Poetry the next focus for Wise and Strong Women Speak!

The Center for Wisdom’s Women announces the next in its semi-annual Wise and Strong Women Speak programs set for Friday, March 11 from 5:00-7:00 p.m.  Now in its fifth year, these “Wise and Strong Women Speak” evenings are designed to give voice to the often unspoken stories of women. They have evolved into a magical community experience that inspires all who attend. The focus this spring is on two poets Claire Hersom and Susann Pelletier who will share about their lives and their poetry. The conversations will again be hosted and facilitated by Marguerite Stapleton.

Claire Hersom is a native Mainer who’s poetry is about Maine; it’s beauty, it’s culture and it’s working poor. Her first self-published book, Supper At The Farm, is about her Irish family and their farm in Pittston Maine.  Her latest poetry book, Drowning: A Poetic Memoir was published by Moon Pie Press of Portland. The book chronicles her and her children’s struggle out of a welfare system and financial situation relentless to keep her there. Claire’s work appears in several poetry journals and anthologies, as well as in Yankee Magazine’s New England Memories series. Drowning: A Poetic Memoir was supplemental text for degree classes in Human Services at the University of Maine, Rockland campus.

In 2011, she was nominated and awarded an Emerging Artist Grant in Literature from the St. Botolph Club Foundation of Boston. Claire volunteers in area schools giving poetry ‘days’ to students k-12. She is one of three organizers for The Harlow Gallery’s poetry series, ‘The Bookey Readings at the Harlow’.

Susann PelletierSusann Pelletier, a native of Lewiston, began writing poems when she was 11 years old.  Her work gives voice to her deep connections to family and place in Franco-America, as well as her vision of social justice and dignity at home and beyond our borders.

Her articles and poems have been published here and abroad in anthologies, literary journals, chapbooks, and political and environmental magazines.  A series of her poems appeared in 2008 in Voyages: A Maine Franco-American Reader (Tilbury House and Franco-American Collection, publishers).  In November 2010, she took part, representing Franco-America, in the Bates International Poetry Festival with seven other poets from around the world. These readings were streamed around the globe, along with text translations.   Susann’s poems and their French translations appeared in 2011 in Translations, an e-book publication of festival poets’ works for international audiences. In 2016, a series of Susann’s poems will appear in Inspired, Inspiring, Inspire—French Heritage Women Create, an anthology celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Maine Franco-American Women’s Institute. She is completing a book-length collection of poems, What We Gather in November, which she hopes to publish in the coming year.

A long-time advocate of local and sustainable organic food systems, Susann and her spouse, Jim Lysen and daughter Genevieve, participate in a Maine-products food cooperative, community-supported agriculture (CSA), and also grow and preserve their own organic vegetables, fruits and herbs.

Poetry books will be available for sale at both venues. Light refreshments will be offered. There is no charge for attendance, although donations are encouraged to support The Center for Wisdom’s Women. Those who attend are invited to bring contributions of hygiene items (full size, unopened containers only please) for the Center’s hygiene pantry! Most needed are shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste.   

No reservations are needed, just come and bring a friend. On site parking is limited, but is available on the street or walkable a few blocks away in the Park Street garage.


SAVE the DATES:     November 12-15, 2015Love Heals Flyer

Love Heals








Four Days with Becca Stevens and women from the Magdalene Community of Thistle Farms.  Located in Nashville, TN the Magdalene Community is a residential program for women who have survived prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. Thistle Farms is the program’s social enterprise. More info on each event is linked below to the LOVE HEALS Facebook page:


Thursday 7:00 p.m. Presentation at Bates College, Lewiston

Friday 10-12:00 Conversation, 5:00-7:00 Wise and Strong Women SPEAK at Center for Wisdom’s Women, Lewiston

Saturday 10-2:00 With the Episcopal Diocese, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brunswick. Registration required only for the Saturday. CLICK HERE to REGISTER for Saturday.

Sunday 10:00 a.m. Worship at Trinity Episcopal Church, Lewiston

You may attend any or all events.  There are no charges for any programs though donations are encouraged and will be gratefully received. Donations on Friday will go to the Center for Wisdom’s Women.

WHO? Ministry and social service providers and others interested in learning more about the reality of human trafficking, sexual exploitation, addiction and incarceration, and the possibilities for addressing the needs of survivors.

