Has YWCA Touched Your Life?

Nonprofits across the United States touch lives every single day. As one of the largest community based organizations in the world YWCA has been a part of all of our lives. YWCA is often a focal point in our communities connecting and helping our neighbors for generations. YWCA seeks to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

I want to collect some stories about the good work of our local YWCAs. Leave a comment below telling us a little more about your story.

Have you ever:

  • Received assistance or services?
  • Volunteered at a local center?
  • Donated money?
  • Heard a really good story from a friend?

Share your stories and ask your friends to share theirs. I look forward to hearing more about what YWCA is doing in your city.

Make sure to note which city you are writing from. On Friday July 30, 2010, A Small Change will make a $50 donation to a YWCA in the city with the most stories (comments).

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21 Responses to Has YWCA Touched Your Life?

  1. Michelle Janssen says:

    My name is Michelle Janssen, I’m 21 and I am writing from Brisbane in Australia. I have been involved with the YWCA for about a year and I am so lucky to have found this organisation.

    During university, I worked as an English Tutor, predominantly with high school students. My favourite aspect of this was developing a rapport with the students and seeing them become a bit less ‘freaked out’ about their assignments. I started searching for another organization where I could use my abilities to teach, lead, organize and be a friend or mentor. I finally came across YWCA Brisbane in 2009 and now I couldn’t imagine not being a part of it! I am genuinely inspired by this organisation. It is phenomenal to be surrounded by women who support you when you say, “I want to do this.” They find practical and realistic ways to help you achieve your goals and wishes. This is something I want to contribute to and aid in helping others to recognize their own potential!

  2. Jason says:

    Thanks Michelle for sharing your story.

  3. I became involved in the YMCA back in 1967 as a camper. I really wanted to go on a caravan (flat bed steak truck with 35 other girls) with a friend from South Bay area to San Francisco. At the time my parents couldn’t really afford to pay. Then I found out that back then the Y offered kids an option to earn your way to Y Camp. I was going into 7th grade. I sold a lot of cases of butter toffee peanuts and earned my way and my best friends way plus spending money. I sent my brother and sisters to a week of day camp. It was my first real gig asking for donations (smiling). I went through the camping program, youth leadership programs and got my first pay check at Camp Mozumdar. Later post college I volunteered to work at a camp a friend was running and then later he recruited me to work for him at the Seattle YMCA (Northshore branch) a few years after college. After 6 years of hard work we opended a brand new 40,000 sq ft Y. A decision I never regretted. What makes the YMCA unique are five things;
    1. People with a purpose: the board, staff and volunteers are mission driven; sprit mind and body. Over time the Y has rebranded itself, but in my opinion its strength is and will remain character development(not of just kids but as we mature as adults as well). The Y use to have a huge grant from I think readers digest to offer professional development for staff. Regardless of resources one of my biggest beliefs is the training I received on fundraising, board and committee work, program development (with a purpose), volunteerism was from these high quality career development programs. Sadly when I ask how is the training these days, most say…no we don’t have the budget. Too me this is a red flag and danger sign.
    2. Innovation; from founding basketball, to youth and government to providing summer camps for over 100 years…not too mention swim lessons (Are you a minnow?) Job skills, language programs, international exchanges, the list goes on and on.
    The next two will be more challenging for the Y but have been part of their legacy and strength;
    3. Entrepenurial spirit; when I worked for the Y, I was encouraged to listen to the needs of the community and develop solutions locally. No red tape, no buracracy, just pure trust and empowerment to make things happen (with a balanced budget). I haven’t worked for the Y since 98 (I worked for three Y locations and two associations over a 14 year period). I have several friends still employed…most are happy. The concern is centered around canned programs, lack of authentic passion, and this is the way we have done this for 100 years…so the curiosity is how does the Y keep or get back the entrepenurial spirit which leads to innovation, excitement and pride? What can bridge the past and propel the Y in the future?
    4. I learned all I know about storytelling from the Y. It used to be an artform and blueprint of signifgance. I have been disappointed at the lack fo stories being captured, shared and told. Thanks Jason for doing this project.
    5. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/12/us/12Y.html?_r=1&src=twt&twt=nytimes more on rebranding the Y for the future?

