Hope For Homeless Women

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Women who are homeless may be dealing with layers of problems like
addiction, prostitution, mental illness
or just poverty and bad luck. As Reed Galin discovered, many find help at “Ruth’s Place” a shelter, and a place for a new beginning.      

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(Locator: Wilkes-Barre, Pa.)

Erica Winterling, Ruth’s Place Resident: “People look at you like you’re dirt, like you don’t count, because you’re homeless.”

Erica had no money saved when the landlord sold her house without warning.

Erica Winterling, Ruth’s Place Resident: “I’m 56 years old and I shouldn’t be here. It feels very hurtful, very frustrating, strenuous.”

She slept under bridges and in empty buildings before coming to First United Methodist Church, downtown Wilkes-Barre.

Ruth’s Place Volunteer: “Come on in.”

Erica had found Ruth’s Place, the only women’s shelter in northeast Pennsylvania, run in the church by Julie Benjamin.

Julie Benjamin, Ruth’s Place, talks with client: “What size do ya take? Those’ll fit me.”

Erica Winterling, Ruth’s Place Resident: “We had two more come in tonight so that makes maybe 22, 23 girls that are here.”

Julie Benjamin, Ruth’s Place, talks with client: “Did you just get out of prison? At the end of June, uh January.”

There is no limit to how long someone can stay.

Julie Benjamin, Ruth’s Place, First United Methodist Church: “If we put them out, we might not be able to solve their problem. But we’re hoping that somewhere in the time they’re here something will click to make them be able to find what they need to be successful outside the shelter.”

Erica Winterling, Ruth’s Place Resident: “Some women move on a lot quicker than others.”

Many don’t succeed. But Regina has. 

Regina Drasher, Ruth’s Place Volunteer: “When I first came here, I was still, I had just gotten out of jail, I was still getting high.”

Regina sobered up, earned a G.E.D, got her own place and now volunteers.

Regina Drasher, Ruth’s Place Volunteer; “It was because no matter what, they didn’t stop caring.”

Erica Winterling, Ruth’s Place Resident: “It’s a bridge were you can build your self-esteem back up. And it’s a place you can put your head.”

As Erica turns in this night, there is another knock on the church door.


Julie Benjamin’s husband Keith is the pastor at First United Methodist.  He started the program five years ago as a cold weather effort but recently the church committed to keeping Ruth’s Place operating year ‘round because the need is more than seasonal.

You can contact Ruth’s Place at 570-822-6817.

Also, see: Ruth's Place provides sanctuary for homeless women