YWCA Executive Directors, CEOs, Board Members and staff were on Capitol Hill today, advocating for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) that protects the safety, security, and opportunity of immigrant women, girls and their families.
It was a historic year for Capitol Hill Day. This was the highest attendance ever recorded since Hill Day started in 2006, with 288 attendees making their rounds with Senators and Representatives, and a total of 291 visits with Republicans and Democrats alike. It is truly impressive to have had so many waves of persimmon walking through the halls of Congress, bringing with them a unified message about CIR. Kendra Woodall, Board Member of YWCA Lorain, said: “”I have always wanted to help people and get rid of the injustices in America. Being at the YWCA USA Annual Conference has elevated my interest in immigration reform and politics.”
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.
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!