April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

One Out of Every Four Children Experiences Child Abuse

child abuseDid you know that one out of every four children experiences child abuse at some point in their lives? This means that it’s likely that you know someone who has been the victim of child abuse. Other alarming child abuse statistics include:

  • In 2015, more than 1,670 children died from neglect and abuse.
  • The same year, approximately 683,000 children were victims of abuse.
  • It’s not just the physical effects; victims of abuse suffer from problems related to mental health, social development, risk-taking behaviors like substance abuse and missing out on lifetime opportunities, like education and employment.

Child abuse and neglect includes multiple types of negative behaviors against a child that is under 18 by a parent, caregiver or another person that is in a custodial role for the child. It can occur in the form of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect. Aside from physical harm, these types of abuse can cause problems with early brain development and difficulties in the nervous and immune systems. Abuse during childhood also increases an individual’s risk for violence in the future, unhealthy relationship behaviors and poor overall health.

This information may feel a bit overwhelming, and it may cause you to wonder what one person could possibly do to combat the problem.

Each April, organizations like the YWCA St. Joseph help to raise awareness and help the community find ways to promote prevention during Child Abuse Prevention Month. There are key strategies for preventing child abuse that are being addressed in the St. Joseph community:

  • Strengthening economic support for families
  • Providing support for positive parenting
  • Offering high-quality care and education for young children
  • Providing parenting skills training to support wellness in child development
  • Intervention when child abuse is detected

The YWCA offers a variety of services designed to interrupt the progression of child abuse. The YWCA Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children gives women the opportunity to bring their children to a safe place on a moment’s notice. The Shelter also offers court advocacy, support groups, life skills training and specialized children’s programs, all designed to help families begin a brighter future.

The Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies program offers support from peers, mentoring from adults and other services to help prevent teens from experiencing depression and social isolation – factors that could be linked to a risk of child abuse. The YWCA Discovery Child Care offers high-quality, licensed, positive and affordable child care that is essential to families who are employed or are boosting their education toward employment.

One practical way that you can help bring awareness to child abuse in the community is by purchasing a Children’s Trust Fund license plate. It only takes five minutes, and you can designate your $25 donation to go directly to the YWCA St. Joseph. In addition to helping the YWCA fund programs to prevent child abuse, you’ll also raise awareness by prominently displaying your license plate with its distinctive green handprints and “Prevent Child Abuse” text on your car.

To learn more about Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, to learn more about the parenting classes offered by the YWCA or to donate funds or time volunteering in one of our programs, contact the YWCA St. Joseph today.

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The Importance of Mentoring At-Risk Youth

The YWCA Helps At-Risk Youth Feel Valued and Achieve Their Goals

at-risk youthWhen you think back on your childhood and adolescence, you may be able to identify one or two people who invested in you. Maybe you had a parent that helped you achieve your goals, or maybe there was an aunt or a family friend that attended your school events and encouraged you to pursue extracurricular activities. Having an adult that cares about you and makes you feel valued is critical for at-risk youth, but identifying that adult may be more challenging.

Mentoring programs can help fill the gap between at-risk youth and adults that can offer guidance and encouragement. Mentors offer youth an increased self-worth and the validation that they are valuable. Mentors help youth stay focused in school, offer encouragement in the midst of a challenge and help them shape goals for the future.

In an ideal situation, the mentor creates a positive influence for a teen that already has engaged parents or grandparents who are already guiding the youth. In many cases, the mentor takes on a more central role and is an important counselor, advisor and source of encouragement for the teen. The mentor helps the teen stay focused and motivated in school, providing structure to their free time with activities and helps them navigate obstacles.

At the YWCA St. Joseph, the importance of mentoring relationships is highlighted in two key programs: the CHOICES program for seventh-grade girls and the DECISIONS  program for seventh-grade boys.

CHOICES: Transitioning from elementary to middle school can be difficult, but particularly so for youth who may not have an adult voice providing encouragement and support. The CHOICES program, offered at four middle schools in the St. Joseph area, includes a curriculum that addresses the specific issues that adolescent girls face. Mentors from the Missouri Western State University Athletics Department are matched with girls to discuss challenging questions in an open and honest environment.

DECISIONS: The DECISIONS program pairs seventh-grade boys with men’s baseball, cross country, football and track athletes from the Missouri Western University Athletics Department for an eight-week curriculum covering topics from relationships to bullying and peer pressure. The energy and work ethic demonstrated by the university athletes make them ideal role models for seventh-grade boys.

