BATTLE CREEK — It began in 2004, not as a formal organization but as a grassroots group of concerned women meeting around a kitchen table in a trailer park.

The goal was to support each other and share resources to help sustain, enrich and nurture their families. After all, they were stronger together.

This is how Woman’s Co-op, now 20 years strong, was born.

“Alone we struggled, together we fed our families,” Teresa Momenee-Young, executive director of the Woman’s Co-op, explained in a news release.

Teresa Momenee-Young, executive director of the Woman's Co-op, stands in co-op's store inside Trinity Lutheran Church on the eastern edge of the Post-Franklin edition.

Teresa Momenee-Young, executive director of the Woman’s Co-op, stands in co-op’s store inside Trinity Lutheran Church on the eastern edge of the Post-Franklin edition.

Today, Woman’s Co-op is a leading service provider in the greater Battle Creek area for families enmeshed in poverty. What makes Co-op unique is its grassroots approach and peer-to-peer support model. They identify and address the core needs of low- and no-income women — not just “treat the symptoms.”

In addition to providing career, education, and life skills training, as well as service programs, Co-op requires members to meet regularly and help each other using their God-given talents (from sewing to auto mechanics) and personal resources such as food, transportation, babysitting and so on.

Simply put, the group ensures women have the support they need to care for themselves and their families.

“The peer-to-peer support model provides the Co-op members with awareness of how important it is to support one another during difficult times,” Diane Andert, board president of Woman’s Co-op, said.

Woman’s Co-op was established Jan. 1, 2004, in Emmett Township, serving residents of Calhoun County. Initially, the grassroots group offered a network for families experiencing poverty, with group members sharing time, talent and resources to assist one another in averting poverty and its attached conditions.

Under the support and guidance of The Battle Creek Community Foundation, the group found a permanent home at Trinity Lutheran Church and morphed into the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that exists today.

“What makes Co-op unique is that it’s simply people caring for each other,” Pastor Kjersten Sullivan of Trinity Lutheran Church explained. “These women know their needs better than anyone, and in caring for each other and themselves, they have made our community a more caring, helpful place. We are honored they have found their home with us, and we look forward to all they will continue to share.”

For more information about the Co-op or its programing, call Momenee-Young at (269) 966-8988, email [email protected] or visit womanscoop.org.

Contact reporter Greyson Steele at [email protected]

This article originally appeared on Battle Creek Enquirer: Woman’s Co-op celebrates 20 years of service in Calhoun County

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