I am both grateful and honored to have been sponsored to participate in the 2012 YWCA National Conference and Capitol Hill Day, themed “Shaking It Up.” This event was my first engagement with the national YWCA movement. I have worked for the YWCA Greater Milwaukee in Wisconsin since 2009, directly implementing services through our workforce development programs. Our day-to-day efforts to prepare our local workforce is challenging as there is a tremendous need, particularly in these difficult economic times. My attendance at the National Conference not only rejuvenated my passion for working with the YWCA but helped me learn who we are.
At the YWCA National Conference, I learned how to lobby for issues that I am passionate about. This is a skill/act that I have never performed before. Women in persimmon from all around the U.S. came to Washington, D.C., and were passionate about the same issues that affect women and girls. And as a group, we fought for them.
Meeting with Congressional staff during Capitol Hill Day was a great experience. I was surprised to see that I went to college with some of the staff that I met with. This helped to ease the transition and made them more adamant about hearing what I had to say. One staffer said to me, “How long have you been doing this? You’re really good at it.”
An incredible opportunity was bestowed on me just days before the YWCA’s National Conference. As a young woman in our organization, I was given the chance to fly to Washington, D.C., and participate in a very powerful event, the 2012 YWCA National Conference. YWCA staff, board and volunteers from across the country met to voice our commitment to our mission: eliminating racism and empowering women. There I realized a significant fact: I am part of the fight for women. During Capitol Hill Day, I felt honored to have the chance to have a voice on legislative issues that affect our ability to practice our mission. The YWCA mission is especially dear to me. As the Girls Inc. Coordinator, I see the importance of empowering girls every day. I won’t soon forget the experience of being a part of that conversation on a national level.
Although there are three YWCA associations in the state of Hawaii, we rarely get to see each other, let alone representatives from YWCAs in other states. So being able to connect with my colleagues from our state, the Pacific Region, and nationwide at the annual conference was an excellent reminder of the greater movement that I am a part of.
Two highlights from the three-day conference are: 1) Capitol Hill Day 2) Keynote speech from Vice President Joe Biden.
Hawaii is lucky enough to have all of its U.S. Senators and Representatives allies or the advancement and protection of women’s rights. Regardless, meeting with staff members from their offices to discuss issues that we support was an excellent learning experience.
I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see the YWCA on a national level at the 2012 National Conference. While working every day in the field sometimes it becomes harder to conceptualize the big picture. Being able to network and share experiences with others allowed me the chance to understand how all of our individual efforts move the organization towards the common goal of empowering women and eliminating racism. Often when speaking with professionals in other fields it is hard for them to see how things as basic as housing, counseling, transportation, or childcare can have such a huge impact on societal outcomes, however being around others that share the same goals is very empowering.
by Amanda Quinn,
Program Director for the Teen Court Program, Teen Mentoring and Stepping into the Future, YWCA of Hawaii Island
I had the opportunity to attend the YWCA USA National Conference in Washington DC. It was my first trip to the Capitol and my first Capitol Hill Day. The whole experience was amazing. Since it was my first time, I went with an open mind to the new experience. We met with staff members of the representatives from our two senators and one of our house representatives. All three of Hawaii’s representatives’ staff members were friendly and supportive for the VAWA, CCDBG and CDBG. The representative asked questions to gain information on what our programs offer and any issues that we are experiencing. Many of the staff members had ties to Hawaii. It was neat to see people from Hawaii helping to make a difference in Congress.
The main thing that I will take away from this conference as a young woman of the YWCA is the feeling of unity and belonging attached to being part of a national movement. I was one of 400 individuals from across the country congregating in our nation’s capital because we all believe in the same mission of empowering women and eliminating racism…so powerful!
In April 2011, I joined a group of YWCA advocates under 30 in Washington, D.C., for the YWCA National Conference. We joined thousands of activists around the Capitol building for the “Stand Up for Women’s Health” rally to protest the defunding of Planned Parenthood as a stipulation of a new healthcare bill. Each evening we would huddle around the TV to see what would become of Planned Parenthood’s funding.
by Desiree Hoffman
Director of Advocacy and Policy, YWCA USA
Today is an important day for the YWCA and for all the women we serve. Here in our nation’s capital, 250 YWCA leaders — from Oregon to New York, Texas to North Dakota — are gathered today to advocate for women, girls and families. Not just the ones that come through the doors of our 1,300 locations across the U.S. every day, but for ALL women and girls.
United to serve 2 million women and girls across country, YWCA is a force to be reckoned with!