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Mentoring Parenting Teens is Making a Difference in Our Community

Mentoring Parenting Teens is Making a Difference in Our Community

How and Why Mentoring Parenting Teens Works

Pregnancy among teens brings its own unique set of challenges and circumstances, affecting all levels of the community. According to DoSomething.Org, nearly one-third of teenage girls will become pregnant and 60 percent will give birth. Many of those girls will raise their child without help from the father. That leaves many young ladies facing single parenting before turning 20. Mentoring parenting teens can help to bridge the gap between what babies need and what a teenage mother is prepared to give.

For many girls, having a baby during high school can mean a permanent interruption in their education. Statistically, less than half of teenage mothers earn a high school diploma and just over one percent finish college. Raising children is demanding for all mothers, but teenage moms without a partner face additional challenges. Providing for their child is one of those challenges. So, too, is the lack of a healthy support network. Mentoring parenting teens aims to encourage and enable young parents to complete their education and, at the same time, offers skill development along with positive social support.

Skills and Support

JUMP is our YWCA program designed for mentoring parenting teens. The acronym stands for Journey to Unite Mentors and Parents and is open to pregnant teenagers or teens raising a child under the age of three. All JUMP mentors are volunteers who receive training in how to be supportive. The program offers monthly meetings for learning key parenting skills, playgroup opportunities, home visits and more. Incentives such as diapers, baby bottles and baby wipes encourage attendance at meetings. With JUMP young moms are surrounded by a caring group of adults who encourage them to stay in school. They also find strength through meeting other young girls in similar circumstances who are working to be the best moms they can be for their child.

The Impact of JUMP in our Community

The YWCA JUMP program is unique in the area and worked to help 70 young people and 75 children in 2015 alone. The JUMP program represents a cooperative effort with Mosaic Life Care and the St. Joseph Youth Alliance. These agencies work hand in hand with the YWCA to ensure that babies of teen mothers stay properly immunized, healthy and well-supported. Mothers and babies receive benefits through JUMP. Last year the program experienced a marked increase in the number of teen moms willing to be paired with a caring adult mentor.

Mentoring parenting teens works because it meets identifiable needs. Young moms need encouragement that they can be good parents and finish their education. Children need parents who understand basic parenting skills and who can create positive homes. If you are a pregnant teen or know someone who is, check out JUMP. If you are a caring adult who would like to make a genuine difference in the lives of others, contact us today and find out about becoming a trained mentor.

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Victims of Domestic Violence Find Space to Regroup in Supported Housing

Victims of Domestic Violence Find Space to Regroup in Supported Housing

Bliss Manor Supported Housing Helps Women and Children Find a New Start

Homes where domestic violence occurs can be chaotic in many ways. Not only is personal safety uncertain, but many times things like income, food and utilities can be erratic as well. At Bliss Manor we help women and children looking to escape domestic violence by providing a safe, consistent home. Supported housing provides space for victims of domestic violence to find needed employment and the chance to find permanent housing for a new future. Supported housing offers the answer to a critical challenge facing women who are homeless or are escaping domestic abuse, meeting their needs for safe, supportive transitional living space.

Finding Hope for a Better Future

Creating a new future can seem daunting for anyone, but when a person has been living under extreme stress for extended periods of time, finding hope that things can be different can be especially challenging. At Bliss Manor, not only do we provide women and children with a clean, safe and secure temporary home, but we also come alongside families with the hope they need to move forward. We provide services for children, resources for parents and help in creating a personalized goal plan that outlines concrete steps toward a better life.

Bliss Manor is Making a Difference

In 2015, our supported housing sheltered 42 adults and 37 children with 17,393 nights of safe and supportive living. Each and every woman (100 percent) who spent time at Bliss Manor developed her own goal plan with 78 percent of them going on to either secure permanent, private housing or to enter a treatment facility. Our staff provided 1,323 hours of individual case management or advocacy. We view all these milestones as major successes and good news for women and children looking for the chance to make a fresh start.

A Safe Home, a Fresh Start

By alleviating a woman’s most immediate concern – the need to provide a safe and stable home environment for herself and her kids – supported housing frees women up to address other pressing things. Most of the time women need to find steady employment. At Bliss Manor, we seek to enable women to find steady, satisfying work that will support their needs and the needs of their family. If that requires added education, we work with women to find ways to help that happen. If it means getting help with health issues, addiction issues or other obstacles, we look for available resources.

