Support the St. Joseph YWCA With CTF License Plates

It Only Takes Five Minutes to Buy Specialty License Plates to Help the St. Joseph YWCA

CTF license platesThose few characters on your vehicle’s license plate leave a lot of room for personal expression. From “KID BUS” to “FTBLFAN,” you can let the world know what you love and what you brake for. Did you know that you can also express your support for the St. Joseph YWCA through your license plate?

When you register for a Children’s Trust Fund (CTF) license plate, you’ll proudly display the distinctive green set of child’s handprints and the words “Prevent Child Abuse” on your car. In addition, the money you pay to receive your CTF license plate can be directed exclusively to the St. Joseph YWCA when you purchase this plate online.

What Does Your Purchase of CTF Plates Support?

The St. Joseph YWCA offers a variety of services designed to prevent child abuse and assist families that have been impacted by child abuse. Through parent education classes and mentoring, the St. Joseph YWCA helps parents develop skills for a variety of situations and challenges, including the prevention of abuse.

The Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children provides immediate assistance to families experiencing the effects of child abuse. As families begin recovery, the Bliss Manor Housing Program gives them an opportunity to receive ongoing counseling, as well as services like case management, court advocacy and specialized children’s programs.

Many individuals that receive services from the St. Joseph YWCA do so after accessing the 24-hour crisis hotline. Once the victims arrive at the shelter, they are enrolled in all the services listed above to aid in rebuilding their lives and ensuring a healthy future. Even if the victim opts not to reside at the shelter, they can still receive all of the associated services, free of charge.

What Can You Do? Register Today

Registering for your CTF plate takes only a few minutes, and you can have your donation amount routed directly to benefit the St. Joseph YWCA. Here’s how you can register for a CTF plate:

To direct funds to the St. Joseph YWCA: Go to the CTF website and choose the St. Joseph YWCA as the sole beneficiary of your $25 license plate donation. Even if you don’t wish to receive a plate, you can still designate a donation to the St. Joseph YWCA!

Purchase your plate in person by visiting your local license bureau. If you purchase your plate in person, your donation will be divided between the St. Joseph YWCA and Youth Alliance.

It only takes a few minutes to register for a CTF license plate, but the impact of your donation could help change a life forever.

Do you want to know more about the services that the St. Joseph YWCA offers for the prevention of child abuse in the local community? Read more on our website, or contact us at 816-232-4481 for a tour.

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St. Joseph YWCA Hosts Back to School Fair on August 6

YWCA Collects “The Other” Items Shelter Kids Need to Start School

back to school fairWhen you’re a homeless child, or a child experiencing abuse or trauma at home, going back to school doesn’t have quite the excitement attached to it that other kids experience. There may not be an outing to go buy new school supplies, or a trip to the mall to get a first-day-of-school outfit. The St. Joseph YWCA is working to close that gap, providing a Back to School Fair to make the first day of school exciting for children living in the YWCA Shelter or those served by YWCA programs.

The event, scheduled for August 6 from 1 to 3 p.m., will feature new basic school supplies that will be distributed to children. Unlike other back to school fairs, the St. Joseph YWCA is looking for a variety of items that can help the start of the school year feel more like what other kids experience: new clothes, underwear and socks, hair bows or ties, shoes, backpacks, fun pens or pencils, kids’ hygiene items, calculators, flash cards, books, makeup, lunchboxes, earbuds, fidget spinners and anything else school-related.

Some of these items might not fall in the category of basic school supplies, but they can help children living in trauma to start school with a more positive outlook for their future. Why is it more difficult for children living in trauma to feel like they “fit in” in school? Here are some thoughts to read and share:

It’s difficult to see friends outside of school hours. Due to shifting living situations, it can be difficult for homeless children to extend a friendship outside of school hours. It can be tough to answer questions asked by other students about where they live or if they can come for a visit – and some students living in trauma may feel an even greater sense of isolation.

Birthdays may not feel like a celebration: This may not be something that comes to mind often, but children living in trauma or in a Shelter may not be able to plan an event or a gathering for their birthdays. This can add to feelings of being different from their peers.

They may struggle more in school. It’s harder to keep up with homework and reading when your family moves from house to house and has limited resources. Even if the family has a car, that’s not the same as having a table to spread out and study while you enjoy an afternoon snack.

They suffer numerous small indignities. School events like not having proper shoes for gym or brushing their teeth in the school bathroom can impact children experiencing homelessness at deep levels. They may not have an address where their report card can be mailed, or they may fear that they can’t afford situations like field trip fees. Special project items or supplies are also an ongoing challenge.

