About The Big Sister League of San Diego

Big Sister League History

Big Sister League Founder, Frances Woods

Francis Woods Home on Redwood Street

The Big Sister League of San Diego, Inc. was established in 1942 to serve the needs of women and children unable to find suitable housing in San Diego. It was a time of war when many women traveled to San Diego to join husbands and boyfriends only to find that the men had already been sent to fight in the Pacific. Pursuant to local law, any woman without housing and on the street after 10:00 P.M. was taken to jail and separated from her children who were sent to Hillcrest Receiving Home. Because the jail bunks had no mattresses, women slept on the bare springs. They were referred to as 'waffle ladies' because the pattern of the bare bedsprings left an imprint on their backs.

Big Sister League Founder, Frances Woods

  Frances Woods

Addressing this crisis, Mrs. Frances Woods and a small group of downtown professional women organized the League. The City of Hillcrest donated to these women a home on Front Street that provided housing for fifteen women and their children. Nightly, Mrs. Woods and her group of women arrived at the jail to advocate on behalf of the homeless women; they were able to provide these women with a safe and comfortable place to stay. Due to the hard work of caring women, the Big Sister League of San Diego, Inc., an independent local charitable organization, became a non-profit corporation in 1942.

Since 1942 the League has continued to grow, now operating two homes. The homes can serve up to 34 women, providing them with housing, counseling, and social services. Residents may stay up to 18 months in our transitional program or live in our permanent, HUD supported home. This program has become a primary housing resource for many women with mental illness and/or abuse histories in San Diego County through the years.