YWCA Observes Crime Victims’ Rights Week

2017 Crime Victims’ Rights Week Planned for April 2-8

crime victims' rightsEvery year in April, the St. Joseph community sets aside one week to observe crime victims’ rights with a Crime Victims’ Rights Week. This year, the event will take place April 2 – 8, designated by the Office for Victims of Crime.

The theme of this year’s event is STRENGTH, RESILIENCE, JUSTICE. The YWCA will join other community partners in hosting special programs to raise awareness about crime victims’ rights, as well as providing access to the important resources and services available to victims. The event is coordinated by the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), which is a part of the U.S. Department of Justice. One of its purposes is to lead the country each year in a community-level observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. During this observance, victims’ rights are promoted and their experiences are honored.

This year’s theme of STRENGTH, RESILIENCE, JUSTICE, was chosen for its emphasis on the importance of multidisciplinary responses and building the capacity of individuals, service providers and communities. These groups are critical for responding to crime and supporting the ongoing healing of victims and survivors.

The theme was also chosen as a way to support OVC’s Vision 21 Initiative to encourage research, focus on emerging issues and increase the capacity of service organizations for victims through the improvement of technology and training use for this purpose.

One out of every five women will be raped in her lifetime, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite the prevalence of the crime, there is continued tolerance for behaviors that serve to normalize sexual assault.

One problem is the persistence of outdated ideas about what “counts” as sexual assault or harassment, and how a victim should respond, or how long it should take them to recover from the experience. These attitudes prevent progress and can be dangerous, creating barriers to justice and don’t allow victims to be heard.

In recent years, colleges and workplaces have made advances in addressing sexual assault in their environments. However, for children, elders, men and persons with disabilities, there remain few vehicles for reporting sexual assault or other abuse. A common barrier for victims is the presence of a trusted person that will believe them.

Many victims experience further trauma when they tell a friend or family member, file a report with law enforcement or engage in an investigation. For many victims, the criminal justice system provides little comfort, causing them to question whether their experience is worth reporting to the authorities.

Join the St. Joseph YWCA in honoring crime victims’ rights April 2 – 8. To learn more and get involved, visit the YWCA website today.

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“Through These Doors” Video Introduces the Vision of the YWCA and the Services Offered to Women and Children in Our Community

jump-thumbnailThe YWCA offers a place of respite, a vision of hope and a way to connect for hundreds of women in the St. Joseph area every week. Through a variety of programs and initiatives, women are equipped to live their lives without fear of the future.

The YWCA provides a variety of services to the women and children of the St. Joseph area. Some are designed to assist families in crisis, while others serve as a powerful tool for growth and achievement for a bright future. We have created a new video to highlight these important services and a few of the ways the YWCA is serving the community to empower women and eliminate racism through:

Victim Services is a group of programs created to help women facing a crisis. The Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children, rape counseling and the Bliss Manor House are all offered as solutions for women that need immediate help to escape a dangerous living situation or recover from a sexual assault. Here, women and their children receive a variety of services, from court advocacy to support groups and life skills training.

JUMP supports teen moms as they work to make healthy choices for themselves and their little ones. This program provides not only encouragement, information and resources, but also the camaraderie of a group of moms with similar challenges and circumstances. Each teen mom is guided by a mentor, receiving educational support both in a group setting and with home visits.

Women of Excellence is a program that celebrates the important contribution that women make to the thriving community in the St. Joseph area. Each year, the Women of Excellence luncheon takes time to honor selected women for their involvement and support of the community.

These are a few of the ways that the YWCA is making a lasting impact on the women of the St. Joseph area. To learn more about what happens at the YWCA, take a look at our new video, entitled, “Through These Doors.”

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Sexual Assault: When You or Someone You Know Becomes a Victim

Steps to Take Immediately Following a Sexual Assault

sexual assaultStatistically, 20 percent of all women will experience sexual assault at some point during their lifetime, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One in 71 men will also be victims of sexual violence. This means it is likely that someone you know will be affected. That is why it’s important to know how to respond in the event of sexual assault.

Get Medical Treatment Immediately

Although being a victim of sexual violence is shocking and traumatizing, it’s important that the victim seek medical attention as soon as possible. Whenever possible, go to a hospital right away. Don’t change clothes, brush teeth, bathe, eat or drink if possible. If the victim feels they must change their clothes, place them in a paper – not plastic – bag and take them with you to the hospital. The victim doesn’t have to plan to press charges for medical care to be needed. There are multiple reasons why a victim should seek medical attention.

The person who has experienced sexual assault may not feel that they want to share their situation with anyone much less publicly press charges against the perpetrator. Yet, it’s important to undergo a medical examination as soon as possible. For starters, the perpetrator may have shared an STD with their victim. The victim may have suffered physical damage of which they are unaware. Pregnancy may result from the assault. Finally, it is possible that after some time has passed the victim will decide to prosecute and having professional evidence will greatly help the case.

