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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Join YWCA St. Joseph and Missouri Western for the Charity Golf Classic

Missouri Western and YWCA St. Joseph Welcomes You June 2nd and 4th

Attend the YWCA St. Joseph Charity Social & Auction on Saturday, then tee up for golf on Monday morning at 10.There are so many ways to support YWCA St. Joseph, from donating your time to giving a donation to the women’s shelter or attending one of our many events. One of the most fun ways to be involved is the Missouri Western State University Charity Golf Classic, held each year to benefit Griffon Athletics, as well as the YWCA Shelter.

The festivities begin on Saturday, June 2, at the Charity Social & Auction, hosted by the St. Jo Frontier Casino. The event begins at 6 p.m., with great food, cold drinks and live entertainment in the ideal indoor/outdoor setting of the casino. There will be both a silent and a live auction, so get ready to bid on a variety of sports memorabilia, pub décor and themed packages.

On Monday, June 4, the Charity Golf Classic begins with a shotgun start at 10 a.m. at the St. Joseph Country Club. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Formatted as a four-person scramble, teams will enjoy on-course events at each hole and a chance to win one of five hole-in-one prizes presented by Hy-Vee. Golfers will even have a chance to win $10,000 or a dream vacation.

The cost of entry for each four-person team is $1,000, or a player may register individually at $250. A portion of your entry fee may be tax deductible, but you should consult your tax professional for guidance.

This year, non-golfers may purchase tickets for $25 to just attend the social; tickets are available at the YWCA and MWSU Athletic Department.

Each participant in the Charity Golf Classic will receive a player pack that includes Griffon Nike apparel, two invitations to the Charity Social, tee gifts, range balls at the tournament and unlimited beverages from O’Malley Beverage and Pepsi. A delicious lunch will be catered by VanZinos BBQ.

All proceeds from the event go to benefit the MWSU Athletics Program and the YWCA Shelter. Now in its 16th year, the Charity Golf Classic is a fun way to gather the community to support two great causes.

The YWCA St. Joseph Shelter offers support and resources to women and children during a crisis. Not only is the Shelter a safe, encouraging place to stay, but also access to a variety of resources, including case management, court advocacy, support groups and children’s programs.

Space is limited, with only 36 teams competing in the Charity Golf Classic, so complete and turn in your entry form today.

For more information about the Charity Golf Classic, or about the programs of the YWCA St. Joseph, including the Shelter and Victim Services, please give us a call. We look forward to hearing from you!

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YWCA Celebrates 130 Years and Takes a Look Back at 2017

YWCA Marks 130 Years of Empowering Women and Eliminating Racism

A special milestone is being commemorated at the YWCA St. Joseph, with 130 years of service aimed at empowering women and eliminating racism. While enjoying the celebration this year, the YWCA St. Joseph also wants to stop for a moment and reflect on the impact that such service makes on individuals that receive help from the YWCA.

Looking back on 2017, you can catch a glimpse of the work that’s being done to assist women and children, as well as continuing the legacy that each generation has carried throughout 130 years. Take a look at the ways that the YWCA St. Joseph staff and volunteers have served in 2017:

Victim Services includes the YWCA Shelter, Survivor Support and Bliss Manor Supported Housing Program. This year, the Victim Services Team:

  • Provided 1,769 individual therapy sessions, advocacy services to 437 survivors and as a result of these services, 97% of participants reported feeling more hopeful about the future.
  • Provided shelter to 229 women and 185 children, with a total of 16,880 nights of shelter.
  • As a result of contact with the Shelter, 90% of participants had improved strategies for enhancing their safety and also gained a better knowledge of community resources.
  • Of individuals exiting the Bliss Manor Housing Program, 94% were able to move to a private, permanent housing situation or entered a treatment facility.

Women’s and Teen Resources

Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies

The Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies program provides mentoring and support to teen parents as they navigate decisions, encouraging them to embrace healthy parenting, set goals and build a community of mutual support. In 2017 the program:

  • Provided services to 45 teens and 47 children.
  • Matched 55% of teens with an adult mentor.
  • Conducted 284 home visits.

ENCOREplus

ENCOREplus supports awareness and education surrounding breast health for women in the community, helping to remove common barriers that may prevent a woman from having an annual mammogram. Efforts with ENCOREplus focus on education, community outreach and providing access to resources and community events designed to raise awareness. In 2017 the ENCOREplus team:

  • Helped coordinate 463 mammograms
  • Helped coordinate 1,200 clinical breast exams
  • Held a variety of events, including the Bling a Bra Contest, Think Pink Campaign, Lunch & Learns, and more

CHOICES and DECISIONS

The CHOICES and DECISIONS programs are designed to mentor and support at-risk adolescent girls and boys, respectively, through a partnership with Missouri Western State University Athletics. The group works through a curriculum designed to equip adolescents for lifelong, healthy decision-making with the encouragement of a college-age mentor. In 2017, the CHOICES and DECISIONS programs:

  • Served 221 seventh grade girls and boys at four St. Joseph public middle schools.
  • There were 64 mentors involved from MWSU women’s cross country, soccer, softball, track and volleyball teams.
  • There were 30 mentors involved from MWSU men’s baseball, cross country, and track teams.

Early Care and Education

The YWCA St. Joseph offers licensed child care in order to allow parents who are employed, or who are seeking education in order to improve employment opportunities, to place their child in a positive care environment. In 2017, the YWCA Discovery Child Care:

  • Provided child care to 60 children from the St. Joseph community.

Child and Adult Care Food Program

The YWCA administers the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program to provide healthy meals and snacks to children in home-based care in the St. Joseph area. In 2017 the Child and Adult Food Care Program:

  • Administered 324,328 meals provided to children in 55 home-based care providers across 21 counties.
  • Of those meals, 99 percent met the nutrition guidelines and qualified for financial reimbursement to the provider, and all 52 providers attended an annual training event.

In 2017, the staff and volunteers of the YWCA St. Joseph were proud to continue the legacy of those that came before us, working to empower women and eliminate racism in our community. Please join us! No matter what your schedule or skill set, you can get involved with us at the YWCA.

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