WHY? The goals of events are to raise awareness of the situation here in Maine, to share effective resources and models, and to inspire and empower participants to engage in efforts that foster healing and recovery for survivors.

Product PhotoThistle Farms products will be for sale at all events along with items made by women at The Center for Wisdom’s Women.

FMI: Contact the Center for Wisdom’s Women, 207-513-3922, or e-mail below.



Wise & Strong Women SPEAK

Two events with Deb Soul of Avena BotanicalsDeb Soule

The Center for Wisdom’s Women and the Lots to Gardens program of St. Mary’s Nutrition Center are partnering to bring Deb Soule to Lewiston on Friday, April 17.  She will be offering two programs to support an expanded herb garden at the women’s center, bring attention to Lots to Gardens projects, while also encouraging the growing of healing herbs in urban settings.

Deb Soule practices as an herbalist, educator and biodynamic gardener and is the author of How To Move Like a Gardener: Planting and Preparing Medicines from Plants (2013) and A Woman¹s Book of Herbs (1998). In 1985 she founded the herbal apothecary Avena Botanicals where she and her staff produce by hand over 200 herbal remedies. Deb has been using biodynamic practices on her farm since 1998 and in 2011 Avena became the first farm in Maine to be Demeter-certified. Avena’s three-acre gardens serve as a healing space for the community, a habitat for pollinators and a living classroom for students and is a member of United Plant Savers Botanical Sanctuary. The farm also produces over 1800 pounds of medicinal herbs for Avena’s apothecary.

“Growing and Using Medicinal Herbs”

From 2:30-4:00 Deb will be at the Nutrition Center for a pre-event workshop on “Growing and Using Medicinal Herbs.” The St. Mary’s Nutrition Center (NC) promotes community health through organizing, advocacy, and education. The NC is home to a food pantry, cooking and nutrition education programs, job training for teens, year round farmers’ markets, and the Lots to Gardens program, which uses 12 urban community gardens in downtown Lewiston to create access to local food, empower youth, and build community. Through workshops and classes they teach about growing and eating good foods.

Lots to Gardens is advising and assisting with the gardening at the women’s center.  In addition to herbs, the expanded gardens will include lots of calendula, thought to be a healing medicinal plant, especially for women who have been abused. As part of a global grassroots “Grow a Row of Calendula” project promoted by Avena Botanicals, the public will be encouraged to also cultivate calendula. Each participant in the workshop will be invited to take home Calendula seeds to plant in solidarity with the women’s center. Harvested flowers, both those grown at the women’s center and any donated ones, will be processed into a healing salve to sell.  Fresh bouquets will also be given to the local Safe Voices Shelter and will be sold at the summer Farmer’s Markets.

“Wise and Strong Women Speak – The Soul of Gardening”

At 5:00 Deb will be one of the speakers at the semi-annual “Wise and Strong Women Speak” program at the Center for Wisdom’s Women. In these semi-annual public conversations, two women share stories from their lives and reflect on a topic of mutual interest. Deb’s partner in conversation will be a local herbalist, Kate Boverman, who grows and creates medicines and healing foods at the Clark Mountain Community Land Trust in Greene, Maine.  She is also a member of Radherb, a network of herbalists in the U.S. who are working to incorporate health justice principles into herbalism. Their focus of conversation will be on “The Soul of Gardening.”

Now in its fourth year, these “Wise and Strong Women Speak” evenings are designed to give voice to the often unspoken stories of women. They have evolved into a magical community experience that inspires all who attend. Light snacks and beverages will be offered.

Herbal products and books from Avena Botanicals will be available for sale at both venues. No reservations are needed for either event, just come and bring a friend.  There is no charge for attendance, although donations will be encouraged to support the gardening programs at The Center for Wisdom’s Women.

The Nutrition Center (corner of Pine and Walnut) and The Center for Wisdom’s women (between Pine and Ash) are located a block apart, just off of Bates Street.  Parking at each site is limited, but is available a few blocks away either in the Park Street garage.


This is a new experimental project at the Center. Over the summer we tested what we call “The Peasant Pantry Café.” Many countries have a one dish sustenance meal that is affordable and healthy. Each “Peasant Pantry” meal will come from a different country and be served in a single dish with a piece of bread or fruit and simple dessert our sunflower cookies.

