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Attend “Bras for a Cause” to Raise Breast Cancer Awareness

The “Bras for a Cause” event raises breast cancer awareness through a fun evening.Go on, tell your spouse that you’d like to spend a night looking at lingerie. You’re sure to get a reaction. It’s just the beginning of the unexpected fun involved when you help support breast cancer awareness efforts by attending the Bras for a Cause event.

The fashion show, taking place March 23, at the Metropolitan (the old Paradox Theater) blends the delicate male fashion sensitivities with the artistic expressions of local businesses and organizations. Dozens of local male models will display the decorated bras, which will then be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Each bra featured was first a part of the YWCA Bling a Bra contest, a traveling display of the judged entries that appeared at different venues and events in the past months to increase breast cancer awareness.

Don’t miss your opportunity to own a unique piece of breast cancer awareness art, all while helping support the YWCA’s ENCOREplus program. All proceeds from Bras for a Cause go to this important effort to educate local women about breast cancer and coordinate financial assistance and other resources for mammograms.

The Bras for a Cause event takes place from 7:00-9:00 p.m. In addition to bidding on the wide selection of bras, you can also participate in a raffle for items donated by local businesses and individuals. Raffle tickets are $1.00 per ticket or six for $5.00.

Entry for the Bras for a Cause event is $5.00 (which includes one ticket for the raffle), with a cash bar available. Bring your spouse, bring your friends, bring anybody who loves a fun night out and a good laugh. We will be giving breast cancer survivors two tickets to the raffle along with a small gift.

For more information, on this important event, contact us at YWCA St. Joseph. We would love for you to join us on March 23.

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Enter Your Nomination for Women of Excellence 2019


You can already see her in your mind’s eye. She’s the advocate for struggling new mothers. She’s the educator who tirelessly serves her students. She’s the volunteer that’s always working until the floor is swept and the last chair is stacked. She’s the epitome of service. You already know you’ll nominate her for the 2019 Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon.

Nomination forms for the 2019 Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon can be obtained by calling 816-232-4481, emailing, or visiting our website at  Nominations may be submitted via email, fax, mail or hand delivery, but must be received no later than March 15 at YWCA St. Joseph. Any questions related to the nominations may be directed to Mindy Grooms.

Your nomination for a Women of Excellence award may fit into one or more of several categories: Workplace, Leadership, Volunteerism or Emerging Leader. In addition, you may nominate a business as an Employer of Excellence and local high school counselors will nominate Future Leaders for the luncheon.

Once the nominations are submitted, one woman in each category will be selected by a diverse committee of community members with a variety of backgrounds. In order to preserve an impartial award process, the names of nominees are concealed throughout each step.

On May 8, nominees will be invited to be recognized at a reception at the YWCA and are also invited to attend the Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon, where the winners of the awards will be announced.

This year’s luncheon will take place Thursday, June 20 at the Civic Arena, where the community will gather to celebrate the service and accomplishments of area women. Leaders of local businesses, educators and volunteers will be celebrated for their tireless work improving the lives of others.

All attendees at the Women of Excellence event will enjoy hearing from this year’s keynote speaker, Monique Holland. Monique is currently the Senior Associate Athletic Director for the Student-Athlete Experience at Auburn University. As a 1990 graduate of Central High School and a St. Joseph native, Monique personifies the heart of Women of Excellence. Her story will be the highlight of the luncheon.

Mark your calendar now to attend the Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon. Tables of 10 are available for $400, but individual reservations are also sold for $40, with reservations accepted until June 7.

Nominate your choice as a Women of Excellence today and we’ll see you on Thursday, June 20 at the Civic Arena!

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Eliminate Racism With YWCA St. Joseph

Celebrating Black History Month and Working to Bring Awareness to Eliminating Racism

Did you know that the early days of Black History Month go back more than 90 years in history? In 1926, the second week of February was designated to celebrate the lives and contributions of African Americans and coinciding with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. While the event has changed over the years, its recognition is part of bigger efforts to eliminate racism.

In the decades that followed, mayors of cities across the United States began celebrating the week with proclamations, and by the 1960s the week had been extended to celebrate an entire Black History Month. President Gerald Ford formally recognized the celebration in 1976, encouraging Americans to recognize the contributions and accomplishments of Black Americans.

