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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Think Pink With Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is Full of Activities at the YWCA St. Joseph

breast cancer awarenessBreast Cancer Awareness Month is a great time to “Think Pink” with YWCA St. Joseph. Asking individuals and groups to wear pink and then take a picture and share it with the YWCA for social media, this represents an easy way to raise awareness for breast cancer early detection. Get your friends, your coworkers or your church group together for a snapshot of your best “Think Pink” ensembles, then send it to YWCA St. Joseph!

The “Think Pink” photo campaign is a great way to be involved with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. When it comes to Breast Cancer Awareness that focuses on early detection and promoting good breast health, there are a variety of other “Think Pink” events coordinated by YWCA St. Joseph:

Paint the Parkway Pink: Join us on October 6 at Hyde Park for the 10th Annual Paint the Parkway Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Walk. Check-in will begin at 8:00 a.m. at Hyde Park and the walk will begin at 10:00 a.m.  Refreshments will be provided and there will be raffles at the end of the walk. One-third of the proceeds from this event will go to the Social Welfare Board’s Westside Clinic to pay for mammograms for women 40-49.

In addition, there will be restaurant donation nights for you to take part in for Paint the Parkway Pink:

September 19 from 4-9 p.m. at Planet Sub

October 10, ALL DAY at Buffalo Wild Wings

Ladies’ Night Out: On Thursday, October 18, get your artistic side ready for a paint night in the YWCA Terrace Room. Breast cancer survivors, friends and family, as well as the broader community, are invited to attend this free event taking place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. With space limited to 50 guests, an RSVP is required.

Your painting will be under the tutelage of Scott Noble, with ENCOREplus furnishing the supplies and canvases for your masterpiece. Chick-Fil-A is catering the event, and Torey Smith, breast cancer survivor and YWCA board member will be the speaker for this special evening.

Pink Tea Luncheon: Gather in the YWCA Terrace Room on Wednesday, October 24 for the Pink Tea Luncheon catered by Olive Garden and featuring their delicious soup and salad. While the cost of the luncheon is $15 per person, breast cancer survivors are invited to attend for free. The Pink Tea Luncheon takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Celebracion Rosa: YWCA St. Joseph invites Latina women to a special celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the YWCA Terrace Room Thursday, October 25 from 7:00 -9:00 p.m. This free event will be hosted by Sofia Giorgi, E+ Bilingual Educator and Zulima Lugo-Knapp.

Check out more information about YWCA St. Joseph’s efforts to raise awareness about preventing breast cancer, early detection and the ENCOREplus program, which provides educational resources and help with scheduling mammograms. This October, be sure to “Think Pink” and join us for some fun breast cancer awareness events!

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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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