On a given day in an unassuming building in Curtis Bay, a group of women are creating. As one takes her gloved hands and dips them into a sugar scrub infused with lavender, others are labeling jars, pouring honey, creating soap—readying it all for sale at local markets. On a wall painted with a mural of honeycomb with bees on it is a verse from Deuteronomy: “And He hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, a land that floweth with milk and honey.”
This is Hon’s Honey and one thing these women have in common is that they have all survived trauma such as exploitation, generational poverty, addiction, and abuse. Mandy Memmel has created programs that are helping them save their own lives.
“Our mission is to help a woman understand her value, her identity, and her creative purpose,” says Memmel, 53, founder and executive director of Drink at the Well (known as The Well). “When [a woman] can sustain her own life, she can help the next woman walking through our doors.”
More than a decade ago, Memmel started a group at the local recreation center called Women of Hope. “I had a vision of starting an organization where women could come and be healed, be restored,” she says. That vision became The Well, which she launched in 2013.
At The Well, women gain access to life’s essentials like fresh food, clothing, even showers. It offers child care for its participants and a residential program they hope to expand.
COR Life Development, which stands for “community, opportunity, and responsibility,” is an anchor program at The Well in which women learn important life skills around things like physical and mental health, communication, financial information, healthy relationships, and coping mechanisms. There are counseling groups, financial resources, and scholarship programs for those wanting to further their educations.
Hon’s Honey is for women involved in COR Life Development. The workforce development program teaches women skills that will enable them to work and live in the community, including making all-natural products from honey from the center’s eight hives.
“I love the work I do because it’s divinely inspired,” says Memmel. “We’ve had many women testify that when they walked through our doors, their hopes came to life.”