Posts Tagged YWCA St. Joseph

Finding Help for Rape Victims

Help for Rape Victims When You Don’t Know Where to Start

help for rape victimsHearing that a loved one has been the victim of a sexual assault can come with waves of emotions that leave you feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Finding help for rape victims begins in the first moments, and much of your initial response can shape the process. Here’s what you need to know:

Avoid criticism: Don’t use any language that implies or outright states that the rape was somehow your loved one’s fault. No behavior invites sexual assault. In many cases, a victim will experience shame and self-blame over the incident, so they will only be hurt more by any implications that their behaviors caused the rape.

Don’t take control, but make them feel safe: It takes a high level of sensitivity to help a victim of rape feel safe, without making them feel threatened by a lack of control over their bodies and feelings. Express that you are there for them, that you will help them be safe and feel safe and that you’re ready to assist them in getting physical and emotional help.

Go alongside them as they seek medical help: Encourage your loved one to seek medical care as soon as possible, and offer to go with them. Be careful, though, not to speak for them as they communicate with doctors and police officers. As you work through this process with your loved one, you may be feeling intense anger. Save the expression of that anger for when you are not with your friend or family member so that she doesn’t bear the stress of your emotions.

Seek out victim services: Once the initial medical exam and police report have been finished, you will want to help your loved one to seek out victims’ services. They will benefit from trained counselors and practical help that will aid the initial steps in healing. It may require a change in residence or help finding a different job, depending on the circumstances of the assault.

The YWCA of St. Joseph provides victim services to help sexual assault victims rebuild their lives. Many victims visit our shelter after using the 24-hour crisis hotline, staffed by trained Shelter employees. YWCA victim advocates are available at MOSAIC for immediate assistance/advocacy. Note: Reporting to police can be anonymous. MOSAIC can identify evidence and then with work of an advocate so that a victim can decide what’s best for them.
Our team provides case management and personal advocacy, court advocacy, support groups, life-skills groups, referrals to other services and individual therapy – all at no charge. Victims who decide not to stay at our Shelter, or have moved from the Shelter into other housing, are also welcome to access our support groups and individual therapy services at no charge.

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Join us for the Women of Excellence Luncheon on June 15

Recognizing Outstanding Women in Our Community

Each year, the YWCA puts the spotlight on leaders at our Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon that draws hundreds of community members. In 2016, the number of attendees topped 1,000, and organizers expect 2017 to be an even bigger event.

The Women of Excellence luncheon is a way to recognize the outstanding contributions of women in the region, but it also provides inspiration to spur more community involvement, more volunteerism and encouragement in the empowering and equipping of local women.

This year’s event will take place Thursday, June 15 at 11:30 a.m. at the Civic Arena in downtown St. Joseph. The YWCA welcomes Col. Grace Link, Director of Staff for the Missouri Air Guard, as the keynote speaker. Link is the Senior Advisor to the Adjutant General, and is responsible for coordinating joint military function as well as strategies designed to support the 2,300 airmen and women stationed in Missouri.

In addition to Link’s keynote address, the Women of Excellence luncheon will include recognition of leaders in the community. One award will be presented in each of the following categories:

  • Emerging Leader
  • Future Leader
  • Woman in Support Services
  • Woman in the Workplace
  • Woman in Volunteerism
  • Employer of Excellence

The YWCA will also recognize two women with Lifetime Achievement Awards, Dorothy Wenz and Julia Schneider. This award is given to women that have committed many hours over their lives to serving and improving the St. Joseph community and are role models for other women.

The Women of Excellence luncheon provides an opportunity to honor those women that have passed away, but leave a legacy of service for the women in the region. This year, the YWCA will honor five outstanding lives: Muriel Ann Guffey, Grace Day, Shirley Wyeth Bradley, Constance Marie Monroe and Geraldine Robinson.

Make plans now to join us at the luncheon. Not only will you enjoy a delicious meal, you’ll be inspired and encouraged as we celebrate the contributions of local women to the community. Make your reservation today!

Note: Don’t miss the YWCA Patron’s Party, held June 14 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Reservations are due to the YWCA at 232-4481 on or by June 9. Enjoy this wonderful St. Joseph residence and garden as we celebrate everything the Women of Excellence event means!

Can’t attend the Women of Excellence event? You can participate by donating to Steve’s Centerpiece Challenge, by bidding on a Punta Mita dream vacation or a designer purse! Visit the YWCA bidding page today.

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YWCA Celebrates Highlights From 2016

When You See the Numbers, You See Lives Changed at the YWCA

YWCAEvery year, the YWCA serves women in transition and crisis, helping them rebuild their lives with the support of the community. It’s not easy to quantify the changes that happen in these women’s lives once they have the resources they need to be safe and independent. However, the numbers tell a story of hope and support that happens at the YWCA. Take a look at some of the highlights of 2016:

The JUMP Program offers mentoring and support for pregnant and parenting teens, encouraging them to finish high school and raise their children in a healthy environment. In 2016, the JUMP Program:

  • Offered services to 70 youth and 60 children
  • Provided mentors for 51 percent of JUMP teen participants
  • Conducted 51 group sessions for JUMP members and held 24 school visits
  • 89 percent of JUMP participants remained in school and 99 percent of their children are up-to-date with vaccinations

The YWCA offers Victim Services that meet the individualized needs of victims of domestic and sexual violence. In 2016, Victim Services administered the following:

