Women’s Link is over a decade old, with origins reaching back more than twenty years.
In the 1970s, divorce and unemployment rates were on the rise and women were entering college in record numbers. In fact, enrollment at Lorain County Community College had become two-thirds female. These women often juggled multiple roles of student, parent and employee. At the same time, as more women than ever joined the staff and faculty of LCCC, they recognized the increasing demands and personal stress these students faced.
Women Together, an informal communication and resource group, was formed in 1978 to address the concerns of female students. For the first time, women at LCCC had a group to call their own.
Women Together provided a discussion group and support for women’s concerns but by the 1980s, LCCC students wanted more. When surveyed, these students responded overwhelmingly that they needed not only a group, but a place – a women’s center – where they could find answers to questions, discover resources for solving problems and find help in times of personal or academic crisis.
Spearheading this effort were several staff, faculty and a Coordinating Committee of 21 people. After many months of meetings and discussions with Administration, the idea of a women’s center took shape. An interim director of the center was appointed; LCCC faculty and staff assisted and the center became Women’s Link.
Initial funding was received from Lorain County Community College, The Sisters of The Humility of Mary, The Stocker Foundation, The Nord Family Foundation and The Community Foundation of Greater Lorain County. In the beginning, a group of dedicated faculty, staff and student volunteers served as counselors at Women’s Link.
Women’s Link Opens, 1988
No one could be sure how students would respond to the new women’s center but it did not take long to find out. Women’s Link opened on May 9, 1988, with a reception featuring women’s history videos, lots of cake and much excitement. Curious students met volunteers and toured the makeshift cubicle offices in the Student Life area of College Center. An increasing number of students came in the weeks ahead, with over 50 served in the first 3 weeks of operation.
With the need for services clearly demonstrated, the search was on to find a Coordinator who could help to develop Women’s Link, secure funding and design programs. A social worker, administrator and teacher became Women’s Link’s first paid Coordinator on January 2, 1989 and stayed in that position until she retired May 5, 2000. In the first stage of operation, she served with a part-time secretary and six student, faculty and staff volunteers.
What began with one manual typewriter and several doorless cubicles would steadily grow. Women’s Link moved several times, searching for space that would offer students privacy and enough room for its growing staff. Today, Women’s Link operates out of three offices in College Center. A paid staff, student workers, interns and volunteers keep its operations running smoothly. Each year, Women’s Link assists about 5,000 women and men.