Victims of domestic abuse can find a new and better future. At the St. Joseph YWCA we believe in empowering women to be their very best. We believe in taking steps to help women in crisis so that they can begin anew. If you are a woman in crisis, don’t wait – come talk with us. If you’d like to be part of empowering women, we welcome your support in a variety of ways. Providing a safe home is a small gift that can make a huge difference.

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La’Porsha’s Story: One Woman’s Inspiring Story of Leaving Domestic Violence and Pursuing Her Dreams

La’Porsha’s Story: One Woman’s Inspiring Story of Leaving Domestic Violence and Pursuing Her Dreams

Men and women who are victims of domestic violence can feel trapped. Sometimes the fear of what will happen after they leave seems like the biggest hurdle to actually getting away from the situation. Physical abuse may be matched with verbal abuses that wear away at the victim’s self-esteem until they doubt they’d be able to make it on their own. Having a safe place to go and a support network who will speak truth and hope back into life can make all the difference.

Reclaiming Identity

One of the top finishers on the final season of American Idol, La’Porsha is from Mississippi and is a domestic violence survivor. As a young 18 year old, she met a man who was romantic and charming. But over time this man became abusive. He hurt her physically but he also tore at her identity. Piece by piece he berated everything she felt was key to who she was. Her hair wasn’t right. Her voice wasn’t right. Eventually she says she was left feeling like something other than a woman.

When she finally took her baby daughter and left, she had nowhere to go but the local woman’s shelter. There she found the courage to defy those messages of domestic violence. Within two months she was auditioning for a spot on American Idol. La’Porsha finished second in the competition and won a great deal of support and admiration in the process.

Finding Safety and Support

As La’Porsha’s story illustrates, abused partners may be crushed under the weight of lies. La’Porsha’s partner did not like her singing and vocally let her know consistently, yet she was talented enough to win a top spot in a nationally televised competition. Having some place safe to go and a supportive group enabled her to find the courage to reclaim her dreams.

At the St. Joseph YWCA we help women regain hope, build confidence and take next steps toward their goals as they heal from abuse. If you’re in an abusive relationship – you have somewhere to go. Our team is ready to help. If you know someone in an abusive relationship, encourage them to reach out to the YWCA St. Joseph as a first step toward a new start.

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Regular Breast Cancer Screening Reduces Risk for Women

Regular Breast Cancer Screening Reduces Risk for Women

How the YWCA Helps Ensure Breast Cancer Screening Takes Place

Although breast cancer does affect both men and women it is a particularly high-risk cancer for women. Close to 30 percent of new cancer diagnoses in women are breast cancer. In 2015, there were nearly a quarter million new cases of invasive breast cancer in women and over 60,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. One of the best preventive measures a woman can take to protect herself against this disease is to schedule a regular breast cancer screening. Here are some additional tips to know and share:

Family History is Not the Only Clue

It is true that a woman with breast cancer in her immediate family history faces twice the risk of developing breast cancer as other women. However, that represents just 15 percent of breast cancer cases. Breast cancer also shows up in women with no family history of the disease. This means that keeping an eye on breast health is a must for all women.

Screening Has Improved (But it’s Still Dependent on a Woman Scheduling the Screening)

The good news is that clinical exams and mammography make an enormous difference in early detection. In recent years there has been a large drop in the number of breast cancer deaths in women under age 50 largely due to improved breast cancer screening and greater participation rates. Improvements for women over age 50 are also seen with regular check-ups and awareness. For women ages 40-50 with an average risk a yearly breast cancer screening is recommended. In women ages 50-70 undergoing breast screening every two years is recommended. High-risk women should begin screenings around age 30. (Note: These are general guidelines. Women should follow the screening schedules recommended by their individual health care provider).

The YWCA is Helping Women With Important Breast Cancer Resources

For some women, getting regular health care is a challenge. The cost, transportation barriers, language barriers and low information can hinder preventive breast cancer screening. This is precisely where the YWCA steps in to help. The ENCOREplus breast cancer outreach program reduces barriers that keep women from going to annual mammogram appointments. ENCOREplus provides community outreach, education, resource referral, barrier reduction, year-round events and more. We can also connect women with financial aid resources needed for regular mammogram check-ups. (When necessary, we can also help with transportation to mammogram appointments).
Last year, ENCOREplus offered services to 2,000 plus Northwest Missouri women. By giving women needed health information and supporting women’s access to appropriate health care, we help women in our area take responsibility for their own wellness and well-being. If you’ve been putting off your breast cancer screening, we encourage you to call our downtown YWCA office and find out how we can help.

