Posts Tagged YWCA of St. Joseph

The Importance of Prioritizing Breast Cancer Screening

Breast Cancer Screening May Detect Tumors That Self-Exams Can’t

breast cancer screeningMany women avoid scheduling a breast cancer screening because they aren’t sure what the screening entails or they are afraid that it may be painful. The truth is that mammograms are relatively quick, usually taking just a few minutes to complete. Some women report mild discomfort during a mammogram, but the procedure is not at all invasive and there is no preparation for it.

If you need more reasons to schedule your breast cancer screening, consider these:

Early detection often makes all the difference: If you have breast cancer, your chances of surviving improve if the tumor is discovered early. You also have more treatment options if your breast cancer is detected before it grows too large or begins to spread. Women whose cancer is detected early have a 93 percent survival rate in the first five years.

Mammograms find cancer before it’s felt: A tumor that is causing symptoms or that can be felt is larger than those that can only be detected by a mammogram. This means that mammograms are critical for early detection. If you only discover a tumor once its been felt in a self-exam or a physician exam, you may limit the types of treatment options you have and your cancer may have already spread.

What’s it like to get a mammogram? While every breast cancer screening may have some variations because of the specific practices of that medical group, they are generally a uniform process.

When you arrive, you will be asked to step into a changing room and undress from the waist up. The screening center will give you a hospital gown or a robe to wear. You’ll likely be provided with a locker for your belongings or a bag where you can place your clothing. You’ll then step into the technician’s room where the mammogram machine is. You’ll be guided to the right placement to take images of your breast from both horizontal and vertical angles.

Does it hurt? There is some pressure from the mammogram, but it should not be painful or cause any lasting discomfort. Even if you are a bit uncomfortable, you’ll appreciate knowing that the screening takes very little time. Some women say that they don’t experience any discomfort at all.

When will the results arrive? This depends on the practices of your own physician, but you should receive results relatively quickly. You might ask your doctor to give you their specific test results policy so you’ll know when you can expect to hear the results of your mammogram.

Breast cancer screening can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first screening or if you have a history of breast cancer in your family.

The YWCA of St. Joseph’s ENCOREplus program provides free breast cancer prevention information and resources to women. We also help women locate financial resources for mammograms and can even provide transportation on the day of the screening. To learn more about ENCOREplus, visit our YWCA of St. Joseph website.

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Do You Have a Domestic Violence Plan in Your Workplace?

What to do When an Employee is Involved in a Domestic Violence Situation

domestic violenceYou may think of domestic violence as a private issue, one that happens after-hours and at home. This perception, which may seem reasonable at first glance, may be making it possible for an employee to remain in an abusive situation. Domestic violence doesn’t always stay at home; it can follow the victim and has a ripple effect on every part of his or her life.

As an employer, you may wonder how or when to intersect into the world of your employees’ private lives. Where’s the line that tells you when to stop pushing for information, that line that can come with legal and other consequences? It can be difficult, but there’s good reason for you to have a conversation with an employee that you suspect is a victim of domestic violence.

You don’t have to be an expert. In fact, you should leave the counseling to professionals. Instead, you should have a simple plan in place that includes the following elements:

  • Events that happen outside the workplace
  • Security related to the events
  • Violations of a workplace agreement
  • Non-actionable conduct that is disrupting the workplace

Part of your plan should include having information about referral organizations, so that if you learn of a domestic violence situation, you are already prepared with resources.

It’s also important to have buy-in from your executive team, so when you are creating a domestic violence policy, invite members from various departments to participate in creating the plan.

You can offer comfort. It’s important to include a few points in your conversation with an employee that’s involved in a domestic violence situation:

  • Let them know that you believe what they tell you, and be careful not to offer any statements that include judgment.
  • Talk with the employee about what changes could be made to the workplace to make them feel safer.
  • Refer your employee to a service that offers qualified counseling and practical help, including a temporary place to stay.
  • Talk with the security staff to see what can be done to help your employee feel safer at work.

A domestic violence plan benefits your company, too. With all the potential legal problems that come with looking into a domestic violence situation, you may still be reluctant to dive into your employees’ private lives. You should know, though, that when partner violence is not addressed, your company pays a price, too. The Department of Labor reports that victims of domestic violence missed nearly 8 million days of paid work each year, resulting in $1.8 billion in lost productivity.

It’s likely to come up. In case you’re thinking your company doesn’t have any domestic violence threatening your employees, consider this: The Society for Human Resource Management research indicates that 21 percent of adults with full-time employment reported being victims of domestic violence, and 16 percent of organizations report having a domestic violence incident within the past five years.

To learn more about domestic violence and the resources available for your employees, visit the YWCA of St. Joseph. We offer housing, counseling and other help for victims of domestic violence in the region. Call us today for more information.

