Friday, November 14, 2014

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

No comments:

Post a Comment