Contact the Police, a Family Member or a Close Friend

Though the victim may want to hide themselves and their experience, what they really need is the support of people who believe them and will stand beside them. The victim doesn’t need to make an on-the-spot decision about whether or not to press charges, but it’s a good idea to file a police report. Sexual assault can cause emotional harm and often reactions of embarrassment, shock, denial and helplessness may result. It’s important that supportive loved ones offer the victim time and space to process what has happened. Prosecution can happen at a later date if the victim so desires.

The YWCA is Available 24/7

At the YWCA, we staff a 24-hour emergency hotline. Victims of sexual assault may call us at any time to receive guidance. We have trained advocates who can direct victims toward the proper steps to take. Call us at 816-232-1225 or 800-653-1477 to speak with a victim advocate. Victims who fear they are in imminent danger should call 911 for police protection.

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A Crisis Shelter for Women is More Than Walls

Providing a Safe Place for Women and Children at Our Crisis Shelter

img_7868Women and children who have lived in an environment of domestic violence or abuse need time to recover from living with tension and fear and a safe place to live. A crisis shelter for women and children is not just a place that is safe from danger, but also a space for healing. It takes more than the removal from threat for a family to be ready to begin a new life; counseling and information about next steps are essential. That is why a crisis shelter for women, like the one we offer at the YWCA, is so important for our community.

Space for Healing

Statistically, many victims of domestic abuse do not report violence in the home until it has gone on for a period of time. This can create a sense of hopelessness that takes time to overcome. However, when a victim is convinced that safety, help and the chance for a better life are really available, it makes all the difference. Many times a crisis shelter for women is the only place where all the resources necessary for rebuilding a life can be found.

Services for Rebuilding

Shelters routinely work in tandem with police, judicial representatives and social services to provide the range of support that children and mothers need to get a fresh start. Children can receive counseling and care while mothers meet with professionals who guide them through skills development, advocacy, financial instruction and more. The crisis shelter for women is a place where the various areas of support can converge to offer hope for a better life.

Spokesperson for Women’s Rights

Because shelters work through many situations on a daily basis, the teams at shelters have a powerful voice in advocating – even on a state or national level – for survivor services. No one knows better than the local crisis shelter staff and volunteers the challenges women and children face when escaping a domestic violence situation. The shelter staff and volunteers have a keen interest in promoting issues of women’s and children’s rights and are able to speak authoritatively on issues related to gender equality, the needs for social support services and the efficacy of police or judicial responses. In this sense, the local crisis shelter for women performs a much bigger service in addition to caring for individuals.

The YWCA Shelter in St. Joseph offers emergency housing for women and children and connects women to longer-term shelter for those who are working toward a new start. Many women and children who stay in our shelter have a difficult time securing employment and safe housing in the 60-90 day timeframe temporary emergency shelters provide. Our supported housing service, Bliss Manor, provides a place for women to begin the process of gaining self-sufficiency in a supportive atmosphere over a one to two-year period of time. Learn more today about the critical role the YWCA Shelter and housing resources fill in our community.

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Women of Excellence Celebrates Women in the Community

Plan Now to Take Part in the Annual Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon

women of excellenceAt the YWCA St. Joseph, our work to fulfill our mission celebrates the impact women make each day of the year. One day each summer, however, is set aside as the YWCA pauses to officially honor and celebrate women who are leading the way in a variety of roles. We recognize women as business and community leaders, volunteers, leaders in support services and more at the annual Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon.
 
Make plans now to be part of this outstanding event held June 15, 2017, at the St. Joseph Civic Arena. This year’s keynote speaker is Col. Grace Link, Director of Staff for the Missouri Air Guard. Col. Link serves as a senior advisor to the adjutant general, coordinates joint military functions and formulates long-term strategic plans in support of nearly 2,300 Citizen Airmen throughout the state – including the 139th Airlift in St. Joseph.
 
We will present nominees in designated categories:  Lifetime Achievement; Woman in the Workplace; Woman in Volunteerism; Woman in Support Services; Employer of Excellence; Emerging Leader and Future Leader. It is also a time to raise financial support for the critical services we provide in our community, and to hear a YWCA success story that inspires all of us to keep moving forward. Note: Each year, there are a few surprises…including very special cupcakes and a most memorable centerpiece table auction!
 

How You Can be a Part

You can nominate an outstanding woman by going to our website and clicking on the online nomination form. Printable nomination forms are also available online. You’ll have the opportunity to briefly tell us how the woman you know is making a positive difference and exhibiting excellence in her field or role. All nominations are due Friday, March 17, 2017.
 