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The Important Role of Supported Housing

Supported Housing Helps Families Transition to a Brighter Future

crisis shelterIf you’ve never had a need for supported housing, you may not know much about it. You may even wonder who uses it, and why. After all, supported housing is one of those things that you may never notice…until you need it.

Shelters for women and children play an important role in the community, allowing families that have experienced a trauma related to domestic violence or other difficulties, to transition to a new life. Many women may begin this transition in a shelter, such as the YWCA Shelter, and then later shift to supported housing. The Shelter offers immediate relief from a dangerous situation, but it also begins the journey to services they need to begin to rebuild their lives – many of which are found in supported housing. Here are a few of the important functions that supported housing provides:

A safe place: Supported housing offers a safe place to plan next steps away from violence, as well as an environment where women and children can recover from emotional and physical damage. They have an opportunity to rebuild their self-esteem and gain confidence as they mark a turning point in their lives where they have sought out help.

Access to resources: Supported housing environments, like the YWCA’s Bliss Manor, can help victims of domestic violence help in the transition back into a long-term independent lifestyle. They may offer individual therapy or group counseling, information about education or job skills training, assistance with logistics and many more resources toward a new start.

The idea that there is help available: An important role of supported housing is that it introduces the idea to victims that there’s an alternative to the suffering they are enduring. Through supported housing, families can take small steps every day with the help of professional resources – as well as other families who have experienced the same journey.

A voice for hope: Supported housing is closely linked to other services designed to aid women in crisis, such as rape crisis centers, sexual abuse hotlines and other resources. These social services often work together to promote healing and hope, accomplishing success together.

Today, read more about the YWCA Shelter and Bliss Manor – and then share this information with friends and co-workers. Together, we can connect more women and their children with the hope they need for a fresh start, free of violence and fear.

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Why It’s Hard to Leave: The Complicating Factors of Domestic Violence

5 Things You Should Know About Domestic Violence

domestic violenceDomestic violence affects one in three women and one in four men in the United States. In addition, 15 percent of all violent crimes involve intimate partner abuse. It’s common for concerned loved ones to wonder, “Why won’t they just leave?” It’s difficult to imagine why someone would stay in a home where their safety is threatened.

If you’ve never been in a domestic violence situation, it’s hard to grasp the complexity of the factors that impact a victim of domestic violence. Here are five facts you need to know to better understand your loved one’s situation:

It happens every nine seconds. Domestic violence is common, and every nine seconds a person experiences intimate partner abuse with a total of 10 million people being abused by their partner each year. There are more than 200,000 calls come in to domestic violence hotlines yearly.

It affects men, too. While women are the primary victims of domestic violence, coming forward to report abuse can be complicated for men in different ways than for women. Men are often stigmatized for their situation and ridiculed because they are being victimized by their partner.

Victims often face the blame. Real-life situations are more complicated than what’s often depicted on television, and people often blame a victim for provoking their partner.

Leaving isn’t easy. Victims of domestic violence are often encouraged to just leave, but it’s often a decision that affects many things. They may fear the loss of financial support from their partner, or if there are children involved, they grieve their child’s loss of relationship with their other parent. Also, no matter how dysfunctional the relationship is, the victim may focus on how their partner is when they are not abusing them and keep talking themselves out of leaving. It’s important to recognize that leaving doesn’t guarantee that the violence will end; in fact, the victim’s risk of being seriously injured or killed increases when they are preparing to leave or have recently left the abuser.

What to do if someone you know is in a domestic violence relationship. Think about it. If a friend called you today in a domestic violence crisis, do you know how to help them connect with the right services and get help? Try these steps:

  • Listen to them, believe their story and let them tell you their story at their own pace.
  • Offer them a place to stay or help them find a shelter.
  • Do not get involved personally with their abuser – instead, focus on listening and identifying resources.
  • Try to understand your loved one’s reasons for staying, and offer financial help and childcare assistance if you can and encourage them to get help.

The YWCA of St. Joseph offers immediate and long-term help for women who are experiencing (or have experienced) domestic violence. The Shelter and the Bliss Manor Housing Program help many women and their children each year escape the violence and rebuild their lives with a vision for the future. YWCA victim advocates are available at MOSAIC for immediate assistance/advocacy. We also offer professional counseling for victims as well as a 24-hour crisis hotline at 816-232-1225 or 1-800-653-1477.  These services are offered at no cost. To learn more, visit our website.

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Working to Eliminate Racism in our Community

YWCA-Transparent-LogoWhat You Can Do to Help Eliminate Racism

At the YWCA you will find people who are committed to the belief that we can and should make every effort to eliminate racism in the land of the free.

You may be just one person, but there is much you can do to be part of this effort. After all, a city, state or country is made up of individuals and each person has a sphere of influence. Here are some ways that you can aid in the work to eliminate racism right where you live.