    As a volunteer I am currently serving on a planning committee for the Northshore YMCA up in Bothell , Kenmore and Woodinville. Here is a link to our 30th year celebration! Check us out! http://www.eventbrite.com/event/716380714
    One project I supported the Y on was web 2.0 work They are doing a great job…check it out: http://www.facebook.com/#!/NorthshoreYMCA

    Respectfully submitted
    Bonnie Hilory
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/bonniehilory
    Oahu, Hawaii (recently relocated)

  4. Erin McLean says:

    The Northshore YMCA has been an integral part of my junior high and high school years. I have volunteered as a counselor in training at summer camp and for the past two summers (‘08 and ‘09) I have worked as a junior counselor. Also, I have volunteered for Parent’s Night Out (formerly Kid’s Night Out) for the past four years and in the past year have served as the co-coordinator of the program. I traveled to Japan with other Seattle teenagers through the YMCA in the summer of ’08, where I was able to experience Japanese culture and volunteer in multiple projects. The Northshore YMCA has provided me with my first volunteer, working, and significance overseas experiences. The employees and volunteers have taught me how to be a leader and in turn I have taught this valuable skill to other teens and pre-teens through the NSY.
    -Erin McLean
    -Article I wrote about my trip to Japan with the Seattle YMCA http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/travel/2008275975_tressay19.html

  5. Elain Evans says:

    When I worked downtown in an office building where my window faced into an uninspiring alley, I could crane my neck and see the rooftop outdoor play space for the YWCA daycare. There is nothing as wonderful sounding as kids playing – it made my day and I am sure fed my creative soul as my job required creativity. Lord knows it wasn’t the alley. A few years later when I started looking for daycare for my daughter I realized how precious those daycare facilities must be to people who work downtown. Families only need daycare for a few years, so governments don’t really give them the importance they deserve – kudos to non-profits who do.

  6. Natalie says:

    Great idea! YWCA Salem Oregon has a diversity conference and I started volunteering on the planning committee. I had just moved to the area and gave me an opportunity to meet new people in Salem !!! Then three years I became the executive director for the organization

  7. Miriam says:

    I started working at the YWCA Pierce County 5 year ago. I have been in nonprofit management for over 23 years and the YW is the most inspiring job I have ever had. I look forward to going to work everyday. I am especially excited about the new shelter we are creating. Our current domestic violence shelter is located in a space that was never designed to be a shelter. Women and children have small (average size is 97 sq ft) rooms and share one bathroom and one kitchen on each floor. Our 50 beds are always full. In October we will open our new shelter, right across the street, with 75 beds and every family will have their own apartments (most with views) with the dignity that privacy brings. We have raised $4.8 million of a $5 million campaign! It has been the most joyful fundraising experience of my life…..you can learn more at http://www.itstimefortheywca.org. We have not done a capital project for 83 years. It will be the most beautiful shelter…designers have adopted all the rooms and are turning them into the most beautiful apartments. A metal artist donated her time to create beautiful artistic window bars and on and on it goes!

    Thanks Jason for sharing your expertise with the YWCA’s in the NW region today. You are amazing.

  8. Phyllis says:

    Seven years ago I came to the YWCA Pierce County and I’ve watched it grow and change and become the organization I knew it could be: a supremely respected place that delivered the services of saving lives every dang day. As a child witness to DV, I’ve continued a piece of work (safety, healing and hope) which was, at times, directly lacking for my mother but transformed to abundance in my lifetime. My powerlessness of being a child witness is now transformed to a multidimensional adult power for change. I’m a change agent, a stopper of violence against women and families; I’m never gonna stop. Never. In my adult years I haven’t done it through delivering direct services but through delivering servant leadership. It’s been the most amazing experience and one I am passing along every day to my husband and two sons. Our household won’t rest, won’t rest I tell you, as long as violence against women is still with us. Look, every other woman on this planet and I, cannot walk away from misogyny for a moment, and so I cannot for a moment walk away from the YW, and other communities that are committed to women. I cannot set it aside any more than I can set aside my womanhood. No—I will not. The choice is mine, and I choose to face the world equipped at all times with the only tool of self-defense I have against inequality and disempowerment. Personhood practiced through service delivering safety, healing and hope at the Pierce County YW is my sword and my shield, which I carry because the world is all too often hostile to women.

    That is the context of this place called the YW. It was built by and sustained by women. Independent women. The Pierce County YWCA, carrying the weight of all YW Sisters with her, marches on as she dances toward making long, greedy use of the opportunity the founding mothers provided her. She is sucking up every last drop of the chance she’s been given to do what others could not and pay forward with interest the chance to another sister of of the YW who may just now be warily peering into this room and thinking, “Gee, there’s something I like in there…”

  9. Sue says:

    I have been working for the YWCA in Salem, Or for a year and a half. I just happened to hear about a possible opening through a friend and just graduated from college. I thank God every day for leading me to this wonderful place that gives people hope and gives me a chance to give back to my community. Thank-you

