From Blizzards to Blooms!

Early March in South Dakota is probably not your idea of ideal wedding season but March 9th is now the official wedding anniversary of my niece and her husband.  It was a chilly, slightly breezy day but the church was packed, the bride was beautiful and the ceremony was a smooth success.

So, as I mentioned, this was early March in the midwest; weather this time of year changes quicker than a new-born’s diaper.  The wedding day, a chilly 28 degrees, the next day low and calm 30’s, followed by a beautiful, clear, sunny 68 degrees that required me taking a hike in the hills.  That was the day before I was ‘scheduled’ to return to Oregon.  On departure day, temperatures plummeted to near ZERO, wind gusts exceeded 70mph and blizzard warnings shut down schools, businesses, and yes… the airport. Three days later I arrived back in Oregon.

As we drove from Eugene to Albany, I noticed the ditches thick with sunshine yellow daffodils.  The blooms seemed to be welcoming me home.  I started the day driving by 5-foot snow drifts and ended with a sunshine yellow path leading the way home.

I would like to say that Grace House is like the radiant, welcoming daffodils but alas, Grace House is the dirt in the ditches.  It’s the women that we serve, that come to us in the blizzards of life that, through love, grace and nurturing turn into blooming flowers.

Spring has sprung but thanks to all of our supportive partners we are always blooming at Grace House.

Denise Livingston

Executive Director

Our History

Women at the Well started in 2008 reaching out to homeless women in various shelters and homeless camps around Salem. The Women at the Well volunteers picked them up every second and fourth Saturday each month; providing lunch, clothing, teaching life skills, such as; interview techniques, budget balancing, and share inspirational messages. This enabled the homeless women to begin emotional healing and move toward healthy, productive lives.

After providing these services for some time, the volunteers realized women were being forced to live on the streets where it is not safe because there are not enough shelters in Marion and Polk Counties. Women were often beaten, robbed, raped, some several times.

As a result of the volunteers’ vision to continue to help the homeless, in December 2010, Women at the Well Grace House became a nonprofit organization. To further the volunteers’ mutual vision, in March 2013, a building was purchased, refurbished and furnished. Once completed, it became Grace House and officially opened to take in its first clients in July 2013. Grace House became a solution for resolving the homeless issues for single women.

Our Values

We acknowledge and honor the fundamental value and dignity of all individuals.

We strive to empower clients, staff and volunteers to accept responsibility for their actions.

We encourage them to become positive stewards of integrity, responsibility and commitment enabling them to live a life of meaning and purpose.

We respect freedom of choice and decisions towards achieving their own positive life goals.

Our Vision

Grace House’s vision is to continue to provide a womens only shelter unique to Salem that will offer life skills, tools designed to assist homeless women break the cycle of homelessness and to maintain self-sufficiency through:


  • Providing for immediate needs of food, clothes, and transitional shelter
  • Offering free access to support groups, mentoring, and counseling aimed at boosting self-esteem, providing hope, healing, and encouraging positive behavior
  •  Educating the women on how to make healthy decisions
  •  Providing resources and referrals in collaboration with community partners
  • Providing excellent follow-up through mentors, support groups, and routine contacts

Our Mission

  • To provide refuge, support, hope, and love to single women without dependents in a Christ centered faith-based shelter.
  • To remove the obstacles of homelessness by empowering women to achieve and maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle through our Self-Sufficiency Program.