Build Some Bridges
It’s easy to hold misperceptions about people you don’t know. The best way to tear apart prejudice is to build bridges with people who are different from those in your own circle. Not only does this destroy misperceptions – it also makes life so much more interesting. Make an effort to meet and get to know people from other backgrounds, countries or cultures. Join a group that doesn’t look exactly like you and work on something together.

Try exploring a new language. Cook ethnic food or visit ethnic restaurants. You may not ever develop a taste for Korean kimchi, but once you learn that it was a method of preserving vegetables for long, harsh winters – you can appreciate its cultural value. You’ll be surprised how many people around you assume that everyone in South America eats Mexican food. A little bit of learning can make a big difference in how you think and speak about people from other cultures.

Avoid Stereotypes
No people group is monolithic. Afford others the courtesy of individualism. A person, Martin Luther King Jr. once said, should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. Your gentle objection to stereotypes can help to create heightened awareness.

You can also watch for events like Stand Against Racism, held in April every year at the St. Joseph YWCA and across the country. Decide to set time aside in your calendar to help create awareness and action toward this incredibly important mission.
Even though you’re just one person, you touch many lives. How can you help eliminate racism? By changing how you interact with those in your sphere. By including those from diverse backgrounds in your life. By working with groups like the YWCA who take definite steps toward combating racism. Don’t just speak out against racism, but go a step further to do your part in the work to eliminate racism.

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Regular Breast Cancer Screening Reduces Risk for Women

Regular Breast Cancer Screening Reduces Risk for Women

How the YWCA Helps Ensure Breast Cancer Screening Takes Place

Although breast cancer does affect both men and women it is a particularly high-risk cancer for women. Close to 30 percent of new cancer diagnoses in women are breast cancer. In 2015, there were nearly a quarter million new cases of invasive breast cancer in women and over 60,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. One of the best preventive measures a woman can take to protect herself against this disease is to schedule a regular breast cancer screening. Here are some additional tips to know and share:

Family History is Not the Only Clue

It is true that a woman with breast cancer in her immediate family history faces twice the risk of developing breast cancer as other women. However, that represents just 15 percent of breast cancer cases. Breast cancer also shows up in women with no family history of the disease. This means that keeping an eye on breast health is a must for all women.

Screening Has Improved (But it’s Still Dependent on a Woman Scheduling the Screening)

The good news is that clinical exams and mammography make an enormous difference in early detection. In recent years there has been a large drop in the number of breast cancer deaths in women under age 50 largely due to improved breast cancer screening and greater participation rates. Improvements for women over age 50 are also seen with regular check-ups and awareness. For women ages 40-50 with an average risk a yearly breast cancer screening is recommended. In women ages 50-70 undergoing breast screening every two years is recommended. High-risk women should begin screenings around age 30. (Note: These are general guidelines. Women should follow the screening schedules recommended by their individual health care provider).

The YWCA is Helping Women With Important Breast Cancer Resources

For some women, getting regular health care is a challenge. The cost, transportation barriers, language barriers and low information can hinder preventive breast cancer screening. This is precisely where the YWCA steps in to help. The ENCOREplus breast cancer outreach program reduces barriers that keep women from going to annual mammogram appointments. ENCOREplus provides community outreach, education, resource referral, barrier reduction, year-round events and more. We can also connect women with financial aid resources needed for regular mammogram check-ups. (When necessary, we can also help with transportation to mammogram appointments).
Last year, ENCOREplus offered services to 2,000 plus Northwest Missouri women. By giving women needed health information and supporting women’s access to appropriate health care, we help women in our area take responsibility for their own wellness and well-being. If you’ve been putting off your breast cancer screening, we encourage you to call our downtown YWCA office and find out how we can help.

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April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Working to Bring Awareness to Child Abuse in Our Community

April is designated National Child Abuse Prevention Month in our country. Child abuse is a matter of true national concern – and when the subject comes up, many people tend to focus on intervention. It’s also important to recognize ways we can work together to lower the risk factors and build stronger protective resources.

Lowering Risk Factors
Risk factors include any stressed-filled situation or circumstance which increases the likelihood that a child will encounter abuse or neglect. Common risk factors include: poverty, substance abuse, a parent with chronic depression or a history of domestic violence. When the community and individuals work together to lower these risks, children’s safety and well-being can be increased.

Building Protective Factors
Protective factors are situations or conditions which work to promote a child’s healthful development and to mitigate adverse factors. Working together to build protective factors can be an effective approach. In families where there are risk factors for child abuse, it can be encouraging to point out how parents can build their own protective factors. Nationwide, efforts to help strengthen families are taking on ever-increasing importance as a method of preventing child abuse and neglect. For example, activities like the YWCA Mom’s Time, JUMP program and parenting classes can be effective and positive resources for parents experiencing stress.

