Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 2010 Y's Words

If you’ve ever been inside our Community Office on Main Street, I’m certain you’ve felt the energy and spirit.  Energy and spirit fuels hope.  Hope combined with possibility.  Our energy and spirit are strongest in December.

Many of our program participants come through our doors experiencing some of the most difficult times of their lives.  During the third week of December our building is buzzing with peace, joy, and generosity.

Our Community Room undergoes a spectacular transformation.  In a matter of hours it becomes a holiday shop that will serve hundreds of children, women, and men. During November and December we have numerous gift tags placed throughout Clark County. On the tags are items needed by our program participants (or in the case of children, toys that are desperately wanted).  As a result we have unwrapped gifts arriving daily for our program participants in need. The holiday shop allows parents to choose new gifts or “shop” for their children at no cost.

During our shopping days the building is filled with volunteer “elves” helping to make the experience memorable.  From baking cookies in the kitchen to staffing the wrapping station, everyone has an important role to play. For a while, however brief it may be, all can take a respite from the difficult circumstances that brought them here. Program participants leave with great gifts and most importantly renewed energy and spirit.

I am inspired by the hope and possibility that I see, hear, and feel all through December and everyday here at ywca clark county. May your support and generosity of ywca renew your spirit with hope and possibility.

Happy Holidays,

donor spotlight: Ducktales

Supporting the ywca can come in a variety of ways: volunteering, cash donations, or in-kind donations. Jane and Steve Waddle, proprietors of DuckTales Kitchen in Vancouver, have been frequent supporters of the ywca. This holiday season they wanted to do something more special and personal.

On November 23rd the staff at DuckTales catered a wonderful holiday dinner enjoyed by 18 residents of the ywca SafeChoice Domestic Violence Shelter. Shelter residents typically cook their own meals and often don’t get the dining out experience. Recognizing that the holidays can be a difficult time of year, DuckTales delivered a full Thanksgiving dinner to the residents with all the trimmings: turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie! The food was delicious and everyone appreciated the kindness from the DuckTales staff who served them.

Thank you DuckTales for kicking off the holiday season by supporting the ywca!

The holiday season is the perfect time to make an in-kind donation to our needy programs. Please see our list of current needs, stop by the community center and pick up a gift tag which has an item specifically requested by one of our program participants, or call 360 906 9157. Thank you for your support!

community celebration

Election Day is a day designed to effect change. Voting provides an avenue for guiding our future… and there are additional paths available within our own community to make changes. This Election Day, community members enjoyed a celebration hosted by ywca clark county’s Social Change Program. The Social Change Program  is dedicated to preventing racism and other forms of oppression in our community through education and support. The Community Celebration increases civic engagement and rewards leadership in social change efforts.

Held at the Fairgate Inn, the Community Celebration featured live music, a multi-cultural fashion show, insight from local leaders, and recognition for Val Joshua and this year’s award recipients. The Val Joshua Racial Justice Awards are presented annually to individuals, businesses, or organizations who have demonstrated leadership working to eliminate racism and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all people.

Luz Virgen Gonzalez received the Val Joshua Racial Justice Award for dedication to social change in Vancouver, evidenced by her participation with the Latino Community Resources Group as well as local events, labor, and businesses. Yarenni Mendoza and Ruth Ferguson each received a Youth Social Justice Award. Yarenni is a member of the Youth Philanthropy Committee, involved in the Bridge Builders Youth mentoring program and mentors youth in the schools and Latino Communities. Ruth is also a youth mentor and a member of many local social change and community-related organizations, including the Battle Ground Cultural Task Force and the Clark County Youth Commission.

“We were successful in bringing the community together to celebrate,” said Michelle Hurdle-Bradford, ywca’s Social Change Program Manager. “Students, government officials, business leaders and community members participated in the festivities. The event brought together different cultures and people interacting with each other as one community.”

The Social Change program hosts a number of social change workshops and events throughout the year. Contact Michelle Hurdle-Bradford at 360 906 9129 for more information on how you can get involved.

partner spotlight: Wells Fargo

On a cloudy Saturday afternoon eight volunteers from Wells Fargo arrived with shovels and wheelbarrows in hand to help give the Y’s Care play area a much-needed facelift.

