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Learning to Offer Assistance Through Advocacy Training

Learning to Offer Assistance Through Advocacy Training

How Advocacy Training Can Make a Difference

We’ve all seen the news reports about a person (or persons) who intervened in a desperate situation and helped to save the lives of complete strangers. We’ve also seen reports of those who were public victims of violence and didn’t receive aid, even though there were witnesses on hand. What makes the difference? Usually, it’s a matter of the people on the sidelines feeling equipped to step in. At some point, it’s likely that you will be in a situation which will beg the question of whether or not to become personally involved. It’s at that point that advocacy training can lead you toward helping someone find the assistance and resources they need.

Empowered to Help

At the YWCA, we offer classes in Community Advocacy so that our friends and neighbors will feel empowered when they are confronted with that crucial decision. In most situations, it’s not that people don’t care about someone else’s plight – it’s usually a matter of feeling helpless to do anything that will make a difference. Taking a class in how to best serve the needs of others works to eliminate fear and puts tools in your hands to help someone.

A Personal Story

Not long ago we received a letter from a community member who had taken one of our Advocacy classes. This person saw a homeless woman lying in the street as she made her way into her place of employment. She asked the woman about her situation and learned that she had nowhere to go and had been physically abused by a boyfriend. One of the co-workers suggested the woman make her way to the Salvation Army, but the woman didn’t feel she could even make the walk.

The woman from the community then remembered that during her Community Advocacy training she had met one of our staff members – Carrie Turner – who could offer real help. The woman called Carrie and in less than an hour, Carrie was able to get there and render assistance. This woman wrote to us to let us know how good it felt to be able to do something rather than look the other way.

Community Advocacy Training

Being ready in an uncertain situation isn’t hard if you know how. In October, the YWCA will be offering classes in learning how to help every Monday and Wednesday evening (October 3-26). If you are interested in learning how to be a person that knows how to help in an unexpected situation, please contact Carrie Turner at cturner@ywcasj.org or by calling her at 816-232-4481. One evening is all it takes to become empowered.

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Get Involved in Increasing Breast Cancer Awareness

Get Involved in Increasing Breast Cancer Awareness

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Raises Breast Cancer Awareness and Works Toward a Cure

Among women, no cancer is more commonly faced than breast cancer. It is the number one cancer diagnosis received by women and the second deadliest form of cancer for women. For 34 years (since 1982) the Susan G. Komen foundation has been working to increase breast cancer awareness, help women receive early intervention and find a cure. For the past 22 years, Kansas City has hosted a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure event. This year, the event will take place on Sunday, August 14.

Getting the Facts

Nearly a quarter of a million American women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. A staggering 40,000 wives, mothers and daughters will die from the disease. Breast cancer strikes women of all ages, ethnicities and socio-economic status. And yet progress has been made.

When the Susan G. Komen foundation was begun, women who discovered their breast cancer in its early stages faced a 74 percent chance of survival. Today a woman’s chances of overcoming early stage breast cancer are close to 99 percent. This is why we are committed to raising breast cancer awareness and getting the message out that early detection is so important.

Early detection and intervention holds the key to survival rates. That means women need to understand the urgency about self-exams, mammography and treatment. If cost is an obstacle, there are resources available to open the doors to early detection. With Susan G. Komen, 74 percent of all the money raised through events like Race for the Cure stays right in the community to help women get the medical attention they need. And 100 percent of the proceeds go directly toward breast cancer awareness, treatment and research.

Getting Involved

The 2016 Race for the Cure event will be held in Kansas City. The walk will start at Kansas City’s famed Union Station. However, you don’t need to live in Kansas City to take part in this important event. St. Joseph is building its own team to send to Kansas City on Race Day. The St. Joseph Pink Warriors team will travel together via Heartland Trailways Bus to take part.

The St. Joseph YWCA works hard to boost breast cancer awareness here in town and is a proud partner in the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure. If you would like to participate you can sign up at http://komenkansascity.org/.

You don’t have to take part in the race itself. You can also help by supporting the Pink Warrior team. This is your chance to fight back against a horrible disease. Walk on race day. Be part of the St. Joseph team. Be a sponsor. Contact the YWCA to find out other ways you can be part of ensuring that all women have access to screenings and treatment. With your help, we can win.

