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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The Importance of Mentoring At-Risk Youth

The YWCA Helps At-Risk Youth Feel Valued and Achieve Their Goals

at-risk youthWhen you think back on your childhood and adolescence, you may be able to identify one or two people who invested in you. Maybe you had a parent that helped you achieve your goals, or maybe there was an aunt or a family friend that attended your school events and encouraged you to pursue extracurricular activities. Having an adult that cares about you and makes you feel valued is critical for at-risk youth, but identifying that adult may be more challenging.

Mentoring programs can help fill the gap between at-risk youth and adults that can offer guidance and encouragement. Mentors offer youth an increased self-worth and the validation that they are valuable. Mentors help youth stay focused in school, offer encouragement in the midst of a challenge and help them shape goals for the future.

In an ideal situation, the mentor creates a positive influence for a teen that already has engaged parents or grandparents who are already guiding the youth. In many cases, the mentor takes on a more central role and is an important counselor, advisor and source of encouragement for the teen. The mentor helps the teen stay focused and motivated in school, providing structure to their free time with activities and helps them navigate obstacles.

At the YWCA St. Joseph, the importance of mentoring relationships is highlighted in two key programs: the CHOICES program for seventh-grade girls and the DECISIONS  program for seventh-grade boys.

CHOICES: Transitioning from elementary to middle school can be difficult, but particularly so for youth who may not have an adult voice providing encouragement and support. The CHOICES program, offered at four middle schools in the St. Joseph area, includes a curriculum that addresses the specific issues that adolescent girls face. Mentors from the Missouri Western State University Athletics Department are matched with girls to discuss challenging questions in an open and honest environment.

DECISIONS: The DECISIONS program pairs seventh-grade boys with men’s baseball, cross country, football and track athletes from the Missouri Western University Athletics Department for an eight-week curriculum covering topics from relationships to bullying and peer pressure. The energy and work ethic demonstrated by the university athletes make them ideal role models for seventh-grade boys.

Having an adult who cares is critical for all youth to help them overcome obstacles and meet their goals. The YWCA St. Joseph recognizes the important role that mentors play in the lives of youth. To learn more about either of these programs, please contact the YWCA.

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Raise Awareness About Sexual Assault Just by Taking a Walk

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” Draws Attention to Sexual Assault

sexual assaultRaising awareness is a great way to shed light on the problem of sexual assault. On Monday, April 2, join the YWCA St. Joseph and Missouri Western State University (MWSU) in their co-sponsored event, “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.” Designed to draw attention to the problem of sexual assault, the community is invited to put on their fanciest heels and walk a mile route starting at Kelley Commons outside of Blum Student Union at MWSU. Here are a few things to know about the event:

If you don’t have heels, choose from the YWCA’s selection: Wear your heels, visit a local store for a larger shoe size (many stores carry larger ladies’ shoes) or borrow a pair from the selection that the YWCA brings along for the event. If wearing heels isn’t possible for you, you’re still welcome to participate. Consider adding a little excitement to your shoes, such as jewels or flowers, if you can’t wear heels.

The purpose of the event is to raise awareness. While donations are always welcome, this event is free and created solely for raising awareness. You can register as a group and bring your entire work team or a fun-loving group of friends to walk together.

Sexual assault reaches across all demographics, and so does the event. While it’s fun to watch heel-wearing novices try to navigate a mile on stilettos, “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” acknowledges that sexual assault isn’t just against women. Any and all walkers are absolutely welcome and encouraged to participate. Even if you can’t walk, come down for the event and to raise awareness for this important issue.

Prizes will be awarded. Just in case you need some motivation for finding the most outrageous pair of heels in St. Joseph, the event will award prizes to the group with the most dazzling shoe selections, the best and most spirited participation and other awards.

It’s easy to sign up. You can email cturner@ywcasj.org or sign up online. You may also register at Event Brite: https://www.eventbrite.com/myevent?eid=43562200715

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” is the international men’s march to end sexual assault. To learn more about the event or about the YWCA St. Joseph’s Survivor Services, contact us today.

