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Mentoring Middle School Students Through Important Decision-Making Skills

YWCA Programs Focus on Mentoring Middle School Students

Mentoring middle school students helps prepare them for difficult choices and navigating friendships.Many adults remember their 7th grade selves as being a bit unsure, caught awkwardly between childhood and adulthood. If this sounds like you in 7th grade, imagine yourself at that age again, but at your side is a college athlete, ready to help you walk through some of those tricky middle school moments. Mentoring middle school students is the focus of two important programs at YWCA St. Joseph: CHOICES and DECISIONS.

The CHOICES and DECISIONS programs, created for at-risk 7th grade girls and boys, respectively, pair students with athletes from Missouri Western State University. The students are from four of the area middle schools: Bode, Robidoux, Truman and Spring Garden.

The eight-week life skills course is designed for mentoring middle school students with a core application: the ability to make good decisions, both during middle school and as they progress through high school and into adult life.

Topics covered in the program sound like familiar areas to anyone who’s ever been a middle school student: peer pressure, bullying and the social decisions around interactions with the opposite sex. These topics can be difficult to discuss and the implications of a wrong decision can stretch far beyond the immediate situation.

The college athletes that participate by mentoring middle school students bring a lot of value to the program. Their energy, work ethic and history of making positive life decisions serve as a model to the students. In addition, the middle school students look up to the athletes because of their status and their relatability in their position of being just a bit older than them. The athletes are in a perfect position to be positive role models to students.

At the end of the eight-week curriculum, the students and athletes celebrate with a pizza party and a tour of the Missouri Western State University campus.

The program is just one way that YWCA St. Joseph is reaching out to youth to let them know that their community cares about them and their future. It helps boost their self -esteem and trains them to make healthy decisions for a positive transition into high school and adulthood.

For more information about CHOICES and DECISIONS, or to learn about any of the other programs by YWCA St. Joseph, contact us today!

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Making Christmas Memories Bright at YWCA St. Joseph

YWCA St. Joseph Hopes to be on Your Christmas List

Christmas is the season for making memories: baking cookies, wrapping gifts and getting caught under the mistletoe. Maybe you celebrate the year you were engaged at Christmastime, or the day in mid-December when you brought home a new baby from the hospital. The holidays might bring to mind a sad event, like when you experienced the death of a loved one, or an achievement, like when you graduated from college in the winter class. For the women at YWCA St. Joseph, this Christmas marks something big they’ll remember for future holidays, too.

The Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children offers a place of rest and respite for families escaping domestic abuse or other major life challenges. For these women, this Christmas will carry forever memories of something bigger, something life-changing. It marks the day when they walked away from a dangerous situation and decided to pursue a different kind of future.

You have the opportunity to cast a light of beauty and generosity on the memory of Christmas for women and children at YWCA St. Joseph. Through donations from members of the St. Joseph community, women and children at the Shelter can experience a happy Christmas, full of memories that will help them mark the beginning of a new life together.

If you’d like to help create this happy memory, please consider donating one or more of the following:

  • Bedding: including blankets, pillows and sheets
  • Pajama robes and slippers (adult and children sizes)
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Towels
  • Blow-dryers and curling iron/straighteners
  • Shower gel (men/women) and deodorant (men/women)
  • Alarm clocks
  • Lip balm
  • Bus Passes
  • Perfume, lotions, etc.
  • Batteries, flashlights or nightlights
  • Children’s toys (new and unwrapped)
    • Games
    • Hot wheels
    • Legos
    • Dolls
  • Gifts for teen children (girls and boys)
    • Movie passes/gift cards
    • Basketballs/footballs
  • Makeup/jewelry
  • Diapers
  • Winter clothes

To learn more about opportunities to volunteer during the holidays at YWCA St. Joseph, contact us for more information! We look forward to working alongside you to create merry Christmas memories for the women and children of our community.

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Victim Services Offer Practical Help and Hope for a Better Future

crisis shelterIf you were escaping a dangerous domestic situation, you would want compassion from somewhere that you knew you could go to get help. You’d also want practical help, but at YWCA St. Joseph Victim Services, you not only receive both of these things, you are also offered hope.

Victim Services is one of the core ways that YWCA St. Joseph empowers women. By offering the Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children as well as Bliss Manor Housing Program, women who are in a transition time of their lives are encouraged to look at the future with new eyes.

Victim Services offers assistance in a variety of forms, including:

  • Case management
  • Personal advocacy
  • Specialized children’s programs
  • Support groups
  • Life skills groups
  • Referrals to additional services
  • Court advocacy

Each of these services does more than simply solve a problem or meet a need. It also helps women and their children to get the support they need to feel safe and grow in their confidence as they recover from difficult circumstances. The programs are designed to equip participants with the resources they need to envision a new start and then take the first steps to thrive.

Consider the role that Victim Services played in the St. Joseph area in 2017:

  • Provided shelter to 229 women and 185 children
  • Individual therapy sessions were provided to 1,769 individuals
  • Answered 2,102 hotline calls
  • Coordinated 104 children’s support groups
  • Provided 2,310 hours of case management and advocacy services

This is just a sampling of the important work that YWCA St. Joseph does to meet the individualized needs of each victim of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Following a stay at the Shelter, many women and their children benefit from an extended stay in a safe location. Bliss Manor allows families to gain stability and explore employment possibilities as they pursue self-sufficiency. In 2017:

  • Bliss Manor housed 39 adults and 32 children
  • 100% of Bliss Manor residents created a personal goal plan

To learn more about Victim Services at YWCA St. Joseph, visit our website. Looking for a way to get involved? No matter what your schedule and skill set, we have a place for you and we look forward to working with you.

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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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