The WellHouse is an emergency shelter and social service center for prostitutes, victims of human trafficking, and otherwise sexually-exploited women. The center offers food, shelter, clothing, counseling, life-skills and GED classes and referrals for substance abuse treatment.
The WellHouse originated as a Christian ministry called The Samaritan Woman Ministry. It was conceived in 2009 by former sex-trafficking victim Tajuan McCarty and Lisa Holifield of the Birmingham Dream Center in Woodlawn as a Christian ministry. McCarty's husband Kelly joined as co-director before it opened its first shelter at 1325 14th Avenue South in January 2011.
Both the original and current name were drawn from a passage in the Gospel of John where Jesus rests at Jacob's Well and, before proclaiming himself to be the Messiah, tells an adulterous woman there that, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
The WellHouse commissioned the production of a documentary film, "I-20: The Sex Trafficking Superhighway" to publicize the scope of the issues it faces. In 2013 the organization received the FBI Director's Community Leadership Award for its work to expose and combat the victimization of women.
In 2017 The WellHouse opened a 63-acre campus in Springville. The complex, which includes an emergency shelter, a long-term shelter, a home for women with children, an office and a chapel, was designed by architect Lauren Barrett and constructed by Signature Homes. In 2020 WellHouse built an 8-bed home for trafficked minors.
- Singleton, William C., III (February 22, 2012) "The WellHouse for women escaping prostitution hopes to expand." The Birmingham News
- Lewellyn, Walter (February 27, 2013) "It happens here." Weld for Birmingham
- Robinson, Carol (December 19, 2013) "FBI honors The WellHouse for helping human trafficking victims in Birmingham." The Birmingham News
- Garrison, Greg (April 15, 2015) "Rescued from prostitution, WellHouse founder warns of sex trafficking in Birmingham." The Birmingham News
- Godwin, Brent (October 27, 2016) "Bham nonprofit breaks ground on new 63-acre project." Birmingham Business Journal
- Rebman, Stephanie (June 9, 2020) "Local nonprofit to build residential care facility for minors." Birmingham Business Journal
- The WellHouse website