Each year since 1976, the president has designated the month of February as Black History Month and announced the endorsement of a specific theme. In 2019, Black History Month has a special focus on “Black Migrations,” a theme that tracks the movements of black Americans from the South to the industrial regions of the North and beyond.

From the early 20th century, black businessmen and entrepreneurs began making an important impact on the business world. Musicians introduced entirely new genres like jazz, blues and ragtime and the Harlem Renaissance showcased the black influence on visual and literary arts.

YWCA St. Joseph celebrates Black History Month, but it also works to eliminate racism throughout the year with programs designed to help women and children overcome adversity. The Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children provides for immediate needs for families that need a fresh start, while also empowering them with services for ongoing empowerment. From court advocacy to individual counseling and life skills training, families are equipped for a brighter future.

Another YWCA St. Joseph program, “Stand Against Racism,” will be observed on April 25.  This is a nationwide annual YWCA-USA event with more than 225 YWCA associations and 600 other organizations in the United States participating.  In September, our YWCA St. Joseph will host their 23rd annual “Day of Commitment to Eliminate Racism” breakfast program.  During this program the Kelsy Beshears Racial Justice Award will be given to a community member who exemplifies Ms. Beshears’ work for political, educational, social and economic equality of all persons.  The public is invited to attend both events.

To learn more about the programs of the YWCA St. Joseph and efforts to eliminate racism in the region, contact us today.

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Victim Services Offers Help if You Experience These Indicators of Emotional Abuse

Victim Services assists women suffering emotional abuse through programs of YWCA St. Joseph.Victim Services at YWCA St. Joseph wants to help you if you are experiencing an abusive relationship or are concerned for a loved one who may be in a potentially abusive relationship. These relationships may not have outward manifestations, but they could still be abusive. If you are concerned that a relationship is emotionally abusive, here are five indicators of abuse:

Your partner attempts to control you. This might mean limiting your contact with friends or family, insisting they need to know where you are at all times or demanding access to your email or text accounts. They may also take over the kinds of decisions you should be making yourself, such as what you eat or wear.

They make threats. It can be a threat that they’ll hurt themselves, that they’ll report you for your abusive behavior or that they’ll hurt someone you love.

Their anger gets destructive. Have your fights ended in scheduling a home repair? Maybe they punched a hole in the wall or threw a table across the room on a consistent basis. These types of behaviors can cause a victim to backpedal in order to preserve peace – and possessions. If you find that you give in during a fight in order to help your spouse or partner calm down and not become destructive, that can be an indicator of emotional abuse.

Things get twisted. Have you ever gone to your partner with a complaint and found yourself apologizing? Emotional abuse often involves twisting the conversation until you’re on the defensive. If you protest, you’re accused of being too sensitive.

You’re not comfortable. Emotional abuse victims often describe the atmosphere with their partner as “walking on eggshells.” If you feel like much of your attention is focused simply on not upsetting your partner, that’s an indication that you may be experiencing emotional abuse in your relationship.

If any of these indicators bear a resemblance to the reality in your relationship or in a loved one’s life, contact Victim Services at YWCA St. Joseph. While taking the initial step can be difficult and frightening, the team at Victim Services is experienced at helping women make the transition into a better future. We offer a 24-hour crisis hotline, professional counseling, safe housing, specialized children’s programs, support groups, life-skills groups, court advocacy and referrals to other services. Contact us at YWCA St. Joseph for more information.

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Domestic Violence Survivors Gain Valuable Support at YWCA

YWCA St. Joseph Working to Assist Domestic Violence Survivors

Domestic violence impacts 20 people per minute in the United States. YWCA St. Joseph is making it a priority to help those affected by domestic violence.Approximately 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. That’s more than 10 million people per year affected by physical and mental abuse, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) fact sheet.

In Missouri, NCADV’s numbers reveal that in 2012, more than 40,000 incidents of domestic violence were reported; one in seven Missouri women have been sexually abused; nearly 35,000 people in Missouri in 2014 received domestic violence services. The need for services continues to be important for communities to address.

