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Mentoring Middle School Students With YWCA St. Joseph

MWSU Athletes Partner With the YWCA in Mentoring Middle School Students

mentoring middle school studentsSoon a new school year will be on the horizon, and parents will be checking off lists and gathering the essentials. What may not be on the list is mentoring middle school students, but you will find that first on the list for a few Missouri Western State University student-athletes.

It’s often easy for parents to fill a cart with binders and pens, but it seems as if the heavy work comes in with training kids in the skills that help them become responsible, thriving adults. A child may have all the proper school supplies, but still struggle if they have not been taught to navigate difficult decisions or how to stand up to peer pressure.

That’s where YWCA St. Joseph and the athletes of Missouri Western State University come in. Through the DECISIONS and CHOICES programs created for at-risk 7th-grade boys and girls in the St. Joseph school system, MWSU student-athletes are given the opportunity for mentoring middle school students and can have a major impact on their ability to succeed in school and in their personal lives.

The YWCA St. Joseph runs these programs at all four local middle schools in the fall and in the spring with each semester having a brand-new group of 7th graders and mentors.  There are around 150 students and mentors in both the fall and spring, which bring a total of around 300 students and mentors per year.

Each of these programs offers an eight-week life skills program in which students are led through discussions about bullying, dating and peer pressure. The sessions are led by MWSU athletes. These athletes make ideal mentors for working through some of the stickiest subjects affecting kids at this age because of the work ethic, energy and status in the eyes of middle school students.

The course wraps up with a pizza party and a full tour of the MWSU campus. Adolescence is an important time for learning to treat others respectfully as well as beginning to envision what their future can look like. This course offers students a positive learning environment for discussing these topics.

It’s still summer, but you’re probably already thinking about the new school year. Maybe you even have a stack of fresh school supplies waiting to be carted off on the first day. YWCA St. Joseph and MWSU athletes are also getting ready, and their list includes another exciting year of mentoring middle school students through the DECISIONS and CHOICES programs.

To learn more about the programs that YWCA St. Joseph has in place to support its mission of empowering women and eliminating racism, contact us today.

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The Effects of Exposure to Domestic Violence in Childhood

Shelter Provides Help for Families Escaping Domestic Violence

As a witness to domestic violence, a child may experience regressive behaviors or begin struggling in school.Many children who witness domestic violence may also be victims of physical abuse. Both physical abuse and the witnessing of domestic violence can create both short- and long-term difficulties for children, leading to serious physical and mental health problems.

Short-term effects of witnessing domestic violence: Preschoolers exposed to domestic violence may retreat to younger behaviors, such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting and increased whining and crying. They may also develop signs of terror, including a stutter or hiding, or demonstrate severe separation anxiety.

School-age children may demonstrate poor self-esteem or have falling grades, because they are often likely to blame themselves for the conflicts they witness in the home. Kids may struggle to make friends and will decline to get involved in activities. They may also complain of headaches and stomachaches.

Teenage children may act out by fighting with family members or skipping school. They may be more likely to show symptoms of a serious mental health disorder, like depression.

Long-term effects of witnessing domestic violence: One of the biggest consequences of children being exposed to domestic violence is their tendency to repeat the cycle. A boy who sees his mother being physically abused is 10 times more likely to abuse his female partner when he is an adult. A girl who witnesses her mother being abused is six times more likely to experience sexual assault than a girl who has not been exposed to domestic violence.

Children who witness domestic violence are at an increased risk for both mental and physical health problems in adulthood. Conditions such as depression, poor self-esteem and anxiety, as well as physical problems, such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

There are a few key things that you can work on to help a child counter the effects of domestic violence in the home:

  • Help them develop positive relationships with adults
  • Work to help them build a strong self-esteem
  • Encourage them to build healthy friendships

While the child may not be able to forget the abuse they have witnessed, they can learn healthy ways to handle the emotions they experience related to the events.

The Shelter (YWCA St. Joseph) provides support and assistance to families escaping domestic violence. To learn more about the services we offer, including court advocacy, counseling and housing, please contact us today.

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YWCA Shelter: 7 Ways You Can Help Local Women

Everyone Can Help Support Residents and Staff at the YWCA Shelter

From offering a gift card to donating time to clean or watch children, you can help at the YWCA shelter.The Shelter at the YWCA St. Joseph is a place of refuge for women escaping a dangerous situation in a moment of crisis. That moment often comes at the culmination of years of struggle, and the YWCA Shelter provides a transition, where women begin to see the possibility of a different kind of future.

