Thursday, September 29, 2011

Y’s Care Scholarships Made Possible with Rotary Foundation Grant

Homeless and low-income children will receive scholarships through ywca clark county’s Y’s Care Program thanks to a grant of $10,000 on September 14th from the Vancouver Rotary Foundation. This grant was one of 9 awarded to local non-profits. It will allow for children currently supported by the Preschool Assistance for Needy Families Project to continue their education and will award scholarships for at least 12 additional children.

Y’s Care provides quality preschool education to children from homeless, transitioning, or low-income circumstances. Children ages 2 1/2 to 5 are offered a safe environment, nutritious meals, physical fitness, and need-specific care to prepare them emotionally and intellectually for kindergarten. The Preschool Assistance for Needy Families Project is a scholarship fund created in January of this year with the intention of providing tuition assistance to homeless and low income children attending Y’s Care. The results of this project have proved to be successful. 12 children have already received scholarships, and the retention rate in the Y’s Care classroom has increased 40% since the program began.

About Vancouver Rotary Foundation

The Vancouver Rotary Foundation exists to foster, develop, promote and encourage the health, education and general welfare of the residents of Vancouver and Clark County. The Foundation has granted over $2.75 million to the Vancouver community with emphasis on youth programs in the past 37 years (1972-2010).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kaiser Permanente Foundation Supports Survivors of Domestic Violence

On August 23, 2011 ywca clark county received nearly $10,000 from the Kaiser Permanente Gives – Volunteer Grant Program to help provide childcare for parents attending the SafeChoice Domestic Violence Program support groups. Having access to free child care allows parents to attend weekly drop-in support groups which help them work through the damaging effects of experiencing verbal, emotional, sexual, or physical abuse; it is a major step towards healing.

Kaiser Permanente is committed to civic engagement and thus supports their employees who donate time and talent to charitable organizations like ywca clark county. The Volunteer Grant Program focuses on funding basic needs, such as child care, which provide a short-term bridge to addressing an immediate crisis. Without affordable, quality child care, parents are unable to do the things they need to do in order to help their families thrive.

About SafeChoice
ywca clark county’s SafeChoice and SafeChoice LGBTQ Programs commit to advocating for, educating, and supporting those affected by domestic violence. The Program offers a 24-hour crisis hotline, legal advocacy, support groups, and the only domestic violence shelter in Southwest Washington.

About ywca clark county
For over 95 years, ywca clark county has been serving its mission of empowering women, eliminating racism, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for everyone in Southwest Washington. Through seven unique programs, ywca clark county serves over 11,000 individuals each year who are victims of domestic violence, homelessness, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect, and oppression, as well as youth in foster care and incarcerated women.

About Kaiser Permanente Gives – Volunteer Grant Program Kaiser Permanente Northwest is proud of our staff who volunteer with charitable organizations in communities where they live, work, and raise their families. To demonstrate our support, Kaiser Permanente established the Kaiser Permanente Gives-Volunteer Grant Program. This program donates money to qualified charitable organizations Kaiser Permanente employees and clinicians donate their time to. For more information about local Kaiser Permanente Grant Programs please visit their website at

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

benefit luncheon success

ywca clark county succeeded in many ways on Wednesday, September 7th during the 17th annual benefit luncheon. Not only did the event exceed fundraising goals with a gross of $128,162, but speaker Erin Merryn touched the lives and hearts of many, inspiring others to come forward and begin their own personal journey of healing.

“No matter where I travel in this world including here in Washington, anytime I speak survivors feel the courage to share with me their experience. Many breaking down in tears and telling me I am the first person they have told. It is their courage that keeps me speaking out knowing I am helping people find their voice and begin to heal,” said Erin.

Erin Merryn is a leading advocate for sexual abuse prevention and education. After enduring abuse from a friend’s uncle at 6 and 7 years old, and then sexual abuse from a cousin during her pre- and early teens, Erin discovered her sister was also a victim of abuse from the same cousin. Despite threats and fears of breaking up the family, Erin told her parents at age 13. They took the necessary steps to protect and care for their daughters’ well-being. One of these steps was to seek help from the Children’s Advocacy Center of Northwest Cook County in Illinois.

Like ywca’s Sexual Assault Program, this center strives to reduce trauma and provide support to child victims of violence and their families. It was the efforts of this center which helped Erin break her silence. As she states in her book, Living for Today, “The Children’s Advocacy Center was the foundation of my healing. It was here that not only I first shared my story, but also I was believed by the detective and the staff. I learned at the center to plant seeds in my soul that would eventually bear fruit as I grew and matured. I was no longer carrying my pain alone.”

Through her voice, Erin discovered her ultimate purpose: to see legislation passed that requires all children in public schools across the nation to be taught safety lessons in a child friendly manner in which children learn how to say no, speak up, and who to go to if someone uses unwanted touches. In February of 2011, just after Erin’s 26th birthday, Illinois passed Erin’s Law requiring school boards to adopt such a curriculum. In support of Erin’s goals, she has spoken nationwide and been featured in a variety of media including Time Magazine and the Oprah Winfrey Show.

