Saturday, April 18, 2015

Teambuilding with YWCA

By Sharon Svec

There’s a teambuilding exercise we do at YWCA Clark County, and every time I participate in it, I feel pride in myself, and in those I work with. We’re handed an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, which lists each one of YWCA’s core values:
  • empowerment – we provide the tools and support that build self esteem and foster positive life choices 
  • diversity – we celebrate and respect our differences and recognize the dignity of each individual teamwork – we cooperate to achieve our shared vision 
  • commitment – we believe in and live our mission and are authentic in our word and deed 
  • service – we are leaders in providing quality and innovative service in a caring, compassionate, safe environment 
  • respect – we value and honor individual ideas, contributions and opinions 

We’re then asked to choose a value that we resonate with, and to describe how that value is significant to the work we do at YWCA. I admit that I almost always choose empowerment.

I’ve worked in a number of different places, and I’ve never experienced empowerment like I do at YWCA Clark County. Not only is it a leading value in the work we do with participants, but empowerment is stitched into the fabric of daily life at YWCA. You can walk down the hall any day, and see empowerment in action. Sometimes, it’s a supervisor providing a leadership role to a team member. Other times, it’s through the interaction of a father with his child, when he listens to her intently as she describes her day. And often, I witness empowerment in the smiles and conversations of those who’ve just attended a support group or a class on domestic violence.

 The 5 other values, which make up YWCA’s core values are shared throughout the course of the exercise. It’s a great teambuilder. We all get to know each other in the context of our shared values. 

YWCA employs a similar exercise during all staff meetings, when staff are encouraged to recognize a team member who has demonstrated a core value. We name the value and share how this person has exemplified it in their work. In the end, we come out of the exercise feeling pride in our selves, in each other, and in the work we do. Practicing this acknowledgment helps remind us of why we do this work, and that we’re not alone in seeking the best for our community.

Right now, YWCA is offering an opportunity for all people in the community to join YWCA in this teambuilding exercise. Here’s how you can join in!

  • Share your favorite value with a photo, video or statement using the hashtag #yvaluesmatter.
  • Tag your post with @ YWCA Clark County (Facebook) or @ywcacc (Twitter) and your post will appear on YWCA’s social media pages. Your post will also display on YWCA’s website.
  • Invite friends to share in this community-wide exercise by tagging them in your post.
  • You can also make a donation in recognition of a friend who shares our values.

I hope that you join YWCA during this campaign to help spread awareness of our services, fundraise for our programming, and ultimately shape our community into one of peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My First Lobby Day

By Amira Rebihic, YWCA Clark County Volunteer

In October of 2014, I sat down with my advisor at WSUV and discussed my options for helping others while learning more about local communities and populations. I received a huge packet full of organizations that offer volunteer programs, and YWCA stuck out to me. After contacting Lauren Sheridan, I got in touch with my current supervisor Ariella, and decided it was a great fit. Never would I have imagined that I would get to do a lot more than one-on-one help with participants.

Annette, Amir and Hoda representing YWCA in Olympia.
On March 19th 2015, I was lucky enough to attend Lobby Day in Olympia, WA. Alongside five very dedicated and passionate women from YWCA Clark County, I met with District 17’s Senator Don Benton and two representatives, Lynda Wilson and Paul Harris. Initially when I heard about the trip, I was under the impression I would be going to engage in a peaceful protest of some kind and/or make phone calls to raise awareness of domestic violence. Oh boy was I in for a ride! After three hours of training led by the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, I ended up sitting in the offices of the respective Senator and representatives, engaging in conversations that dug deeper than simply telling them where we come from and that we need funding. Thankfully, they all supported our cause and understood the importance of the daily work that is done at both our office and shelter, and most of their opinions are reflected in their votes.

Just a few months ago, I myself was ignorant to just how unfortunately prevalent domestic violence is in our area. At one YWCA location, over 13,000 hotline calls were made. Being a part of a team that focuses on not just helping survivors of DV, but does their best to educate our youth and empower women to prevent it is truly a privilege. I am grateful I had the opportunity to attend Lobby Day and talk to the people who ultimately keep our programs running – all the constituents who take their own time and energy to help others regain their identity and confidence.