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Why a Women’s Crisis Shelter is Important for Your Community

Why a Women’s Crisis Shelter is Important for Your Community

The Benefits From Having a Strong Crisis Shelter Program

While not every victim of domestic violence is female, women constitute the majority. Those who work closely with survivors of domestic abuse know that people, and women in particular, stay in dangerous relationships for many reasons. Many times, a chief reason is the lack of an accessible and welcoming crisis shelter.

A woman in an abusive relationship may not feel she has anywhere else to go. Extended family may not be near or welcoming. An inability to be self-supporting can leave many feeling they are “stuck” in their situation.

A crisis shelter gives women in imminent danger someplace safe and secure to escape from harm. Friends and family may be non-existent or too accessible to the abusing partner. A crisis shelter offers a roof, meals and a location where the abuser cannot reach them.

In most cases, the crisis shelter offers much more – like the YWCA Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children. Shelters offer women a consistent, safe place to recoup from the strain of real and pending danger – not just for themselves, but for their children also. It also offers them an environment to encourage their potential, rather than crush their self-image. The shelter offers space to breathe and re-imagine life alongside those who have reached this hope for themselves. Hope for a better future can be born, and this includes hope for new opportunities for children who have witnessed domestic abuse or experienced homelessness.

At shelters, like our St. Joseph YWCA, victims can find two to three months of emergency housing. Many times, it takes more than 60 or 90 days to start rebuilding a life, so we also offer longer-term housing at Bliss Manor. During a woman’s stay at Bliss Manor she can access other services which empower her to work toward enhanced career opportunities, including education and resources toward her own permanent residence.
 

Because our team works on a daily basis with those who face abuse, we have an authoritative voice when it comes to public policy. Victims may lack confidence in themselves or ‘the system’ but we can speak confidently and assuredly on their behalf. In this way, crisis shelters benefit not only those in immediate danger, but can help to protect others in the community before they are victimized. For all these reasons, and more, we hope you can see why it’s so important to support crisis shelters, victim resources and your St. Joseph YWCA.

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Are You Aware of How Domestic Violence Impacts the Workplace?

Are You Aware of How Domestic Violence Impacts the Workplace?

Domestic Violence is Believed Responsible for 8 Million Lost Work Days

Did you know that one of the most likely perpetrators of violence at work is often someone’s abusive domestic partner? Perhaps because these stories aren’t often told on the evening news, many employers have largely adopted a “wait and see” attitude toward domestic violence. It is important to be aware of how domestic violence can impact the workplace – and share this message with others.

Continued violent behavior is unlikely to remain contained in the home. Sooner or later the abuser will follow the partner to a predictable location – such as work and other places where they frequently travel. Experts highlight that a large number of those who are living with domestic abuse experience related issues at their place of employment.

 
Domestic violence also affects work performance. It is estimated that 8 million paid work days are lost due to this problem and close to 40 percent report difficulty finding and maintaining work because of domestic abuse. It’s a safety issue, a mental health issue and a productivity issue, and many workplaces are simply unprepared to deal with it.

While employers cannot resolve issues of domestic violence directly, they can offer survivors a safe place to investigate resources and options
. Since most abuse shelters are contacted during mid-day business hours, it is likely that survivors may wait until the abusive partner is at work or they themselves are at work (and away from danger) in order to seek help. Employers who become aware of abusive relationships can let employees know that work hours are acceptable times to make calls they need to make to escape domestic violence.

It is important that your workplace have a written policy regarding domestic and sexual violence.  You can find sample forms to help guide you in developing your own policy at http://www.workplacesrespond.org/.   There are also online resources which can give advice about how to protect yourself while at work from the harassment of an abusive partner. The St Joseph YWCA  provides shelter, counseling and can steer survivors toward other needed resources. If you or a co-worker close to you is confronted with the dangers of domestic violence, make the call to our YWCA crisis line. We’re here to support you.

