NAACP and YWCA St. Joseph Host Breakfast for The Day of Commitment to Eliminate Racism

Breakfast Event to Honor Those Working to Eliminate Racism in Community

The goal to eliminate racism is one of the core missions of YWCA St. Joseph. Every year, the staff and volunteers of YWCA work through programs and plan events that support this goal, but the efforts of community members are showcased each year on the Day of Commitment to Eliminate Racism.

This year, the Day of Commitment is on Thursday, September 20, and the community is invited to celebrate with a special breakfast at 7:15 a.m. in the YWCA Terrace Room. The breakfast buffet will be prepared and served by members of the Grace Evangelical Church.

Guests will have the privilege of hearing the mayor of St. Joseph, Bill McMurray, share his proclamation and his thoughts on the importance of community engagement in the effort to eliminate racism. His remarks will be followed by performances by The Praise Team and Trash Can Band from MidCity Excellence.

Each year, the community honors individuals or groups that have demonstrated a commitment to eliminate racism in the St. Joseph area. Honorees receive the Kelsy Beshears Racial Justice Award, created to honor the famous civil rights activist who worked tirelessly from 1946 until she passed away in 1999.

The recipients of the Kelsy Beshears Racial Justice Award for 2018 are Kimberly Warren, MS Ed and Pastor Robert Warren, MS Ed, who established the MidCity Excellence Community Learning Center in 2001. The nonprofit reaches out to disenfranchised families and provides them with access to enrichment education, creative and performing arts and counseling. They also engage the families with conversations surrounding racial reconciliation solutions.

Jessie Parker, a junior criminal justice major at Missouri Western State University and a single mother with two young sons, will receive the Kelsy Beshears Scholarship, a $1,000 award.

Reservations for the event must be received by Wednesday, September 12. While there is no charge for the breakfast, a free will offering ($15 suggested donation) will be collected to contribute to the Beshears Scholarship fund at MWSU. Reservations can be made by contacting Shelbi Dawson at 232-4481 or sdawson@ywcasj.org.

To learn more about the Day of Commitment breakfast event, or to learn more about the ways we’re working to eliminate racism in the St. Joseph community, contact us at YWCA St. Joseph.

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Transitional Housing Residents Have Hope for the Future

The Role Transitional Housing Plays in Helping Residents Move Forward

The benefits of transitional housing include a supportive environment and a hope for a better future.When a victim of domestic or sexual abuse arrives at a shelter, they receive immediate assistance and support for creating a new chapter of their lives. Both practical and emotional needs are met in a variety of ways, but by the time a resident has reached the maximum number of days for stay at the shelter, they often aren’t yet matched with a permanent residence. Transitional housing fills the gap, continuing the support that residents need in order to move forward.

There are a number of benefits to transitional housing including:

Improved health: Residents benefit from stable housing and receive referrals to medical services as needed.  There is a fitness center on site as well as monthly health challenges.  Groups are sometimes focused on health topics such as nutrition, sexually transmitted diseases and drug-related diseases.

Substance abuse recovery: Transitional housing facilities can help connect residents with the resources they need for rehabilitation care. They can also connect residents with people they can talk to throughout this journey.

Employment assistance: Residents in transitional housing often have a desire for job skills training. Transitional housing gives them time to prepare for obtaining permanent employment and can include things like assistance in writing a resume and access to clothing appropriate for an interview. Since the purpose of transitional housing is to transition residents into a permanent home, and employment is necessary for securing a permanent home, employment assistance can play a critical role during time spent in transitional housing.

Hope and self-esteem: The most important benefit offered through transitional housing is the belief that life in the future will be better. Residents are supported and encouraged as they begin to visualize their lives of independence.

YWCA St. Joseph Bliss Manor Housing Program

Bliss Manor offers residents long-term accommodations while they achieve residential stability and break what is often a long cycle of homelessness. In a supportive atmosphere, residents of Bliss Manor gain self-sufficiency over a one- to two-year period of time.

Many women who arrive at the Shelter for Homeless and Abused Women and Children struggle to find employment within the 60-90 day timeframe that is the typical stay at the shelter. Bliss Manor offers a solution that provides housing and a supportive environment for pursuing permanent residential solutions.

To learn more about Bliss Manor or the other programs of Victim Services at YWCA St. Joseph, contact us today. There are volunteer and donation opportunities for those who would like to further the mission of eliminating racism and empowering women in our community.

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What Should You do Following a Sexual Assault?

YWCA St. Joseph Provides Services For Those Who Have Experienced Sexual Assault

Seek immediate medical attention after a sexual assault. Taking a trusted friend is good.Recently, headlines have regularly told of newly disclosed sexual assault happening to celebrities in the workplace and on dates. For most of the population, there’s no press waiting to hear the details, but it can still be terribly intimidating to report a case of sexual assault. With increasing awareness around the topic, you may be wondering if you can accurately identify sexual assault and know what to do if it happens to you.

What is sexual assault? Sexual assault is any sexual activity that is not mutually consented to. It often involves a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, date or acquaintance and they may use threats or intimidation to coerce you into an activity. Sexual assault can also include being drugged, drunk, unconscious or simply too young to give consent. Someone who is mentally disabled is also not able to legally agree to sexual contact.

It is never your fault. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had sexual contact with the person in the past, it doesn’t matter where you were or what you wore. You have the right to say “NO” at any time.