Another way to be part of this great event is to act as a sponsor. We accept sponsorships on many different levels, and it’s a great way to support the YWCA mission while also presenting your business name in front of 1,200 guests.  If you would like to support the Women of Excellence event, sponsorship information is available on our website.
 

Come Join Us

A great way to be part of the Women of Excellence event is to come join us. In years past, we’ve hosted over 1,000 guests at luncheons. We hope to see even more attendees this year! Tables and tickets will be available soon. Mark your calendars, and share with your friends today!

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The YWCA Fulfills its Mission With the Help of Businesses in Our Community

Support The YWCA in Style at the Spring Trunk Show; Kick off Women’s History Month in Style

img_3841One of the things that makes our community great is that we get to work alongside locally-owned businesses that support our mission. One of those businesses, Dr. Rosenak’s Optical Options, is offering a fun spring event called a Trunk Show. A portion of sales will be designated to the YWCA in honor of Women’s History Month. Not only can you shop local and find a new, stylish look for spring, but you’ll support the YWCA Women’s Shelter, too!

This fun event will be:

  • Thursday March 2, from 3-7 p.m.  (view event flyer)
  • Located at Dr. Rosenak’s Optical Options
  • Fun for the whole family

The Spring Trunk Show is in honor of Women’s History Month, and will offer an opportunity to experience a special exhibit featuring the YWCA Women’s Shelter.

The Spring Trunk Show offers exclusive gifts and fun including:

  • View new and exclusive lines of designer sunglasses and eyewear styles
  • Giveaways, including lenses, frames and one pair of Ray Ban sunglasses
  • A chance to sample local products from Rodan + Fields, Lipsense and Under the Zigba Tree – a fair trade business that helps support women and children who are victims of human trafficking
  • Receive a free goodie bag, while supplies last
  • Refreshments served
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  • Special Trunk Show discounts (read more here).

Appointments are available during the Spring Trunk Show, so book yours today! Or, grab your girlfriends and come over to enjoy the party together. Enjoy some refreshments, try on those frames you’ve been eyeing and slip into the photo booth to debut your new spring look — all in the name of a great cause.

To learn more, visit the YWCA website. A special thanks to Dr. Rosenak’s Optical Options and all our corporate partners who help support the YWCA.

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“Bras for a Cause” Event Set to Raise Awareness for the Fight Against Breast Cancer … (Through one Unique and Memorable Evening)

“Bras for a Cause” Event Set to Raise Awareness for the Fight Against Breast Cancer … (Through one Unique and Memorable Evening)

Each day at the YWCA, we endeavor to empower women, eliminate racism and promote dignity. Each of our programs and events are designed to help us meet our goals and fulfill our mission. Our upcoming Bras for a Cause event is just one example of how we look for creative ways to achieve our vision. Read on for details about this exciting and unique event!

Make plans now to watch approximately 40 local men take to the “runway” wearing specially-decorated bras (over their shirts, of course) on Saturday February 4 at 7:00 p.m. at the Paradox Theater. Each bra boasts a memorable theme and was decorated by local organizations or businesses earlier in the fall as part of an ENCOREplus initiative. Bras for a Cause is the premier fashion show for these creations, and a perfect night out full of laughs (in the name of a great cause). Tickets are $5 each at the door on the night of the event. HyVee will provide snacks and The Tiger’s Den will offer a cash bar.

Bras featured in the show offer whimsical design motifs such as the camel-themed bra called “Check Your Humps for Lumps!” and a baseball themed bra titled “Save Second Base.” Men from our community – and some you may likely recognize – have volunteered to model these creations. Each one will be featured in a silent auction during the event, with funds going toward the ENCOREplus breast cancer awareness and education program.

Through ENCOREplus we offer community education, referrals toward receiving mammography and guidance in accessing financial assistance when necessary. Empowering women means giving them the tools to take charge of their health concerns, and we’ll even provide transportation to appointments when that is an obstacle to breast care.
Our Bras for a Cause event promises laugher and fun, but also the knowledge that you are truly doing something to empower the women in our community. We encourage you to grab your girlfriends, your office mates – anyone – and come join us on Saturday February 4 as we enjoy a comical fashion show and auction. At the YWCA we meet the mission of empowering women on a daily basis. Please come join us for some fun as we wage a serious fight against breast cancer.

Join us Saturday, February 4, at 7:00 p.m. at the Paradox Theater, 107 S. 6th Street in St. Joseph!