This process of transitioning to a new life requires a lot of support and encouragement, as well as filling practical needs. If you’ve been wondering how you could support the residents of the YWCA Shelter, here are seven suggestions to help you get started:

Donate a gift card. This is a simple gift that helps meet important needs. Women and their children often arrive at the shelter empty-handed, and there is a need to provide them with some basic items to get started on recovery. With these gift cards, we can purchase much-needed items for the residents.

Deliver hygiene items. Products like deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, (ethnic hair care products are always needed), razors, toothbrushes and toothpaste, tampons and pads, diapers and wipes are just a few of the items that are welcome donations for women that have left their homes quickly.

Have a party. Host a party similar to a baby or wedding shower, but ask guests to bring a donation for the YWCA Shelter. Use this opportunity to enjoy time with friends while you support women in need of assistance. You can make it monetary donations and organize games around competitive giving or you could simply invite friends over for wine and appetizers and ask them to bring a case of diapers.

Bake some goodies. Some frosted sugar cookies or a batch of muffins make anybody feel special, and the residents at the YWCA Shelter particularly could use a reminder of life’s special moments.

Serve in our store. Volunteers are always needed to serve in our New Start Store to sort through donations and organize the shelves. We also need volunteers who are willing to staff the store so that residents can shop with their Y-Bucks for the items they are in need of.

Volunteer for childcare: One of the greatest needs at any shelter is volunteering with the children that arrive there. There are numerous opportunities to serve by reading to children, helping with homework and helping during groups.

This list is by no means complete. If you have a desire to support the YWCA Shelter, we have a place for you! Call us for more information about the many ways to encourage the women at the shelter or provide a helping hand.

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Generous Donation Equips Programs Mentoring Middle School Students

Mentoring Middle School Students Through DECISIONS and CHOICES

When you’re trying to decide where to funnel donation money to make a difference in the community, supporting programs for mentoring middle school students makes a great choice. The ladies of Show Me Women Who Care recently decided to do just that.

Show Me Women Who Care is a group of women that care deeply about the people of Andrew and Buchanan counties and work together to make a difference. The women involved in this group meet four times a year to hear proposals from three women on potential charities and local nonprofit organizations to support. The group takes a vote at the conclusion of the meeting, then writes a combined check to the winner – all within a 30-minute meeting! The organization provides an opportunity for busy women to pool their donations to make a larger impact, with 100% of all donations going directly to a local charity or nonprofit organization.

At a recent meeting, the Show Me Women Who Care group agreed that the programs mentoring middle school students coordinated by the YWCA St. Joseph would receive a check for more than $5,000.

As the designated recipients for the gift at the recent meeting, the YWCA St. Joseph’s programs for mentoring middle school students, provides valuable support in partnership with the athletic programs of Missouri Western State University. The CHOICES program for seventh-grade girls and the DECISIONS program for seventh-grade boys helps prepare at-risk adolescents for challenges they may face at school and at home.

Each of these programs matches young people from four middle schools in the St. Joseph Public School District with athletes from the men’s and women’s athletic programs at MWSU. For eight weeks, the respective groups work through a curriculum designed to help adolescents navigate topics like bullying, peer pressure, interest in dating and learning how to make good choices for a healthy life.

Not only do the groups offer encouragement and support from their MWSU athlete mentors, they help deliver decision-making skills that will serve them throughout their lives. At the end of the program, the 70 students of each group and their mentors enjoy a pizza party and a tour of the MWSU campus.

To learn more about the DECISIONS and CHOICES programs, or to find out more about the generosity of Show Me Women Who Care and other supporters of these programs, contact the YWCA St. Joseph.

Learn more about Show Me Women Who Care here: https://showmewomenwhocare.weebly.com/

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Join us at the Women of Excellence Luncheon on Thursday, June 21

YWCA St. Joseph’s Annual Women of Excellence Brings Community Together

The YWCA St. Joseph is preparing a special afternoon for you. Join us to celebrate the annual Women of Excellence Luncheon on Thursday, June 21, as members of the community will gather at the Civic Arena to honor the contributions of women who are making St. Joseph a great place to live and work.

The Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon is a tradition that recognizes the efforts of women in the region, but it also inspires others to follow their example and continue the legacy of empowering and equipping women to fulfill their passions in work and volunteerism. It is an event that celebrates the role each member of the community can play in creating opportunities for hope in others.

The 2018 Women of Excellence Luncheon welcomes Kelly Griffith-Bauer, MD, who is a St. Joseph native and 1996 graduate of Central High School, as the keynote speaker. Kelly overcame incredible odds to create a career in dermatology, with a specialty in oncology and surgery. Her story of persisting through personal challenges personifies the spirit of Women of Excellence and will encourage and inspire her audience.