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Know the Recognized Signs You Should Leave an Abusive Relationship

Know the Recognized Signs You Should Leave an Abusive Relationship

Signs You Should Leave, and a Safe Exit Strategy

Every day in America a woman is assaulted by her domestic partner every 15 seconds. It’s important to make yourself aware of the  signs you should leave an abusive relationship.

Emotions can cloud clear thinking. You may not feel emotionally ready to leave the person, but ignoring warning signs can have serious consequences. Three women die every day in this country as a direct result of domestic violence. It is important to know and recognize the signs you should leave – and then know the steps to develop a safe exit strategy.

How to Know You Should Leave

Research shows that women often sense when they are in danger. If you feel threatened, don’t ignore that feeling. If someone near you mentions that she fears for her own safety, take her words seriously. Apart from a personal barometer, there are other clear signs you should leave the relationship:

 

  • Abuse occurs even in very public places
  • The level of abuse is increasing
  • There are overt threats made to harm you or themselves
  • The person becomes excessively jealous
  • There is easy access to a weapon such as a gun
  • The person has problems with mental health or substance abuse
  • There is a history of sexual abuse

Even if you’re only starting to realize that it’s time to leave, you need a safe exit plan. If you announce your plans to leave or separate this can make the person feel as though they are losing control of the relationship and that can spark renewed violence. Records reveal that three-quarters of all severe cases of domestic abuse take place after the victim decides to leave.

A Safe Plan for Leaving

So how can you (or someone you love) get safely out of a dangerous relationship? Here are steps to follow:

1. Pick a time to leave that will be safe.

2. Have some place to go right away – a shelter or somewhere the person won’t find you right away. Read more here about the YWCA Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children.

3. Take children and pets with you when you leave or make arrangements for their safekeeping.

4. Have a bag packed in advance that contains important documents like your social security card, passport, birth certificate, health insurance and so on. This bag should also have a spare set of car keys, house keys and some ready cash. Put in a few changes of clothes. When the bag is packed, keep it somewhere outside of the home so the partner will not discover it.

At the YWCA we are here to help domestic violence victims and survivors. We offer shelter to victims of domestic violence and their children, a rape crisis program, professional counseling for victims and the Bliss Manor Housing Program. If you recognize signs you should leave and you realize it’s time for you to go, let us help. If you are a victim in need of immediate assistance, call our 24-hour hotline at 816-232-1225 or 1-800-653-1477.  If at any point you feel you are in immediate danger call 911. If you recognize the warning signs in the life of a woman you care about, share what you know and help her to make a safe exit strategy. Knowing the signs and having a plan can be the critical steps needed for a new future without abuse.

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How to Become Part of JUMP, a Teen Moms Program at the YWCA St. Joseph

How to Become Part of JUMP, a Teen Moms Program at the YWCA St. Joseph

The Importance of a Teen Moms Program

It’s tough enough to be a teen for most young adults. However, teens who are pregnant or parenting certainly face an entirely new set of unique challenges. They may lack support from family, face struggles to finish high school and often have a complex journey ahead to find suitable housing or medical care as they plan their next steps. (Alongside the emotional weight of becoming a parent at a young age). The full value of an active teen moms program or teen parenting program is difficult to calculate, but here are some points to consider as you help share the word about the YWCA St. Joseph JUMP program:

What a Teen Moms Program Can Offer to Young Mothers (and Young Fathers):

Teen parents typically have yet to finish their high school or college education. A teen moms program that facilitates this goal is important. Girls who complete their education have a greater opportunity of becoming financially secure. Teen moms who want to finish school must find a way to balance competing demands on their time, energy, finances and emotional resources – and a teen moms program can aid and guide them in seeing this goal become a reality.

Programs like the JUMP program offers help with all these areas, plus encouragement from others who are on the same journey. This can mean guidance from skilled parent volunteers or mentors. It can mean educational resources such as classes on child safety. It can also mean opportunities to gather with other young mothers facing similar challenges.

About JUMP

Together with St. Joseph Youth Alliance and MOSAIC, the St. Joseph YWCA offers a teen parents program for our local community called JUMP. JUMP stands for Journey to Unite Mentors and Parents, and it is a mentoring program and so much more. Our mentors are all volunteers from the community who have been screened and trained to come alongside girls during teen pregnancy and early motherhood. Mentors attend monthly training sessions along with their partnered parent. Our program also includes visits to the home, playgroup opportunities and even specialized classes from community experts. Girls who attend meetings can earn incentives, like useful childcare items, as well many other tools for their parenting journey.