At YWCA St. Joseph, it is a priority for us to assist these people, particularly women and children who need the survivor support our knowledgeable staff provides through a variety of programs and our 24/7/365 shelter in downtown St. Joseph.

As victims transition out of the shelter, getting on a path to self-sufficiency can be difficult. To make that transition less daunting, the YWCA St. Joseph offers continued support through Bliss Manor, which serves as a bridge between emergency situations and stability.

Bliss Manor allows families the opportunity to not only get on the path to stability but also seek out employment opportunities that will make them self-sufficient and reach their life goals.

In 2017, Bliss Manor supported housing served 39 adults and 32 children. We provided more than 15,000 nights of housing and 1,603 hours of case management/advocacy. All of the residents created a personal goal plan and 94% of our individuals who exited the program obtained private permanent housing or entered a treatment facility.

We have also provided services through our Survivor Support mobile advocacy services, which provides safety planning and support services in emergency rooms and courthouses where victims are often vulnerable in their efforts to flee from a domestically violent situation. Specifically, the program helps them overcome financial barriers to safety, such as rent and utilities. Furthermore, we provide licensed, professional counselors who offer much-needed therapy that victims need to heal.

The following are some statistics from our shelter from 2017:

  • Provided 16,880 nights of shelter
  • Answered 2,102 hotline calls
  • Averaged 46 people per day
  • Coordinated 104 children’s groups
  • Coordinated 79 support and life skills groups
  • Reached a 103% occupancy rate
  • Provided 2,102 hours of case management

As we begin a New Year, YWCA St. Joseph will continue to make great efforts to support the people in our community who are at risk, have been subjected to domestic violence and need a helping hand in a time of great need.

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Add Breast Cancer Screening to Your New Year’s Goals

The Benefits of Breast Cancer Screening

Breast cancer screening helps detect cancer earlier, expanding treatment options and boosting survival rates.In the rush of work deadlines, responsibilities at home and all the other plates you’re spinning, taking care of your health may feel, at best, like a luxury and at worst, a hassle. In most cases, breast cancer screening is just one more thing to add to your schedule. You’re about to find out why this annual appointment should sit high on your priority list, and why YWCA St. Joseph puts it high on theirs.

Early detection is key. Sure, getting a mammogram every year takes a bit of time, but when you consider that breast cancer screening detects cancers that would be impossible to feel in a breast self-exam, it’s worth it. When you detect cancer in its early stages, you have far more options for treatment and a greater chance of survival: 93% of women whose cancer is detected early are surviving five years later.

Early detection often means that the cancer is still confined to the breast and is generally smaller. When combined with breast self-exam and a clinical exam, mammograms help increase the chances of finding a cancer early.

Breast cancer screening is recommended every year after age 40. Your doctor may recommend that you start earlier if you have a higher risk, such as a strong family history or have had radiation in the chest previously. Screening only takes about 20 minutes and causes minimal discomfort. Once you find a screening location where you feel comfortable, it’s a good idea to return each year to that facility so that your results can be easily compared.

A common reason that women avoid mammograms is a sort of head-in-the-sand fear of the screening finding something. It’s important to note that while it’s common for a mammogram to require additional testing (about 10% of mammograms require more information), only 8-10% of those will require a biopsy. Of those biopsies, 80% turn out not to be cancer. So even if your breast cancer screening comes back abnormal, it’s still unlikely to detect a cancer in further evaluation.

The ENCOREplus program: YWCA St. Joseph provides free education and breast cancer awareness to women across the region through the ENCOREplus program. The program is offered one-on-one, or to groups through community centers, churches and businesses. Participants can be referred to a breast cancer screening provider and ENCOREplus will provide transportation on the day of the mammogram if needed. Women who receive a mammogram and call the ENCOREplus office receive a free gift.

To learn more about breast cancer screening through ENCOREplus, contact us at YWCA St. Joseph.