The YWCA St. Joseph helps children escaping abuse or trauma year-round. The Shelter provides an immediate safe residence with meals, and the YWCA helps coordinate school transportation. Supported housing at Bliss Manor can help families return to stability after leaving the Shelter. Professional counseling is available to children at the YWCA to open the door for hope – along with connections to other community resources for a new start.

The St. Joseph YWCA knows that starting school should be a fun and exciting time for every student. That’s why we organize this special Back to School Fair. Please join us in this effort by donating the items listed above or with a cash donation, which should be received by August 4. We hope to see you at the Back to School Fair!

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The Important Role of Supported Housing

Supported Housing Helps Families Transition to a Brighter Future

crisis shelterIf you’ve never had a need for supported housing, you may not know much about it. You may even wonder who uses it, and why. After all, supported housing is one of those things that you may never notice…until you need it.

Shelters for women and children play an important role in the community, allowing families that have experienced a trauma related to domestic violence or other difficulties, to transition to a new life. Many women may begin this transition in a shelter, such as the YWCA Shelter, and then later shift to supported housing. The Shelter offers immediate relief from a dangerous situation, but it also begins the journey to services they need to begin to rebuild their lives – many of which are found in supported housing. Here are a few of the important functions that supported housing provides:

A safe place: Supported housing offers a safe place to plan next steps away from violence, as well as an environment where women and children can recover from emotional and physical damage. They have an opportunity to rebuild their self-esteem and gain confidence as they mark a turning point in their lives where they have sought out help.

Access to resources: Supported housing environments, like the YWCA’s Bliss Manor, can help victims of domestic violence help in the transition back into a long-term independent lifestyle. They may offer individual therapy or group counseling, information about education or job skills training, assistance with logistics and many more resources toward a new start.

The idea that there is help available: An important role of supported housing is that it introduces the idea to victims that there’s an alternative to the suffering they are enduring. Through supported housing, families can take small steps every day with the help of professional resources – as well as other families who have experienced the same journey.

A voice for hope: Supported housing is closely linked to other services designed to aid women in crisis, such as rape crisis centers, sexual abuse hotlines and other resources. These social services often work together to promote healing and hope, accomplishing success together.

Today, read more about the YWCA Shelter and Bliss Manor – and then share this information with friends and co-workers. Together, we can connect more women and their children with the hope they need for a fresh start, free of violence and fear.

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Why It’s Hard to Leave: The Complicating Factors of Domestic Violence

5 Things You Should Know About Domestic Violence

domestic violenceDomestic violence affects one in three women and one in four men in the United States. In addition, 15 percent of all violent crimes involve intimate partner abuse. It’s common for concerned loved ones to wonder, “Why won’t they just leave?” It’s difficult to imagine why someone would stay in a home where their safety is threatened.

If you’ve never been in a domestic violence situation, it’s hard to grasp the complexity of the factors that impact a victim of domestic violence. Here are five facts you need to know to better understand your loved one’s situation:

It happens every nine seconds. Domestic violence is common, and every nine seconds a person experiences intimate partner abuse with a total of 10 million people being abused by their partner each year. There are more than 200,000 calls come in to domestic violence hotlines yearly.

It affects men, too. While women are the primary victims of domestic violence, coming forward to report abuse can be complicated for men in different ways than for women. Men are often stigmatized for their situation and ridiculed because they are being victimized by their partner.

Victims often face the blame. Real-life situations are more complicated than what’s often depicted on television, and people often blame a victim for provoking their partner.

Leaving isn’t easy. Victims of domestic violence are often encouraged to just leave, but it’s often a decision that affects many things. They may fear the loss of financial support from their partner, or if there are children involved, they grieve their child’s loss of relationship with their other parent. Also, no matter how dysfunctional the relationship is, the victim may focus on how their partner is when they are not abusing them and keep talking themselves out of leaving. It’s important to recognize that leaving doesn’t guarantee that the violence will end; in fact, the victim’s risk of being seriously injured or killed increases when they are preparing to leave or have recently left the abuser.

What to do if someone you know is in a domestic violence relationship. Think about it. If a friend called you today in a domestic violence crisis, do you know how to help them connect with the right services and get help? Try these steps:

  • Listen to them, believe their story and let them tell you their story at their own pace.
  • Offer them a place to stay or help them find a shelter.
  • Do not get involved personally with their abuser – instead, focus on listening and identifying resources.
  • Try to understand your loved one’s reasons for staying, and offer financial help and childcare assistance if you can and encourage them to get help.