In addition to enjoying Kelly’s story, the luncheon awards will recognize contributions to the community in the following categories:

  • Emerging Leader
  • Future Leader
  • Woman in Support Services
  • Woman in the Workplace
  • Woman in Volunteerism
  • Employer of Excellence

Also recognized will be Helen Washington and Sharon Kosek, Ed.D. with Lifetime Achievement Awards. These awards are presented to women that demonstrate a lifelong commitment to serving others in the pursuit of improving the St. Joseph community. They serve as role models to others and encourage coming generations to continue their work.

The luncheon is also a time of remembrance, providing an opportunity to show gratitude for the service of those that have passed away. The contributions of June Rose Tibbetts Craig and Janice M. Saxton will be honored with an In Memoriam for their outstanding gifts of time and talents to the community.

Call today to check availability for remaining seats:  816-232-4481.

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Join YWCA St. Joseph and Missouri Western for the Charity Golf Classic

Missouri Western and YWCA St. Joseph Welcomes You June 2nd and 4th

Attend the YWCA St. Joseph Charity Social & Auction on Saturday, then tee up for golf on Monday morning at 10.There are so many ways to support YWCA St. Joseph, from donating your time to giving a donation to the women’s shelter or attending one of our many events. One of the most fun ways to be involved is the Missouri Western State University Charity Golf Classic, held each year to benefit Griffon Athletics, as well as the YWCA Shelter.

The festivities begin on Saturday, June 2, at the Charity Social & Auction, hosted by the St. Jo Frontier Casino. The event begins at 6 p.m., with great food, cold drinks and live entertainment in the ideal indoor/outdoor setting of the casino. There will be both a silent and a live auction, so get ready to bid on a variety of sports memorabilia, pub décor and themed packages.

On Monday, June 4, the Charity Golf Classic begins with a shotgun start at 10 a.m. at the St. Joseph Country Club. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Formatted as a four-person scramble, teams will enjoy on-course events at each hole and a chance to win one of five hole-in-one prizes presented by Hy-Vee. Golfers will even have a chance to win $10,000 or a dream vacation.

The cost of entry for each four-person team is $1,000, or a player may register individually at $250. A portion of your entry fee may be tax deductible, but you should consult your tax professional for guidance.

This year, non-golfers may purchase tickets for $25 to just attend the social; tickets are available at the YWCA and MWSU Athletic Department.

Each participant in the Charity Golf Classic will receive a player pack that includes Griffon Nike apparel, two invitations to the Charity Social, tee gifts, range balls at the tournament and unlimited beverages from O’Malley Beverage and Pepsi. A delicious lunch will be catered by VanZinos BBQ.

All proceeds from the event go to benefit the MWSU Athletics Program and the YWCA Shelter. Now in its 16th year, the Charity Golf Classic is a fun way to gather the community to support two great causes.

The YWCA St. Joseph Shelter offers support and resources to women and children during a crisis. Not only is the Shelter a safe, encouraging place to stay, but also access to a variety of resources, including case management, court advocacy, support groups and children’s programs.

Space is limited, with only 36 teams competing in the Charity Golf Classic, so complete and turn in your entry form today.

For more information about the Charity Golf Classic, or about the programs of the YWCA St. Joseph, including the Shelter and Victim Services, please give us a call. We look forward to hearing from you!

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YWCA Celebrates 130 Years and Takes a Look Back at 2017

YWCA Marks 130 Years of Empowering Women and Eliminating Racism

A special milestone is being commemorated at the YWCA St. Joseph, with 130 years of service aimed at empowering women and eliminating racism. While enjoying the celebration this year, the YWCA St. Joseph also wants to stop for a moment and reflect on the impact that such service makes on individuals that receive help from the YWCA.

Looking back on 2017, you can catch a glimpse of the work that’s being done to assist women and children, as well as continuing the legacy that each generation has carried throughout 130 years. Take a look at the ways that the YWCA St. Joseph staff and volunteers have served in 2017:

Victim Services includes the YWCA Shelter, Survivor Support and Bliss Manor Supported Housing Program. This year, the Victim Services Team:

  • Provided 1,769 individual therapy sessions, advocacy services to 437 survivors and as a result of these services, 97% of participants reported feeling more hopeful about the future.
  • Provided shelter to 229 women and 185 children, with a total of 16,880 nights of shelter.
  • As a result of contact with the Shelter, 90% of participants had improved strategies for enhancing their safety and also gained a better knowledge of community resources.
  • Of individuals exiting the Bliss Manor Housing Program, 94% were able to move to a private, permanent housing situation or entered a treatment facility.