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YWCA St. Joseph Welcomes Tammy Killin, CEO

Retiring YWCA St. Joseph CEO Jean Brown Hands Reins Off to Killin

YWCA St. Joseph retiring director Jean Brown welcomes Tammy Killin as her successor.After a six-month, nationwide search, YWCA St. Joseph has named a successor to CEO Jean Brown, retiring after decades of service to the community. The organization welcomes Tammy Killin as its new CEO, with Brown retiring as of January 1.

Killin brings extensive experience to YWCA St. Joseph, with over 25 years of involvement in working with children and 14 of those spent with the Boys Town organization in both direct service and administrative facilities.

Most recently, Killin has operated a private, licensed professional counseling office and authored a book during her time as a counselor. In addition to offering therapy to families and individuals, Killin also led empowerment workshops for women and served as a job coach.

Beyond her expertise working to empower individuals for a better future, Killin brings a first-hand understanding of the challenges that many YWCA St. Joseph families face. Killin grew up in the foster care system, and time spent in an abusive marriage uniquely prepared her to serve as CEO.

Killin cites the importance of such services as the YWCA domestic abuse hotline and loving mentors as key factors in her escape from the difficulties of an abusive marriage. She demonstrates the power of these forces in her story through her self-help book entitled, “Let It Strengthen You: A Journey From Abuse to Empowerment.”

Killin also looks to her predecessor for inspiration. Throughout Brown’s tenure, services were expanded and improved to serve the St. Joseph community and the surrounding areas. Brown was instrumental in expanding childcare to include infant care, and the emergency shelter was improved to include not only immediate care but a wide range of services. From court advocacy and outreach services to expanded counseling sessions and supportive, long-term housing at Bliss Manor, Victim Services is better-equipped to serve families in crisis. Brown also introduced YWCA St. Joseph’s Kelsy Beshears Racial Justice Award and the Stand Against Racism.

Killin hopes to continue the legacy that Brown has built, while also introducing a further expansion of the ideals that YWCA St. Joseph espouses. For instance, Killin has a passion for outreach and hopes to be proactive in offering services to members of the community. She hopes to reach out more effectively through schools and assist women in their pursuit of careers.

Please join YWCA St. Joseph as we celebrate the service of Jean Brown and welcome Tammy Killin to the role of CEO. Contact us for more information about our programs, volunteer opportunities or to make a donation.

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YWCA St. Joseph: What a Gift Can Do

Your Gifts Make a Difference at YWCA St. Joseph!

Take a break from holiday shopping and learn what a gift can do for the YWCA St. Joseph.You’re tapped out on shopping. You’ve made too many Christmas cookies. Your fa-la-la-la-la has gone a bit flat. It’s time to do something for you. It’s not a manicure, a massage or a Hallmark movie marathon. It’s not even chocolate. It’s something bound to make you feel more refreshed than any or all of those things combined: it’s a gift to the YWCA St. Joseph.

It is so exciting to contribute to a cause that’s changing lives. Consider these new developments at YWCA St. Joseph:

Lethality Assessment Program: Through this joint program with local law enforcement, more than half of the 954 women assisted through Victim Services so far this year were new faces. Police officers are often the first formal contact for a woman seeking long-term escape from an abusive situation. By sending them to YWCA St. Joseph, the Shelter is able to serve 45 women and children each day. The Shelter is almost always full.

A refreshed kitchen: The Shelter kitchen provides more than 16,000 meals each year. Now through matched funds with a federal grant, the kitchen has a new refrigerator/freezer, stove and dishwasher. This purchase, as well as critical advocacy, case management and counseling services to victims, could not have been possible without the $155,000 in matched funds received from private donors.

It’s not just big programs: Much of the giving that occurs at YWCA St. Joseph isn’t for big programs or for purchasing appliances. Most of it contributes toward the everyday needs of our clients. Consider how your donation might help:

  • Your gift of $35 keeps a woman and her children safe at the Shelter for one night
  • $100 provides professional advocacy and counseling services to help a woman identify her options and plan for a new beginning
  • $500 allows a woman and her children to have shelter and safety for two weeks while they make plans for next steps
  • A gift of $1,000 allows a family to have a full month of shelter so they can begin to rebuild their lives.

Keep in mind that your donation of $100 or more is eligible for a 50% Missouri State tax credit. This donation is deducted directly from your Missouri taxes owed, even if you don’t itemize deductions.