The JUMP program is open to pregnant teens or teens parenting a child under the age of three years. Having a stable, supportive, trained adult who is committed to helping young moms gives teen mothers (and teen fathers) a jump start on successful parenting and adulthood. Teen parents find confidence as they gain skills, learn to plan and discover that they are not alone on their journey (and that their journey is the beginning an entirely new chapter of their lives).

How You Can be a Part:

If you would like to find out more about making a difference in the life of a young mom, we’d like to talk with you about becoming a JUMP Mentor. JUMP is the only support program of its kind in our community and the surrounding area. This is a volunteer role that involves changing lives first-hand and helping establish a bright future for teen parents and their children. We look forward to talking with you about the possibilities. Contact us today at the St Joseph YWCA at 816-232-4481.

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National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Honors Those Who Help Victims Receive Critical Services

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Honors Those Who Help Victims Receive Critical Services

Ready Access to Support Services is Inherent to Victims’ Rights

Over three decades ago President Ronald Reagan enacted legislation to mark one week in April as National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This year the national observation will take place April 10-16, 2016. The observation is to promote victim rights and easier access to victim services. Slow access or ineffectual access to victim support services prolongs a victim’s pain and broadens the scope of negative impact from crime. For this reason, ready access to support services is inherent to a victims’ rights.

Over 20 million Americans become the victims of crime each year. Crime affects people of every age, race, sex or economic background. Healing can began for individuals, families and communities when victims receive intervention services. However, in addition to becoming victims of crime, many face added challenges in terms of having access to such services. Those with a disability, cultural or language inhibitions, the elderly and people of color often fail to get the help that they need to heal and recover.

Reagan’s recognition of the rights of victims has resulted in a national pause each April to honor those who help victims overcome hurdles. Victims have the right to be heard, the right to be treated with fairness and dignity and the right to public aid in dealing with the personal ramifications of criminal behavior. Those who demonstrate exemplary service in supporting victims’ rights are recognized at the nation’s capital each year.

The theme for this year’s observance is Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope. The theme outlines the goal of victim support – to offer services in a timely manner that will rebuild trust in the community’s ability and interest in helping. The sooner that victims are offered resources for healing, the less powerful the ripple effects of crime become on the broader community.

At the St Joseph YWCA we are confronted daily with the realities of victims’ needs toward advocacy, help and healing. Read more about our Victim Services program today, including the Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children, a Rape Crisis program, a crisis hotline, professional counseling for victims, and the Bliss Manor Housing Program. If you are a victim in need of immediate assistance, call our 24-hour hotline at 816-232-1225 or 1-800-653-1477.

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April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Working to Bring Awareness to Child Abuse in Our Community

April is designated National Child Abuse Prevention Month in our country. Child abuse is a matter of true national concern – and when the subject comes up, many people tend to focus on intervention. It’s also important to recognize ways we can work together to lower the risk factors and build stronger protective resources.

Lowering Risk Factors
Risk factors include any stressed-filled situation or circumstance which increases the likelihood that a child will encounter abuse or neglect. Common risk factors include: poverty, substance abuse, a parent with chronic depression or a history of domestic violence. When the community and individuals work together to lower these risks, children’s safety and well-being can be increased.

Building Protective Factors
Protective factors are situations or conditions which work to promote a child’s healthful development and to mitigate adverse factors. Working together to build protective factors can be an effective approach. In families where there are risk factors for child abuse, it can be encouraging to point out how parents can build their own protective factors. Nationwide, efforts to help strengthen families are taking on ever-increasing importance as a method of preventing child abuse and neglect. For example, activities like the YWCA Mom’s Time, JUMP program and parenting classes can be effective and positive resources for parents experiencing stress.

Essentials for Childhood Initiative
Another example of a positive protective effort is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Essentials for Childhood initiative. This effort addresses child abuse prevention through emphasizing a child’s need for safety, stability and nurturing within their everyday environment. The CDC has worked directly with several state-level health departments to provide the tools and a framework for helping to meet those protective goals.

Here at the YWCA St. Joseph, we coordinate or partner in several programs which work to build protective factors and prevent child abuse and neglect. Together with other agencies and volunteers, we provide families opportunities to see that encouraging words and daily routines can make a major impact on a child’s life.

