Diabetes Awareness and the YWCA

23 Nov

November is National Diabetes Month, but every month of the year the YWCA of Asheville works to raise awareness about diabetes and its impact on our community.

The Diabetes Wellness & Prevention program at the YWCA gives participants the power to take control of their health. In this program participants who desire to make lasting change build community, and leave feeling stronger, healthier, more knowledgeable, and – above all – supported.

Watch the following video to hear the story of one participant in our Diabetes Wellness & Prevention program, Jennifer Wilmer:


To learn more about joining our Diabetes Wellness & Prevention Program, contact Leah Berger-Singer at leah.bs@ywcaofasheville.org or at 828-254-7206 x. 212. 

The YWCA of Asheville’s Preventive Health programming is supported by an educational grant from Novo Nordisk Inc., the NC Dept. Health & Human Services – Office of Minority Health, Mission Health Community Benefits Program, YWCA donors, and the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.

Spotlight on: Wendy Bell, Club W Member

11 Nov

Joshua McClure, Club W Coordinator, recently spoke with Wendy Bell about her background, what motivates her, and what she likes about the YWCA and Club W.Wendy Bell

Josh: Are you from Asheville?
Wendy: My husband and I moved here in 1964 from Louisville, Kentucky, due to his job. My husband worked for USFS (United States Forest Services).

Josh: What great things do you have going in your life?
Wendy: My husband and I have been married for 52 years. I would also like to say I am 75 and in great health; I think that is pretty great. I enjoy my volunteer work that I do, with a pre-school outreach program, Song of Sky- chorus program,  and Meals On Wheels.

Josh: Can you tell me one thing that is a success for you in your life?
Wendy: I was a high school and ESL teacher with Buncombe County Schools. I loved the years that I worked doing this, and feel like this was a success for me.  I also would like to think that I am a committed workout woman!

Josh: What motivated you to start working out?
Wendy: When I retired in 2001 my weight started creeping up and I didn’t have a regular workout routine. I just took mostly cardio classes and did daily walks. This is typical for women with osteoporosis; you need to add weights to your workout.  When Curves came to North Asheville I didn’t have an excuse not to workout. I stuck with Curves for 10 years, until they closed down. The YW is more intensive; there is more variety here at the YW and more equipment and classes that you can choose from.

Josh: What do you like best about YWCA?
Wendy: I like the strength-training workouts designed here at the YWCA.  I really feel like I am getting stronger. As always, the staff are super helpful. The YWCA is also a convenient and well equipped facility.

Back in 2012 I had a slight stroke and my left side was slightly compromised, and I could feel it was weak.  I have noticed more in the YW workout that I am doing that my left side is developing. The weights/workouts that David [Fitness Associate] started me on are making my left side more equal to my right side. This definitely has to do with the YW and working out. My left side is stronger and my balance is better. I was going out my front door and I caught my foot on the edge of the mat and I could feel I was in danger. I tightened up my core and saved myself from the fall. I have gained strength, and I would have not been able to do this without the YW.

Josh: What is one thing that people don’t know about you that you would like to share?
Wendy: I am very shy!

Josh: What advice would you give to people who have questions about the YWCA?
Wendy: Go and try the YW for yourself and you will be sold!

Learn more about Club W Health & Fitness Center at http://www.ywcaofasheville.org/clubw. Through-out the month of November, join us for free Workout Wednesdays – you can come in and use the gym, pool, or take a class for free. 

Video Highlights from the Intergenerational Conversation on Race

10 Nov

On October 1, 2015 the organizations Elders Fierce for Justice, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and the YWCA of Asheville hosted an inter-generational conversation on racial justice.

The panel discussion was moderated by the Rev. Michael Carter, of the Unitarian Universalist of the Swannanoa Valley.

The panel of elders was composed of community activist Issac Coleman, the Rev. Jim Abbott, retired minister at  St. Mattheas Episcopal Church, and Jacquelyn Hallum, director of education at the Mountain Area Health Education Center.