Having an adult who cares is critical for all youth to help them overcome obstacles and meet their goals. The YWCA St. Joseph recognizes the important role that mentors play in the lives of youth. To learn more about either of these programs, please contact the YWCA.

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Raise Awareness About Sexual Assault Just by Taking a Walk

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” Draws Attention to Sexual Assault

sexual assaultRaising awareness is a great way to shed light on the problem of sexual assault. On Monday, April 2, join the YWCA St. Joseph and Missouri Western State University (MWSU) in their co-sponsored event, “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.” Designed to draw attention to the problem of sexual assault, the community is invited to put on their fanciest heels and walk a mile route starting at Kelley Commons outside of Blum Student Union at MWSU. Here are a few things to know about the event:

If you don’t have heels, choose from the YWCA’s selection: Wear your heels, visit a local store for a larger shoe size (many stores carry larger ladies’ shoes) or borrow a pair from the selection that the YWCA brings along for the event. If wearing heels isn’t possible for you, you’re still welcome to participate. Consider adding a little excitement to your shoes, such as jewels or flowers, if you can’t wear heels.

The purpose of the event is to raise awareness. While donations are always welcome, this event is free and created solely for raising awareness. You can register as a group and bring your entire work team or a fun-loving group of friends to walk together.

Sexual assault reaches across all demographics, and so does the event. While it’s fun to watch heel-wearing novices try to navigate a mile on stilettos, “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” acknowledges that sexual assault isn’t just against women. Any and all walkers are absolutely welcome and encouraged to participate. Even if you can’t walk, come down for the event and to raise awareness for this important issue.

Prizes will be awarded. Just in case you need some motivation for finding the most outrageous pair of heels in St. Joseph, the event will award prizes to the group with the most dazzling shoe selections, the best and most spirited participation and other awards.

It’s easy to sign up. You can email cturner@ywcasj.org or sign up online. You may also register at Event Brite: https://www.eventbrite.com/myevent?eid=43562200715

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” is the international men’s march to end sexual assault. To learn more about the event or about the YWCA St. Joseph’s Survivor Services, contact us today.

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How You Can Help Stop Domestic Violence

Ways to Prevent Domestic Violence in Your Community

domestic violenceMaybe you’re not a victim of domestic violence, but given that the World Health Organization estimates that, in some regions of the world, up to 35 percent of women are suffering from partner violence, it’s possible you know someone that is affected. While domestic violence often goes undetected, there are steps you can take to be ready in the event that a friend or family member is suffering.

Know the signs of domestic violence. Partner abuse affects all races and income levels, so it can be challenging to see. Victims often either show no physical signs of abuse, or they develop skills for covering them up. It may be more helpful to look at a suspected abuser and watch for a variety of signs, including unpredictable mood swings, extreme jealousy, verbal abuse or isolation from family and friends.

Help raise awareness in your community. Neighbors are often the key to stopping domestic violence, simply by remaining aware. Help your local shelter educate the community about what domestic violence looks and sounds like and what they can do if they think they are witnessing domestic violence in their neighborhood.

Get organized. You will send a strong message if you form a group of individuals willing to be trained in recognizing domestic violence situations. The threat of discovery and education about alternative ways to relieve stress may help abusers recognize that there are solutions and that violence is not one of them. If you witness or suspect domestic violence, call 911 right away.

Make the most of technology. If the members of your community have smartphones, use a safety app to allow victims to alert their support system if they believe they are in danger. If your community is organized, try to identify any potential victims that don’t have a smartphone and consider pooling money to purchase her one.

Remember, if you witness an act of domestic violence or suspect it is happening, the safest option is to call 911.

If you’d like more information about organizing a domestic violence community education program, talk with the YWCA St. Joseph. We have the information and resources you need to help end domestic violence in your community.

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St. Joseph YWCA Celebrates National CACFP Week

Healthy Childhood Eating Supported by CACFP Through St. Joseph YWCA

CACFPThe St. Joseph YWCA is getting ready for a celebration. It’s a celebration of children, it’s a celebration of nutritious food and it’s a celebration of equipping families with the resources they need for a better future. The 2018 National Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Week is March 11-17, and the YWCA St. Joseph invites you to take a look at the program and the support it provides children in the area.

