Women’s City Club provides a home for Delaware women

Photos and Story by Erin Ross

Online Design Editor

Sunlight shone onto the floral wallpaper of an old Victorian themed home as Denise Randall shared where women struggling with homelessness and financial problems have found refuge in Delaware County.

Randall is the crew chief at the Women’s City Club of Delaware, Ohio, a non-profit organization that provides a home for single women of low-income. The Club’s house is located at 135 N. Franklin St.

Prior to moving into the house in June 2019, Randall lost her home after being catfished. To be catfished means to be manipulated by someone with a false identity on the internet. She battled severe depression and fibromyalgia. She still struggles with fibromyalgia but, as a result of her time at the Club, she is no longer depressed, Randall said.

“If any woman is in need of a place that she needs to call home temporarily, whether that be three months or a year and a half, Women’s City Club is always some place they should try,” Randall said.

According to the Club’s mission statement, the non-profit organization is “…dedicated to providing a safe, affordable and nurturing home for single working women of low income as they transition towards a self-supporting future.”

Women who live at the Club are required to pay a weekly rent of $70, according to MaryAnn Davis, president of the Club’s foundation board.

In addition to the Women’s City Club itself, the organization has a foundation that is responsible for fundraising, according to Jo Ingles, secretary of the foundation board. Both organizations are registered as nonprofits and have separate boards made up solely of volunteers.

The Club houses 10 women at a time and, as of Oct. 18, the home was full, according to Randall.

Some of the women associated with the Club said the stories of women who live there highlight the need for the county to offer more affordable housing.

“I think Delaware needs to have more affordable housing,” said Robyn Davis, previous resident. “And I think that’s a big discussion in this city and county.”

Lee Yoakum, a city of Delaware spokesperson, said there have been discussions among council members about the need for both affordable housing and a balanced housing stock. By this, he means housing that is not only affordable, but is also appealing to individuals looking to transition into a smaller or larger home, he said.

“What our goal as a city is, to make sure that our housing stock is robust and comprehensive,” Yoakum said. “Part of that is, yes, addressing the need for affordable housing.”

Yoakum also said that there are three multi-family apartment residential projects underway that are to be completed in 2020. In the last 10 years, Delaware has not had that many apartment related projects underway at the same time, he said.

Jane Hawes, director of communications for the Delaware County Commissioners, said housing and zoning are handled at the municipality and township level and the county government does not interfere.

Despite all needing a safe place to live, each of the women who stay at the Women’s City Club have had unique experiences.

Jacqueline Oen, a basketball official for Ohio High School Athletic Association, reached out to the Club while in recovery from alcohol abuse. She began abusing alcohol after her husband died and ended up losing a lot, including herself, she said.

The Club and foundation members’ willingness to help and provide housing and mentorship is the most beneficial aspect of the club, Oen said.

“God led me to the Women’s City Club,” Oen said. “I feel like He really did.”

Oen began living in the house in March 2019 and, as of Oct. 18, said she was 13 months sober.

Differently, Marlene Mckenzie, a current resident at the Club, was narcissistically abused and manipulated into moving out of her abuser’s home. After living with her son and his girlfriend’s family in Mt. Gilead, Ohio, Mckenzie found herself living in a car after learning the family was being evicted.

Mckenzie said the club helped and supported her emotionally and she doesn’t know where she would be without it.

“The Women’s City Club is a stepping stone for us women,” Mckenzie said. “We have been displaced in some kind of way or another, so we find ourselves here and we have support here and we have love here and it is a stepping stone for us to get back on our feet financially. But they also build you up here emotionally. They give you the drive and the ambition to go out and make yourself a little bit more self-sufficient.”

Delaware also has a Turning Point shelter that provides victims of domestic violence with a temporary place to stay, according to Robin Amstutz, president of the Club.

Sue Capretta, treasurer for the Club’s foundation, said she believes people in Delaware are naive to the fact that women in their community are at risk for homelessness and in need of help.

“I think they know, but yet it’s never in your neighborhood,” Capretta said.

To improve such a mindset, Capretta said society needs to become less self-centered.

“I think that our society has gotten to be very me-oriented and that concept of caring for others has kind of gone by the wayside,” Capretta said. “I think that we need to get back to where we realize that, no matter how bad your situation is, there’s other people that have a worse situation or equally as bad.”

To prevent individuals from circumstances similar to the women who live at the Club, MaryAnn Davis listed some solutions. The community should educate people about money and how to take personal responsibility, talk with parents about how to properly raise children, and find better ways to deal with mental health, she said.

