Friday, November 14, 2014

November 2014 Program Highlights

Clark County CASA

Program The Clark County CASA Program is full of activity! CASA is proud to announce that Heidi Hiatt has been given a new title of Volunteer Manager. This promotion gives Heidi the full spectrum of volunteer and intern management around recruitment, hiring, training, retention, tracking and termination. Thank you Heidi for your ongoing hard work and commitment! We’re also pleased to welcome our two newest staff members, Christine Waldo and Sheryl Thierry. Both women were CASA volunteers prior to being hired and now supervise their own team of volunteers. CASA staff are looking forward to attending the Annual State CASA Conference this November in Tacoma, WA where we’ll gain new insight from CASAs around the globe. We are very excited about the launch of our CASA volunteer webpage! Thank you to Heidi Hiatt, Sharon Svec and Sheri Lum for getting this valuable resource up and running. Finally, we saw 24 new Volunteer Advocates swear in this month! Volunteers are crucial to our program and we are eagerly looking for new volunteers for our upcoming training cycle. Please contact for information about becoming a child advocate.

 WORTH Program 

 WORTH Program volunteers continue to provide amazing services to incarcerated women serving sentences at the Clark County Jail. We are grateful to Umpqua Bank for highlighting the program at their most recent Bella Voce luncheon – a series of events hosted by the bank that celebrates women readers, hosts the authors they are inspired by, and supports community efforts like WORTH. Umpqua Bank’s Bella Voce group also donated $2,000 to the program which will be used specifically to purchase needed program supplies offered to women participating in the WORTH program. Thank you Bella Voce!

 SafeChoice Domestic Violence Program 

 Thank you to the dedicated volunteers who helped raise awareness about domestic violence this October! Your support helped make the Domestic Violence Awareness Month kickoff event and the Clothesline Project such an amazing success. We couldn’t have done it without you—thank you! 

Sexual Assault Program 

 The Sexual Assault Program is making an impact in Clark County and Statewide. YWCA’s Traci Cole was a co-trainer of the “Where We Live” child sexual assault prevention curriculum in Wenatchee. She shared valuable information with leaders of other community sexual assault programs operating throughout the region. In addition, we recently participated on a statewide coordinating committee on sex trafficking, resulting in recommendations for addressing sex trafficking in Washington State. We’ve established several new support groups for sexual assault survivors and their families, including a group specifically for parents of children who have been sexually assaulted which will begin again November 18th. Please contact Traci for details at 360-906-9151

 YWCA Clark County regularly provides a variety of trainings for first responders and others working to prevent sexual abuse. We provided training to CRESA 911, Clark Count’s first responders, one on CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) for service providers and community members. In partnership with the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s office, we offered a full day training on sex offenders in the faith community where over twenty faith communities were represented. Community outreach and education remains an important part of the ongoing work we do to support and advocate for sexual assault survivors and their families. Unfortunately, we are also responding to a record number of hospital calls from victims of sexual assault. We’re grateful for the compassionate work of truly incredible volunteers and staff.

 Independent Living Skills Program

 In October, ILS collaborated with the SafeChoice Program to host a DVAM event specifically for youth. This super-hero-themed event created a space for the youth to talk about how to recognize unhealthy relationships and what each of us can do and say to be allies to our friends. The ILS team is also spending time supporting the youth and young adults in preparation for secondary education. This is one of the many times throughout the year that we focus on SAT’s, financial aid applications, and identifying the steps each participant can take to prepare for their future in education.

 Y’s Care Children’s Program

 Y’s Care children and families had a blast at a Halloween carnival held at YWCA. Several moms helped out by making signs and hosting various attractions. We had a fortune teller, fishing, ghost bowling, pin the nose on the jack-o-lantern, mummy wrapping and a spooky maze. At the end we had an ad hoc fashion show so the kids could show off their costumes. We also recently celebrated acceptance into Early Achievers, Washington’s Quality Rating and Improvement System. Participation will provide tools, resources and coaching to improve development and education offered to children and families.

