Our July Staff Spotlight features Amanda Read, MotherLove Coordinator. Amanda is new to the YWCA and to Asheville, and we couldn’t be more excited to have her part of our YWCA team & community.
How long have you lived in Asheville? I moved to Asheville in May, so I’m really new to town. Previously, I lived in Columbia, SC where I completed my Masters in Social Work at the University of South Carolina. I grew up in Greensboro, NC.
How long have you been at the YW? My first day at the YWCA was May 30th, so I have been here for just a little over a month.
Favorite thing(s) about the YWCA? I love the culture here at the YWCA. I am so happy to be a part of an organization that values the community served and its staff members. I like knowing that I am working for a purpose that will benefit peoples’ lives. It is also a perk to come to work every day and see people being active and working out. It motivates me to get moving for my own health and wellness.
What do you like to do in your spare time? I love to spend time with my family and friends. On the weekends, I like to watch live music. I will often drag a family member or friend to see a show with me regardless of the musical genre—I listen to anything from Hip-Hop, Indie, Grunge, R&B, Classical and Turkish music.
People would be surprised if they knew I… Love to watch Chinese and Thai soap operas. I find the acting and storylines more entertaining than American television. If asked, I will shamelessly recommend amazing dramas to watch on a rainy day.
Holly and her daughter Juniper enjoying the MotherLove 2016 graduation pool party.
Working with MotherLove has been a gift that I will always cherish. I have been let into young lives at times of crisis, transition, power, and transformation. I have spent my career at the YWCA so far. I can’t imagine how different my life would be had that not been true. I have learned so much from working in our community…
- I have learned that listening matters more than I ever imagined.
- I have learned to let go of trying to find the perfect thing to say to fix it.
- I have learned that caring deeply for others means you must care deeply for yourself.
- I have learned that teenagers can act like adults.
- I have learned that adults can act like teenagers.
- I have learned that teenagers often do act like teenagers, and that’s ok.
- I have learned that you can’t really talk to someone about their love life. You just have to listen and hope they can hear what they’re saying.
- I have learned that the love a mother feels for her newborn baby is more powerful and magical than I ever dreamed. I knew how it felt from the inside, but I cherish having witnessed the beauty of it time and again.
- I have learned how tough and strong and determined and resilient a young woman has to be to have a baby and finish high school .
- I have learned to ask for help.
- I have learned that joy and support and laughter make a heavy load seem light, even if just for a moment.
- And I have learned that we all have the power to affect each other deeply as we cross paths, and that small gestures of kindness and concern can impact others more than we can imagine.
Life must be about connections, or we are lost.
– Holly Gillespie, MotherLove Coordinator
Holly Gillespie has been with the YWCA for 10 years. For the past five years, MotherLove has been a big part of Holly’s life. At the end of the month, Holly will leave the program in the capable hands our new MotherLove Coordinator, Amada Read. We wish Holly the very best – we know she will continue to inspire and empower – and to learn.
The MotherLove program is made possible with support from the City of Asheville, NC Dept. of Health and Human Services – Women’s Health Branch – Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, Bank of America, TD Bank, the United Way of Asheville, Buncombe County Services Foundation and YWCA donors.
Our Staff Spotlight features Melinda Aponte, Nutrition Coordinator. Melinda brings a rich culinary background and a New York state of mind to the YWCA team. Here is more about Melinda:
How Long have you lived in Asheville? My husband and I moved to Asheville last May from Brooklyn, NY.
How long have you been at the YWCA? I started at the YWCA in February of this year, as the Kitchen Manager, and became the Nutrition Coordinator officially in March. My background is in culinary, and in this position I’m able to try different aspects outside of the kitchen, providing nutritional and health education opportunities. I’m thankful to the YW for giving me the opportunity to grow, and it speaks a lot about this organization.
Favorite thing(s) about the YWCA? One of my favorite things is how the YWCA truly lives up to its mission – how everyone here is working toward eliminating racism and empowering women. I get the opportunity to teach children how to eat healthy at a young age, so they have the tools to be better adults. That’s a great feeling. All the staff here are great, and there’s always someone to give you a helping hand. It’s truly a community here.
What do you like to do in your spare time? I’ve been hiking a lot, and I love it! I never was a nature person living in the city, but since moving here I have a new-found appreciation for nature. My five-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, Cody, loves it too!
People would be surprised if they knew I… put on Spanish music every night, Salsa and Merengue, and just dance to it. It’s a form of meditation for me! It helps with stress and to feel better about everything.
To learn more about the YWCA and ways to get involved visit our website, or call us at 828-254-7206.