Posts Tagged YWCA

Mentoring Middle School Boys Through DECISIONS

MWSU Athletes Mentoring Middle School Boys in New Program

mentoring middle school boysLearning to make responsible decisions is an important part of growing into a healthy adult. For a group of 70 middle school boys, learning to make good choices is a skill they can learn through the YWCA program called DECISIONS. Mentoring middle school boys is an eight-week curriculum where a team of athletes from Missouri Western State University (MWSU) help ensures that decision-making skills are a priority.

The eight-week program pairs seventh-grade boys with athletes from the men’s baseball, cross country and track teams at MWSU. The mentors involved with the program exhibit the responsibility and discipline that their sports require, and they take time to teach the boys about making smart decisions through the curriculum and by demonstrating these characteristics through role modeling.

The life-skills DECISIONS group is formed through a collaboration between the four public middle schools in St. Joseph and the MWSU Men’s Athletics Program. Mentoring middle school boys focuses on topics like bullying, girls and peer pressure and helps them navigate the social difficulties of adolescence. They also cover a wide range of other topics, including social media, respect, addictions, family situations and future careers.

Adolescence is a critical developmental stage for teaching the importance of treating one another respectfully, increasing self-esteem and letting kids know that the community around them cares for them.

The DECISIONS program is one-half of the outreach to middle school students in the St. Joseph community. Middle school girls are mentored through the CHOICES program by MWSU female athletes to help them recognize the steps involved with good decision-making.

Each week, the students enrolled in the DECISIONS program work with the same mentor, allowing them to build a trusted relationship with an adult that cares about them and is invested in their well-being. At the end of the program, students visit the MWSU campus for a tour and a pizza party.

If you’d like to know more about supporting the mentoring of middle school boys through the DECISIONS program, or if you’d like information about the CHOICES program for middle school girls, please contact the YWCA of St. Joseph office. We look forward to hearing from you.

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The YWCA of St. Joseph Christmas Store Offers Shelter Families Opportunity to Have a Joyful Christmas

Donate Items to the YWCA Christmas Store by December 17

Christmas StoreEach year, the YWCA of St. Joseph operates a store for the families living at the Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children (the Shelter). The store provides an opportunity for Shelter families to experience a happy Christmas while they are looking forward to a brighter future.

This year, the store will be open December 18 through the 20 with operating hours between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Children will be able to choose gifts for their moms, and moms will be able to choose gifts for their children. The families visiting the Christmas Store do not receive similar resources at any other agency or program in the community.

The Christmas Store, located in the YWCA Terrace Room, is made possible by the donations of funds, gifts and time by the community. Volunteers are needed to staff the store, and the community can contribute to the stocking of the store, which will carry items appropriate for women and for children up to the age of 18. 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, flash lights or night lights
  • Children’s toys (new and unwrapped)
    • Games
    • Hot wheels
    • Legos
    • Dolls
  • Pay-as-you-go phones and phone cards
  • Gifts for teen children (girls and boys)
    • Movie passes/gift cards
    • Basketballs/footballs
  • Makeup/jewelry
  • Diapers
  • Winter clothes

“The holidays can be a difficult time for a family that is in transition. The Christmas Store helps remind them that there are support and resources available for them,” said Jean Brown, Executive Director of the St. Joseph YWCA. “We all can relate to the joy that comes with finding the perfect gift for someone we love, and the Christmas Store gives these families that experience.”

The St. Joseph YWCA encourages, individuals, extended families and office groups to adopt the Christmas Store as a holiday service project, collecting donations of funds and gifts for the benefit of families living at the Shelter, and then volunteering time while the store is open.

If you have questions about the Christmas Store or you would like to volunteer, please call 232-4481. We look forward to another great year working together to make the holidays happy for some special families!

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YWCA Week Without Violence “Take Back the Night” Event Captured Media Attention

YWCA Brings Awareness to Domestic Violence

week without violence

St. Joseph News Press, October 16, 2017

Every year, YWCA local associations across the country come together during the third week of October to highlight the Week Without Violence to draw awareness to the devastating effects of domestic violence. The YWCA is the largest network of domestic violence service providers, offering support to victims, as well as working directly with legislators to bring an end to violence against women.

The YWCA of St. Joseph kicked off the week on Sunday, October 15, with “Take Back the Night,” at the YWCA at 304 N. 8th Street. This year’s theme was “Love Protects Courage Heals,” and the evening included a balloon release, prayer and victim speakers. The annual event is designed to offer support and hope for the future for victims, survivors, families and supporters of victims of domestic violence.

Recent media coverage of this important week included:

St. Joseph News Press, October 16, 2017
YWCA Remembers Domestic Violence Victims
This article offers highlights from the 2017 Take Back the Night event.

