On A Mission: Blessings’ Story

YWCA helps over 2 million of women and families each year in a variety of community programs including youth services. Below, Blessings Hill, who participated in the Teen Services Program at YWCA Rochester & Monroe County, shares her story.

I have been involved in YWCA’s Teen Services Program since I was 15 years old, when I became pregnant with my first child. More than 7 years later, YWCA is still an important part of my life.

Send Us Your Stories

YWCASAR_AlternateLogo USA is now accepting blog submissions from young women and girls of color under 21 as part of our 2016 Stand Against Racism campaign. Throughout the campaign, which is themed “On a Mission for Girls of Color,” we will highlight issues that impact girls of color such as racial profiling in school, access to safe play, and healthcare.

Want to share your story? Send submissions of 700 words or less by March 31 to communications@ywca.org. If your submission is selected, we’ll feature it on YWCA USA’s blog and share it on our social media channels.

We hope to hear from you!

Generation Progress: “Never Be Afraid to Take Educated Risks”

by Alexis Demandante and Gretchen Oertli 
Communications and Advocacy Interns, YWCA USA

Generation Progress hosted its annual Make Progress Summit last week, where millennials from across the DC area and from all over the country joined progressive leaders in discussing problems facing our generation. Workshops and panels covered topics like the student debt crisis, sexual assault on college campuses, gun violence prevention, and civic engagement, among others.

The ballroom of the hotel was packed with roughly 1,000 college students, interns, and avid activists.  Generation Progress lined up a star-studded list of guest speakers, including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senator Elizabeth Warren, all of whom expressed incredible optimism in the power of the millennial generation to make meaningful progress on these important issues.

The Intersection of Race and Gender: It’s Our Mission

By Katie Stanton
Social Media & Online Engagement Manager, YWCA USA

You may have heard, or contributed to, a hashtag that took over Twitter about one month ago: #solidarityisforwhitewomen. This tag, created in response to an exchange between writer Mikki Kendall and a former male feminist blogger, inspired Twitter users from all over the world to express their frustration, anger and sadness over the lack of intersectionality in feminism — that, within this social justice movement, the experiences, voices and needs of women of color have been often overlooked, forgotten or ignored.

YWCA Missoula Staff Inspired at YWCA USA Annual Conference in D.C.

By Erin Barstow,
YWCA Missoula GUTS! Program Coordinator

Originally published on 6/14/13

The YWCA USA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., encompassed four days of women speakers, presenters and voices. Whether participating in one-on-one networking opportunities or listening to the inspiring speakers, the message was strong and clear: women of the YWCA speak with conviction. Women are daring, dreaming and achieving on such an impressive scale.

I was moved to tears by Ayanna Pressley’s address on “What Women Want: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Violence.” Pressley is a member of the Boston City Council At-Large and is the first woman of color ever elected to the Council. She spoke fervently about how broken girls become broken women, and then the cycle repeats. She encouraged the 400 attendees to embody the word “entitlement,” because “It means I’m strong enough to know what I deserve,” and talked about daring to be herself. I witnessed stories of survival, hope and progress. After her daughter was killed by her ex-boyfriend, Sharon Love started the One Love Foundation to end relationship violence. Commander Zoe Dunning made history fighting for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which excluded gay people from serving openly in armed forces. And Eva Longoria, whose philanthropy and advocacy in the field of racial justice is truly commendable.

In Her Shoes: Monica Silva, YWCA of Houston

In Her Shoes is a series that profiles young women working in YWCAs across the country. 

Monica Silva

Monica Silva

Monica Silva is the CEAP Specialist Representative for the Sheltering Arms Senior Services program at the YWCA of Houston. CEAP (Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program) is a utility assistance program designed to assist low-income household families, seniors, and the disabled. Monica graduated with an AAS in Accounting and Payroll MSA from HCC-Southeast. She considers working with the YWCA an opportunity she will never forget.

Describe your normal day from your first morning coffee and on…

A usual day at the YWCA consists of checking voicemails, our mailbox, and our fax machine for new applications for our assistance program and missing information that clients send in. I review incoming electricity or gas disconnection notices and return phone calls throughout the day. Clients call every day to check on the status of their applications, but not all days are the same; there are days that we have drives at our office, where clients who need help paying their light or gas bills come to seek financial council. Other days we have meetings with the Program Coordinator and we discuss how to approach clients with different scenarios and how to meet our goals.

What challenges or obstacles do you face in your role?

There are always different challenges while interacting with the different clients that we meet. Each person comes with a different story that explains how they got into the financial position they’re in at that moment. But I believe that there is no challenge that cannot be overcome. The ability to understand every situation, make our clients feel secure, and give them the peace of mind by listening to their situation and seeing how we can help is what we strive for.

The YWCA Annual Conference: Women Leaders Coming Together

By De’Kendrea Stamps
YWCA of Madison, Wisc.

Janet Marcotte, YWCA Tucson Executive Director, presented the 2012 YWCA USA Women of Distinction Award for Civic Engagement in honor of Gabrielle Giffords to her mother, Gloria Giffords. May 4, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

Janet Marcotte, YWCA Tucson Executive Director, presented the 2012 YWCA USA Women of Distinction Award for Civic Engagement in honor of Gabrielle Giffords to her mother, Gloria Giffords. May 4, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

The Annual Conference is a time to build strong bonds with your colleagues from other YWCAs and to learn best practices from YWCA staff and workshop leaders. I had many favorite moments from the 2012 YWCA Annual Conference. One was seeing Gabrielle Giffords’ mother, Gloria, accept the Women of Distinction Award for civic engagement on behalf of her daughter. To hear a mother speak so sincerely about her daughter and her accomplishments in the face of tragedy was very touching. Another highlight was a valuable workshop session that provided me with a new perspective on women with ambitions to be elected to leadership positions in government. It offered a realistic view of the components that go into building a successful campaign and was eye-opening and very intriguing. And, the experience of meeting with our Congressional legislators was very empowering. I would love to see that sea of YWCA persimmon marching up Capitol Hill again.

In Her Shoes: Rhonda Jones, YWCA of Oʹahu

In Her Shoes is a series that profiles young women working in YWCAs across the country.

Rhonda Jones

Rhonda Jones

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.

Finding Community in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

by Evan Britt
YWCA of the City of New York

Evan Britt

Community.

A word commonly defined as a group of people living together in one place, especially one practicing common ownership. The word community often carries deeper meaning, though. For me, a community is a group of people helping each other.

It is this sense of the word community that I have experienced in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Over the past two weeks, the YWCA of the City of New York, much like the rest of New York City, has dealt with a number of challenges as a result of the storm. With our staff displaced from our headquarters in the Financial District, many of us displaced from our homes, no YW email or phone access, and a general sense of chaos, the simple solution was to sit back and wait.

But that’s not how the YW responded. Despite these trying times, we rallied together. Communicating through social media, Gmail, and our personal cell phones, our staff came together to form a plan to provide relief to the families in Coney Island who were heavily impacted by Sandy. It was in this moment that we came together, not as co-workers, but as a community.

Trustworthy Envoys: YWCA Bristol’s Youth Ministry Group Talks Bullying

by Tammy Henkel
Director of Youth Programs, YWCA Bristol

This year marks the 18th Annual YWCA Week Without Violence™ for YWCA Bristol of Tennessee. The goal of this week is to increase community awareness of the resources that are available to help prevent violent behavior. Our outreach highlights a range of agencies who offer activities and services addressing issues like abuse, hate crimes, racial injustice, date rape, teen bullying, and teen suicide. Many of the local groups in the community are creating and hosting events for YWCA Week Without Violence™.