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Help for Rape Victims When You Don’t Know What to Do:

Help for Rape Victims When You Don’t Know What to Do:

What You Can do to Provide Help for Rape Victims

No woman ever imagines they or someone close to them will be involved in a rape crisis, also called sexual assault. It’s in the news and on the minds of women who feel vulnerable and yet, when it happens, most of us don’t have any idea how to respond. There are critical things you can do to help in the immediate aftermath of rape. Here are a few ways you can offer support and help for rape victims:

Believe Her Story

One of the first things a victim of rape or sexual violence needs is someone who will believe her story. Because of the nature of the crime and the fact that so many instances go unreported, it is difficult to offer up hard statistics – but most experts feel that only 20 percent of actual rape cases are ever reported to authorities. One reason for the enormous gap between occurrences and reporting is a woman’s fear that she will not be believed.

Listen to whatever the victim is willing to share with you and write down the facts as she reports them to you. Avoid any form of judgment as you listen. In offering help for rape victims, the importance of belief in her story is hard to overestimate.

Get Her Medical Attention

A victim of rape is likely still in shock when she recounts her experience. She may not know whether or not she has been harmed. You will be doing the victim a tremendous service by getting her immediate medical attention. A medical exam will help her in several ways. First of all, it will provide clear evidence for her case against the rapist. Secondly, it will determine if medical treatment is needed and may help protect her against any possible sexually transmitted disease.

Seek Ongoing Counseling and Offer Support Throughout

A victim will experience negative thoughts about themselves and others in the succeeding weeks and months. Your patient and affirming presence is invaluable. So, too, is the help of a trained expert or counselor. Victims may not know how to identify or verbalize their inner turmoil but a counselor can gently bring issues to light and help the person work through them over time.

Immediate Resources

Sometimes, in the days following rape, a victim needs a safe place to stay. At the St. Joseph YWCA we offer no-cost shelter, food and even clothing to meet those immediate needs. We can provide transportation to the hospital for an exam or to the police station to file a report. If you want to know more about how you can offer help for rape victims, contact us at 232-4481.

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Thank You for Supporting Our Mission at the YWCA

Thank You for Supporting Our Mission at the YWCA

Your Gifts to the YWCA Create Hope on a Daily Basis

“This time was different. I made a decision, and I decided I had to make a change in my life. I am so happy of where I am today.”

“I finally put myself through counseling, after telling myself that I didn’t need it. Carrie managed to convince me that I did, and she was right. After counseling, I felt a lot better about my situation and where I was. Every day is still really hard, but I’m learning to deal. And every time I need her, Carrie is there — just a phone call away.”

Our mission at the YWCA is to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families and strengthen communities. Your service, attendance, advocacy and gifts help keep doors to our services open all year long. We’d like to share with you how your dollars are spent and the importance of giving to the YWCA.

Your dollars go toward providing safe, cost-free housing to women and children in crisis.
The doors to our shelter are open all day, every day. We provide women and children with a way out of domestic violence. We offer short-term and longer-term housing depending upon the individual need. One night of shelter for a mom and kids costs $35. Two weeks of housing will cost approximately $500. On any given day we are typically providing safe haven for 46 women and children.

Your dollars also go toward providing a 24-hour hotline where anyone can call and receive counsel for themselves or loved ones. The hope which comes with knowing that you are not alone and that others are there for you is priceless. Community donations make it possible for us to share that hope day-in and day-out.

Dollars also go toward victim advocacy services.
Many times women have no idea what their next step should be. They don’t know what resources are available to them. Professional counseling and advocacy services are an important step in rebuilding a life. We offer these services on a daily basis.
Every donation opens a new door to hope for a woman and her children who depend on the YWCA – and every donation of $100 or more receives a 50 percent State tax credit. This means that 50 percent of your donation is deducted directly from your State taxes owed.

We thank you for standing with us in accomplishing our mission every day of the year … and for helping us create a path toward hope.

 

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Local School Gathers Pennies to Ensure a Merry Christmas for All

Local School Gathers Pennies to Ensure a Merry Christmas for All

Recently, students at Parkway Elementary School worked together to raise money to help make this Christmas special for some area families. The school conducted a Penny Wars Contest to raise money for our YWCA Christmas Store. The fifth grade students at Parkway won the contest and helped the school raise a substantial $435.00 overall.

The money raised (one penny at a time) through the contest was earmarked to stock the YWCA Christmas store where moms living in the shelter will be able to “shop” for their children’s Christmas presents. The YWCA hosts a Christmas Store filled with items appropriate for setting up house as well as toys to delight youngsters going through a tough period. The moms who shop at the YWCA store don’t receive help or support through any other agency during the Season.

The Parkway Elementary children have combined efforts to make a real difference for other children this Christmas. What better season than Christmas to show care for those who need hope and joy in their lives.

It took a lot of pennies to make their gift. But, the kids from Parkway show how much can be done when many people give. It’s not about the size of the gift, it’s about the community working together to show they care. Merry Christmas to all!

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