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Supporting Breast Cancer Awareness and the Importance of Early Detection and Intervention

Supporting Breast Cancer Awareness and the Importance of Early Detection and Intervention

A Fun Evening Out Can Help to Raise Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast cancer is the number two cause of death for women in the United States. In fact, one out of every eight women in America will receive a breast cancer diagnosis at some point during their lifetime. Thankfully, early detection and intervention make a positive impact on the treatment of this disease. In July, you can enjoy a fun evening out and help boost breast cancer awareness. A Paint It Pink Party will be held from 7:00-8:30 pm on July 15 to support the YWCA ENCOREplus program and the Griffey School for the Arts.

ENCOREplus
The ENCOREplus program is a YWCA outreach program designed to get early detection information and resources about breast cancer into the hands of women in Northwest Missouri and the surrounding area. The program provides free cancer prevention information to women. It also helps to partner women with available financial resources so women can access and receive their annual mammograms. Early detection saves lives and last year ENCOREplus helped 2,000 women get the screening that makes a difference.

Although there are still 230,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer each year in this country, female breast cancer rates have been dropping in recent years. The number of breast cancer deaths among women over age 50 has dropped notably since 1990. Those decreases are likely due to increased screenings, early detection and better treatment.

Paint It Pink Party
The Paint It Pink Party will take place on July 15 at the YWCA located at 304 N 8th St in St. Joseph. The party will run from 7-8:30 p.m. and the cost will be $30 per person at the door. Partygoers will enjoy painting something pink to help support the cost of a bus ride to the Komen Race on August 13. Komen Race For A Cure events are part of national efforts to increase breast cancer awareness.  The Tiger’s Den will also be on hand to provide attendees with a cash bar during the party. All proceeds will be split between the ENCOREplus program and The Griffey School for the Arts.

As a local downtown business, the Griffey School for the Arts exists to keep the arts alive and thriving in the St. Joseph community. The school offers private lessons, enrichment education, special events and art-centered family-friendly activities. The Griffey is located at 617 Felix St. and can be found online at http://www.thegriffeyschoolforthearts.org/.

The YWCA is proud to continue offering resources and programs that make a real difference in the daily lives of women and children. In the case of breast cancer awareness, we are empowering women to become proactive through cancer prevention. We invite you to help us by taking part in the Paint It Pink Party.

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The St. Joseph YWCA Celebrates Freedom Every Day

The St. Joseph YWCA Celebrates Freedom Every Day

How Independence Day Embodies the Core Values of Our St. Joseph YWCA

It’s time for the Fourth of July; time for celebrating freedom and independence. A time to pause from your regular routine and give thanks for life in a country where individuals can dream, work and achieve without fear of reprisal. Over the course of the nation’s history, freedom has come in varying degrees to its citizens – but it remains the communal prize a nation is reaching toward. At the St. Joseph YWCA we have been working for over a century to help all people, especially women, realize this freedom we hold so dear.

Since 1888, the YWCA has been striving to promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. This vision drives everything we do and has from the very start. We are an organization started by women in order to improve the lives of women in our community. By serving the needs of women, we also positively impact the culture for the next generation.

More than 128 years ago a handful of women decided it was up to them to help women in need. Although they didn’t enjoy full rights themselves (women still could not vote in 1888), those women rolled up their sleeves and got busy working to improve conditions for at-risk women. That is how the St. Joseph YWCA was born and it remains core to what we are about to this very day.

At the YWCA we believe every woman has value. We believe every woman deserves a fresh chance to work toward her potential. We agree with William Hazlitt who said “The love of liberty is the love of others…” Love expresses itself in action and at the YWCA we are very active in our pursuit of dignity and freedom and the elimination of racism.
Peter Marshall said that true freedom is to be “free to do what is right”. We believe it is right that all women be treated equal regardless of age, race or ethnicity. We believe it is right to help women and men who’ve been oppressed by abuse to find space to heal and believe again in themselves and their ability to overcome. We celebrate the freedom to do what is right each and every day. And on the Fourth of July, we celebrate even more.

A former U.S. President has said that “the wisest use of American strength is to advance freedom.” Won’t you help advance freedom by supporting the work of the St. Joseph YWCA? Freedom from abuse. Freedom from fear. Freedom from racism and bigotry. Freedom to dream and achieve. Freedom to live independently. These are freedoms all Americans hold dear and they are what we work for. We celebrate freedom each and every day. Happy Independence Day from your St. Joseph YWCA.