Women’s and Teen Resources

Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies

The Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies program provides mentoring and support to teen parents as they navigate decisions, encouraging them to embrace healthy parenting, set goals and build a community of mutual support. In 2017 the program:

  • Provided services to 45 teens and 47 children.
  • Matched 55% of teens with an adult mentor.
  • Conducted 284 home visits.

ENCOREplus

ENCOREplus supports awareness and education surrounding breast health for women in the community, helping to remove common barriers that may prevent a woman from having an annual mammogram. Efforts with ENCOREplus focus on education, community outreach and providing access to resources and community events designed to raise awareness. In 2017 the ENCOREplus team:

  • Helped coordinate 463 mammograms
  • Helped coordinate 1,200 clinical breast exams
  • Held a variety of events, including the Bling a Bra Contest, Think Pink Campaign, Lunch & Learns, and more

CHOICES and DECISIONS

The CHOICES and DECISIONS programs are designed to mentor and support at-risk adolescent girls and boys, respectively, through a partnership with Missouri Western State University Athletics. The group works through a curriculum designed to equip adolescents for lifelong, healthy decision-making with the encouragement of a college-age mentor. In 2017, the CHOICES and DECISIONS programs:

  • Served 221 seventh grade girls and boys at four St. Joseph public middle schools.
  • There were 64 mentors involved from MWSU women’s cross country, soccer, softball, track and volleyball teams.
  • There were 30 mentors involved from MWSU men’s baseball, cross country, and track teams.

Early Care and Education

The YWCA St. Joseph offers licensed child care in order to allow parents who are employed, or who are seeking education in order to improve employment opportunities, to place their child in a positive care environment. In 2017, the YWCA Discovery Child Care:

  • Provided child care to 60 children from the St. Joseph community.

Child and Adult Care Food Program

The YWCA administers the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program to provide healthy meals and snacks to children in home-based care in the St. Joseph area. In 2017 the Child and Adult Food Care Program:

  • Administered 324,328 meals provided to children in 55 home-based care providers across 21 counties.
  • Of those meals, 99 percent met the nutrition guidelines and qualified for financial reimbursement to the provider, and all 52 providers attended an annual training event.

In 2017, the staff and volunteers of the YWCA St. Joseph were proud to continue the legacy of those that came before us, working to empower women and eliminate racism in our community. Please join us! No matter what your schedule or skill set, you can get involved with us at the YWCA.

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The YWCA Will Honor Two Women for Lifetime Service to Our Community at Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon

Women of Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award Winners Have Made a Lasting Impact in Our Community

On Thursday, June 21, the St. Joseph community will gather to celebrate the Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon at the downtown Civic Arena. The luncheon marks the 17th annual event, which honors women in the community whose service in professional and volunteer roles helps to make St. Joseph a better place.

Each year, Lifetime Achievement Awards are presented to women in the community who have made service a central focus of their lives and have significantly impacted the St. Joseph area with their efforts. This year, two outstanding women are being recognized with Lifetime Achievement Awards as Women of Excellence: Helen Washington and Sharon Kosek, Ed.D.

Helen Washington

Helen Washington has spent the last 30 years inspiring and equipping children to embark on a bright future. From her work in early childhood at InterServ and as a Head Start lead teacher, to her most recent position as the Bartlett Center’s Youth Director, Helen has always drawn children close. Whether they have no adult role models, are in need of food or clothing, or simply need someone to listen to them, Helen has filled that void for countless children.

Helen has also carried her love for children into her volunteerism and private life. She has worked tirelessly to support causes for the youth of St. Joseph and is an advocate for the preservation of Black History in St. Joseph. One of her most memorable efforts was the founding of O-RAP, which inspired 25 women living in the Oak Ridge Apartments to change their lifestyles and make a positive impact in their community.

Sharon Kosek, Ed.D.

Sharon Kosek, Ed.D.’s enthusiasm for the St. Joseph community is evident in everything she touches. She’s an advocate for the arts, working to promote the interests of the St. Joseph Symphony, the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art and the St. Joseph Performing Arts Association, among others. She credits her dedication to the arts to her lifelong delight in music, from hearing the music of her uncle and mother to participating in high school marching and concert bands.

In her professional life, Sharon has never settled for simply meeting the expectations of the job. As the St. Joseph School District Business Chairperson, she wrote curriculum, coordinated the efforts of 27 teachers across the district and purchased materials for the department. She also spearheaded an effort to make Personal Finance a requirement for high school graduation in the State of Missouri.