What should you do if you are sexually assaulted? Go directly to seek medical attention, preferably in an emergency room where they are trained to administer a “rape kit” exam. It’s very important that you don’t take a shower, change your clothes or clean yourself up in any way before going to the emergency room so that as much evidence as possible can be gathered during the exam. On the other hand, you can still go to the hospital for help even if you showered or changed clothes.

In the immediate aftermath of sexual assault, you may feel reluctant to consider reporting the assault to police. It’s important to consider that you may feel differently later, and it’s important that you allow evidence to be gathered. Ask a trusted friend or relative to go to the emergency room with you so that you have support.

Rape kits can be performed up to 72 hours after an assault. In our community, an anonymous report can also be made if the victim chooses not to talk with law enforcement. As a victim of sexual assault, a trained advocate will come to the emergency room and help you with all the choices and the resources after the event.

Many victims of sexual assault find it helpful to talk with someone, whether that’s a fellow sexual assault survivor or a counselor.

For more guidance on what to do if you experience sexual assault, visit the YWCA St. Joseph FAQ page for Victim Services. You are also encouraged to call the 24-hour YWCA Shelter hotline to receive immediate assistance at 816-232-1225 or 1-800-653-1477.

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The Importance of Quality Childcare for Working Mothers

Why it’s Not Just the Child That Benefits From Good Childcare for Working Mothers

Children enrolled in quality childcare for working mothers have better brain development and are more ready for school.When you leave your child in a childcare setting, you want them to be with teachers who are interested in your child and ready to engage them in meaningful interactions and even age-appropriate education. While this seems a given for any parent, finding quality, affordable childcare for working mothers is a common challenge.

When a baby, toddler or preschooler receives love and high-quality care in a supportive environment, mothers can go to work with the peace of mind that their child is receiving the following benefits:

Better brain development: Research shows that children between the ages of zero and five years old are experiencing their most critical brain development. In fact, approximately 90% of brain growth occurs during this phase, so the people that spend the most time with children of this age have the greatest impact on their brain development.

Preparing for school: Children who receive high-quality care are more ready for starting Kindergarten, with better social, math, and language skills. While school readiness can be hard to quantify, there are many skills that go with it, such as motor skills that allow a child to be able to cut with scissors or cognitive and language development that allow them to be curious about learning.

Reduced stress levels: When your child knows they are loved and receiving good care, they enjoy the absence of stress, which also allows you to relax and focus on work.

The benefits are for everyone: It’s easy to think in terms of the benefits that the child and mother receive when there’s quality childcare for working mothers, but the entire community and nation as a whole benefit when children receive good care. Supporting a healthy and successful future workforce is good for all of society.

All those benefits are right here at YWCA St. Joseph’s Discovery Child Care. Offering licensed, quality childcare for children whose parents are employed or boosting their education toward employment, Discovery Child Care welcomes infants up to children five years of age. There are two options available for payment: private pay for families looking for affordable, excellent childcare or state pay for families who qualify.

Discovery Childcare is also an Early Headstart site. To learn more about Discovery Child Care, offering affordable childcare for working mothers, or about our other programs designed to equip women and children in the community for a thriving, successful life, contact us at YWCA St. Joseph.

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Practical Services Help Teen Parents

Help Teen Parents by Supporting Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies Program

YWCA St. Joseph offers a variety of services to help teen parents as they navigate parenting challenges. Teen parents face difficulties and challenges that may not be experienced by older parents. It’s important to come alongside teen parents by offering practical support to help them as they begin this new journey. Some important forms of support include:

  • Education: Teen parents need encouragement to stay in school and help in connecting with other teen parents that have a goal of finishing their high school education. Teen parents need additional education, in the form of childbirth classes before delivery, and parenting classes following the arrival of the child. They also benefit from financial education, job skills training and nutrition and cooking classes.
  • Mentoring: An experienced mom or dad can offer first-hand knowledge of the best way to tell when it’s time to call the pediatrician, how to swaddle a newborn and the ideal age for potty training. A mentor can be a powerful way to help teen parents cope with daily challenges.
  • Support and Camaraderie: It’s important for teen parents to connect with others in a similar situation and who have the same goals of raising healthy, thriving children. Social and support groups can help teen parents form lasting bonds.

The YWCA Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies program seeks to offer these very benefits to teen parents in the area. The program provides a way for teen parents to avoid the loneliness and loss of friendships that often occurs as they transition into parenthood while offering valuable educational opportunities.

To become a part of the program, teen parents simply fill out an application form. Once accepted into Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies, participants receive a regular newsletter informing them about upcoming events. The support group meets on the second Tuesday of each month. Speakers cover a wide variety of topics important to new parents, including healthy meal preparation, fitness for parents and general nutrition.

In addition, on the last Thursday of the month, the group holds a Monthly Mentor Mixer, providing an opportunity for participants and their mentors to make connections and talk. The mentors offer encouragement by being positive, present, and having a conversation once a week with their teen.

The YWCA St. Joseph Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies program provides a practical way to help teen parents as they move into a new phase of life that otherwise might be isolated and lonely. Learn more about Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies by visiting the program page on the YWCA St. Joseph website.

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Mentoring Middle School Students With YWCA St. Joseph

MWSU Athletes Partner With the YWCA in Mentoring Middle School Students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Effects of Exposure to Domestic Violence in Childhood

Shelter Provides Help for Families Escaping Domestic Violence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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YWCA Shelter: 7 Ways You Can Help Local Women

Everyone Can Help Support Residents and Staff at the YWCA Shelter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Generous Donation Equips Programs Mentoring Middle School Students

Mentoring Middle School Students Through DECISIONS and CHOICES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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