The youth panel was composed of Raekwon Griffin, class president at Asheville High School, Felicia Blow, community organizer for the Campaign for Southern Equality, and Michael Collins, a representative of Showing Up for Racial Justice and staff member at the YWCA of Asheville.

Speakers focused on the persistence of racial in injustice and what can be done about it. Watch a 12-minute video of highlights from the conversation below.

Sponsors for this event
email Elders Fierce for Justice at eldersffj@gmail.com

Video production by Studio Misha

Spotlight On: Maria Weider, YWCA Director of Health & Wellness

4 Nov

Maria Weider is relatively new to her role as Director of Health & Wellness at the YWCA, but she brings over 25 years of experience managing fitness clubs and a real passion for health to the YW family. Maria Weider

Here’s more about Maria:

How long have you lived in Asheville? Since 1986—I’m originally from Lexington, KY. I came through Asheville traveling from Myrtle Beach and just never left. 

Favorite thing(s) about the YWCA? Definitely the people here at the YWCA. I love my coworkers, love the talent and passion they all have for the mission, and love that our work here reaches out into the community. I’ve worked over 25 years in the fitness industry and now I feel like I can finally make an impact on more than the 2% or so that go to gyms. The fact that Club W at the YWCA reaches out into the community is awesome!

What do you like to do in your spare time? Well, I love to do things with my family. I have a 21-year-old, a 16-year-old, a 13-year-old and a 10-year-old—Matt, Aixa, Tucker and Gabby—and we all love to hike, cook and play music together. We’re a very musical family—everyone plays an instrument or sings, so we stay entertained with that. I also enjoy spending time with my lovely husband, Scott.

People would be surprised if they knew I… was once a competitive body builder. Also, that Spanish was my first language and native tongue. I moved to the United States when I was 6 years-old from Montevideo, Uruguay.

Please come by the YWCA at 185 S. French Broad Ave. to meet Maria and tour Club W! 

“I Want Them to Know They Can Do It!” MotherLove Alumni Give Back

8 Oct

By Holly Gillespie, YWCA MotherLove Coordinator

I want to celebrate with you a realization of the ideals of empowerment…  

MotherLove alum Gaines and her son

MotherLove alum Ahmarie Gaines and her son

The other week, 8 graduates from the MotherLove program gathered for the first Alumni Meeting of the year.  Several women came directly from a full work shift, most brought their baby with them, and no Alumni are older than 20.  That means 8 working teen parents took 2 hours of their busy and often complicated lives to come together to, in their words, “give back” to the program.

I was deeply moved when, inspired by a prompt from our star volunteer, Debbie Welch, each Alum offered her or his reason for giving up a weeknight of potential downtime to come to the group. The consensus sounded something like this: “MotherLove has meant so much to me and helped me so much.  I want to do whatever I can to help the program and to offer that support to young moms who are still in high school.  I want them to know they can do it; they can graduate!”

I asked the group how they wanted to spend their time together, suggesting a range of ideas from regular social gatherings, to planning Evening Support Group Sessions for the young parents enrolled in the program this year.  The group unanimously chose to take on the responsibility of not only planning, but facilitating a Group each month for the parents still in high school!

The 2015 Alumni Committee’s first delivered Evening Group Session will take place this month.  Alumni chose to begin the session by each sharing the story of their personal journey through parenthood and high school.  Afterwards, they will co-facilitate small groups to ask current participants what they want to gain from the MotherLove program this year, and any skills or information they feel they need to learn as new parents.

Nancy Herrera-Mendoza, MotherLove alum, in her high school graduation cap and gown

Nancy Herrera-Mendoza, MotherLove alum, in her high school graduation cap and gown

I want to highlight that the format of this session is top-notch, utilizes best practices, and is infused with the ethics of empowerment.  These women and men are fresh out of high school and leaning on instinct and personal experience… and they have created a model that scholars would envy.  

Words cannot express how impressed I am with this group of young parents.  I am deeply grateful for the privilege of walking with them on their parenting journey, and am inspired by their drive and motivation to share what they have learned.  This is the essence of empowerment.

