The Women’s City Club of Delaware, Ohio will be giving a garden tour of 8 Delaware gardens this weekend in an attempt to raise money for housing renovations, including those for its dining room’s recently collapsed ceiling.
The nonprofit organization dedicates itself to providing women in need with low cost housing. The group consistently fundraises in order to provide the residents with low rents, which are about $60 a week per resident and include utilities. In addition to constantly fundraising to keep rents low, the WCC has to raise additional funds for the home’s many necessary repairs. The 135 N. Franklin St. home was once an Ohio Wesleyan University fraternity house and has been in business since 1954, so renovations are not an uncommon need for the historic home.
One of the club’s more recent fundraisers took place on Friday, April 14, 2014, when the volunteers of the WCC collected donated items for a rummage sale to be held the next day. The rummage sale was inspired by a need to make about $4,000 for renovations, but raised $900. April’s rummage sale could not have predicted a need for funding beyond their goal of $4000, but in early June, the home’s dining room ceiling collapsed. The ceiling continues to be the primary concern for the renovations and safety of the women living there. Even with insurance coverage, the WCC expects to spend a significant amount of money on the repair.
There are eight women who reside in the rooms on the second and third floor of the four-story home. Only single women are eligible to live at WCC, but women of all ages, from 20 to 90 and above, are welcome.
OWU alumna Emily Amburgey, ’13, is one of those eight women, but her reasons for occupancy are different than most. Amburgey is the house monitor as well as an intern coach for the Varsity Track team at Ohio Wesleyan.
“I needed a place to live in Delaware that was cheap,” she said. “I kind of intern coach, follow my head coaches around and do what they do. I don’t get paid anything.”
A former Women and Gender Studies/Sociology double major, Amburgey is applying to graduate school next year and plans to become a social worker. She said her position at the WCC helps her prepare for a future of helping others.
“(WCC) is right up my alley,” she said. “It’s interesting seeing the different mix of people that come through this house, and it’s just neat to be able to talk to and eclectic group of women and be able to help them out on their little journeys.”
As the monitor, Amburgey also acts as the house’s resident mediator, putting out any emotional fires that may arise within the residents.
“Anything like someone gets locked out of their room or if there’s any sort of question or dispute, that’s what I’m here for,” she said. “I mean it’s a house full of women, it can be difficult at times but for the most part it’s totally fine,” she said.
Kelly Abel, 21, who graduated from Rutherford B. Hayes High School in 2011, moved in about two weeks before the rummage sale.
“I was in Bowling Green, Ohio for a few months, couch hopping because things got really bad with my parents,” she said. “They were emotionally abusive, that’s why I left.”
Although Amburgey and Abel are both in their 20’s, most of the other residents vary in age. The WCC provides housing for single women of all ages, from 20-90 and above.
“I’m thinking that down the road I definitely want to not live here because I want to be married and have children of my own,” Abel said.
Abel said she is happy to call the WCC her temporary home, she said that she has many aspirations for her future and is currently looking for a job in Delaware.
“I’m trying to find work right now, anything that pays,” she said. “I heard possibly United Dairy Farmers.”
Like Abel, housemate Rebekah Nussbum, 32, from Orville, Ohio found the WCC after moving out of her childhood residence.
“I was ready to move out of my parents house, I heard about (WCC) and finally decided I might as well try it,” said Nussbum.
Nussbum has been living at the WCC for about 16 months. Currently unemployed, Nessbum had worked at the Columbus Zoo in season since 2003. Unlike Abel, she said she’s not sure what she wants to do in the future.
Treasurer for the WCC, Sue Capretta, intends on raising enough money so residents like Nussbum and Abel have a safe and inexpensive place to live for as long as they wish. She said the board for the WCC is bonded by this idea.
“I think it was just the concept of what the group does, being able to allow women to be here, you know for reduced price and helping them work through their struggles,” Capretta said.
Greta Bemiller, the current Vice President of the WCC, has been a member of the board for over 10 years.
“I came in and met everyone having dinner and liked the people and got involved,” she said of her start at the WCC. “It’s a fun group we work very hard but have fun as well.”
Zuilla Way founded the WCC 60 years ago, and Bemiller said that they frequently hold events to raise awareness and funds in an effort to honor her mission: providing safe and affordable housing for women below the poverty line.
“Board meeting is the first Tuesday of every month, and we have a dinner meetings, sometimes we go to restaurants. We usually have a potluck and we do some fun silly things,” Bemiller said. “We’ll have a chili cook off and give awards- they’re major awards,” she added in April as she was holding up decorations for the rummage sale.