DSCF4087In July we featured Cuban Black Beans and Rice. In August we did it twice and served an Italian Pasta and Cauliflower recipe and Egyptian Ful. Recipes are made available so the meal can be shared at home as well.  Donations to cover the cost (including the time of those who prepared it) are encouraged and welcomed. Come between 11:30 and 1:30 to enjoy good, simple food and conversation!

It has been a great win-win-win experience… A wonderful community builder, a new way to promote the Center and teach healthy eating, and an activity that gives women experience in planning, preparing and hosting/serving a meal while taking home a bit of spending money. The Cafe will usually be offered near the end of each month, with the next being planned for September 30, now with the help of Paul Drowns from the Nutrition Center of Maine.


“Can GOD be SHE?”

Offered twice annually and now in its third year, these Wise and Strong Women evenings are designed to give voice to the often silent story of women. They have evolved into a magical community experience that inspires all who come.

Join Susan Davies and Marian (Kitsie) Claxton in a special evening considering the nature of God from the viewpoint of two remarkable women, one a theologian, the other a chaplain. In sharing stories about their lives and reflecting on their faith journey as women, they will consider the bigger questions of life and death and what “moves” the world, and explore the infinite number of ways that people answer those questions.

Susan DaviesSusan E Davies, Ed.D, taught Pastoral Studies, critical thinking, and Justice at the Heart of God for 31 years at Bangor Theological Seminary, where she also served as Jonathan Fisher Professor and Academic Dean.  In addition, she taught both feminist/womanist theology and religious education classes.  Active in the ecumenical and interfaith worlds, she has been the Moderator of the Faith and Order Commission for the National Council of Churches, Co-Moderator of the Global Covenanting for Justice in the Economy and the Earth Network of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and currently serves as Moderator of the Transformational Theology Working Group of Oikotree International.  Sue studied at Wellsley College, Andover Newton Theological School, Yale Divinity School, New York Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary, and was ordained by the UCC Church in 1973.  When not traveling, she and her two cats live in Veazie, where she loves to ‘play outside’ in the gardens.

Kistey ClaxtonMarian “Kitsie” Claxton, M. Div, served as a hospice chaplain with Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice for 11 years, finishing in 2013. She holds a B.A. in history from Princeton University (1973) and is a 2006 graduate of Bangor Theological Seminary. Kitsie is an avid quilter who currently works part-time at Quiltessentials in Auburn. She also volunteers with the Androscoggin Land Trust as a land steward and newsletter contributor. As an active 25-year member of the First Universalist Church of Auburn, Kitsie serves as the chair of the Worship Associates, and last year won an “unsung hero” award from the Northern New England District of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Kitsie and her husband Ned have two grown sons, Nick and Will.  They have lived in Auburn since 1978,

No reservations are needed, just come and bring a friend.  Light snacks and beverages will be offered.  There is no charge, although a donation to the women’s center is appreciated.



Held on Saturdays nearest the Equinox and Solstice from 10:00-2:00! The day begins with a spoken meditation, and ends with shared reflections. A reading is offered during lunch. Otherwise the day is in silence. A simple meal is provided for those who sign up ahead.

September 20 – Led by Pat Gardiner and December 21  – Led by Klara Tammany


Do you like to sing? No experience needed, any ability welcomed (you don’t need to read music). We sing just to nurture our inner spirits! It is fun and life giving! Bring simple songs to share, a contribution for the meal if you can, and a drum if you have one! Schedule: 4-5:00 Sing, 5:00 Pot-Luck Supper, 5:45-6:30 Sing Again!

Monday, September 22 & Saturday, December 21



MARCH 7, 5:00-7:00 p.m. 

On Friendship, Creativity and Imperfection

Join Anne Kemper, Gretchen Rosen and Eileen Fair on March 7, on the eve of International Women’s Day, for the next semi-annual “Wise and Strong Women Speak” program at The Center for Wisdom’s Women. Through four decades this trio has woven beautiful threads of support while encountering the ups and downs of life.  Their abiding friendship has helped each of them remain steady and focused while navigating successes and detours, sustaining them as they ventured through life’s journey.