A Day in the Life of the Rainbow in My Tummy Kitchen

11 Sep

By Alex Mitchell

As many of the readers of this blog know, the YWCA provides healthy meals and snacks from our Rainbow in My Tummy Program for our children in our Child Care, After School, and Drop-In Child Care. Rainbow in My Tummy was created by the Verner Early Learning Center and is a way to help child care centers feed their children healthfully while still adhering to government guidelines. We stick to whole grains, mostly fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and low fat dairy. Almost all of the food that comes out of our kitchen is made from scratch by our stellar kitchen staff every day. So what does it take to feed almost 200 kids? Read on to find out!

Many days start with shopping and unloading deliveries of the week’s food. Our cook, Anna Rector, organizes everything to make sure the week goes smoothly, while Alex Mitchell, Child Care Nutrition Coordinator, picks up items from Ingles and Sam’s Club.

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Once everything is organized and put away, it’s breakfast time! Anna dishes out all kinds of breakfast goodies, from oatmeal to scratch-made muffins, to bagels with cream cheese. We always start our days out with some kind of fruit and ice cold milk!

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On this Friday, the day doesn’t slow down as Anna and our morning Kitchen Assistant, Famia Carson, are hard at work to get lunch ready. Famia makes sure all of the breakfast dishes are cleaned up, while Anna finishes up lunch prep.

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Once-a-week, Alex bring a new fruit or vegetable to the classrooms for Farmer’s Market Friday. This week the kids get to try yellow bell peppers. Farmer’s Market Friday is a great way for the kids to try and learn about different fruits and veggies.

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Once Farmer’s Market Friday is over, it’s time to serve lunch. Famia is delivering turkey meatballs, whole wheat rolls, spinach salad, and fruit salad Yum!

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After lunch is served and the children nap, the kitchen staff is still hard at work. Kitchen Assistants, Betty Eddings and Elaine “Pinky” Burton, help get snacks ready for Child Care and After School.


Snack time! Our children are enjoying berries and yogurt for their snacks. The kitchen staff stay busy by cleaning up and shutting down the kitchen so it’s ready for the morning.

It takes a lot of time and dedication to get healthy meals and snacks to our children. Every day, our Rainbow in My Tummy Kitchen staff works tirelessly to make sure everything runs smoothly and gets done!

Salsa, Sabor y Salud Wraps-up its Final Days with the Sweetness of Honey

14 Aug

By Leah Berger-Singer

This summer flew by quickly as our participants in Salsa, Sabor y Salud (our Latino Health Outreach Program) enjoyed learning simple steps to living a healthier, happier lifestyle. Throughout the program, we had volunteers and guest speakers come to the YWCA  to talk to our participants about various ways to make changes in their livSalsaes. On July 22nd, Dr. Lopez-Stratton, a medical practitioner from Mission Haywood Family Medicine, came to speak with us about bees, pollination and various ways we can eat and use honey. Dr. Lopez-Stratton brought in a live bee hive, along with some local honey, and provided tips and recipes on how to use honey for medicinal purposes. Our participants were able to enjoy a healthy snack of greek yogurt and fresh peaches with a drizzle of honey on top. ¡Que rico! (In English, this means “how delicious”).

The Salsa model includes the whole family in learning – running concurrent sessions for both children and adults. “[In Salsa], we learneSalsa2d how to eat more and more [healthy] every week and to try new things and to get outside more. Now we go to the park and when we are finished playing, we go on walks around the park”, stated Priscilla, age 12. Mariana, age 10, noticed the changes that her mother has made at the grocery store and in the kitchen. “My mom is not buying bread or sweets [anymore]. She also makes some vegetable juices that are good”. Salsa aims to help parents demonstrate healthy habits resulting in children learning healthy routines while maintaining family traditions, customs and meal recipes.

For more information about our Salsa, Sabor y Salud program, contact Leah Berger-Singer, Preventative Health Coordinator, by email at  leah.bs@ywcaofasheville.org or by calling 828-254-7206 x. 212. For more information about the Preventive Health program, visit www.ywcaofasheville.org/preventativehealth

Thank you to Mission Health for your support of the Salsa, Sabor y Salud program.


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