Tuesday, January 24, 2012

ywca SafeChoice Program restructures to ensure vital services

Director of SafeChoice, Debra Adams proposed a restructure plan for the SafeChoice Domestic Violence Program which included her departure after 11 years of employment with ywca clark county. The plan eliminates Adams’ position and applies core tasks to Shelter Manager, Debbi Cawthon and Assistant Director of SafeChoice, Lee Watts. Cawthon and Watts’ titles will change respectively as SafeChoice Director of Shelter Services and SafeChoice Director of Community Services.

With ywca facing State budget cuts, and having already lost about $50,000 a year in funding from Clark County, Debra felt that a restructure of the program she’s nurtured for so long was the most efficient way to ensure quality services remain intact. Sherri Bennett, Executive Director accepted the proposal, and Debra’s last day will be February 1, 2012.

While addressing staff on the topic Debra stated, “This was a plan proposed by me, because I recognized the need for reductions, because I am dedicated to the success of the program, because I love the program and the agency, and because I have such strong faith in Debbi and Lee as leaders and (in) all of you as advocates.”

Debra is the ultimate advocate for change. A survivor of domestic violence, she began volunteering with ywca in 1994, and was first employed at the shelter in 1999. Debra held four positions in the SafeChoice Program before being promoted to director in 2005. While serving as director, Debra initiated a myriad of changes which lead to the growth of the program including implementing policies to make the shelter a comfortable place for all participants and welcoming survivors of domestic violence regardless of their gender or sexual identity.

“Debra’s service to ywca clark county has been immeasurable. The restructure plan that she presented is a testament to her dedication to the organization and the community,” said Sherri Bennett, Executive Director.

ywca clark county will host a celebration of Debra’s service to the community. Please contact April at 360 906 4303 or awestfall@ywcaclarkcounty.org if you would like to join us in celebrating this amazing and talented woman.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

funding the mission

ywca clark county serves the community through seven vital programs. Each program is entirely unique, and while indirect costs vary between programs, all share the need for trained volunteers, a place to work, insurance, IT and administrative support.

In 2011, volunteers provided a much needed 38,741 hours of service. Indirect costs include the salary of our employees that work hard to recruit, train and retain these valuable service-members. Without a safe place to provide advocacy and support, ywca could not provide service to those who have experienced sexual assault and domestic violence. Insurance is essential for every program, as it helps to maintain and support professional staff who in-general receive lower wages than those employed in the for-profit sector. Development (fundraising) and communication is as necessary for running an effective NPO as are marketing and sales for a for profit firm. Without IT support, lines of efficient and effective communication can crumble quickly. Finally, administrative support is essential to every program, as well as to the management and support of a fully functioning organization.

Recently, Boeing donated $2,310 to general operations at ywca clark county. When donors like Boeing recognize this type of need and respond to it, we are especially grateful. As seekers of freedom, justice and dignity for all, we understand it takes a variety of perspectives to achieve a mission of equality and empowerment. So, we are inspired, encouraged and empowered when our supporters choose to recognize and support our entire mission. If you would like to talk with the ywca about how you can help support this essential aspect of our organization, please contact Shawna Burkholder, Director of Development and Communications at 360 906 0123 or at sburkholder@ywcaclarkcounty.org.

you are the change!

This holiday season, we asked you to be the change in the lives of the most vulnerable members of our community. You responded with benevolence and fever. Over 32 area businesses and hundreds of individuals contributed to our gift tag program, bringing in loads of gifts for the underprivileged participants in our programs. Because of your generosity, we were able to provide gifts for 617 individuals, 440 of which were children. Over $51,000 has been donated thus far during our holiday campaign, and there’s still time to donate before January 15th.

Your gifts and donations change lives and transform the culture of Clark County. When individuals utilize our services, many of them experience something they’ve never felt before: empowerment. Through ywca clark county, those who have felt oppressed become empowered to pursue life goals; empowered to utilize legal recourse; empowered to be an ally to others; and empowered to be the change. As they grow, our community grows, but this would never happen without the hope and encouragement provided by community members like you.

On behalf of the people we serve, and the staff who work tirelessly to serve them, thank you for your contributions. You are the change!

volunteer spotlight: donna weinman

“I’m your advocate. Do you know what that means? I’m here to support you. I don’t need to know what happened. I don’t need to ask you questions. All I do is be there if you want me to be there and tell you what’s going to happen if you want to know. And go through the entire process with you for as long as you want me there. Everything you choose to share with me is confidential.” With these words, Donna Weinman opens doors and changes lives.

Donna advocates for individuals who have been sexually assaulted. She supports them as they move through what can be a very confusing and difficult experience. Currently, she has about 5 or 6 individuals that she’s supporting, all at various stages of healing and prosecution. Sometimes she meets the individual at the hospital soon after they’ve been assaulted. Other times, she’s involved later in the process.