Their relationship has included lots of listening as they have encouraged each other to take risks and think outside the box. They have been part of each other’s lives through the raising of children, finding new career paths, and experiencing changes in their families. They have shared creativity, bumps, changes, loss, partnership, messiness, and successful achievements. They have painted sunrise and sunset colors in Eileen’s first ‘room of her own,’ have cooked lots of dinners, created quilts , crafted , laughed and groused  together.  They are spiritual sisters who generally just love being together!

Eileen (l), Gretchen (c), Anne (r)

Professionally, Eileen Fair (l) has been providing mental health services in various settings over the last 40 years in the Lewiston/Auburn communities.  Anne Kemper (c), a 39 year resident of Lewiston, is the Counselor Coordinator of Lewiston Adult Education’s Adult Learning Center.  Gretchen Rosen (r) has been a Peace Corp volunteer in Chile, a teacher, a parent educator, a court mediator, and she continues to volunteer and serve on boards. She has lived here for 43 years.

These three creative-leaning women have come to highly value their relationship with each other and other women. They join with the women’s center in inviting women to come reflect with them on “friendship, creativity and imperfection.” In this intimate public conversation, Eileen, Ann and Gretchen will consider female friendships, how we hang in tight with each other in tough times, how sometimes we must recognize the toxicity of unhealthy competition, and how over a period of time we can all come to appreciate the blessings of friendships.

Marguerite Stapleton will again facilitate the program planned for Friday evening, March 7 from 5:00-7:00.  No reservations are needed, just come and bring a friend.  Light snacks and beverages will be offered.  There is no charge, although a donation to the women’s center is appreciated. For more information call 513-3922.



Poster Slide

Yes indeed, it has been FIVE years! Come celebrate with us at our Open House on December 7 from 10:00-2:00! The Center was begun by the Daughters of Wisdom in 1999.  They had to leave the work in 2008 and a local group of women organized to continue it, with Trinity Church becoming the fiscal sponsor.

Since then the Center has registered over 600 women, with up to 30 women now visiting on a busy day. We offer weekday programs, support groups and activities, all volunteer led.  Operating expenses are covered mostly by private donations.

Our first ever “Woman of Wisdom Awards” at noon, will highlight the day. The award is intended to honor women who especially have a heart for the needs of women and children, yet have flown under the radar – unrecognized for their wisdom and work. There will be a cake and time for toasts with sparkling cider.

Light brunch snacks will be provided by the Nutrition Center of Maine. World crafts will be for sale from Karma Fair Trade in Portland, with proceeds to benefit the women’s center.  Also available for sale will be the Center’s “Wisdom Boxes” and “Gratitude Beads” or there will be the opportunity to make your own “Wisdom Box.”

A Bates student acapella group will come to sing and lead a holiday sing-along.  The Center will also lead a “Singing Circle” in the style of their monthly group.  Drawings for sunflower door prizes will happen throughout the day and raffle of a holiday gift basket is scheduled at the end of the day at 2:00.

Please spread the word, come join us, bring friends!

NEXT “WISE and STRONG WOMEN SPEAK” PROGRAM November 1, 5-7:00 p.m.

Whatever the mind can conceive, it can achieve” – W. Clement Stone

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Announcing the next in our series of  “Wise and Strong Women Speak” events!  This is a semi-annual program that invites remarkable women into a public conversation to share their lives and wisdom.  The focus this time will be on aspirations and inspirations, and on the roll of mentors who have helped in finding and fulfilling our true selves.

Gale HartGale Hart will share her personal story which includes: overcoming the challenges of being a single mother of three by the age of 23, leaving an abusive relationship, working while attending college, being sister of a murder victim, losing her home in a fire and being a caretaker of a son with a traumatic brain injury. “We get our strength from those that have gone before us” says Gale and “Sometime we just need a little encouragement.” She used to believe that life was what happened to you, but grew to understand from those who came before her, that life is a series of choices.  Through diversity, she found forgiveness, gratitude and her voice.

Gale is one of the most upbeat and inspiring woman you will ever meet.  Just as she was encouraged and helped along the way, Gale now inspires others.  In addition to her work as Finance Director at United Way, she spends time with other women sharing her experience and walking with them in journeys of change.

Bonnie Rousseau and Heather Flanders, two women who have recently come to volunteer at the women’s center, will join Gale in the second half.  We will hear a bit of their stories, and then the three women will enter into a conversation about finding and taking the next step.