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Working to Eliminate Racism in our Community

YWCA-Transparent-LogoWhat You Can Do to Help Eliminate Racism

At the YWCA you will find people who are committed to the belief that we can and should make every effort to eliminate racism in the land of the free.

You may be just one person, but there is much you can do to be part of this effort. After all, a city, state or country is made up of individuals and each person has a sphere of influence. Here are some ways that you can aid in the work to eliminate racism right where you live.

Build Some Bridges
It’s easy to hold misperceptions about people you don’t know. The best way to tear apart prejudice is to build bridges with people who are different from those in your own circle. Not only does this destroy misperceptions – it also makes life so much more interesting. Make an effort to meet and get to know people from other backgrounds, countries or cultures. Join a group that doesn’t look exactly like you and work on something together.

Try exploring a new language. Cook ethnic food or visit ethnic restaurants. You may not ever develop a taste for Korean kimchi, but once you learn that it was a method of preserving vegetables for long, harsh winters – you can appreciate its cultural value. You’ll be surprised how many people around you assume that everyone in South America eats Mexican food. A little bit of learning can make a big difference in how you think and speak about people from other cultures.

Avoid Stereotypes
No people group is monolithic. Afford others the courtesy of individualism. A person, Martin Luther King Jr. once said, should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. Your gentle objection to stereotypes can help to create heightened awareness.

You can also watch for events like Stand Against Racism, held in April every year at the St. Joseph YWCA and across the country. Decide to set time aside in your calendar to help create awareness and action toward this incredibly important mission.
Even though you’re just one person, you touch many lives. How can you help eliminate racism? By changing how you interact with those in your sphere. By including those from diverse backgrounds in your life. By working with groups like the YWCA who take definite steps toward combating racism. Don’t just speak out against racism, but go a step further to do your part in the work to eliminate racism.

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Women in Leadership Are Making a Difference in the Community

Women in Leadership Are Making a Difference in the Community

Three Common Traits Leaders Share

A leader doesn’t always wear a recognizable title. They do, however, wear a recognizable character. They are passionate and active. They take action in order to see community issues resolved. These leaders can be male or female, young or old, employed or volunteers. Women in leadership roles are making a difference in our community every day, and here are a few important keys about leadership as we approach the 15 anniversary event of the Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon on June 16, 2016.

Leading Requires Action (not Perfection)
Some people may shy away from stepping forward because they feel inadequate to lead. Nonetheless, history is full of tales of those who took action because they cared, not because they felt prepared. You may not feel equally passionate about every issue, but there is probably some issue that evokes an emotional response inside you. That issue likely concerns others, too, but they are waiting for someone to spearhead a response. There are women in leadership positions on many issues who are considered leaders not because they started out as experts, but because they were dedicated to seeing a problem resolved.

Leading Requires Identifying Issues
You can lead from anywhere. You can be the one who identifies and articulates a concern and then builds a team to address that concern. That means school teachers can inspire parents and fellow-teachers. Volunteers can advocate and work for change. Mothers can ignite other moms to action. Employees can affect the workplace or how the company interacts with the community. Leadership often happens right where you are.

Leading Requires Learning as You go
Some people are natural leaders but many people learn to lead as they go. That means that you may not know much about it when you start out, and you may fumble a few things along the way. Don’t hesitate to do something because you don’t want to make mistakes. People are waiting for someone to help them make a difference. Women in leadership are women who acknowledge that problem-solving will require learning along the way.

Here in St. Joseph women are making a difference in every part of the community. Every year in June, the YWCA takes time to recognize and honor some of those women. The Women of Excellence Luncheon on June 16 at the Civic Arena is our way of saluting women in leadership and, hopefully, inspiring more women to step out and lead the way in their own unique sphere. We invite you to come and join us this year for this memorable event. Learn more at www.ywcasj.org.

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Have You Taken a Moment to Celebrate the Women of Excellence in Your Life?

Have You Taken a Moment to Celebrate the Women of Excellence in Your Life?