The YWCA of St. Joseph offers immediate and long-term help for women who are experiencing (or have experienced) domestic violence. The Shelter and the Bliss Manor Housing Program help many women and their children each year escape the violence and rebuild their lives with a vision for the future. YWCA victim advocates are available at MOSAIC for immediate assistance/advocacy. We also offer professional counseling for victims as well as a 24-hour crisis hotline at 816-232-1225 or 1-800-653-1477.  These services are offered at no cost. To learn more, visit our website.

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Finding Help for Rape Victims

Help for Rape Victims When You Don’t Know Where to Start

help for rape victimsHearing that a loved one has been the victim of a sexual assault can come with waves of emotions that leave you feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Finding help for rape victims begins in the first moments, and much of your initial response can shape the process. Here’s what you need to know:

Avoid criticism: Don’t use any language that implies or outright states that the rape was somehow your loved one’s fault. No behavior invites sexual assault. In many cases, a victim will experience shame and self-blame over the incident, so they will only be hurt more by any implications that their behaviors caused the rape.

Don’t take control, but make them feel safe: It takes a high level of sensitivity to help a victim of rape feel safe, without making them feel threatened by a lack of control over their bodies and feelings. Express that you are there for them, that you will help them be safe and feel safe and that you’re ready to assist them in getting physical and emotional help.

Go alongside them as they seek medical help: Encourage your loved one to seek medical care as soon as possible, and offer to go with them. Be careful, though, not to speak for them as they communicate with doctors and police officers. As you work through this process with your loved one, you may be feeling intense anger. Save the expression of that anger for when you are not with your friend or family member so that she doesn’t bear the stress of your emotions.

Seek out victim services: Once the initial medical exam and police report have been finished, you will want to help your loved one to seek out victims’ services. They will benefit from trained counselors and practical help that will aid the initial steps in healing. It may require a change in residence or help finding a different job, depending on the circumstances of the assault.

The YWCA of St. Joseph provides victim services to help sexual assault victims rebuild their lives. Many victims visit our shelter after using the 24-hour crisis hotline, staffed by trained Shelter employees. YWCA victim advocates are available at MOSAIC for immediate assistance/advocacy. Note: Reporting to police can be anonymous. MOSAIC can identify evidence and then with work of an advocate so that a victim can decide what’s best for them.
Our team provides case management and personal advocacy, court advocacy, support groups, life-skills groups, referrals to other services and individual therapy – all at no charge. Victims who decide not to stay at our Shelter, or have moved from the Shelter into other housing, are also welcome to access our support groups and individual therapy services at no charge.

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Join us for the Women of Excellence Luncheon on June 15

Recognizing Outstanding Women in Our Community

Each year, the YWCA puts the spotlight on leaders at our Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon that draws hundreds of community members. In 2016, the number of attendees topped 1,000, and organizers expect 2017 to be an even bigger event.

The Women of Excellence luncheon is a way to recognize the outstanding contributions of women in the region, but it also provides inspiration to spur more community involvement, more volunteerism and encouragement in the empowering and equipping of local women.

This year’s event will take place Thursday, June 15 at 11:30 a.m. at the Civic Arena in downtown St. Joseph. The YWCA welcomes Col. Grace Link, Director of Staff for the Missouri Air Guard, as the keynote speaker. Link is the Senior Advisor to the Adjutant General, and is responsible for coordinating joint military function as well as strategies designed to support the 2,300 airmen and women stationed in Missouri.

In addition to Link’s keynote address, the Women of Excellence luncheon will include recognition of leaders in the community. One award will be presented in each of the following categories:

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

The YWCA will also recognize two women with Lifetime Achievement Awards, Dorothy Wenz and Julia Schneider. This award is given to women that have committed many hours over their lives to serving and improving the St. Joseph community and are role models for other women.

The Women of Excellence luncheon provides an opportunity to honor those women that have passed away, but leave a legacy of service for the women in the region. This year, the YWCA will honor five outstanding lives: Muriel Ann Guffey, Grace Day, Shirley Wyeth Bradley, Constance Marie Monroe and Geraldine Robinson.

Make plans now to join us at the luncheon. Not only will you enjoy a delicious meal, you’ll be inspired and encouraged as we celebrate the contributions of local women to the community. Make your reservation today!