St. Joseph News Press, October 14, 2017
Family, Friends Remember Stormi Harbord
Carrie Turner, YWCA St. Joseph, was among the speakers at Evolution United Methodist Church at a memorial to remember Stormi Harbord, a young mother of five who lost her life on September 30 when domestic violence turned deadly.

Victim Services is a core program of the YWCA and is about compassion, help and hope. Some who reach out to us for help are victims of domestic abuse, sexual violence or emotional abuse. Many have children who are also victims. Others have become homeless, which is often connected to living in an environment of abuse, and they need help transitioning to a new start.

Victim Services consists of the Shelter, Outreach Services, Rape Crisis program, professional counseling for victims, and the Bliss Manor Housing Program. If you are a victim in need of immediate assistance, call our 24-hour hotline at 816-232-1225 or 1-800-653-1477.

If you’d like to know more about any of our Victim Services, please give us a call at the YWCA of St. Joseph. We look forward to hearing from you.

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The St. Joseph YWCA Gym is Available to Rent for Your Group

gym rental spaceIf you need a place to practice basketball or volleyball or get together with your youth group to play some games, the St. Joseph YWCA gym is the perfect location. The facility is beautiful, with shining wood floors and kept to a high standard of cleanliness.

For many sports programs, gym time is at a premium, with various age groups competing to get time on the court to practice. If your program is expanding and you’re struggling to find enough court space for your teams, the YWCA gym can be a great solution.

If you’d like to rent out the gym, be sure to contact the St. Joseph YWCA early. The gym is a popular choice for sports and recreational groups, so time slots tend to fill up. The gym is rented at affordable rates, and discounts are available for school groups.

For non-school groups, the current hourly rental rate for the gym is $12 before 6 pm and $20 after 6 pm. For school groups, the rate drops to $10 before 6 pm and $18 after 6 pm.

When you utilize the St. Joseph YWCA gym, you’re not just paying to rent a facility. Your fees work to fund the Discovery Care program, a licensed day care providing services to families in which the parents are employed or are pursuing education for future employment. The Discovery Care program fills a critical need in the St. Joseph area by offering high quality child care for local families.

To learn more about renting out the gym at the St. Joseph YWCA, please contact the office at 816-232-4481 or email frontoffice@ywcasj.org.

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Support the St. Joseph YWCA With CTF License Plates

It Only Takes Five Minutes to Buy Specialty License Plates to Help the St. Joseph YWCA

CTF license platesThose few characters on your vehicle’s license plate leave a lot of room for personal expression. From “KID BUS” to “FTBLFAN,” you can let the world know what you love and what you brake for. Did you know that you can also express your support for the St. Joseph YWCA through your license plate?

When you register for a Children’s Trust Fund (CTF) license plate, you’ll proudly display the distinctive green set of child’s handprints and the words “Prevent Child Abuse” on your car. In addition, the money you pay to receive your CTF license plate can be directed exclusively to the St. Joseph YWCA when you purchase this plate online.

What Does Your Purchase of CTF Plates Support?

The St. Joseph YWCA offers a variety of services designed to prevent child abuse and assist families that have been impacted by child abuse. Through parent education classes and mentoring, the St. Joseph YWCA helps parents develop skills for a variety of situations and challenges, including the prevention of abuse.

The Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children provides immediate assistance to families experiencing the effects of child abuse. As families begin recovery, the Bliss Manor Housing Program gives them an opportunity to receive ongoing counseling, as well as services like case management, court advocacy and specialized children’s programs.

Many individuals that receive services from the St. Joseph YWCA do so after accessing the 24-hour crisis hotline. Once the victims arrive at the shelter, they are enrolled in all the services listed above to aid in rebuilding their lives and ensuring a healthy future. Even if the victim opts not to reside at the shelter, they can still receive all of the associated services, free of charge.

What Can You Do? Register Today

Registering for your CTF plate takes only a few minutes, and you can have your donation amount routed directly to benefit the St. Joseph YWCA. Here’s how you can register for a CTF plate:

To direct funds to the St. Joseph YWCA: Go to the CTF website and choose the St. Joseph YWCA as the sole beneficiary of your $25 license plate donation. Even if you don’t wish to receive a plate, you can still designate a donation to the St. Joseph YWCA!

Purchase your plate in person by visiting your local license bureau. If you purchase your plate in person, your donation will be divided between the St. Joseph YWCA and Youth Alliance.

It only takes a few minutes to register for a CTF license plate, but the impact of your donation could help change a life forever.

Do you want to know more about the services that the St. Joseph YWCA offers for the prevention of child abuse in the local community? Read more on our website, or contact us at 816-232-4481 for a tour.