Inspiring Characteristics of Women of Excellence

It’s good to pause from time to time and think about the people who’ve been especially influential in your own life. It’s also important to take time to recognize those who positively impact a community across their role as volunteer, friend, coworker, parent and leader. As the YWCA St. Joseph celebrates 15 years of the Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon program on June 16, 2016, it’s a good opportunity to consider the hallmarks of women with influence. Here are a few common traits found among women of excellence:

Tenacity
Since no life, goal or pursuit worth following can be had without some obstacles it frequently becomes a matter of persistence to make goals become reality. A woman of excellence is not a woman who never stumbles, but she is one who keeps pushing ahead and perseveres through challenges.

Pursuing a Passion
It’s easier to stay the course when your goal is something you truly believe in. Being a woman of influence and excellence comes naturally when you are focused on and pursuing your passion. Passion is inspiring and can be infectious, and many nominees across the Women of Excellence program share a passion for a cause – such as helping children and families or becoming a role model at their workplace.

Positive Attitude
Women of excellence know how to remain optimistic even in the face of setbacks. Positivity isn’t intentional blindness to problems, but it’s a determination to believe that problems have solutions.

Keeping it Real
Women who impact others are women who know how to keep things real. Sometimes this can be done with humor and sometimes it’s accomplished with a roll-up-your-sleeves and get the job done attitude. People are drawn to those who admit their errors, can laugh at themselves and deal with others honestly.

Sharing Confidence
Tapping into confidence is a powerful leadership tool. Women of excellence aren’t looking around for someone else to do what needs to be done. They step in and believe that they can do it. Leaders with influence believe in the power of a single person to make a difference – but they’re also willing to share this influence with those around them so that positive changes can be carried forward (even without their presence).

Who has been a woman of influence and excellence in your life? What have you learned from them? Women who are making a difference right here in St. Joseph and the surrounding areas will be honored at the annual YWCA Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon in June. Women in all kinds of roles will be recognized as making an impact and inspiring others. It’s good to recognize their contributions, and it’s even better to become inspired to make your own life one that impacts others in positive ways. If you’re looking for a place to make a difference, contact the YWCA and find out how your talents and passions can become even more impactful.

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Domestic Violence Affects Employees and Co-Workers

Domestic Violence Affects Employees and Co-Workers

Recognize the Warning Signs if an Employee or Co-Worker Might be a Victim of Domestic Violence

As much as we might not like to think about it, domestic violence happens and sometimes it happens to people we know and work with. Victims of domestic violence don’t always share their trauma. In fact, often they attempt to hide it. By becoming acquainted with common warning signs you can better understand behaviors that may otherwise be difficult to understand. Knowing what to look for can also put you in a better position for directing a victim toward help.

Common Signs of Domestic Violence

Physical Signs
One sign of trouble is when a person comes to work with injuries that don’t appear to match with their story of what happened to cause the injury. If someone at work explains away black eyes and bruises, burns or broken bones by saying that they fall a lot or are just clumsy then it may be time for a closer look. If the person minimizes their repeated physical injuries this, too, could be a sign of domestic violence.

To avoid having to give explanations, the person may attempt to hide their injuries. Take note of unusual apparel choices such as long sleeves or turtlenecks in summer or wearing dark glasses in odd locations. Reluctance to share about the home environment or home relationships can also be a signal.

Work Signs
Even if you don’t see physical signs of abuse, there may be other clues that point to an abusive home situation. Distinct changes in work ethic can sometimes stem from issues of violence. If a characteristically on-time employee is repeatedly tardy or absent from work, if there are sudden change in their quality of work (errors, inability to focus or abnormal slowness in job performance) it could be related to trouble at home.

Other work-related signs of domestic violence include needing time off to attend court hearings and repeated and inappropriate interruptions at work by a partner in the form of abusive phone calls, emails or personal visits. You may also observe that the person becomes increasingly quiet and withdraws from coworkers. Even an excessive workload or unexpected overachievement can point to domestic violence, since the person may be burying themselves in work to escape relationship problems in the home.

At the YWCA we have several ways to help victims take steps toward hope and healing. We staff a 24-hour hotline that can be used by the victim or by someone else on their behalf. We also offer emergency shelter at no charge through our Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children. We provide victim advocacy services to offer support, help with transportation and information on available resources. We also provide confidential, professional counseling at no cost to participants. Don’t allow domestic violence to continue unchallenged. You can learn the signs and point victims toward real help. It may be happening to someone near you, and today we invite you to take action.

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