Sharon’s love of St. Joseph is evident in her long list of volunteer efforts in the area. She is also proud of her two daughters, who both have successful careers in the medical field, and her three grandchildren. Sharon’s excellence reaches every area of her life, and the recipient of this Women of Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award is a treasure for the community.

To learn more about the 2018 Women of Excellence luncheon or to register for the event, contact the YWCA of St. Joseph.

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The YWCA St. Joseph Celebrates Women’s Leadership

Women’s Leadership Highlighted at Women of Excellence

Women’s leadership, service and volunteerism has allowed for the furthering of knowledge, technological developments and thought progression that provides for a thriving society. Women’s leadership has and is increasingly making a difference in politics, science, the arts, business and volunteerism. As awareness of women’s contributions is spread, the importance of celebrating the accomplishments of women in our community allows an opportunity to look back and clearly see the roles that women have played in a variety of important areas.

The recognition of women’s leadership is not only about looking back in history, because the momentum has continued to increase. Each year, women are recognized for their recent acts of leadership, scholarship and volunteerism that offer society a look at how progress should proceed.

At the local level, communities take time to honor women that are furthering the advancement of society and mobilizing forces of progress in the area. In the St. Joseph area, the annual Women of Excellence event is a valuable opportunity to pay tribute to the contributions from local women.

This much-anticipated event – the annual Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon – is scheduled for Thursday, June 21, 2018, at the Civic Arena in downtown St. Joseph. All nominees are honored at a reception on May 2 at the YWCA at 5 p.m., then all nominees are invited to the awards luncheon on June 21.

Nominees (and attendees!) are recognized for:

  • Work or volunteerism in the St. Joseph area, while demonstrating sustained excellence or creativity
  • Offering considerable contributions to their field of work or volunteerism
  • Promoting positive attitudes and high morale in their work or volunteerism

To learn about ways to get involved with Women of Excellence, call the YWCA. Individual/small group reservations and tables of 10 guests, as well as sponsorships, are available for the Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon here. Don’t miss the 2018 Women of Excellence Event featuring speaker Dr. Kelly Griffith-Bauer, MD, St. Joseph native and 1996 Central High School graduate.

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April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

One Out of Every Four Children Experiences Child Abuse

child abuseDid you know that one out of every four children experiences child abuse at some point in their lives? This means that it’s likely that you know someone who has been the victim of child abuse. Other alarming child abuse statistics include:

  • In 2015, more than 1,670 children died from neglect and abuse.
  • The same year, approximately 683,000 children were victims of abuse.
  • It’s not just the physical effects; victims of abuse suffer from problems related to mental health, social development, risk-taking behaviors like substance abuse and missing out on lifetime opportunities, like education and employment.

Child abuse and neglect includes multiple types of negative behaviors against a child that is under 18 by a parent, caregiver or another person that is in a custodial role for the child. It can occur in the form of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect. Aside from physical harm, these types of abuse can cause problems with early brain development and difficulties in the nervous and immune systems. Abuse during childhood also increases an individual’s risk for violence in the future, unhealthy relationship behaviors and poor overall health.

This information may feel a bit overwhelming, and it may cause you to wonder what one person could possibly do to combat the problem.

Each April, organizations like the YWCA St. Joseph help to raise awareness and help the community find ways to promote prevention during Child Abuse Prevention Month. There are key strategies for preventing child abuse that are being addressed in the St. Joseph community:

  • Strengthening economic support for families
  • Providing support for positive parenting
  • Offering high-quality care and education for young children
  • Providing parenting skills training to support wellness in child development
  • Intervention when child abuse is detected

The YWCA offers a variety of services designed to interrupt the progression of child abuse. The YWCA Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children gives women the opportunity to bring their children to a safe place on a moment’s notice. The Shelter also offers court advocacy, support groups, life skills training and specialized children’s programs, all designed to help families begin a brighter future.

The Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies program offers support from peers, mentoring from adults and other services to help prevent teens from experiencing depression and social isolation – factors that could be linked to a risk of child abuse. The YWCA Discovery Child Care offers high-quality, licensed, positive and affordable child care that is essential to families who are employed or are boosting their education toward employment.

One practical way that you can help bring awareness to child abuse in the community is by purchasing a Children’s Trust Fund license plate. It only takes five minutes, and you can designate your $25 donation to go directly to the YWCA St. Joseph. In addition to helping the YWCA fund programs to prevent child abuse, you’ll also raise awareness by prominently displaying your license plate with its distinctive green handprints and “Prevent Child Abuse” text on your car.

To learn more about Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, to learn more about the parenting classes offered by the YWCA or to donate funds or time volunteering in one of our programs, contact the YWCA St. Joseph today.

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