Note: Don’t miss the YWCA Patron’s Party, held June 14 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Reservations are due to the YWCA at 232-4481 on or by June 9. Enjoy this wonderful St. Joseph residence and garden as we celebrate everything the Women of Excellence event means!

Can’t attend the Women of Excellence event? You can participate by donating to Steve’s Centerpiece Challenge, by bidding on a Punta Mita dream vacation or a designer purse! Visit the YWCA bidding page today.

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YWCA Celebrates Highlights From 2016

When You See the Numbers, You See Lives Changed at the YWCA

YWCAEvery year, the YWCA serves women in transition and crisis, helping them rebuild their lives with the support of the community. It’s not easy to quantify the changes that happen in these women’s lives once they have the resources they need to be safe and independent. However, the numbers tell a story of hope and support that happens at the YWCA. Take a look at some of the highlights of 2016:

The JUMP Program offers mentoring and support for pregnant and parenting teens, encouraging them to finish high school and raise their children in a healthy environment. In 2016, the JUMP Program:

  • Offered services to 70 youth and 60 children
  • Provided mentors for 51 percent of JUMP teen participants
  • Conducted 51 group sessions for JUMP members and held 24 school visits
  • 89 percent of JUMP participants remained in school and 99 percent of their children are up-to-date with vaccinations

The YWCA offers Victim Services that meet the individualized needs of victims of domestic and sexual violence. In 2016, Victim Services administered the following:

  • Licensed Therapists provided 1,650 individual therapy sessions
  • Domestic violence/sexual violence outreach services were provided to 304 individuals
  • The Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children offered relief to 276 women and 258 children and provided 16,484 nights of shelter
  • Received 1,991 calls to the YWCA Crisis Hotline
  • Bliss Manor Supported Housing served 32 adults and 42 children and provided a total of 15,562 nights of housing

The ENCOREplus program offers education and support for the prevention of breast cancer. In 2016 ENCOREplus provided these services:

  • Helped initiate 466 mammograms and 1,413 clinical breast exams
  • Provided 2,367 educational outreach contacts
  • Celebrated multiple awareness-building events, including Komen Race for the Cure, Bling a Bra Contest and the Pink Tea Luncheon

CHOICES is a YWCA program offered to seventh grade girls. Over eight weeks, girls gain life skills and wisdom for making positive life choices. In 2016, the CHOICES program:

  • Enrolled seventh grade girls from four St. Joseph schools
  • In Spring 2016, there were 49 seventh grade girls and 32 mentors from the Missouri Western State University Volleyball Team and Women’s Soccer Team involved in the program.

These numbers provide just a glimpse of the critical work that happens at the YWCA as we seek to support women and children in the St. Joseph area. Make sure you stop by to experience first-hand how the YWCA is realizing its vision of empowering women in the community.

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Why the YWCA Invests in Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast Cancer Awareness for Prevention and Education

breast cancer awarenessThe number of breast cancer diagnoses in 2017 will be second only to skin cancer, according to breastcancer.org, with approximately 30 percent of all cancers diagnosed as breast cancer. This staggering statistic is just one reason why breast cancer awareness matters to the YWCA of St. Joseph.

For decades, breast cancer awareness has been on the rise, and while death rates have decreased, breast cancer will still claim the lives of more women in the United States than any other cancer, with the exception of lung cancer. Here are a few other facts you should know about breast cancer:

Family matters:  If you’ve had a close relative diagnosed with breast cancer, you need to be on the alert and conducting regular self-exams. The diagnosis of a first-degree relative, such as a mother, sister or daughter, doubles your risk of developing breast cancer. However, less than 15 percent of women with breast cancer have ever had a relative diagnosed with it. Between five and 10 percent of breast cancers are thought to be the result of an inherited gene mutation.

You are at risk if…: The two biggest risk factors for breast cancer are gender (female) and age (your risk increases as you grow older). Since one out of every eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer, your chances of having breast cancer are 12.4 percent overall.

You are not on your own when it comes to breast cancer detection and prevention. The programs of the YWCA of St. Joseph exist to empower and equip women for a bright future, and that includes measures to support breast cancer awareness. The ENCOREplus Breast Health initiative provides a variety of services designed to help women get the care they need.

Here are a few of the services ENCOREplus provides:

  • Free group or one-on-one presentations on breast health
  • Referrals for mammograms and, if applicable, financial aid for mammograms
  • Transportation to and from mammogram appointments, if necessary
  • Free gift for those that receive their mammogram and call the YWCA office

ENCOREplus was created in an effort to invite and encourage women to be active participants in their own health. Last year alone, more than 2,000 women received resources from the program, and services were provided in both English and Spanish.

