The history of our mission
Sojourner Center was founded in 1977 as an emergency program for women who had recently been released from prison. A passionate group of 12 visionaries recognized that women who were leaving the criminal justice system rarely had the skills or support to be successful in the outside world. Sojourner Center provided a temporary home as well as programs that taught self-sufficiency, empowerment, and family skills, which helped the women rebuild their lives and re-enter society.
During the first four years, the staff and Board of Directors found that the dominant issue affecting the women at Sojourner Center was domestic violence. In an effort to better meet the needs of the women staying at the shelter, the Board changed the mission to focus exclusively on serving victims of domestic violence.
Since then, the facility has grown from a house with only 28 emergency beds to three campuses with the capacity of 280 beds and 32 transitional apartments. Twenty- nine of the apartments are located at Sojourner Center's Transitional Family Living Campus. This facility also has a community clubhouse, as well as an education center, and a donation and resource facility which are currently under construction.
Sojourner Center is one of the largest domestic violence shelters the United States. As a direct result of its capacity, Sojourner Center is able to serve over 2,900 women and children annually.
The woman behind the name
Her slave name was Isabella Baumfree. Carrying an infant daughter, she fled her chains in 1826 and struggled for months to reunite her family. She became a passionate Christian who, after nearly two decades as a housekeeper, told friends in 1843, “The Spirit calls me. I must go.” She adopted the name Sojourner Truth and traveled the country, preaching and singing. Her theme was abolition, but as the crowds who came to hear her grew, so did her message. Tens of thousands were stirred by her words on the rights of women and the equality of all, and she shared them tirelessly: “I felt as if I had three hearts!” she said, “and that they were so large, my body could hardly hold them!” Sojourner lived and worked until 1883. Though born into slavery, she escaped to become the guest of two presidents, and the conscience of a nation. Sojourner Center is proud to carry her name and her convictions.