Capretta said she recognizes that the circumstances of some of the women who live in the home are a result of bad choices. The members of the Club aim to give such women a second chance. Some have a history of substance abuse, according to Ingles, also public relations coordinator for the Club.

“We want to give them a shot because someone has got to give them a shot,” Ingles said. “That is the whole idea. You can’t make someone pay forever for mistakes.”

Ingles also said being involved with the Club is rewarding and she loves to celebrate the successes.

“We have far more success than we do failure,” Ingles said. “When we have success, it’s just really a cool thing to celebrate. And I live for that.”

Robyn Davis, who keeps track of electronic records for the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities, lived at the Club from June 2017 until March 2019. While living at the Club, she eliminated credit card debt that she had accumulated after her two sons graduated high school and she no longer received child support. She is now a member of the Club’s board and is on both the Resident Relations Committee and the committee dealing with mentorship partnering.

Davis is an example of one of the Club’s successes.

The Club was originally founded in 1954 by Zuilla Way, whose husband bought the home for her to use as a social club with her friends, according to MaryAnn Davis. Following World War II, there was limited housing for women as soldiers returned to their homes and jobs, she said. So, from the beginning, the charter required the Club to offer housing for low-income women.

Many of the women who are involved in the Women’s City Club believe Way’s vision was ahead of its time.

Robyn Davis said, “I think Zuilla Way, that donated that house to the foundation to run, had a foresight and a vision into the future that other people probably didn’t have.”

Despite its historical presence, not all individuals are aware of the Club’s presence and mission.

“The Women’s City Club is one of Delaware’s best kept secrets,” said Randall, a retired nurse.

To spread awareness, the Club has put on fundraisers, such as a princess tea, and rented out the first floor of the home for special events.

“We’ve done a lot of fundraisers,” MaryAnn Davis said. “We need to find a better way of getting the word out and also raising money.”

The Club relies on donations, grants and fundraisers to pay for renovations and other necessary home repairs. The foundation is responsible for this money, which remains separate from the women’s rent. Rent is handled through the Club’s treasury and is used to cover home utilities and insurance, said MaryAnn Davis.

Data show in:

2017: $1,161.05 in personal donations from individuals and $14,145.33 in public donations from corporations and businesses (including a $8,333.33 grant from the Delaware County Commissioners for new upstairs windows).

2018: $601.96 in personal donations from individuals and $1,433.30 in public/private donations from programs such as Kroger, Amazon Smiles and other donors.

2019: $414.31 in personal donations from individuals and $1,209.50 in public/private donations from programs such as Kroger, Amazon Smiles, and other donors (as of Sept. 29, 2019).

Additionally, the Club’s foundation received $3,078.79 in charitable withholdings in 2018 and $5,492.80 in 2019 (as of Sept. 29, 2019).

None of the money the Club or foundation receives goes toward paying for staff or administration. All of the board members for both the Club and the foundation are volunteers.

“They are truly a society of women who want to see other women succeed, and they’re there when you need them,” Oen said.

The women who volunteer for the Club and the foundation aim to help the women living at the home transition into a “self-supporting future,” as stated in its mission statement.

Capretta said, “Our goal is to help these ladies move forward and to be able to get out of our house and into their own.”

OWU radio back and better than ever

By Azmeh Talha

Staff reporter


Despite facing a technical difficulty, Ohio Wesleyan University’s (OWU) radio station, The Line made a comeback and aired its first show two years after it was shut down.

The Line’s first show aired on Feb.1.

The hosts, freshmen Henry Tikkanen, Maxwell Peckinpaugh and Jacob Delight and played a diverse range of music and tossed jokes being around in between songs.

The university’s online-only radio station was inaccessible to those who were not connected to OWU’s Wi-Fi connection, Bishop Net but the problem was resolved, Tikkanen said.   

“Jacob is more geared towards rap, I’m more towards indie and Henry is more classic rock and modern rock,” Peckinpaugh said.

“Something about the radio that I just really like it like it’s not necessarily a playlist that’s built for you,” Tikkanen said, “so you can branch out and find different songs and different types of music.”

Students on campus contributed to the show by sending in texts during the show and commented on the music being played, Peckinpaugh said.  

Tikkanen reached out to Professor Jo Ingles, Professor of journalism and media advisor of The Transcript and OWU radio and asked to bring the station back.

“Henry has been doing a lot of legwork,” Ingles said.

She further said Tikkanen is very interested in doing his own show.

Apart from a few guidelines, Ingles has given the students the freedom to air whatever interests them to keep it fun.

“The radio should be a place where everyone can feel comfortable to tell stories, exchange ideas,” Ingles said.  

Ingles emphasized that a lot goes on in the university that people may not know about and the radio is an opportunity to spread the word about events that students and faculty might miss otherwise.