  • Licensed Therapists provided 1,650 individual therapy sessions
  • Domestic violence/sexual violence outreach services were provided to 304 individuals
  • The Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children offered relief to 276 women and 258 children and provided 16,484 nights of shelter
  • Received 1,991 calls to the YWCA Crisis Hotline
  • Bliss Manor Supported Housing served 32 adults and 42 children and provided a total of 15,562 nights of housing

The ENCOREplus program offers education and support for the prevention of breast cancer. In 2016 ENCOREplus provided these services:

  • Helped initiate 466 mammograms and 1,413 clinical breast exams
  • Provided 2,367 educational outreach contacts
  • Celebrated multiple awareness-building events, including Komen Race for the Cure, Bling a Bra Contest and the Pink Tea Luncheon

CHOICES is a YWCA program offered to seventh grade girls. Over eight weeks, girls gain life skills and wisdom for making positive life choices. In 2016, the CHOICES program:

  • Enrolled seventh grade girls from four St. Joseph schools
  • In Spring 2016, there were 49 seventh grade girls and 32 mentors from the Missouri Western State University Volleyball Team and Women’s Soccer Team involved in the program.

These numbers provide just a glimpse of the critical work that happens at the YWCA as we seek to support women and children in the St. Joseph area. Make sure you stop by to experience first-hand how the YWCA is realizing its vision of empowering women in the community.

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Why the YWCA Invests in Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast Cancer Awareness for Prevention and Education

breast cancer awarenessThe number of breast cancer diagnoses in 2017 will be second only to skin cancer, according to breastcancer.org, with approximately 30 percent of all cancers diagnosed as breast cancer. This staggering statistic is just one reason why breast cancer awareness matters to the YWCA of St. Joseph.

For decades, breast cancer awareness has been on the rise, and while death rates have decreased, breast cancer will still claim the lives of more women in the United States than any other cancer, with the exception of lung cancer. Here are a few other facts you should know about breast cancer:

Family matters:  If you’ve had a close relative diagnosed with breast cancer, you need to be on the alert and conducting regular self-exams. The diagnosis of a first-degree relative, such as a mother, sister or daughter, doubles your risk of developing breast cancer. However, less than 15 percent of women with breast cancer have ever had a relative diagnosed with it. Between five and 10 percent of breast cancers are thought to be the result of an inherited gene mutation.

You are at risk if…: The two biggest risk factors for breast cancer are gender (female) and age (your risk increases as you grow older). Since one out of every eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer, your chances of having breast cancer are 12.4 percent overall.

You are not on your own when it comes to breast cancer detection and prevention. The programs of the YWCA of St. Joseph exist to empower and equip women for a bright future, and that includes measures to support breast cancer awareness. The ENCOREplus Breast Health initiative provides a variety of services designed to help women get the care they need.

Here are a few of the services ENCOREplus provides:

  • Free group or one-on-one presentations on breast health
  • Referrals for mammograms and, if applicable, financial aid for mammograms
  • Transportation to and from mammogram appointments, if necessary
  • Free gift for those that receive their mammogram and call the YWCA office

ENCOREplus was created in an effort to invite and encourage women to be active participants in their own health. Last year alone, more than 2,000 women received resources from the program, and services were provided in both English and Spanish.

To learn more about breast cancer awareness, or to engage in the ENCOREplus program, contact us at the YWCA of St. Joseph. We look forward to talking with you more!

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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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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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How to Help Your Children Understand Domestic Violence

How to Help Your Children Understand Domestic Violence

When and Why You Need to Talk About Domestic Violence With Your Children

If you are a victim of domestic violence and have children with you in the home, this can be a very difficult topic for discussion. The same is true if your children have visited a home where violence has occurred – or if they have friends who are experiencing violence in their own homes. Yet, no matter what your child’s age, they understand more than you may think and they need your help to properly process what they observe.

At What Age?
From a young age you can start talking with your child about the proper way to treat others. With very young children it can be good to emphasize that hands are intended for work, for love and for helping others – not for hurting others. The same goes for words. From the youngest ages children can be taught that words are to be used to help and encourage rather than to tear down and hurt. These kinds of conversations will provide your child with the correct frame of reference through which to filter things they may see or hear.

At What Time?
Be aware that if your child is witness to domestic violence, their natural inclination may be to blame themselves. It’s important that you reassure your child that abuse is never their fault. These are conversations that can take place at any time, not only when abuse occurs. If you notice that your child has inexplicable health complaints such as a headache or stomach ache – it could be that they are internalizing fears. This is definitely the time to make sure communication channels are open and that you find the strength to have an uncomfortable but necessary conversation.

At What Level?
Most experts suggest that you keep your conversations age-appropriate. Give necessary facts without getting into information beyond your child’s maturity level. It’s good to talk about how to take care of self and how to maintain appropriate boundaries at the level of your child’s current understanding. How you discuss domestic violence with your toddler will differ from how you talk about it with your middle school or teenage child.

At the St. Joseph YWCA we can offer you a safe place to talk about ways to discuss the issues of violence and abuse with kids. We can also provide a safe place for you and your children to go when you determine that it is time to leave a situation where abuse is present. We are here to help you and your children and provide you with a safe environment so you can take next steps toward hope. If you feel you or your children are in immediate danger please call 911 – and read more about our Victim Services, Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children, Bliss Manor or YWCA counseling programs today at www.ywcasj.org.

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