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How You Can Help Stop Domestic Violence

Ways to Prevent Domestic Violence in Your Community

domestic violenceMaybe you’re not a victim of domestic violence, but given that the World Health Organization estimates that, in some regions of the world, up to 35 percent of women are suffering from partner violence, it’s possible you know someone that is affected. While domestic violence often goes undetected, there are steps you can take to be ready in the event that a friend or family member is suffering.

Know the signs of domestic violence. Partner abuse affects all races and income levels, so it can be challenging to see. Victims often either show no physical signs of abuse, or they develop skills for covering them up. It may be more helpful to look at a suspected abuser and watch for a variety of signs, including unpredictable mood swings, extreme jealousy, verbal abuse or isolation from family and friends.

Help raise awareness in your community. Neighbors are often the key to stopping domestic violence, simply by remaining aware. Help your local shelter educate the community about what domestic violence looks and sounds like and what they can do if they think they are witnessing domestic violence in their neighborhood.

Get organized. You will send a strong message if you form a group of individuals willing to be trained in recognizing domestic violence situations. The threat of discovery and education about alternative ways to relieve stress may help abusers recognize that there are solutions and that violence is not one of them. If you witness or suspect domestic violence, call 911 right away.

Make the most of technology. If the members of your community have smartphones, use a safety app to allow victims to alert their support system if they believe they are in danger. If your community is organized, try to identify any potential victims that don’t have a smartphone and consider pooling money to purchase her one.

Remember, if you witness an act of domestic violence or suspect it is happening, the safest option is to call 911.

If you’d like more information about organizing a domestic violence community education program, talk with the YWCA St. Joseph. We have the information and resources you need to help end domestic violence in your community.

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St. Joseph YWCA Celebrates National CACFP Week

Healthy Childhood Eating Supported by CACFP Through St. Joseph YWCA

CACFPThe St. Joseph YWCA is getting ready for a celebration. It’s a celebration of children, it’s a celebration of nutritious food and it’s a celebration of equipping families with the resources they need for a better future. The 2018 National Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Week is March 11-17, and the YWCA St. Joseph invites you to take a look at the program and the support it provides children in the area.

The YWCA administers the Child and Adult Care Food Program through the USDA to provide healthy meals and snacks to children in home based care across the region. The program allows local children to have access to the healthy foods they need to support optimal growth and development. Reimbursement for meals and snacks funnels down from USDA to the MO Department of Health and Senior Services, and then on to the YWCA St. Joseph as the local sponsor. The YWCA then administers the funds to the child care providers and coordinates the program. All providers are trained each year by the YWCA staff.

In 2017, the Child and Adult Care Food Program:

  • Monitored 324,328 meals to children in 55 home providers in 21 counties around the region
  • Of meals monitored, 99 percent met nutrition guidelines and qualified for financial reimbursement to the provider

National CACFP Week is designed to raise awareness about the work of the USDA’s CACFP in combating childhood and adult hunger. The CACFP works through the YWCA St. Joseph to ensure that healthy food arrives on the tables for children at child care centers, homes and after-school programs, as well as in adult care centers.

The Shelter offers a safe place to families in crisis, and CACFP helps meet nutritional needs of those families when they arrive at the Shelter. Likewise, families in transition can access the services of Discovery Child Care. One of the challenges to steady employment is finding licensed, affordable childcare while parents are engaged in readying themselves for employment through education or job skills training. Discovery Child Care offers a safe and positive atmosphere for children to spend their time while parents are preparing for a brighter future. In turn, CACFP ensures that children receive the healthy foods that are so critical for their development.

Nationally, the USDA’s CACFP provides healthy foods to 4.2 million children and 130,000 adults. It is a critical tool for closing the gap in helping children and adults receive the nutrition necessary for good health.

To learn more about CACFP or to apply to the program, contact the YWCA of St. Joseph. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Make This Your Year for Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast Cancer Awareness and Mammogram Guidelines

breast cancer awarenessAs the year moves forward, make a plan to increase your level of breast cancer awareness and education. For instance, do you know the mammogram guidelines from the American Cancer Society for your age?