Y’s Care children were thrilled to return to daycare on Monday and find their sandbox filled to the brim with clean sand and the playground enhanced with bright bark chips.

Y’s Care, a ywca program for more than 20 years, serves a vulnerable population of 2 ½ to 5 year olds and focuses on kindergarten readiness and social skills.

While the Y’s Care outdoor playground had some desirable qualities, the goal is to ultimately turn it into a more naturalistic play area, an outdoor classroom that encourages authentic play with a wide variety of natural materials to explore. Studies have shown that connecting children with nature has numerous benefits. This is where Wells Fargo kindly stepped in with a grant and volunteers to make the project a reality.

In just under three hours the volunteer team was able to transport three yards of white beach sand into the sand box and distribute four yards of bark chips around the playground. Wells Fargo’s gift of time, talent, and treasure transformed the Y’s Care Children’s Program’s outdoor play area.

In the spring bamboo fencing will be placed around play area to cover up the chain link fence and complete the naturalistic setting.

Projects like the playground refresh would not be possible without the tremendous support of our community partners and volunteers. Thank you!

For more information on volunteer opportunities please visit ywcaclarkcounty.org or call 360 696 0167.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

community response to domestic violence panel October 20th

Vancouver, Wash. — Learn how community leaders respond to the impacts of domestic violence in Clark County at this panel discussion Wednesday, October 20th from 6-8pm at the ywca clark county community room, 3609 Main St., Vancouver. The panel includes: The Honorable Carin Schienberg, Clark County Commissioner, Detective Carole Boswell of the Vancouver Police Department, Reverend Shelly Fayette from The Church of the Good Shepherd, and Kathleen Lipiec, MSW Supervisor of the Care Management Dept. at SW WA Medical Center. This event, and the October 27th survivors panel from 1-3pm cap off the domestic violence awareness month activities hosted by ywca clark county.

As evidenced by the recent murder-suicide in Hazel Dell, our community is not immune to domestic violence. Clark County has lost over 42 lives to this crime in the past 13 years, ranking the county as the 5th highest in domestic violence related homicides and the 4th highest in related suicides in the state of Washington. Tomorrow’s event is a rare opportunity for the public to address this and other domestic violence related issues with community leaders. Next Wednesday’s event is a unique chance to hear from survivors and to understand the issues from a survivor’s perspective.

The SafeChoice Domestic Violence Program offers a variety of services including one-to-one appointments, legal advocacy, shelter, classes, support-group sessions and walk-in/phone-in advocacy. As the leader in domestic violence related services for Clark County, SafeChoice is staffed with expert advocates, connected with related area organizations, and stocked with the most current resources and information. The public can reach the SafeChoice hotline 24 hours a day at 360 695 0501, or toll free at 800 695 0167.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

ywca clark county receives WSU Vancouver’s Community Award of Distinction

ywca clark county received the WSUV Community Award for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at a Scholarship and Recognition Dinner on October 5th. This award distinguishes ywca clark county as having succeeded in broadly helping achieve equity, diversity and inclusion within Washington State University Vancouver (WSUV) territory.

ywca clark county submitted a 500 word narrative as part of the application process. In this narrative, ywca reflects upon their status as the sole organization in the county, “offering two programs dedicated to victims/survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, with special advocacy and services for LGBTQ, youth, incarcerated women, men, Spanish and Russian speakers, homeless and low income children/families.” ywca clark county welcomes all community members to participate in any of the seven programs providing critical services to specific community needs.

“From the two year old whom our CASA advocates are speaking up for to the 20-year-survivor of domestic violence, to the African American students who must face the confederate flag, our programs strive to provide proactive solutions, empower positive life choices, and celebrate and respect the dignity of each and every person in Clark County,” said Jennifer Werdel, Director of Development and Communications at ywca clark county.

The Award for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is one of two Community Awards offered by WSUV. Peggy Hays, who manages the Family-to-Family program for the Division of Children and Family Services was the recipient of the Community Partnership Award, honoring her service to the children of the community. Chancellor H.A. Dengerink, who believes in a strong relationship between the university and community, implemented the awards in 2009 to recognize those who work to build the community.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ywca clark county recieves part of $3 million nationwide grant from the mary kay foundation to combat domestic violence in clark county

The ywca clark county SafeChoice domestic violence shelter has been chosen to receive a $20,000 grant from The Mary Kay Foundation as part of the organization’s annual #3 million national domestic violence grant program. The grant will be used to support a part-time advocate to manage the Children’s Advocacy Program within the SafeChoice domestic violence shelter.