Essentials for Childhood Initiative
Another example of a positive protective effort is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Essentials for Childhood initiative. This effort addresses child abuse prevention through emphasizing a child’s need for safety, stability and nurturing within their everyday environment. The CDC has worked directly with several state-level health departments to provide the tools and a framework for helping to meet those protective goals.

Here at the YWCA St. Joseph, we coordinate or partner in several programs which work to build protective factors and prevent child abuse and neglect. Together with other agencies and volunteers, we provide families opportunities to see that encouraging words and daily routines can make a major impact on a child’s life.

Today, we invite you to learn more about YWCA St. Joseph resources at, and to share this information with someone during April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

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YWCA Continues Advocating for the Health and Safety of Women and Children Against Domestic Violence

YWCA Continues Advocating for the Health and Safety of Women and Children Against Domestic Violence

What to Know About Domestic Violence Victim Services in St. Joseph

Imagine you are a young woman, perhaps with a child or two, and your home is not a safe place. You may want to go somewhere that is safe but you aren’t sure how you can afford to support yourself and your children and it feels like you have no options. What would you do? Since 1981 the St Joseph YWCA has been there to help protect women against domestic violence. We provide a temporary shelter along with other services to help women and children escape danger and move forward with their lives.

Every nine seconds in the United States, another woman becomes a victim of physical abuse (Partnership Against Domestic Violence). That statistic translates into one quarter of all women in our country who are facing domestic violence at some point in their life. Many times the danger reaches a point where women have to escape the situation in a hurry, and then a new set of options and resources is needed to move forward. The YWCA is there to help on both fronts.

The YWCA staffs a 24-hour hotline victims can call when they feel afraid or endangered. Our local YWCA team is fully trained to receive these calls and give women information about safety planning and the options that are available. Often a hotline phone call is the entry point women utilize before accessing additional support services. We also offer a Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children as a resource to help prevent family homelessness. Victim Services also consists of the Rape Crisis program, professional counseling for victims, and the Bliss Manor Housing Program.

Women who reach out to the YWCA also have other tools for rebuilding their lives. We offer support groups, life skill groups, rape crisis assistance and referrals to further resources. Last year the YWCA St Joseph provided 1,354 professional counseling sessions, 6,650 hours of victim advocacy and 2,054 hours of case management. We housed 413 women and children for an average of a month and a half and led 266 support and educational groups.

It is crucial that we help women and children escape situations of domestic violence and find the tools they need to heal. Today in our country, over 3 million children have a front row seat to domestic violence every day. Furthermore, 40-70 percent of all female murder victims were first victims of domestic violence.

At the YWCA we offer all these services and more at no cost to women. We are on the front lines in terms of safeguarding women and children against violence in the home. We’re also busy restoring what’s been broken through abuse. Our team, volunteers and community partners work to give women a renewed sense of dignity by offering them help and hope. Find out how you can come alongside us in our mission today.

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March is National Women’s History Month

March is National Women’s History Month

Celebrating the National Women’s History Project

Women have played significant roles in all areas of life and history. They have left their mark in politics, the world of business, volunteer service, the arts, athletics, science the home and more. This month, the nation looks at women’s history to ensure that their stories are told, remembered and given the chance to inspire.

In the U.S., Women’s History Week was formalized by law in 1982, and in 1987, Women’s History Month became official. For several decades there has been a growing awareness that publicly acknowledging the critical contributions of women to society is a cultural necessity.

The National Women’s History Project (or NWHP) serves as the hub for the month-long emphasis on women’s contributions. The Project hosts an acclaimed and informative website ( where visitors can find in-depth information on women’s specific roles in history and the way their lives have impacted modern society. Schools, writers and interested citizens used the resource for valuable information on women and history. Last year, the site hosted over a million visitors.

This year the National Women’s History Project site is again highlighting the lives and careers of women past and present who have made vital contributions to public life and society. Women of all ages and races are given credit for their achievements, including:

Sister Mary Madonna Ashton in the field of public health
Daisy Bates in the area of Civil Rights
Sonia Pressman Fuentes for her contributions to equal employment opportunities and the feminist movement
Isabel Gonzalez as a champion for immigrant/citizenship rights
Suzan Shown Harjo in the field of Native American public policy advocacy
Judy Hart for her quarter century of work in the National Park Service and civic activism
Oveta Culp Hobby who pioneered women’s roles in the Army and was the first Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare
Barabar Mikulski who holds the record for most years served as a female Congressperson
Inez Mulholland as a suffragette movement leader

As stated in our Mission, the YWCA of St. Joseph is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. The YWCA has built a legacy of helping women and families, and we’re building a community that shares in our mission. If you share in these beliefs, we welcome you to contact us to use your talents as a volunteer and as an advocate for our work – during Women’s History Month and beyond.

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