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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Victim Services Offer Practical Help and Hope for a Better Future

crisis shelterIf you were escaping a dangerous domestic situation, you would want compassion from somewhere that you knew you could go to get help. You’d also want practical help, but at YWCA St. Joseph Victim Services, you not only receive both of these things, you are also offered hope.

Victim Services is one of the core ways that YWCA St. Joseph empowers women. By offering the Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children as well as Bliss Manor Housing Program, women who are in a transition time of their lives are encouraged to look at the future with new eyes.

Victim Services offers assistance in a variety of forms, including:

  • Case management
  • Personal advocacy
  • Specialized children’s programs
  • Support groups
  • Life skills groups
  • Referrals to additional services
  • Court advocacy

Each of these services does more than simply solve a problem or meet a need. It also helps women and their children to get the support they need to feel safe and grow in their confidence as they recover from difficult circumstances. The programs are designed to equip participants with the resources they need to envision a new start and then take the first steps to thrive.

Consider the role that Victim Services played in the St. Joseph area in 2017:

  • Provided shelter to 229 women and 185 children
  • Individual therapy sessions were provided to 1,769 individuals
  • Answered 2,102 hotline calls
  • Coordinated 104 children’s support groups
  • Provided 2,310 hours of case management and advocacy services

This is just a sampling of the important work that YWCA St. Joseph does to meet the individualized needs of each victim of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Following a stay at the Shelter, many women and their children benefit from an extended stay in a safe location. Bliss Manor allows families to gain stability and explore employment possibilities as they pursue self-sufficiency. In 2017:

  • Bliss Manor housed 39 adults and 32 children
  • 100% of Bliss Manor residents created a personal goal plan

To learn more about Victim Services at YWCA St. Joseph, visit our website. Looking for a way to get involved? No matter what your schedule and skill set, we have a place for you and we look forward to working with you.

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Equipping Teen Parents to Thrive

Teen parents can receive support and guidance from a mentor through YWCA St. Joseph.Teen parents often have a tough road ahead as they anticipate the arrival of a little one. From challenges to completing a high school education to staying connected with friends who can’t relate to the challenges of parenting, teen parents often battle depression and loneliness.

At YWCA St. Joseph, the Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies program combats these common challenges by offering support and camaraderie to teen parents in Buchanan County. The program invites up to 85 teen mothers and their babies to participate in support groups and be matched with a mentor that provides support and encouragement.

The program also offers monthly meal preparation and nutrition classes, fitness classes, and mentoring support. Home visits and playgroups occur quarterly, offering participants additional opportunities for connecting with other teen parents and adults who support them.

The teen parents involved in the program can share the special challenges as well as the sweet moments of parenting in a group setting, where they can feel understood. They may also recognize that their situation is not altogether unique, and they are not alone. Teen parents are facing challenges that their childless peers may not encounter, but it’s always a comfort to hear a “me too” and find out that others have the same difficulties.

In 2017, Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies offered support in the following forms:

  • Services were provided to 47 teens and 45 children
  • Paired 44% of teens with an adult mentor
  • 85% of enrolled teens remained in school
  • 100% of children were up-to-date on their vaccinations

If you’re looking for a way to get involved, consider becoming a mentor to a teen parent. Whether you’re already a parent, an empty nester or have never had children, you are equipped to offer a kind word of encouragement to a new parent. Visit our website for more information about how to become a mentor, or if you know a teen parent that might benefit from this program please share about this opportunity.

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Remember YWCA St. Joseph on Giving Tuesday

Consider remembering YWCA St. Joseph this Giving Tuesday.Are you planning ahead for Black Friday? Will you be one of the mad crowd, fighting for your chance to snag a deal at the big box stores before the sun comes up? Maybe you’ll sleep in so you’re full of energy to stalk all the best sales at the mall. When you’re shopping, be sure to remember the YWCA St. Joseph.

Most of the community in and around St. Joseph will be spending that weekend picking through leftover turkey, hauling the holiday decorations from the basement and debating when it’s best to start listening to Christmas music.

For others, that weekend will be just another day to navigate tough situations, like how to leave an abusive relationship, or wondering where they’ll take the kids to stay when it gets dark and colder.

On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, join a nationwide effort to support causes that make the holidays a little brighter for everyone. Giving Tuesday is scheduled for Tuesday, November 27 this year. It offers a reminder to everyone to set aside some of their holiday dollars for important causes.

Founded in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Giving Tuesday inspires millions of people across the United States and across the world to give back and support causes they believe in. Over $300 million has been donated on Giving Tuesday, and it’s expected that this year could be bigger than ever.