The YWCA administers the Child and Adult Care Food Program through the USDA to provide healthy meals and snacks to children in home based care across the region. The program allows local children to have access to the healthy foods they need to support optimal growth and development. Reimbursement for meals and snacks funnels down from USDA to the MO Department of Health and Senior Services, and then on to the YWCA St. Joseph as the local sponsor. The YWCA then administers the funds to the child care providers and coordinates the program. All providers are trained each year by the YWCA staff.

In 2017, the Child and Adult Care Food Program:

  • Monitored 324,328 meals to children in 55 home providers in 21 counties around the region
  • Of meals monitored, 99 percent met nutrition guidelines and qualified for financial reimbursement to the provider

National CACFP Week is designed to raise awareness about the work of the USDA’s CACFP in combating childhood and adult hunger. The CACFP works through the YWCA St. Joseph to ensure that healthy food arrives on the tables for children at child care centers, homes and after-school programs, as well as in adult care centers.

The Shelter offers a safe place to families in crisis, and CACFP helps meet nutritional needs of those families when they arrive at the Shelter. Likewise, families in transition can access the services of Discovery Child Care. One of the challenges to steady employment is finding licensed, affordable childcare while parents are engaged in readying themselves for employment through education or job skills training. Discovery Child Care offers a safe and positive atmosphere for children to spend their time while parents are preparing for a brighter future. In turn, CACFP ensures that children receive the healthy foods that are so critical for their development.

Nationally, the USDA’s CACFP provides healthy foods to 4.2 million children and 130,000 adults. It is a critical tool for closing the gap in helping children and adults receive the nutrition necessary for good health.

To learn more about CACFP or to apply to the program, contact the YWCA of St. Joseph. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Make This Your Year for Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast Cancer Awareness and Mammogram Guidelines

breast cancer awarenessAs the year moves forward, make a plan to increase your level of breast cancer awareness and education. For instance, do you know the mammogram guidelines from the American Cancer Society for your age?

Screening is one of the most important things you can do. Screening means breast cancer can be detected when it is small, when it has not yet spread to other areas of the body and that it can be found early. These are the factors that most significantly influence the outcomes for a breast cancer patient.

The goal of screening is to detect cancer before it has spread and before it has produced symptoms. Waiting until symptoms appear allows cancer to grow unheeded and can make it much more difficult to treat. When cancer is found before symptoms occur, it may be possible to treat the cancer without a radical mastectomy or chemotherapy. This is referred to as early detection.

Mammogram guidelines: The American Cancer Society provides mammogram guidelines designed for women of average cancer risk. The guidelines are as follows:

  • Women between the ages of 40 and 44 may receive a mammogram each year.
  • Women between the ages of 45 and 54 should receive a mammogram each year.
  • Women over the age of 55 may receive a mammogram every year, or they may switch to receiving a mammogram every other year.

A woman is considered to be at an average risk for breast cancer if:

  • She doesn’t have any personal history of breast cancer
  • There’s not a strong family history of breast cancer
  • She doesn’t have a genetic mutation associated with increased risk of breast cancer
  • She did not have chest radiation therapy before the age of 30

The limitations of mammograms: It’s important to remember that mammograms are a helpful tool, but they are by no means perfect. While they are helpful at detecting some cancers before they grow large enough to cause symptoms, there are times when additional tests are necessary to confirm whether something identified on a mammogram is cancerous.

It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about mammograms and their recommendations for how often you should have one, based on your age and your personal risk factors. The perfect New Year’s resolution is to make an appointment to have a mammogram every January. Breast cancer awareness may be highlighted in October, but right now is a good time to become more proactive in your breast health and schedule your mammogram.

The YWCA St. Joseph offers free breast cancer awareness and education information through the ENCOREplus program. ENCOREplus was created to encourage women to be active participants in their own healthcare, and in addition to education, the program also connects women with financial assistance to obtain mammograms. Call the YWCA at 816.232.4481 for more information about breast cancer awareness in the St. Joseph community.

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Do You Know the Signs of Domestic Violence?

How to Help Employees Who Are in a Domestic Violence Situation

domestic violenceYou’re responsible for the tasks and performance of your employees, but when it comes to their personal well-being, it can be hard to know where your responsibility begins and ends. When you suspect that an employee may be experiencing domestic violence, how do you know how and when to say something?

