Sisters Helping Sisters Day Program
Sister José Women’s Center (SJWC) operates a low-demand daytime drop-in center that provides provides three meals a day, showers, laundry, clothing, shoes, and personal hygiene products for homeless women. The need for daytime services continues to grow: guest visits average 2000+ each month. It takes more than 1700 volunteer hours each month to keep our services available to women in need. SJWC is a hub of vitally needed services, we provide free space for outside agencies to be where homeless women gather in a warm and supportive community.
Day Program Offerings
• Safety for women in a pet-friendly center
• Breakfast and lunch
• Sack lunches from Caridad Community Kitchen
• Cots, pillows, and blanket for daytime resting
• Hot showers and personal hygiene
• Free clothing and shoes
• New underwear and socks
• Laundry facilities
• Visiting Outreach from local agencies
• Free Wi-Fi
• Leisure activities
A Safe Place for Women Night Program
Each night our program offers 36 women a hot home-cooked meal and a safe space to sleep. We provide over 13,000 safe overnights each year to homeless women who would otherwise sleep outdoors. Volunteers cook and spend the night supervising the program, donating over 840 hours each month. Safety and support from staff, volunteers, and each other help women come to believe in their own value as unique human beings who can take the next step forward out of homelessness. SJWC offers women an extended stay in the overnight program so they have the stability from which to do the hard work of moving to a self-sufficient life.
In September 2017, SJWC began its pilot empowerment program, CREATE (Confidence, Readiness, Empowerment, Action, Transformation, Engagement) Program for women. CREATE is a 26-week residential program for homeless women who earn a modest stipend while participating in a unique curriculum of life skills, job readiness, creative and expressive arts, wellness, and literacy. Women begin to find their voices and renew their confidence and personal identity while completing tasks vital to moving forward with the support of a coach. The impact of the CREATE Program has been very exciting and inspirational!
We Love Our Amazing Volunteers!
Monthly Volunteer Hours
It takes over 1,400 volunteer hours each month to keep our services available to women in need.
Interested in Volunteering?
At this time, we are committed to protecting our Overnight Guests from exposure to COVID-19. We have cancelled our Volunteer Orientations until it is safe to hold them again. Until then, individuals interested in volunteering may contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Laura Lynn, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Meet Our Board and Staff
Board of Directors
Rob Burris – Burris & MacOmber, PLLC
Shelley Watson – Southern Arizona Leadership Council
Msgr. Tom Cahalane – Pastor, Our Mother of Sorrows Church
Paki Rico – Pima Association of Governments
Aida Samuel – The Offshore Group
Tracy Scholz – BBVA Compass Bank
Steve Tofel – Community Member
Member at Large:
Bishop Edward Weisenburger – Bishop, Diocese of Tucson
Jean Fedigan, Executive Director
Julee Dawson, Director of Development and Marketing
Penny Buckley, Program Director
Brenda Druke, Development Assistant
Laura Lynn, Volunteer Coordinator
Peggy Brown, Administrative Assistant
Rabbi Thomas Louchheim
G. Lawrence Schubart
Community and Friends
We are proud to work in partnership with many civil and faith-based groups, social services dedicated to the help and support of homeless individuals, and other friends in Tucson’s generous and open-hearted community.
- 5 Points Market and Restaurant
- CARIDAD Community Kitchens
- Catholic Diocese of Tucson
- Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona
- CARIDAD Community Kitchen
- Grace St. Paul Episcopal Church
- Tucson-Pima Collaboration to End Homelessness (TPCH)
- Compass Affordable Housing
- Veterans First
- Congregation Or Chadash
- St. Vincent de Paul
- Salpointe High School
- Southwest Institute for Research on Women (SIROW)
- Franciscan Ministries
- Center for Spiritual Living
- Pima County Library Book Bike
- Temple Emanuel
A huge thank you to the Tucson’s construction community who helped renovate our new home!
All of these generous companies either completely donated or greatly reduced their costs for remodeling materials and labor.
The Cooler Guy
Millwork by Design
Treehouse Design Group
Barry-Henkel Building Specialties, Inc.
Taylor Demolition & Recycling
Achilles Air Conditioning
Escante Concrete Construction
W.G. Valenzuela Drywall
Universal Wallboard Corp.
Allan Fire Protection
Excel Mechanical Inc
NET Electric Co. Inc.
Tucson Expediting and Development
Cutting Edge Fabrication
Foundation Building Materials
Schneider & Assoc.
Southern Arizona Rain Gutters
Santa Theresa Tile Works
Arizona Restaurant Supply
Dunn Edwards Paint
Territorial Design & Display
West Coast Roofing
Sister José Hobday (1929-2009)
Our Center is named in honor of Sister José Hobday, a Franciscan nun who dedicated her life to helping the poor. Sr. José was one of America’s most popular speakers on prayer and spirituality during her lifetime. Her enthusiasm for the presence of God in the ordinary was truly contagious. Her stories drawn from her own experience growing up as a Native American Catholic in the American Southwest, eloquently communicate her relationship with and commitment to God, family and community.
Sr. José had a passionate love for the poor and those on the margins of life. She was a close friend of Dorothy Day and Ceasar Chavez and followed the Gospel way of St. Francis and St. Clare. Sr. José lived the final years of her life in Tucson. The Women’s Shelter is dedicated to her memory and to the spirit of her life. May all who seek shelter here be touched and embraced through the gift of her mystical prayer and through her Lord and Savior who came not to be served but to serve, and to lay down his life as a ransom for the many.
~ Msgr. Tom Cahalane, Board Member
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