The Joy of Giving

By Rachel Pinsky, Volunteer

We find comfort and cheer among family and friends. We give gifts to show love and friendship. We wish our loved ones a happy new year. Why not reach out to someone in our community—a neighbor, and share some of that cheer and good will with them? Through YWCA Clark County, you can.

YWCA services help people from all walks of life. Many are familiar with our domestic violence program, but did you also know that we provide services for youth in foster care?

Our Independent Living Skills Program (ILS) helps keep foster youth off the streets by helping them define and achieve the future they would like to see for themselves. With the help of ILS, Tavia and her 2-year-old daughter successfully transitioned from foster care to independence. With YWCA’s help, Tavia rents her own home, is now in school and working full time. Her goal is to help other at risk children, “I also want to be there for my daughter, and show her that if you set your mind into something, you can achieve anything.”

Tavia's strong will along with the help of ILS is helping her reach her goals.
ILS also helped Amanda, a young mother who switched schools many times due to being moved around in the foster care system. Amanda was an excellent student, however she was unable to transfer all of the credits from her various high schools. To graduate on time, Amanda needed to complete two years worth of work in one year. She was determined and focused to achieve this goal.

Amanda worked extremely hard, while caring for her young child, and completed the school credits needed to graduate on time. Knowing that Amanda did not have the necessary funds, the ILS Program happily purchased her cap and gown. Amanda proudly walked her graduation, received her high school diploma, and continued to make a good life for herself and young daughter.

These stories demonstrate the many barriers that young adults face as they transition from the foster care system.  Large and small barriers prevent them from establishing a stable living situation.  In many cases, a small thing like a cap and gown, or knowing they have somewhere to go when they need help, can make the difference in a young person’s future.

More than one in five youth experience homelessness within a year of leaving foster care.  One third of foster care alumni live at or below the poverty line – three times the national rate.  Many also need mental health services to recover from the trauma of their early years.  Over half the foster care alumni (54.4%) have current mental health problems, compared to 22.1% of the general population.  These young adults need the support and resources that only ILS can provide.

YWCA Clark County Provides Help and Support for Many

YWCA Clark County programs served 11,800 individuals in 2013 including over 160 foster youth. In that same year, our Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program advocated for the health and safety of 883 children. Our SafeChoice Domestic Violence Program answered 15,091 hotline calls, and provided life-saving services and shelter to 793 citizens of Clark County. Hundreds of thousands of Clark County residents benefit from our direct services, community outreach and prevention education programs.

There are many ways that you can reach out to someone in our community and help bring joy to our Clark County neighbors who have struggled, and sought help for a new beginning.

Holiday Shop

Many seeking the services of YWCA are, for one reason or another, unable to experience the joy of giving with loved ones. But, on one special day in December, YWCA is transformed into a fun holiday shop—complete with elves and cookies. Through our Holiday Shop, YWCA participants can shop for free; providing a means to give new gifts and holiday joy to their families.

This joyous day couldn’t happen without community members, organizations, and businesses who donate gifts to the holiday shop year after year. When you are out doing your holiday shopping, think of those served by YWCA. Purchase some new gifts for a family escaping violence, or a youth caught up in the foster care system. To help spread joy through gift giving this holiday, please deliver your in-kind donations to YWCA by Monday, December 15th.

Drop by 3609 Main Street to learn more, or contact Erin Smiley at 360-906-9157 or


Community members are also supported by the services and resources provided by YWCA staff and volunteers. You can help fund these services by donating cash before December 31st. Your donation makes it possible for us to provide the specialized services that assisted Tavia and her daughter as they established a stable and rewarding foundation.

Make a secure online donation today or deliver it to 3609 Main Street, Vancouver, WA.


Every program and department of YWCA utilizes the support of volunteers.  Opportunities range from advocacy to office work and provide flexible time commitments.  Volunteers receive training and support throughout their time with YWCA, so that they may have a rewarding and beneficial experience.