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St. Joseph YWCA Hosts Back to School Fair on August 6

YWCA Collects “The Other” Items Shelter Kids Need to Start School

back to school fairWhen you’re a homeless child, or a child experiencing abuse or trauma at home, going back to school doesn’t have quite the excitement attached to it that other kids experience. There may not be an outing to go buy new school supplies, or a trip to the mall to get a first-day-of-school outfit. The St. Joseph YWCA is working to close that gap, providing a Back to School Fair to make the first day of school exciting for children living in the YWCA Shelter or those served by YWCA programs.

The event, scheduled for August 6 from 1 to 3 p.m., will feature new basic school supplies that will be distributed to children. Unlike other back to school fairs, the St. Joseph YWCA is looking for a variety of items that can help the start of the school year feel more like what other kids experience: new clothes, underwear and socks, hair bows or ties, shoes, backpacks, fun pens or pencils, kids’ hygiene items, calculators, flash cards, books, makeup, lunchboxes, earbuds, fidget spinners and anything else school-related.

Some of these items might not fall in the category of basic school supplies, but they can help children living in trauma to start school with a more positive outlook for their future. Why is it more difficult for children living in trauma to feel like they “fit in” in school? Here are some thoughts to read and share:

It’s difficult to see friends outside of school hours. Due to shifting living situations, it can be difficult for homeless children to extend a friendship outside of school hours. It can be tough to answer questions asked by other students about where they live or if they can come for a visit – and some students living in trauma may feel an even greater sense of isolation.

Birthdays may not feel like a celebration: This may not be something that comes to mind often, but children living in trauma or in a Shelter may not be able to plan an event or a gathering for their birthdays. This can add to feelings of being different from their peers.

They may struggle more in school. It’s harder to keep up with homework and reading when your family moves from house to house and has limited resources. Even if the family has a car, that’s not the same as having a table to spread out and study while you enjoy an afternoon snack.

They suffer numerous small indignities. School events like not having proper shoes for gym or brushing their teeth in the school bathroom can impact children experiencing homelessness at deep levels. They may not have an address where their report card can be mailed, or they may fear that they can’t afford situations like field trip fees. Special project items or supplies are also an ongoing challenge.

The YWCA St. Joseph helps children escaping abuse or trauma year-round. The Shelter provides an immediate safe residence with meals, and the YWCA helps coordinate school transportation. Supported housing at Bliss Manor can help families return to stability after leaving the Shelter. Professional counseling is available to children at the YWCA to open the door for hope – along with connections to other community resources for a new start.

The St. Joseph YWCA knows that starting school should be a fun and exciting time for every student. That’s why we organize this special Back to School Fair. Please join us in this effort by donating the items listed above or with a cash donation, which should be received by August 4. We hope to see you at the Back to School Fair!

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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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A Lack of Affordable Childcare is a Challenge for Working Families

Why Affordable Childcare is Critical for Our Community

jumpFinding affordable childcare is one of the biggest challenges for working adults in the United States. While a few decades ago it was possible for one parent to stay home full-time to be with young children, today it is increasingly difficult for families to make ends meet on one income.

There are many reasons why providing affordable childcare has been a frequent conversation topic in recent years, but here are a few of the difficulties that parents face when making tough decisions about childcare:

The stay-at-home parent sacrifices income and opportunities. One choice for families is to have one parent stay home with young children until they are ready to go to kindergarten. This carries one obvious difficulty in its significant reduction of income for the family.

It also has some subtle disadvantages that can impact the stay-at-home parent and the ability of the family to thrive. A stay-at-home parent significantly reduces their lifetime income opportunities, as well as sacrificing opportunities for career development and promotions as they care for children. They also reduce the amount of money they have contributed to Social Security, allowing them to receive less when they reach retirement age.

Childcare costs are one of the largest expenses for working families and is extremely challenging for young single mothers. Parents paying out-of-pocket for childcare in order for both parents to stay in the workforce often face a shocking price for quality care. In nearly all states, childcare costs exceeded the average rent payment. Childcare ate up more than 10 percent of a family’s income, and it increased to about one-quarter of a family’s income when including only single mothers.

Young mothers face even larger challenges, particularly those trying to finalize a degree program after having children. Mothers under the age of 25 generally earn less than their older counterparts, too, so their total childcare costs can account for one-third of their earnings. Mothers living below the poverty line may spend up to 42 percent of their income on childcare, making it difficult to use employment as a stepping stone out of poverty.

Federal and state funded programs are not widely available. The third option, taking advantage of federal and state programs that fund preschool programs, is a great idea. However, there is little available for those families that cannot afford to lose one breadwinner’s income.

Only about 22 percent of low income families receive federally subsidized care. While there has been an increase in preschool participation across the country in recent years, low-income families are the least likely to participate. Forty percent are not enrolled in preschool at all.

The importance of high-quality affordable childcare is felt by families across the country and in our community. To learn more about affordable childcare in the St. Joseph area, give us a call today. We help women in transition connect with the services they need to thrive.

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