  10. Liz Collins says:

    There is another world wide “Y” with a chapter in Salem for over 100 years ! The YWCA did not invent basketball but it did prove to the world that women were “strong” enough to type and thus could get a job.
    The YWCA of Salem has been and is doing work for the Salem community. Family Building Blocks started in the YWCA with a YWCA Director. The YWCA started the Teen Parent program which is now Barbara Roberts High School and still does care at BRHS. Another program develped by the “YW” and Judge Pamela Abernethy is for divorcing parents; teaching them to understand how to help their children, by age group, to cope. This program is mandated in Marion County.
    How about Snoball? The YWCA adopted SOS, a shelter for homeless families. The “YW” provides focus on Breast Cancer support, women’s health needs, affordable housing, and programs for re-education leading to a career. ( This is just a partial list of the contributions of the YWCA.)
    The YWCA of Salem is “dedicated to eliminating racism,
    empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, dignity, and freedom for all. Creating a culture of self-sufficiency for women and their families.” The heck with basketball! …

  11. Nicole says:

    I have been a board member of the YWCA Pierce County for nearly 5 years and every time I attend board or committee meetings or participate in other volunteer activities I am amazed by the stories of positive that result through the programs. YWCA Pierce County has spectacular childrens’ programs that help break the cycle of DV by helping kids cope instead of becoming abusers or abused. Free legal services not only aide women through the legal process but empower them as they learn to represent themselves, often finding their voice that has been lost or buried by their abuser. 
    I love being involved with an organization that has such profound impacts on the lives of women and children. Thanks for this great blog!

  12. Rolinda says:

    I remain employed at the YWCA PIerce County because of their dedication to the mission of the agency. Everyday I hear from families in our transtional housing program how empowered they feel now that they have stable housing, the ability to pursue an education, job training, healing and living in an environment that is free of domestic violence. It is wonderful to work for an agency whose mission is carried out daily and visible by anyone who walks our hallways.

  13. I got a group of my co-workers involved in volunteering regularly at the YWCA Pierce County in 2001 inspired by the organizations’ work to change the lives of women and children fleeing domestic violence. In 2005 I became a YWCA Pierce County employee, and I’m proud to have contributed to that work through several roles since.

  14. Donna Levin says:

    My previous work history was as a human resources professional in manufacturing environments, but now I have been a staff member of the YWCA Pierce County for four and a half years, and it has been a blessing to work for a non-profit, where every staff member is there because they care about the mission. When people find out that I am employed at the YW, they thank me for the work I do….people from all walks of life, who you wouldn’t think have any knowledge or connection with domestic violence. It’s amazing to stand in a grocery store line, wearing your name badge and have a perfect stranger thank you for the good work you are doing.

  15. Cherry says:

    I came to YWCA after meeting a woman who was a victim of demostic violence. Her story about how the YWCA had saved and changed her life and the life of her child touched me. Now I am proud to be a part of the YWCA and their work to empower women and eliminate racism.

  16. Pam says:

    I am not a victim of domestic violence, but have come out of a long relationship with a very controlling partner. Being a volunteer at the Pierce County YWCA has helped me emerge from this past into a new future of hope. I see the women around me waging a war against domestic violence and it empowers me!

  17. I attended the YWCA Pierce County Domestic Violence Victim’s Services Training in 1995 and began volunteering in the Shelter in the evenings. In 1996 I was hired as an on-call Advocate. I now work full-time in the fund development department. I am proud to work for an agency that helps transform the lives of women and children through safety, healing and empowerment.

  18. Helen McGovern says:

    I am a donor at the YWCA Pierce County. I began giving on a monthly basis a few years ago and have steadily increased the amount as I became more and more aware of the tremendous work they are doing to litterally save the lives of the women and children they serve. This year I made the largest single pledge I have ever made to any organization for the capital campaign they are having for the renovation of the new apartment building, the Wilsonian. I had made a signigicant pledge and was at the same time redoing my will. I made the decision to increase the amount out of selfishness I must admit. I feel it is a way to provide a living legacy that I will be able to see. I will know that in some small but meaningful way a child will have the opportunity to have hope, a future and witness caring they have not had the peace to receive. Thank you YW of Pierce County and the amazing staff there for giving so much of yourselves and allowing us to share in the changes you make everyday.

  19. I was on the Board of the Tacoma-Pierce County YWCA in the early 1990’s. It was the first Board I ever served on and it changed my life. It connected me with a lifelong cause, lifelong friends and a lifelong home. And, it’s done that for dozens of other female leaders in Pierce County and hundreds of other families fleeing domestic violence. They YW transforms lives every day and I’ve always been proud to be associated wtih such an amazing organization.

  20. Jason Dick says:

    Wow! What incredible stories about YWCA. It looks to me like YWCA Pierce County has taken the victory. A Small Change – Fundraising Blog has made a donation of $50. Congratulations on contributing the most stories.

  21. Miriam says:

    Thanks Jason! This was a very generous way to help YWCA Pierce County share our stories. We are posting some of them to our website and Facebook fan page!

    Your donation will be used to help women and children fleeing domestic violence find safety in our shelter. We appreciate your support.

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