In Her Shoes is a series that profiles young women working in YWCAs across the country.
Rhonda relocated to Oʹahu shortly after earning a B.S. in Communications and an A.A. in Public Health Administration from the University of North Florida Administration, where she was awarded a Bright Futures Scholarship for four years. Rhonda’s internships and professional trainings have included experience in: media communications, clinical research and marketing strategies. In her spare time, she enjoys surfing, working with animals and engaging with local artists and musicians.
Describe your normal day from your first morning coffee and on…
On site, my daily duties include: managing facility operations associated with a 42-room residence; working directly with women to provide resources for housing, jobs and money management; and creating action plans for programs and services. I also facilitate our program application and enrollment process, prepare data for grant reporting, and collaborate with local agencies for partnerships and referrals. Some days will require off-site attendance for meetings, or YWCA-related events. I also enjoy working with residents and volunteers in the community garden I helped establish in 2011.
What excites you the most about your job?
Each day I’m interacting with people from all walks of life; different cultures, languages and life experiences. Everyone’s story is different, but through the YWCA I have a chance to connect with them. I am also excited about our advocacy for women’s health rights and the homeless.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
“To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.” The YWCA continues to provide me with exposure to amazing women serving on our board, staff and as volunteers; I am grateful for their continued mentorship.
What challenges/obstacles do you face in your role?
Working with the public is always challenging. We are providing direct services to women and families who are economically disadvantaged and transitioning from tough situations.Their lives are chaotic, their nerves rattled… It’s a challenge to remain diplomatic and administer policy consistently, while remaining sensitive to the individual’s situation and acting as their advocate.
Do you have a favorite client success story? If so what is it?
There are two current residents who come to mind. As the mothers of young children fleeing domestic violence, the Domestic Violence Action Center addressed their crises and created a plan. Later, this partner referred the families to the YWCA where both were enrolled in our Homebase housing program. Through YWCA programs, such as Dress for Success, and our partnership with a local staffing agency, both women have returned to work and are no longer dependent on welfare systems. They also participate in the YWCA’s most recent program, Wahine Moving Forward, where mentors guide domestic violence survivors toward financial security and independence. Through our programs and partnering agencies’ collaborative efforts, we have helped move these women toward economic advancement. And the success of their stories continues with their commitment to give back, which has included volunteering at our monthly clothing benefit sale.
What do you like most about working at the YWCA?
I like that we are constantly evolving. Locally, as the needs of our community change, we restructure our facilities, apply for new grants, and create events relevant to what is affecting women and young girls in our area. Internationally, I love that we are an extended network of professionals, members and volunteers advocating for women. It’s inspiring to be a part of something so connected!