If you find the holidays to be just a bit exhausting, then it’s time to do something for you, something that’s sure to boost your mood and give you energy for the tasks on your list  It feels good to know you’re making a difference in the lives of women and children in your community. Contact us for more information.

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Mentoring Middle School Students Through Important Decision-Making Skills

YWCA Programs Focus on Mentoring Middle School Students

Mentoring middle school students helps prepare them for difficult choices and navigating friendships.Many adults remember their 7th grade selves as being a bit unsure, caught awkwardly between childhood and adulthood. If this sounds like you in 7th grade, imagine yourself at that age again, but at your side is a college athlete, ready to help you walk through some of those tricky middle school moments. Mentoring middle school students is the focus of two important programs at YWCA St. Joseph: CHOICES and DECISIONS.

The CHOICES and DECISIONS programs, created for at-risk 7th grade girls and boys, respectively, pair students with athletes from Missouri Western State University. The students are from four of the area middle schools: Bode, Robidoux, Truman and Spring Garden.

The eight-week life skills course is designed for mentoring middle school students with a core application: the ability to make good decisions, both during middle school and as they progress through high school and into adult life.

Topics covered in the program sound like familiar areas to anyone who’s ever been a middle school student: peer pressure, bullying and the social decisions around interactions with the opposite sex. These topics can be difficult to discuss and the implications of a wrong decision can stretch far beyond the immediate situation.

The college athletes that participate by mentoring middle school students bring a lot of value to the program. Their energy, work ethic and history of making positive life decisions serve as a model to the students. In addition, the middle school students look up to the athletes because of their status and their relatability in their position of being just a bit older than them. The athletes are in a perfect position to be positive role models to students.

At the end of the eight-week curriculum, the students and athletes celebrate with a pizza party and a tour of the Missouri Western State University campus.

The program is just one way that YWCA St. Joseph is reaching out to youth to let them know that their community cares about them and their future. It helps boost their self -esteem and trains them to make healthy decisions for a positive transition into high school and adulthood.

For more information about CHOICES and DECISIONS, or to learn about any of the other programs by YWCA St. Joseph, contact us today!

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Making Christmas Memories Bright at YWCA St. Joseph

YWCA St. Joseph Hopes to be on Your Christmas List

Christmas is the season for making memories: baking cookies, wrapping gifts and getting caught under the mistletoe. Maybe you celebrate the year you were engaged at Christmastime, or the day in mid-December when you brought home a new baby from the hospital. The holidays might bring to mind a sad event, like when you experienced the death of a loved one, or an achievement, like when you graduated from college in the winter class. For the women at YWCA St. Joseph, this Christmas marks something big they’ll remember for future holidays, too.

The Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children offers a place of rest and respite for families escaping domestic abuse or other major life challenges. For these women, this Christmas will carry forever memories of something bigger, something life-changing. It marks the day when they walked away from a dangerous situation and decided to pursue a different kind of future.

You have the opportunity to cast a light of beauty and generosity on the memory of Christmas for women and children at YWCA St. Joseph. Through donations from members of the St. Joseph community, women and children at the Shelter can experience a happy Christmas, full of memories that will help them mark the beginning of a new life together.

If you’d like to help create this happy memory, please consider donating one or more of the following:

  • Bedding: including blankets, pillows and sheets
  • Pajama robes and slippers (adult and children sizes)
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Towels
  • Blow-dryers and curling iron/straighteners
  • Shower gel (men/women) and deodorant (men/women)
  • Alarm clocks
  • Lip balm
  • Bus Passes
  • Perfume, lotions, etc.
  • Batteries, flashlights or nightlights
  • Children’s toys (new and unwrapped)
    • Games
    • Hot wheels
    • Legos
    • Dolls
  • Gifts for teen children (girls and boys)
    • Movie passes/gift cards
    • Basketballs/footballs
  • Makeup/jewelry
  • Diapers
  • Winter clothes

To learn more about opportunities to volunteer during the holidays at YWCA St. Joseph, contact us for more information! We look forward to working alongside you to create merry Christmas memories for the women and children of our community.

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