On Wednesday, September 7th Erin graced the podium at the Hilton Vancouver. Because of her strength, and with the support of wonderful sponsors, table hosts, staff, and the dedicated luncheon committee ywca exceeded last year’s revenues providing support for all 7 ywca programs. ywca’s Sexual Assault Program (SAP) was featured at this luncheon, and shares Erin’s interest in preventative education and in breaking the silence associated with sexual assault. Findings suggest that victims feel silenced by a combination of factors. Listed here are only a few from

  • Children often fail to report because of the fear that disclosure will bring consequences even worse than being victimized again. The victim may fear consequences from the family, feel guilty for consequences to the perpetrator, and may fear subsequent retaliatory actions from the perpetrator. 1
  • In addition to “sexual guilt,” there are several other types of guilt associated with the abuse, which include feeling different from peers, harboring vengeful and angry feelings toward both parents, feeling responsible for the abuse, feeling guilty about reporting the abuse, and bringing disloyalty and disruption to the family. Any of these feelings of guilt could outweigh the decision of the victim to report, the result of which is the secret may remain intact and undisclosed. 1
  • Early identification of sexual abuse victims appears to be crucial to the reduction of suffering of abused youth and to the establishment of support systems for assistance in pursuing appropriate psychological development and healthier adult functioning. As long as disclosure continues to be a problem for young victims, then fear, suffering, and psychological distress will, like the secret, remain with the victim. 1
  • Breaking the silence is not only a goal shared by Erin and ywca’s Sexual Assault Program, but also supports ywca’s overall mission. Giving voice to survivors is empowering, and empowerment presents opportunities to pursue freedom, justice and dignity. Children who are not able to talk about an assault and/or are not believed are at an increased risk for lifelong physical, emotional, and social problems. The following tips can help you to empower the children that you love and help to keep them safer:
  • Let your children know that it’s okay to say no, and it’s okay to leave a situation—especially one that involves someone who has made your child feel uncomfortable.
  • Have your children identify 3 safe ‘support people.’ Make sure your children have a way to easily contact them. (post the numbers or have them programmed in if they have a phone) Let child practice by calling and saying, “I want you to know you’re my support person.”
  • Talk with your children regularly about body safety, just like you would any other kind of safety.
  • Teach your children the proper names for body parts, and teach them about safe and unsafe touching, and what is appropriate physical affection and attention.
  • Reduce the occurrence of situations where there is only one adult present with your child.
  • Trust your intuition about people around your children.
  • Tell your children that some people, both kids and adults, try to trick kids into keeping touching a secret, and that those kinds of secrets are not the kind to keep. If they are ever afraid to tell their parent(s) or guardians, then tell their support person.
  • Remember that the greatest risk to our children comes from family and friends—not strangers.

If your child or any child you know has been sexually assaulted—which is a serious crime—assure him or her that telling you was the right thing to do, that you are sorry it happened, and that it wasn’t his or her fault. Then, get support immediately. Contact our 24-hour Sexual Assault Hotline, 360 695 0501 and/or call 911. Learn more about how to keep teens safer, support a victim, and reduce the risk of sexual assault on our website.

introducing new ywca team leaders

ywca clark county is pleased to announce two new members who joined the management team on August 9th. Shawna Burkholder was hired as the Director of Development and Communications, and Stephanie Barr was hired as Director of Volunteer Development.

Shawna came to ywca from Legacy Health where she was the Development Officer for the Salmon Creek Hospital Foundation. Prior, she was the Senior Development Director for the American Red Cross Southwest Washington Chapter. Shawna is a graduate from Washington State University with a B.S. in Psychology. She is a 1995 graduate of Leadership Clark County, was awarded the Gen. George C. Marshall Public Leadership Award, received the Vancouver Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 Award, completed ten local marathons and climbed Mt Hood. Sherri Bennett, Executive Director stated, “Shawna is passionate about our mission and with her development experience, Shawna will easily be able to focus on building relationships to provide the greatest benefit to our donors on behalf of ywca.”

Stephanie served as the Lead Area Director for Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest prior to joining ywca clark county. Before acting as a leader for volunteers, she volunteered at the Domestic Violence Resource Center in Oregon and in rural Alaska with Yupi’k adults with disabilites. Stephanie recently received a Masters Degree in Gender Studies from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and is looking forward to supporting the volunteer efforts of ywca. “The mission and values of ywca clark county inspire me. I think the organization provides essential services and I want to support our programs in every way I can.”

Monday, September 12, 2011

ywca clark county benefit lunchen a fundraising success

Guests mingling before the event
Vancouver, Wash. — ywca clark county is pleased to announce total revenues of $128,162 at the 17th annual benefit luncheon.

The event, held at the Hilton Vancouver on September 7, was a huge success. ywca clark county brought in $2,400 more funds than last year, despite a slight reduction in registered guests. Additionally, Erin Merryn, leading advocate for victims of sexual assault inspired many with her story of abuse, healing and pursuit of legislative change.

“No matter where I travel in this world including here in Washington, anytime I speak survivors feel the courage to share with me their experience. Many breaking down in tears and telling me I am the first person they have told. It is their courage that keeps me speaking out knowing I am helping people find their voice and begin to heal,” said Erin.

Thanks to the generosity of the following community partners, this year’s luncheon was fully underwritten: ADCO Commercial Printing and Graphics, Columbia Credit Union, The Columbian, Corwin Beverage Company, Home Instead Senior Care, IQ Credit Union, Lee & Connie Kearney, Miller Nash, LLP, Providence Health and Services, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, Tidewater Barge Lines, United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, US Bancorp, Vancouver Business Journal and The Vancouver Clinic.

“Thank you to all who supported and attended this year’s luncheon. We’re so pleased to have such wonderful sponsors, a record number of table hosts and a dedicated staff and luncheon committee,” said Sherri Bennett, Executive Director of ywca clark county.