To learn more about breast cancer awareness, or to engage in the ENCOREplus program, contact us at the YWCA of St. Joseph. We look forward to talking with you more!

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A Lack of Affordable Childcare is a Challenge for Working Families

Why Affordable Childcare is Critical for Our Community

jumpFinding affordable childcare is one of the biggest challenges for working adults in the United States. While a few decades ago it was possible for one parent to stay home full-time to be with young children, today it is increasingly difficult for families to make ends meet on one income.

There are many reasons why providing affordable childcare has been a frequent conversation topic in recent years, but here are a few of the difficulties that parents face when making tough decisions about childcare:

The stay-at-home parent sacrifices income and opportunities. One choice for families is to have one parent stay home with young children until they are ready to go to kindergarten. This carries one obvious difficulty in its significant reduction of income for the family.

It also has some subtle disadvantages that can impact the stay-at-home parent and the ability of the family to thrive. A stay-at-home parent significantly reduces their lifetime income opportunities, as well as sacrificing opportunities for career development and promotions as they care for children. They also reduce the amount of money they have contributed to Social Security, allowing them to receive less when they reach retirement age.

Childcare costs are one of the largest expenses for working families and is extremely challenging for young single mothers. Parents paying out-of-pocket for childcare in order for both parents to stay in the workforce often face a shocking price for quality care. In nearly all states, childcare costs exceeded the average rent payment. Childcare ate up more than 10 percent of a family’s income, and it increased to about one-quarter of a family’s income when including only single mothers.

Young mothers face even larger challenges, particularly those trying to finalize a degree program after having children. Mothers under the age of 25 generally earn less than their older counterparts, too, so their total childcare costs can account for one-third of their earnings. Mothers living below the poverty line may spend up to 42 percent of their income on childcare, making it difficult to use employment as a stepping stone out of poverty.

Federal and state funded programs are not widely available. The third option, taking advantage of federal and state programs that fund preschool programs, is a great idea. However, there is little available for those families that cannot afford to lose one breadwinner’s income.

Only about 22 percent of low income families receive federally subsidized care. While there has been an increase in preschool participation across the country in recent years, low-income families are the least likely to participate. Forty percent are not enrolled in preschool at all.

The importance of high-quality affordable childcare is felt by families across the country and in our community. To learn more about affordable childcare in the St. Joseph area, give us a call today. We help women in transition connect with the services they need to thrive.

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Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Look for Ways to Start the Conversation About Preventing Sexual Assault This April

sexual assault awareness monthFor the past 16 years, the nation has observed national Sexual Assault Awareness Month each April. This year the month-long campaign is titled Engaging New Voices and is geared toward encouraging those with an influential voice to speak up about the problem and ways to prevent it. The hope is that when voices from several spheres of influence join together with one message, the next generation will be positively impacted toward healthy and respectful relationships.

The Effects of Sexual Assault

The fact is that almost 20 percent of all women in the U.S. are confronted with the issue of sexual violence over their lifetimes. The emotional consequences of this form of violence can be extensive and long lasting. Victims commonly experience feelings of shame and guilt and a sense of isolation. In the immediate short-term, victims of sexual assault go through the same shock and feelings of numbness that affect many victims of violent crimes. In the long-term, victims may face depression or other psychiatric disorders like PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

Who can Help Prevent Sexual Assault?

Who are the voices of influence who could help change the trajectory for our country by starting conversations with our future leaders? Athletic coaches, pastors, teachers and campus leaders are a good place to begin. These are the voices who currently have the ear of young people today. Research shows that while parents often feel powerless to influence their teen or young adult children, their voices are actually the most powerful. Parents need to be encouraged to speak up and given the tools for starting the conversation about sexual respect.

The YWCA as a Community Voice

The St. Joseph YWCA is a strong voice in the community on the subject of sexual violence and assault. We are a voice of compassion and hope for those affected. However, we want to speak not only to victims, but to the broader community as well. We want all citizens to be aware of how their words, attitudes and actions can communicate the importance of sexual respect and honoring of boundaries.

This April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and we encourage you to make plans now to speak to the young people in your life about this critical subject. Change is possible. The future can be different from the past, but only if we provide the guidance young people need about what a healthy relationship looks like and why it matters.

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