Monday, November 7, 2011

November 2011 Y's Words

Dear Friends,

Strong Alone. Fearless Together. This is the motto we use here at the ywca.  We witness the positive effect it has every day on the individuals and families we serve, our staff and volunteers, and our community.

As Governor Gregoire releases her state Budget Reduction Alternatives, we are preparing for proposed funding cuts while taking comfort in knowing we remain a strong organization that is generously supported.  We are supported by our 700+ volunteers, local foundations, community partners, and you (just to name a few).

One way in which we feel the support of this community is through participation in awareness activities. Last month, we recognized Domestic Violence Awareness Month with events and social media outreach. You may have participated in our Lighting Ceremony, Bingo Night, In Her Shoes workshop or the Disc Golf Tournament. Perhaps you submitted a blog entry to our website, donated, or shined a purple light to raise awareness about domestic violence. It’s together that we were able to bring attention to this important topic during October. Thank you for your efforts then, now and in the future.

This holiday season, we’ll ask you to Be the Change you want to see in this community. ywca is driving change in our community through the following actions:

ywca clark county has taken a position on the C-Tran measure. In this issue of Our Voice, learn why we encourage you to vote YES November 8th on Proposition 1.
We understand the value of our volunteers and recognize their efforts regularly in our newsletter. This month learn about Nonie Laurine, a wonderful volunteer with the Y’s Care Children’s Program.
With the support of Kaiser Permanente, the SafeChoice Domestic Violence Program is able to provide necessary support for children and parents fleeing from domestic violence.
The Y’s Care Children’s Program has partnered with an international organization to provide an exciting new curriculum to children ages 2 ½ to 5.
And as we launch our Holiday Campaign you may learn of new ways you can support the ywca.

We are a strong organization, and you help us to be fearless in our mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.



seeds of empathy

The Y’s Care Program of ywca clark county is pleased to announce the implementation of an innovative new curriculum that will help give children the skills they need to create a better future for themselves and their community. Seeds of Empathy addresses critical thinking, problem solving, bullying behavior and respect at a young age. An interest in pursuing this program arose from the media’s repeated attention to bullying and how it’s been affecting our society.

While researching bullying and it’s relationship to early childhood development, Leah Reitz, director of Y’s Care found references to a program called Seeds of Empathy that combats aggressive behavior and bullying by teaching empathy to children an early age. Bullying behavior has shown to have detrimental effects on the bullied including poor grades, passive-aggressive behavior, avoidance of social interaction and sometimes even suicide. Bullies learn behavior from their environment, whether that be at home, on TV or on the playground. Bully behavior, which is perpetuated by both adults and children is often either concealed from, or not recognized, by those in charge. Bullying is a complex topic that is woven into our society, and because of this dynamic, it’s essential that future generations be taught empathy at a young age.

Leah researched the program further and decided it would be a good fit for Y’s Care. Not only is Seeds of Empathy designed to decrease the likelihood of bullying behavior, but it also teaches respect, critical thinking and problem solving. These valuable lessons align perfectly with Y’s Care’s interest in making a positive impact in the community through high-quality education to children and families of homeless, transitioning, or low-income circumstances. After submitting an application to Seeds of Empathy this summer, Y’s Care was awarded the opportunity to be the second in the nation to practice this revolutionary curriculum.

Seeds of Empathy was introduced in Alberta Canada in 2008. Since that time, the program has reached over 325,000 children in North America. The program is an extension of Roots of Empathy which was introduced by Mary Gordon in 1996 with a mission to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults. Seeds of Empathy shares this mission and works towards it by fostering social and emotional competence as well as early literacy skills and attitudes in children 3-5 years old. As Leah states, “This age group is perfect because it’s the time that children are focused on themselves. This curriculum teaches them to care for and be concerned with others at a foundational level.”

The Seeds of Empathy curriculum contains 3 main components. Twice a week, literacy circles help children develop empathy by introducing the perspectives of others while encouraging the exploration of one’s personal feelings. Family visits are visits from a volunteer parent and baby and occur every three weeks. Topics explored in the literacy circles are emphasized during these visits. Children are provided the opportunity to see the loving relationship between parent and baby, to ask questions, and to develop emotional literacy by learning to describe the feelings of the baby and of themselves. Professional development is the third component to the curriculum, and is introduced after the first year to provide continued support and education for the staff.

The entire program lasts 9 months and will be documented by Y’s Care staff. Follow the progress of the program through regular updates on the ywca clark county facebook page and look forward to a follow up article in the July e-newsletter. Learn more about Y’s Care on this website or by calling Leah Reitz at 360 906 9128. Learn more about the Seeds of Empathy program at

Kaiser permanente supports healthy families

With ywca clark county’s SafeChoice Program, survivors of domestic violence have opportunities to change their lives through involvement in peer support groups. Attending these support groups, however, can be challenging for parents who have little or no access to child care. For these families, the lack of safe, affordable care can be their biggest barrier to success. Thanks to Kaiser Permanent this is no longer the case.

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

Kaiser Permanente is committed to civic engagement and thus supports its 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 heal and rebuild in order to help their families thrive.

ywca is thrilled to partner with Kaiser Permanente as both organizations work to improve the health of Clark County.

Volunteer Spotlight: Nonie Laurine

Nonie reads to children at Y's Care
Reading is the gift Nonie Laurine shares with Y’s Care children on a weekly basis. She commits about 2.5 hours a week to the children of Y’s Care. And, while reading is her primary volunteer duty, Nonie also plays with the children and provides a stable friendship that they can rely on week to week. “I love seeing the growth in the children from when they start the program, to the end of the year. It’s just amazing.”

Y’s Care staff and parents appreciate Nonie’s commitment to the children. Y’s Care director Leah Reitz commented on Nonie’s service after she was nominated by a parent to be recognized in the Volunteer Spotlight, “Nonie is a calm voice in a busy classroom and a watchful set of eyes on the playground. We all look forward to Thursday mornings when Nonie comes in to read, play and work with the children in Y’s Care.”

Nonie didn’t begin her Y’s Care service reading to the children. Eleven years ago, she was the proud parent of a therapy dog whose company and companionship taught lessons on sharing, friendship and responsibility. Her therapy dog had served so many others in the community, and she especially found great joy in sharing his services with the children. The kids at Y’s Care would brush the dog and play with him once a week.

When Nonie retired the dog, she thought her time at Y’s Care was over. But after a year of separation, she found that she really missed the children. “I brought some donations in for back-to-school, and asked if there were other volunteer opportunities,” she said. Leah, Y’s Care director, said they would really love someone to come in and read to the kids. Nonie jumped at the opportunity, “I hope that maybe just sitting with one child and reading to them, they learn the joy of reading and will take that with them for life.”

Personally, Nonie says volunteering for the children gives her a feeling of fulfillment. When they see her walk in the room, the children cheer, “Oh! It’s Nonie Day!”