The Children’s Advocacy Program supports children as individuals while living at the shelter with their parent. The advocate will help supervise the children while their parents attend support groups; implement activities that are educational, fun and therapeutic; plan for celebrations, such as birthdays and holidays, while children are separated from extended family; and provide advocacy to both children and parents during their shelter stay.

Domestic Violence Outlook

According to the second “Mary Kay Truth About Abuse” national survey conducted in March 2010, domestic violence shelters indicate the economic downturn has increased demand for services. Shelters also report, the ability to raise funds and provide services will be hampered into 2011. Due to the economy, the survey also revealed:

  • 88% of domestic violence shelters expect their overall situation will worsen, or remain the same in 2011.
  • 77% of domestic violence shelters report an increase in women seeking assistance from abuse.
  • 51% of shelters nationwide note the abuse is more violent now than before the economic downturn.

“In light of the economic downturn and alarming increases in domestic violence, The Mary Kay Foundation’s mission is more critical than ever before. The SafeChoice domestic violence shelter has helped so many people and their families in the Vancouver area. We know they will use these funds to benefit even more domestic violence survivors and their children and help end domestic violence,” said Jennifer Cook, The Mary Kay Foundation board member.

About the SafeChoice Program
The goal of the SafeChoice Program is to provide a safe, supportive, non-violent, non-judgmental shelter, including advocacy-based counseling and referral services, for women and children affected by domestic violence. The program offers women the information and services they need to evaluate their needs and make decisions for them and their families.

About The Mary Kay Foundation
The Mary Kay Foundation was created in 1996, and its mission is two-fold: to fund research of cancers affecting women and to help prevent domestic violence while raising awareness of the issue. Since the Foundation’s inception, it has awarded nearly $25 million to shelters and programs addressing domestic violence prevention and more than $14 million to cancer researchers and related causes throughout the United States. To learn more about The Mary Kay Foundation, log on to www.marykayfoundation.org or call 1-877-MKCARES (652-2737).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

September 2010 Y's Words

Greetings friends and supporters:

As the sun streams through the window today, it’s hard to believe we are saying good bye to summer and ushering in fall. There’s a crispness in the air these days, a reminder that the days grow shorter as we speed toward another season. And, each season also ushers in new developments, changes, and growth.

Here at the ywca, we are in the midst of harvesting our first full growing season in our community garden. We have spent these warmer months tending our garden and its bounty is evident every day. Our tiny preschoolers have learned about the seeds that grow our healthy food, how careful patting can nurture the smallest of seedlings, and how delicious a carrot can taste when it’s fresh from the earth!

From 2 ½ to adult, our community has embraced our garden. Our foster youth planted a wonderful bed of flowers and vegetables artistically laid out, and full of the colors that only nature can provide: the burgeoning cherry tomato; the colossal, verdant zucchini; the elegant zinnia and dahlia gracefully swaying in the setting sun.

Indeed, our programs have thrived and celebrated the therapy and camaraderie that our garden has provided. We are learning from one another, and sharing with one another, as is evident in our “free farmer’s market”: baskets of organic produce that are shared daily in our community lobby for any to take and enjoy.

Our changing season has also brought change in our leadership. On Oct. 1 we welcome Sherri Bennett to the preeminent post of Executive Director. Sherri brings more than a decade of experience working at the ywca, beginning as an on-call shelter advocate to leading our organization into the next season of growth—including expansion to North and East County and planned capital campaign.

Our growth and success from a small organization that provided a safe haven for single working women in 1916, to a blossoming, multi-service, mission driven social services leader providing peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. We have seen many seasons. Yet growth and success is never a time to rest on one’s laurels.

Since 2009 we have realized a 10% growth in demand for our services. With growth comes need, and that’s why we are so thankful now, more than ever, for you, our supporters and friends.

Within a month, we will begin a holiday appeal. We strive to create a safe season of celebration for children and families: families who cherish a violence-free home and an opportunity for their own re-birth. You, as always, have the power in your hands to nurture this hope.