Screening is one of the most important things you can do. Screening means breast cancer can be detected when it is small, when it has not yet spread to other areas of the body and that it can be found early. These are the factors that most significantly influence the outcomes for a breast cancer patient.

The goal of screening is to detect cancer before it has spread and before it has produced symptoms. Waiting until symptoms appear allows cancer to grow unheeded and can make it much more difficult to treat. When cancer is found before symptoms occur, it may be possible to treat the cancer without a radical mastectomy or chemotherapy. This is referred to as early detection.

Mammogram guidelines: The American Cancer Society provides mammogram guidelines designed for women of average cancer risk. The guidelines are as follows:

  • Women between the ages of 40 and 44 may receive a mammogram each year.
  • Women between the ages of 45 and 54 should receive a mammogram each year.
  • Women over the age of 55 may receive a mammogram every year, or they may switch to receiving a mammogram every other year.

A woman is considered to be at an average risk for breast cancer if:

  • She doesn’t have any personal history of breast cancer
  • There’s not a strong family history of breast cancer
  • She doesn’t have a genetic mutation associated with increased risk of breast cancer
  • She did not have chest radiation therapy before the age of 30

The limitations of mammograms: It’s important to remember that mammograms are a helpful tool, but they are by no means perfect. While they are helpful at detecting some cancers before they grow large enough to cause symptoms, there are times when additional tests are necessary to confirm whether something identified on a mammogram is cancerous.

It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about mammograms and their recommendations for how often you should have one, based on your age and your personal risk factors. The perfect New Year’s resolution is to make an appointment to have a mammogram every January. Breast cancer awareness may be highlighted in October, but right now is a good time to become more proactive in your breast health and schedule your mammogram.

The YWCA St. Joseph offers free breast cancer awareness and education information through the ENCOREplus program. ENCOREplus was created to encourage women to be active participants in their own healthcare, and in addition to education, the program also connects women with financial assistance to obtain mammograms. Call the YWCA at 816.232.4481 for more information about breast cancer awareness in the St. Joseph community.

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Do You Know the Signs of Domestic Violence?

How to Help Employees Who Are in a Domestic Violence Situation

domestic violenceYou’re responsible for the tasks and performance of your employees, but when it comes to their personal well-being, it can be hard to know where your responsibility begins and ends. When you suspect that an employee may be experiencing domestic violence, how do you know how and when to say something?

Domestic violence isn’t always obvious; employees experiencing partner abuse may not show up to work with obvious physical signs. Instead, you may even miss an employee that is being abused because the signs can be varied and unclear. Here are a few of the common signs of domestic violence:

  • Tardiness or absenteeism
  • Depression or stress-related illnesses
  • Low self-esteem and social isolation
  • Marital and family problems
  • Afraid of partner’s temper or goes along with what partner wants out of fear
  • Visible signs of injury

As you might expect, it can be challenging to know if a person is experiencing depression, and even more complicated to know whether that depression stems from a situation involving partner abuse. Consider your unique role as a supervisor:

  • As a manager, you are in a position to observe your employees’ behavior on a daily basis, noting changes in demeanor, job performance and arrival times. Keep in mind that any discussion with employees must focus on job performance issues and not any elements from their personal life.
  • You are not in the position to provide counseling or diagnose domestic violence. Your role is simply to offer your employee the opportunity to talk and then help them identify the resources they need.
  • Balancing your role as a supervisor and your desire to help an employee in a difficult situation can be challenging. There are ways to open a conversation that can allow an employee to share, but without stepping over that important line:
    • I’ve noticed that you seem distracted lately. Is there anything I can do to help you get back on track?
    • You’ve had some absenteeism lately and you didn’t meet the deadline on the ABC project. That doesn’t seem like you. Is there anything you’d like to talk about? I’d be happy to listen.

Deciding to tell someone that they’re experiencing domestic violence is generally the hardest step, so don’t feel like you need to pressure your employee to share. Simply assure them that you’re available if the need arises.

If your employee does tell you that they are the victim of partner abuse, help them identify local resources, such as the YWCA Shelter, counseling and other tools. For more information about Victim Services, call or visit the YWCA of St. Joseph.

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