When you donate to YWCA St. Joseph, you’re offering practical help to women and children who need assistance immediately. Consider how your dollars make an impact:

  • A donation of $35 keeps a woman and her children safe for one night.
  • A gift of $100 can offer professional advocacy and counseling services so a woman can see that she has options and a plan for a new start.
  • A gift of $500 means a woman and her children have shelter and safety for two weeks while they decide their next steps.
  • A gift of $1,000 would allow a family a full month of shelter so that they can truly rebuild their lives.
  • Every donation opens a new door of hope for a woman and her children who depend on the YWCA – and every donation of $100 or more receives a 50% Missouri State Domestic Violence tax credit (whether you itemize or not).

You can help with other projects sponsored by YWCA St. Joseph also. When you’re shopping for Christmas gifts on Amazon, use Amazon Smile and choose YWCA St. Joseph to receive the donation. You can also sign up for Y Wednesday newsletters so you’re up-to-date on the projects that benefit from your donations.

Remember, too, that while monetary donations are always appreciated, they’re not the only way to participate in Giving Tuesday. Your volunteer time, no matter what your schedule or availability, is always appreciated at YWCA St. Joseph. Check out our donations page to learn more!

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YWCA St. Joseph Raises Breast Cancer Awareness

3 Practical Ways You Can Help Raise Breast Cancer Awareness

Social media is a great outlet for raising breast cancer awareness in your community.Did you know that breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women? Raising breast cancer awareness is critical for helping with early detection, which can make treatment more effective and less complex than if the cancer is more advanced. Take a look at three practical ways that you can raise breast cancer awareness:

Educate yourself. It starts with you, of course. Attend a seminar or class, read a book about breast cancer prevention and ask your doctor to show you how to do an effective self breast exam. Your doctor may also provide access to easy resources like a pamphlet that gives you the warning signs of breast cancer.

Encourage your family and friends to get a check-up. Many women put off their annual gynecological exam, but it’s an important step in the prevention of breast cancer. If you have a family member or friend that’s reluctant to get a mammogram, try suggesting that the two of you go together and then grab lunch at a fun restaurant after the exam.

Get the word out. When you come across a great article or an instructional video about breast cancer detection or about the prevention of cancer, share it on social media. You might be helping someone learn new information that wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to it.

YWCA St. Joseph ENCOREplus Program

At YWCA St. Joseph, breast cancer awareness is the center of ENCOREplus, which provides free education and resources throughout Northwest Missouri. ENCOREplus also helps women connect with financial assistance and transportation for mammograms.

The focus of the program is helping women take an active role in their own health maintenance and care, with an emphasis on good breast health and the early detection of breast cancer. Some of the services provided by ENCOREplus include:

  • Free group and one-on-one educational sessions for at-risk women through community and church groups, workplaces and other organizations.
  • Resources for locating mammograms, including access to financial assistance and transportation.
  • Free gift for those who receive their mammogram and then contact the YWCA St. Joseph office

Last year, more than 2,000 women increased their breast cancer awareness through the resources of the ENCOREplus program. In addition to these educational opportunities and mammograms, ENCOREplus also raises awareness in the community through special events, both during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the year.

To volunteer with ENCOREplus or to learn more about the programs of YWCA St. Joseph, contact us today.

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Raise Awareness for Domestic Violence This October

Remembering the Victims of Domestic Violence

As a witness to domestic violence, a child may experience regressive behaviors or begin struggling in school.Home is supposed to be a place of comfort, a place where hot cocoa is sipped, bedtime stories are read and board games are played. For many men and women, the concept of “home” does not stir up memories like these. Instead, home is associated with fear and abuse because of the pain associated with domestic violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, created to recognize the loss of peace that so often accompanies a history of violence. Each year, YWCA St. Joseph organizes events to raise awareness for domestic violence and remind victims that there is a community around them that wants to support their healing.

One of the ways that YWCA recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month is through the Week Without Violence, held nationally each year.  During this special week, October 15-19 this year, the goal is to share stories and encourage healing, while raising awareness to end gender-based violence.

YWCA St. Joseph also hosts the Take Back the Night event each year as a way to validate the pain that domestic violence victims experience, as well as offer hope for a future in which domestic violence no longer plays a role. This year’s Take Back the Night event will be held October 14 at the YWCA at 6 p.m. We will gather in front of the steps of the YWCA to hear the Mayor’s proclamation and remember the victims of domestic violence.

Victims of domestic violence experience physical harm, but it doesn’t stop there. Many report ongoing trauma resulting from their victimization and may struggle with both physical and mental health problems long after the violence takes place.

YWCA St. Joseph offers immediate support and housing for victims of domestic violence through the Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children. From case advocacy to support groups and specialized children’s programs, the Shelter is a launching place for many women to begin a new and brighter future.

Also, in October on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30-9:00 p.m., the YWCA will offer a free advocacy class for the community. This is for those that would like to volunteer, or just learn more about how to help victims of domestic and sexual violence.

To learn more about the practical assistance YWCA St. Joseph offers, or to find out details about upcoming Domestic Violence Awareness Month events, contact us today.

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