Come join us and be inspired! No reservations are needed, just come and bring a friend.  Light snacks and beverages will be offered.  There is no charge, though a donation to the women’s center is appreciated. For more information call 513-3922.


International Women’s Day (March 8) has been celebrated around the world for just over 100 years.  It is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday. FMI see www.internationalwomensday.com. In celebration of the day this year we will be sponsoring TWO events:

Our third Wise and Strong Women Speak program to be held on Friday, March 8.  Each of the programs in this series features two women, who in a public conversation share their memories and wisdom.  The featured speakers this time are Rachel Desgrosseilliers and Rita Dube who have both led distinguished lives in our community.  In their conversation, they will focus their reflections on the power of heritage.

RachelDesgrosseilliersPhotoSince 2004, Rachel Desgrosseilliers has been Executive Director of Museum L-A.  In that role Rachel is developing a new Museum of Work and Community for Lewiston-Auburn and surrounding communities.  The museum tells the story of who we are as a people and challenges us to revisit the spirit of our amazing ancestors. Museum L-A has won several regional and national awards for programs, exhibits and published materials and prides itself in being a “Museum Without Walls.” Rachel also speaks nationally on a regular basis at the various Museum Associations in America.

International Women’s Day
Rita Dube

Rita Dube recently retired as Executive Director of the Franco-American Heritage Center.  As founder, she was instrumental in the development and restoration of the beautiful former St. Mary’s Church, transforming it into a state-of-the-art Performance Hall, a Heritage Museum, a Learning Center, and a multi-purpose Hall. It took 12 years to accomplish those results and 6 million dollars in fundraising. The venue has become a true community asset and a source of pride for all, especially the Franco-American community.

Marguerite Stapleton will again host the evening.  She has noted that “There are so many wise and strong women in this community.  It is time to celebrate this fact and invite them to give voice to their stories.” Marguerite has been involved in the community since 1977 and now offers resources in spirituality to individuals, groups and organizations through her consulting business, Wisdom Works. Marguerite was on the first Board of Directors for the women’s center. Anyone who knows her knows that she loves this community, its history and its people, and is passionate about women’s issues.

On Saturday evening, March 9, the women’s center this year is adding an additional event in honor of International Women’s Day. A gathering of women’s singing circles will offer a program called “Singing our Lives!”  Featured groups are Women With Wings from Bangor, and the Women’s Chorus from Brunswick. Each group will share several songs and also teach some for the gathered participants to sing together.  Other women’s singing circles or individual female singer-songwriters are invited to come offer a song or two.  The singing will be interspersed with poetry by and about women.

International Women’s DayFor ages, singing together has been a powerful form of healing, empowerment and celebration for women.  Women With Wings, which has met for two hours weekly since 1993, has as their goal to create “a safe, sacred space for exploring women’s spirituality through music.” In the pattern of our foremothers, through song they strive to enhance consciousness of Mother Earth, express love for the environment, and celebrate traditions form many cultures.(For more information see www.womenwitwings.org).  You are invited to join in this remarkable evening of singing with others.  No experience is needed, no reading of music required.   

The Friday evening presentation is from 5-7:00 p.m. and is open to the public. It will take place at the Center for Wisdom’s Women, located between Pine and Ash Streets, at 97 Blake St. in the extension in the back of Healy Terrace. There is limited parking on site, please use the street or the Park St. garage. Look for the door next to a big sign with a sunflower on it!

The Saturday evening event will take place just up the street at Trinity Episcopal Church, 247 Bates St., Lewiston (corner of Spruce). Doors open at 6:00 with the singing beginning at 7:00. Those who wish to perform a song should arrive early o sign up for a spot in the line-up.

March is also designated as Women’s History Month.  Our formal histories have tended to leave out the stories of women and the impact they have made in the world, so often accomplished quietly and behind the scenes. At a time of great need, there now seems to be a spirit moving in the world, bringing women to the forefront of change and it is exciting to watch. With these programs, we celebrate women in our own community who have made a difference. Come Friday and/or Saturday to be inspired by word and song, and let your own light shine!

Simple refreshments and beverages will be offered at both venues. There is no charge for either event, though donations are welcomed to support The Center for Wisdom’s Women. For more information contact the Executive Director, Klara Tammany at 513-3922.




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