As our nights continue to grow cooler and longer, please remember those who are struggling every night to find their light, and know that, because of you, many are finding light and hope at ywca .

Jennifer Werdel

Director of Development & Communications
ywca clark county

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

ywca clark county benefit luncheon a fundraising success

Vancouver, Wash. — ywca clark county is pleased to announce total revenues of $125,762 at our 16th annual benefit luncheon.

The event, held at the Hilton Vancouver on September 2, commanded more than 625 attendees and boasted near-record profits. Trisha Meili, known to the world as “The Central Park Jogger” shared her inspirational story of hope and possibility during recovery from her near death brutal assault in 1989.

“We could not be more thankful of the committed and supportive community who make the work we do possible through their financial and other support,” said Jennifer Werdel, ywca’s Director of Development and Communications.

Thanks to the generosity of the following community partners, this year’s benefit luncheon was fully underwritten. The Boeing Company, The Columbian, Columbia Credit Union, Corwin Beverage Company, Home Instead Senior Care, IQ Credit Union, Lee & Connie Kearney, Kiewit, Miller Nash, LLP, NACCO Materials Handling Group, Inc. Providence Health and Services, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, The Vancouver Clinic, Vancouver Business Journal.

“These days, challenges are all around us. The economy has many of us feeling down. Change is coming at us faster than we can handle it. Many feel overwhelmed and helpless. I can identify with people seeking to survive in tough times. With these lessons – support, focusing on what I could control, patience and a survivor mindset – I was able to persevere and reclaim my life.  I have seen that hope and possibility can arrive in unexpected ways, times and places. On my extraordinary journey of healing, I discovered the resilience of the human spirit.”

~ Trisha Meili

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sherri Bennett announced as Executive Director of ywca clark county

ywca clark county is pleased to announce the appointment of Sherri Bennett to the position of Executive Director. Bennett, currently the Director of Programs at the ywca, was selected by the ywca Board of Directors following a national search.

Bennett brings more than 12 years’ non-profit experience spanning direct service advocacy, program development, program management, financial management and fundraising. During eight of those years, she directed the SafeChoice Domestic Violence Program, where she spearheaded service expansion to marginalized communities, partnered in creating an on-site domestic violence legal clinic, increased outreach and education efforts to middle and high school students, and more than doubled revenue for the program. Bennett is a graduate Western Washington University, where she received her BA in Political Science.

“I am honored and privileged to be selected as a representative of ywca clark county. I stand in esteemed company in an organization that draws its inspiration from courageous program participants, dedicated staff and volunteers, and generous donors,” says Bennett, who will make the transition to Executive Director in late September. The ywca will host an open house for community members and corporate partners to see the facilities and meet Ms. Bennett. Kathy Kniep will continue to serve as Executive Director through September 22, and plans to stay involved with ywca clark county.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

CASA Success Story

A family of 3 young children and mother were staying in an overflow shelter in Vancouver when Children’s Protective Services was notified in January 2008 of alleged neglect, including serious dental and health concerns. Additionally, the mother was not responsive to her children and was leaving them with strangers. At a meeting with the child-welfare worker, the mother reported she no longer wanted to care for her children and that the father was unaware of the children’s location or condition. The children were taken into state care, and a legal petition was filed to make them wards of the Court. The mom got an Attorney. The ywca’s CASA Program was appointed as the children’s Court-Appointed Special Advocate and CASA Volunteer, Barbara N. chose to take this case.

 For more than a year, Barbara was involved with meetings and Court hearings; she visited the children and observed visits between the mom and children. When the mom showed up, Barbara encouraged her to get into services as she was concerned whether mom had the capability to parent. Barbara also searched for the fathers. Child welfare hadn’t the time or resources, but Barbara followed lead after lead. She found the biological father for 2 of the children, and he soon moved to Vancouver to seek a job, services, and to work toward being reunited with his children. Barbara met periodically with him and also encouraged him to be successful even when child welfare didn’t always see the father as an option. She observed visits and checked on how the dad and the mom were doing with services. The mom was unable to follow through. The dad did very well. Courts have historically been reluctant to have a single father parent small children, but Barbara had confidence this dad could do it. She fought to have increased and overnight visits and then recommended the children go home to their father. She and child welfare would monitor for at least 6 months. The Court placed the children with the father in the spring of 2009.