Domestic violence isn’t always obvious; employees experiencing partner abuse may not show up to work with obvious physical signs. Instead, you may even miss an employee that is being abused because the signs can be varied and unclear. Here are a few of the common signs of domestic violence:

  • Tardiness or absenteeism
  • Depression or stress-related illnesses
  • Low self-esteem and social isolation
  • Marital and family problems
  • Afraid of partner’s temper or goes along with what partner wants out of fear
  • Visible signs of injury

As you might expect, it can be challenging to know if a person is experiencing depression, and even more complicated to know whether that depression stems from a situation involving partner abuse. Consider your unique role as a supervisor:

  • As a manager, you are in a position to observe your employees’ behavior on a daily basis, noting changes in demeanor, job performance and arrival times. Keep in mind that any discussion with employees must focus on job performance issues and not any elements from their personal life.
  • You are not in the position to provide counseling or diagnose domestic violence. Your role is simply to offer your employee the opportunity to talk and then help them identify the resources they need.
  • Balancing your role as a supervisor and your desire to help an employee in a difficult situation can be challenging. There are ways to open a conversation that can allow an employee to share, but without stepping over that important line:
    • I’ve noticed that you seem distracted lately. Is there anything I can do to help you get back on track?
    • You’ve had some absenteeism lately and you didn’t meet the deadline on the ABC project. That doesn’t seem like you. Is there anything you’d like to talk about? I’d be happy to listen.

Deciding to tell someone that they’re experiencing domestic violence is generally the hardest step, so don’t feel like you need to pressure your employee to share. Simply assure them that you’re available if the need arises.

If your employee does tell you that they are the victim of partner abuse, help them identify local resources, such as the YWCA Shelter, counseling and other tools. For more information about Victim Services, call or visit the YWCA of St. Joseph.

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Mark Your Calendar for These Upcoming Events

2nd Annual Survivor Drive, Feb. 9, 10 and 11, East Hills Mall (at the former Charming Charlie’s location) Did you know that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner?  (www.CDC.gov) If these survivors choose to go to the hospital their clothing is often collected as evidence, leaving them with nothing to wear during their hospital stay and/or trip home. The Saint Joseph YWCA assists these women and men and by providing them the necessary clothing to get through this tough time. You can help by donating NEW clothing items to the YWCA during the Survivor Drive.

Items of Need:

Drop off NEW donations in the Main Entrance of the Mall near the old Charming Charlie Storefront:

ports Bras        Socks            Women’s Underwear          Women’s Sweatpants
Women’s Leggings      Women’s Capri Pants            Women’s Sweatshirts
New pajama sets        Hygiene products and trial size lotions         Women’s t-shirts 

Donation times:
Feb 9 – 4 pm to 6 pm
Feb 10 and 11 – 11 am to 4 pm
All donations will go directly to the St. Joseph YWCA.


February Advocacy Classes: Are you interested in learning the dynamics of domestic and sexual violence, how to help victims, why victims stay? Sign up for our advocacy class that will be held every Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. for the month of February. Classes will be held at YWCA except for a couple field trips. Please make sure to attend every class. All are welcome to bring their own dinner. You can register by emailing Carrie at cturner@ywcasj.com or calling 816-232-4481.


Women of Excellence: Thursday, June 21, 2018 – It’s Time for Nominations! 

The 2018 Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon is Thursday, June 21, at the Civic Arena in downtown St. Joseph.

At last year’s luncheon, over 1,000 guests were in attendance as we honored outstanding women and employers.

Important Dates and Information:

  1. Nominate – Access nomination forms here. Nomination forms are due Friday, March 16.
  2. All nominees will be honored at a reception held on May 2 at the YWCA from 5-7 p.m. and at the awards luncheon on Thursday, June 21.
  3. Attend – Mark your calendar and join us in saluting women and employers at this events. Tables are $400 and include ten place settings. Individual tickets are also available at a cost of $40. (Tables and tickets will sell out, so act early!)

Visit the Women of Excellence page on our website for more details!


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How You Can Volunteer at the YWCA of St. Joseph in 2018

Start This Year With Opportunities to Volunteer at the YWCA

volunteer at the YWCAThanks to volunteers from the local community, the YWCA of St. Joseph is in its 129 year of fulfilling its key mission. Without the individuals and groups that volunteer at the YWCA, there would be a noticeable lack of support for women and children in several life-changing situations.

