Only 27, Annie Brackney is an up-and-comer in Sacramento’s nonprofit community, serving as development director at Wellspring Women’s Center, a drop-in facility for low-income and homeless women and children in Oak Park. A native of Davis and a graduate of Cal Poly, Brackney started working at Wellspring in 2011 as volunteer coordinator and became development director in 2014, cultivating the organization’s relationships with donors, corporations and foundations.
Wellspring’s philosophy of providing hospitality with dignity and love immediately appealed to her. “I love the mission and that any woman or child is welcome through the doors,” she says. “It’s a place where women can come in, have their stories heard and know they are valued and important.” In addition to providing breakfast for more than 200 women and children every day, the center offers counseling, case management, educational activities for preschoolers and supplies like toiletries and diapers. Brackney initially found the experience eye-opening. “How did I grow up 15 minutes away from here and have no idea there is such a need?”
Out in the community, Brackney finds two common misconceptions: that people are in their situations by choice, and living off government assistance is easy. “These women are not here because they want to be,” she says. “A lot of homeless suffer from mental illness or addiction, or sometimes just a string of bad luck like huge medical bills. They don’t have a safety net.” And low-income women are under incredible pressure. Even bus transportation for a mother and her kids can be expensive. “We have guests who say, ‘Do I want to take the bus to that appointment or do I want food on the table?’ Many of them are having to make really difficult choices all the time.”
Brackney acknowledges the challenges of her job are large because the needs are so great. “There are some weighty days,” she says. “You feel like you are never doing enough.”