 By fall 2009, this family was reaching normalcy. ‘Alley’ is a now a 5-year-old. She is out going and has begun kindergarten. She’s developed a close bond with her siblings and loves her father. Her shots are up to date, and developmentally, she is growing in all aspects. Her father maintains her hygiene and she looks real happy. ‘Eadie’ is a 2½ -year-old little girl with an attitude. Since her return to her father she has developed a strong bond with her older sister, Alley. It is clear that they are happy to be together. She enjoys daycare while Dad studies computer science full time at Clark College. ‘Ned’ is now 8-years old and in third grade. When he began school he was behind but he has worked hard and is closing that gap. He’s able to make friends and he seems to enjoy school. Ned has gone from being the substitute adult in the family to being a normal and healthy eight-year-old. The father has grown in many ways. He has learned to take advice and criticism, and is devoted to obtaining an education after realizing that he is unable to support his family without an education.

 By January 2010, Barbara had visited the dad’s home many times both announced and unannounced. He is calm, loving and caring, and he never raised his voice during her visits to their home. He is very attentive to his children and his discipline seems appropriate and he follows through. Barbara talks to school, daycare and dad’s service providers, as well as child welfare workers. All has gone well since the placement with this father. The children are thriving. The mother is sporadic with her visits and stability. Dad has gotten custody in Family Court and the mother’s visits will be supervised. Barbara feels confident to recommend that this Court case be dismissed. She feels good about her efforts to find a missing father, encourage his participation, monitor his accountability and ability to parent, and about her hours of time donated to monitor the case. She has watched these scared and deprived children become healthy and growing members of our community with a parent who can support them.

 All ywca programs—like the CASA Program—need community support now more than ever. Please consider volunteering at ywca clark county today.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer Social Issues

THANK YOU to everyone who participated in ywca clark county’s summer social!

 We greatly appreciate your generous contributions which helped raise funds to enrich the lives of over 11,000 people in our community.

 Many of you offered your time, and many more of you, your donations, to make the Summer Social a successful event. Both are valuable contributions that helped us raise a total revenue of $70,565 to sustain ywca programs that serve victims of domestic violence, homelessness, child abuse and neglect, oppression, and sexual assault.

 We would also like to extend a special thank you to the following sponsors who made this year’s Summer Social benefit possible: Corwin Beverage Company, Adco Commercial Printing and Graphics, The Vancouver Clinic, The Vancouver Business Journal, The Columbian, Boeing, Foster and Associates, and Kelly Nolan & Jon Scott.

 Thanks for investing in ywca clark county and in our community. With your support, we are a strong organization with a promising future.

Engaging Teens in Domestic Violence Prevention and Education

Since November 2008, Cecily Griffus, LGBTQ Advocacy Specialist at ywca clark county, has been inspired by the critical outreach she does with area teens.

 The SafeChoice Dating Violence Prevention Program provides presentations focused on raising awareness about domestic violence. These interactive educational sessions cover defining the kinds of violence present in our communities, how to recognize the warning signs of violence in personal relationships, and how to understand and break the cycle of violence. Cecily has made 94 presentations (using the comprehensive curriculum from BreakTheCycle.org) to 17 schools and youth groups, reaching more than 3500 youth.

 “I love interacting with the kids. They are insightful and honest, and some may have already experienced some form of violence, or want to help those in their circles who are experiencing violence. The program’s goal is to equip them with information and resources so they can help others, and help themselves.”

 The flexible curriculum introduces serious and sometimes scary content. Recent statistics state that one in three women will report being abused in some way at some point in their life. Boys and men can also be abused though at a much lower rate. And, men are far less likely to report abuse. But, Cecily always brings group discussions back to the positive. “We talk about how to have healthy relationships, what qualities we want in our partners and friends, and how to help those who want to end violence in their own lives.”

 For more information on the SafeChoice Dating Violence Prevention Program or to schedule a presentation with your group, contact Cecily Griffus, SafeChoice dating violence prevention specialist at ywca clark county, at cgriffus@ywcaclarkcounty.org or 360 906 9146.

 All ywca programs—like the SafeChoice Dating Violence Prevention Program—need community support now more than ever. Please consider donating to the ywca clark county today.