The Line is not restricted to topics related to events that happen in OWU but should also include discussions about life in general, Ingles said.

“Any of those things can be really great radio and my hope is that the students who are doing the radio shows will tap into that and create something wonderful,” Ingles said.  

Ingles hopes that more students will participate with the radio and express themselves by doing things that interest them and other students.

Peckinpaugh aims to spread good music across campus.

Delight looks forward to learning more about how radio stations work, sharing music with their listeners and hanging out with friends.

The next show will air on Thursday, Feb. 14, and will have Valentine’s day theme to it.

The Transcript, I thank you

Upon returning to Ohio Wesleyan for my junior year in the fall of 2017, I had no plans of writing for The Transcript, let alone join their staff. Being a journalism major, I knew I had to do it at some point, I just didn’t think that semester was the right time.

I was taking the notoriously difficult Data and Ethics class with Paul Kostyu, associate professor of journalism and department chair. That class alone, now knowing from experience, can increase a student’s stress level beyond normalcy.

Only two students were in that class: myself and Aleksei Pavloff, the sports editor for The Transcript at the time. From the first class, Aleksei pushed me to join the Transcript. He continued to do the same in every class after that.

I’m now incredibly grateful that he did.

Fast forward a year and half later, and here I am, writing my last editorial as editor-in-chief of The Transcript.

It’s clear to anyone who knows or has read our issues and pieces over the past year that The Transcript wasn’t always perfect. Not by a long shot. I was constantly emailed/notified about the problems in the issues, as well as spoken to about them in person. There were even instances where I had the paper shoved in my face, with the person citing a very specific inaccuracy.

Yet although this was frustrating at points, it didn’t mean these problems that arose weren’t backed up with validation. Just ask Kostyu, and he’ll show you his edits (which I’m sure he keeps) of each issue after it was published, each page marked to the brim in black ink. Thinking on it now, he did leave less white space.

Kostyu wasn’t alone in his criticisms. Ingles also edited each issue, and although there was less ink when she edited (and in purple), she made sure to point out the biggest problems. Even TC Brown, instructor in journalism, joined in on critiquing here and there.

While that may not sound like the most joyous experience, it had many positives. The presence and dedication of these mentors, whether through outside guidance or critiques, has proven both beneficial and necessary, as without it the staff, and paper, would have gone into a tailspin.

The challenges of having such a small staff have been apparent over the last year and a half. Recruiting was certainly hard when I first started as editor, especially when there wasn’t much interest. The number of stories assigned to one person sometimes seemed to much for their own sanity. Designing was a strenuous process, but necessary.

Regardless, we as a publication have certainly come so far. This semester, we experienced The Transcript evolve into a fully-digital publication, with our designed issues being sent out solely in PDF format to our subscribers via email. We saw a complete re-branding of the website, including a new theme. We added new features never used in previous versions of the site. We increased our social media following, as well as participation. The deadlines to turn in a story were changed from a week to three days maximum, although great encouragement was put on turning it in that same day. Because of this, we post stories daily, providing a more consistent form of news. We now design our e-editions once a month, instead of bi-weekly. Most recently, we saw our highest viewed story on the website to date, as evident by Jesse Sailer’s piece “Ohio Wesleyan’s ‘invisible problem,’” (3,000 reads and counting). We truly, I believe, have set up The Transcript for a positive future.

Throughout my tenure, I’ve come to realize that nothing could have been possible without you, the reader. It’s your feedback, whether positive or negative, that has kept us going, particularly over this year. The sense of pride felt when one of you picked up the paper or viewed one of our stories online was, and still is, incomparable. As I stated before, I know we weren’t perfect, but we do, and always have, appreciate your continued support. I encourage you to keep giving feedback/suggestions/whatnot, because sometimes the best ideas may come from the people on the outside.

The Transcript has become part of my routine over the past year and a half, so much that it has become normal. There have been moments that I will cherish forever, and situations that will no doubt benefit myself and the rest of the staff going forward. For example, tips from my predecessor, Gopika Nair, have been engraved in mind for years to come.

It truly is hard to believe my term as editor-in-chief is coming to an end. Throughout the ups and downs, working for The Transcript has been one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had, working with many fantastic people along the way while improving my skills as a journalist.

I wish the new editor-in-chief and editorial staff the best as they continue to keep the Transcript heart beating. Whoever that may be, I have full confidence that they will do an amazing job, and positively make their mark on the Transcript’s long history.

That being said, it has been an absolute honor to serve as editor-in-chief of The Transcript for the past year, and I thank everyone who has joined me on this thrilling ride.