Their first project was just getting the shed up to code. The water didn’t work, glass covered the floors, the bathrooms were foul.

They pulled in a small local grant, and the rest came from donations of time or goods. One day, Ms. Wlochowicz received a call from a woman whose sister had died, leaving a garage of arts and crafts supplies. Others offered more clothing and home supplies than they could ever need.

Some of it can now be found in a “room of love.” To get there requires walking down a long school hallway, past a wall of photos with women of all ages smiling and squeezed together. Inside, Ms. Wlochowicz snapped on the light to reveal a classroom made into an ad hoc store, with beauty supplies, dresses, jeans, towels and linens — all of it free for women fleeing domestic violence.

“When they run, they run with nothing,” she said.

It was one of many signs that this particular shed, in a forgotten corner of a wealthy and often sexist country, has never been just about socializing.

On a recent Tuesday, a dozen of the shed’s members, along with a few daughters and granddaughters, sat together in the arts and crafts room to practice for choir with a song they wrote about the shed that plays to the tune of “The House of the Rising Sun.”

Ms. Wlochowicz watched as their teacher, Katie Pomery, 23, a local singer-songwriter, conducted with her hands and smiled more with every verse.

“It is a place where friendship grows, and you can get free bread,” they sang. “The garden’s full of possums and beasts, the kitchen’s full of food. If you come here with a heavy heart, we’ll lighten up your mood.”

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