Donna stays with the assaulted individual until the case is resolved, providing resources, tools, and most importantly a presence. If charges are brought and it goes to trial she stays with them until the very end. Beyond that, she offers them the opportunity to continue talking with her if they so desire.

The work is “richly rewarding and deeply painful at the same time,” says Donna.

Painful, because it’s upsetting to know that there are others out there who are facing this alone, without any idea of what to do, or what will happen next. The reward, she said comes when you see the change you’ve made in a person’s life, “One of my clients said something to me that really says it all, ‘No one has ever stood up for me. You stood up for me.’”

Donna Wienman has always enjoyed volunteering. Before joining ywca’s team, she volunteered for 12 years on a suicide crisis line. During this time she recognized that a number of callers experienced sexual assault or violence in their lives. While her work at ywca is different, this experience, combined with ywca’s thorough training made it easy for her to transition into volunteering for the Sexual Assault Program.

Donna recognizes that there is a huge need for her services, and aside from helping people, she sees volunteering as an excellent opportunity to help herself grow as an individual and community member. In her own words, “Part of it is the camaraderie and the purpose that make it very special.” For those considering volunteering, Donna says not to be intimidated by the details, “just show up, and you’ll love it.”

Her service and commitment don’t go unnoticed. “Donna is committed to victims and their rights. She believes this work is important and really likes making a difference in her community,” said Joan Renner, Director of the Sexual Assault Program.

ywca clark county appreciates all of the wonderful volunteers who commit nearly 40,000 hours a year to supporting our programs and services, and welcomes those interested in volunteering to attend the Intro to Volunteering free class at our Community Building on Tuesday, January 10th at 6pm.

joan renner: local hero

Congratulations to Joan Renner, who was recognized as a Local Hero during the November 29th Bank of America Neighborhood Excellence Initiative Awards. Bank of America introduced the Awards in 2004 to strengthen and support communities by recognizing and rewarding community-based organizations, local heroes and student leaders working to improve their communities. Joan, Director of the Sexual Assault Program at ywca clark county was one of five individuals receiving the Local Heroes Award. She was recognized for her dedication to eliminating sexual violence in Clark County, and for impacting the community profoundly by inspiring the individuals, families and community she serves.

Joan became involved in anti-sexual violence activities in 1979 while working at the Women’s Resource Center and the ywca Domestic Violence Shelter. At that time there were no resources for victims of sexual assault, yet the need for free, comprehensive advocacy was great. Knowing this, Ms. Renner helped found the Sexual Assault Program at ywca clark county in 1980, where she created the framework for victim services and collaborated with local partners to help eliminate the stigma of sexual assault, extend services to marginalized communities, and develop prevention education opportunities. Currently, the program is the only provider of free, 24-hour crisis intervention and advocacy for sexual assault victims in Clark County. Joan also created a training program to prepare community members, law enforcement and social service employees with the tools needed to provide advocacy and crisis intervention. In addition to her career, Ms. Renner dedicates her time to social change activities including serving six terms as a board member for the Washington Coalition for Sexual Assault Programs, leading the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Taskforce, and helping to create the Children’s Justice Center.

Besides fame and glory, Bank of America awarded a $5000 grant to a non-profit of Joan’s choice. ywca clark county was the proud recipient and will apply the funds directly to the Sexual Assault Program. With businesses like Bank of America and heroes like Joan Renner we can achieve peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

January 2012 Y's Words

As winter settles in, the sun fades to a golden hue, the days become colder, and the nights appear longer. It’s a good time for fireplaces, soups and hot chocolate, but also to be involved with your community. So make that hot chocolate to go, and visit us at ywca clark county.

ywca has volunteer opportunities available all winter long and welcomes you to a free Introduction to Volunteering class on January 10th at 6:00pm. Not sure you’re up for it? Learn more by reading one volunteer’s experience in this month’s newsletter.  Also in this issue, you can learn about our Public Policy Committee’s interest in immigration, our award winning staff, and our “fund-a-room” program initiated by the Schwab Foundation. At ywca clark county, we know community support comes from all directions. See the article on holiday giving to witness how your valiant efforts are making a difference.

While we have many successes to share, we continue to face possible budget reductions due to government cuts. The numbers won’t be clear until later this year, but staff and the board of directors have been working hard to prepare for any and all challenges that may come our way. You can help too. Support ywca clark county with your time, your voice or your dollar, and know that your efforts are changing the lives of your neighbors, your friends, your family and your community. Be warm this winter, not just in your home, but in your heart.

Strong Alone.  Fearless Together.