To volunteer at YWCA please contact Nichole Peppers at 360-906-9112 or

Court Communication

By Stephanie Barr, Interim Director of SafeChoice Program

At our October meeting, the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Task Force had the honor of hosting a panel discussion on domestic violence and the court system with panelists Judge Sonya Langsdorf, DVPC Unit Coordinator Jennifer Nugent, and Vancouver Public Defenders Attorney Christie Emrich.  We began the discussion by asking each member to give a brief introduction of her role in addressing domestic violence in Clark County. Judge Langsdorf emphasized the importance of a judge’s impartiality, while Jennifer Nugent and Christie Emrich expressed the unique perspectives and priorities of prosecuting and defense attorneys. The conversation explored ways to improve collaboration and communication among victim/survivor services, batterer’s intervention programs, and the criminal justice system, while acknowledging the differences in each position’s objectives.

Having joined the Task Force this Spring, I found this opportunity to hear directly from the panelists incredibly valuable. Although every case is different, Judge Langsdorf explained her approach to sentencing and what factors she considers relevant to ordering treatment or incarceration. The attorneys described how they approach negotiations, including what influences their recommendations to the judge. We explored gaps in communication and looked for ways to enhance our collaboration without comprising the boundaries of each person’s role. Though we come at it from different perspectives, each of us has a part to play in fostering a safe, healthy community. I am grateful that we could take time to come together and examine how our shared commitment to a domestic violence free community can be strengthened.

Addressing Sexual Assault in Our Community

By Kai Hill, Program Specialist

For the first time in Clark County, 65 individuals representing more than 20 faith communities came together to participate in an all-day training on Sex Offenders in the Faith Community, led by Cory Jewell Jensen, MS.  The training was provided by YWCA Clark County's Sexual Assault Program in conjunction with the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s office and the Center for Behavioral Intervention. Tony Golik, Clark County Prosecuting Attorney, offered opening remarks thanking the attendees and reaffirming the necessity of protecting children in our community. Deputy Prosecutor Luka Vitasovic provided a brief presentation on mandatory reporting.
Cory Jewell Jenson

Co-director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention in Beaverton, Oregon, Cory Jewell Jensen, MS. has over thirty years of experience as a treatment provider working with sex offenders and their families. The daughter of a minister, Cory understands the unique factors that make faith communities and their children particularly vulnerable to predators. She stressed that we are not doing enough to educate our kids. Parents may be comfortable talking about stranger danger, but that is insufficient and even misleading given that more than 90% of kids who report abuse know the offender. That said, we also cannot expect children to protect themselves from the adults who would prey on them.

During the month of October, the Sexual Assault Program of YWCA also offered “Where We Live” a 4-week series that engages parents and community members, offering tools for comfortable discussions with kids about healthy sexuality, identifying tactics sex offenders use, and practicing bystander intervention skills. YWCA was recently invited to present the workshop at Bethel Lutheran Community Church in Brush Prairie.
Traci Cole

In spite of the tough topic, participants were engaged in the conversation.  New partnerships were envisioned and participants were grateful for the chance to learn in a safe, quiet venue with the support of YWCA staff and volunteers. For more information on the next series of “Where We Live,” or to host a workshop, contact Traci Cole at 360-906-9151 or

Nourishing Community

By Sharon Svec, Communication

You know those popular gummy vitamins, Li’l Critters? They were the brainchild of a long-time Vancouver couple. Kate and Marty Rifkin became successful entrepreneurs from a simple desire to make healthy living fun for kids. Their product became very well known, and the Rifkin’s product can now be found all over the nation.

Smart investments and goodwill inspired the Kate and Marty to start a foundation that would help support local causes related to children, education and families. The KMR foundation was born. As their website states, “The KMR Group Foundation aspires to give disadvantaged children an equal opportunity to grow up educated, purpose-driven and confident. Through the creation and sponsorship of innovative programs and academic scholarships, KMR seeks to promote sound nutrition, good health, and a love of learning in students of all ages. Beneficiaries of KMR’s support are offered ways to remain connected with the foundation, extending help in turn to subsequent recipients.” YWCA Clark County is fortunate to be a recent recipient of a $10,000 donation from KMR; funds that will support the growth of children and families living at the SafeChoice Domestic Violence Shelter.

“We are grateful to the KMR Foundation for their generous donation, and for their faith in the success of our services.” says Interim SafeChoice Director Stephanie Barr.