The YWCA of St. Joseph offers a variety of ways that you can get involved. Here are three main opportunities:

Be an advocate. Talk to your friends, family members and neighbors about the importance of supporting women recovering from domestic violence. Make a phone call or write a letter to your local, state and federal representatives to express your concern about protecting survivors of violence and equipping them for a brighter future.

Provide a donation. Financial support is always important at the YWCA of St. Joseph, and donations of $100 or more qualify for state tax credits. The YWCA also welcomes donations of items for the Shelter and for key events throughout the year. To find out what’s needed now, call 232-4481.

Become a volunteer. No matter what your skills are, or how much or little time you have available, the YWCA of St. Joseph can match you with a great volunteer opportunity. Please read below for information about a very unique and rewarding volunteer role within our Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies initiative.

Special events include:

Women of Excellence: Each year, the community gathers for the YWCA of St. Joseph’s Women of Excellence luncheon, which honors extraordinary local service and leadership. Serve on the planning committee or volunteer for hands-on help before and during the event.

Gardener’s Festival: Many volunteers are needed to put on this two-day event, which celebrates garden enthusiasts across the region.

Missouri Western State University Alumni Golf Tournament: This important annual tournament raises money for the Shelter for Homeless and Abused Women and Children. Dozens of volunteers pitch in to make it a great occasion every year.

Partners in Action: The YWCA partners with groups and businesses across the region to more effectively serve the community together. Perhaps your organization or business would want to work together with the YWCA in 2018.

As you plan your schedule for 2018, please set aside some time to volunteer at the YWCA. We value your contribution, as well as that of our volunteers. We are especially in need of mentors for our Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies program who have compassion and a caring attitude toward young parents and teen parents. It’s simple to help, and the activities are planned in advance for a once-a-month meeting. Mentors can choose to connect with their teen outside of the group if they wish, such as text messages or meeting for a conversation.

Guidelines for Healthy Teen Parents/Healthy Babies mentors include that a candidate is 21 years old and pass a background screening. It doesn’t matter if you’re already a parent, an empty nester, or not a parent at all. We just need people to be positive and present once a month for the monthly mixer, then have a conversation once a week with their teen. The YWCA has already prepared the schedule for engaging on a regular basis or you can meet face to face on their time, it’s flexible. The goal is just to create the relationship.

We encourage you to reach out and ask any questions about becoming a mentor. It’s simple, flexible and rewarding as an individual, a couple or a family. Call Traci McChristy or Ellen Kisker today to talk more at (816) 232-4481. You may also email questions to tmcchristy@ywcasj.org.

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YWCA of St. Joseph Hosts “Bras for a Cause”

Area Men Raise Awareness for YWCA of St. Joseph’s ENCOREplus Program With Bra Fashion Show on February 3, 2018

YWCA of St. JosephOn Saturday, February 3, the YWCA of St. Joseph is hosting the third annual “Bras for a Cause,” a unique event at Paradox Theater. The event is a fun night out with an unconventional fashion show and auction. Area men will model decorated bras, designed and donated by area businesses and individuals. These bras will then be auctioned off to the highest bidder. (All models will be wearing a t-shirt under their blinged-out bra).

Emceed by Will Stuck, the Bras for a Cause event blends whimsical fashion with a great cause, with all proceeds benefiting the ENCOREplus program of the YWCA of St. Joseph. ENCOREplus provides free breast health education and coordinates financial assistance and other resources for mammograms.

Bras included in the selection are the 2017 World Cup winner entitled “Best Buds,” which features a Bert and Ernie theme from Sesame Street. Another bra to be showcased is called “Grammy Your Mammies: Smash Your Pumpkins” and has a pumpkin theme.

The bras featured at the Bras for a Cause event were judged as part of the YWCA Bling a Bra contest, which displayed the entries at a variety of area events over the past months to raise awareness for the ENCOREplus program.

The excitement starts at 7:00p.m. at the Paradox Theater in downtown St. Joseph with a bra preview, with the fashion show beginning at 7:30p.m.

YWCA Bras for a Cause Fashion Show and Auction
February 3, 2018
Paradox Theater, 107 S. 6th Street
Admission: $5.00 (proceeds going toward ENCOREplus)
Cash bar will be available

Seats are first-come, first serve

For questions, or to nominate a male model, contact Martha Brookshier at mbrookshier@ywccasj.org or call 816.232.4481. You can also read more here about the ENCOREplus program and find out all the reasons why you should plan to attend this year’s Bras for a Cause event at Paradox Theater!

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