Today, we invite you to learn more about YWCA St. Joseph resources at www.ywcasj.org, and to share this information with someone during April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Make Time to Speak With Those You Love About Sexual Assault Awareness

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and at the YWCA, we want to help you become more aware of a subject that affects every community in a powerful way.

What began 40 years ago as a movement to make streets safer after dark has grown into an annual, national event highlighting violence against victims – violence which occurs at home, at work and in public. Sexual assault happens in communities of all sizes and locations; however, there are steps that communities and individuals can take to increase awareness, prevention and healing.

Consider just a few of the key facts surrounding sexual assault in America:

 

  • An assault may impact daily life whether it happened recently or many years ago. Each survivor reacts to sexual violence in their own way.
  • There are significant long-term and short-term impacts of sexual violence on overall health and well-being.
  • 32,000 pregnancies each year result from instances of rape – most often among women who are involved in an abusive relationship.
  • Emotional health damages include denial, fear, shame, anxiety, withdrawal and PTSD-like symptoms.
  • It is estimated that one out of every six American womenhas been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.

 

Experts suggest communities discuss the difficult questions surrounding sexual assault, such as: What constitutes sexual assault or sexual violence? What should an individual do if they feel they are a victim now or might become one? How can a victim safely leave an abusive relationship? The answers to these questions all need to be shared widely.

Locally, the YWCA continues efforts year-round to provide resources and hope for victims. We offer support groups, life skill groups, rape crisis assistance and referrals to further resources in addition to our 24-hour crisis hotline and our Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children. In April 2016, we are co-sponsors of a self-defense training event especially for women. The T.A.K.E. self-defense course will be offered free of charge to all women and girls over age 12 who register on April 9 at the Griffon Indoor Sports Complex on the MWSU campus. This event runs from 10am-12 noon (registration at 9am) and will give women tools to use in protecting themselves against unwanted advances or violence.

Last year the St. Joseph YWCA provided over 1,300 individual therapy sessions to help women heal from domestic violence and/or sexual assault. Today, we invite you to join our mission and share critical information about sexual assault and sexual violence. Visit www.ywcasj.org to learn more.

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How You Can Help Support the Local YWCA St Joseph Women’s Shelter?

How You Can Help Support the Local YWCA St Joseph Women’s Shelter?

Easy Ways to Support the YWCA St. Joseph’s Women’s Shelter and Make a Difference

Women and children who’ve been victimized by domestic violence can find shelter and safety at the YWCA St Joseph – but we need your help to provide many of the basic needs these families require as they heal and move forward.

The facts about domestic violence are consistently alarming. We know that 25 percent of all women experience domestic violence. The reality is that 33 percent of females are sexually abused by the time they turn 18, and 40 percent of adolescent girls know someone personally who’s been struck by a boyfriend. Many times, the danger of domestic violence actually increases during the term of a woman’s pregnancy.

Yet, because of the YWCA St Joseph and many caring community members, women facing these kinds of dangers have somewhere to go. (But we need your help to help meet the need in our community). Here are just a few ways you can help your YWCA St Joseph Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children:

 

  • The next time you host a baby shower or child’s birthday party, use the opportunity to collect for our shelter. Invitees can bring something very small – like a personal hygiene product – or they could bring a second gift such as crayons and a color book, a stuffed animal, a book or puzzle to be given for use by families in the shelter.

 

  • Have your social or business group make a collection of needed items. It could be a one-time collection or you could collect all year at each regular meeting.

 

  • Reach out to other groups. Share the need for our local shelter and some basic information about the shelter here in town. Bring attention to the topic of domestic violence and give other groups the chance to give.

 

  • Make a personal donation. Your donation could be a one-time gift or you could donate gift cards on a semi-regular basis. (There is a 50 percent tax credit available for gifts of $100 or more!)

Currently the YWCA St Joseph shelter has two specific needs you could help to meet:

  1. Our families are in need of personal and feminine hygiene products. This includes things like toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, soap, baby wipes or feminine products.
  2. We are collecting items for Easter baskets to be handed out to families living in our shelter. Things like candy, small toys or gifts, kids’ socks and undergarments are needed. So, too, are spring coats.

 

At the YWCA St. Joseph we believe in empowering women. To be empowered, women and their children need a way to escape a victim situation and begin a new hope for their future. Today, we invite you to help us help families in crisis and become part of a brighter community for everyone.

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