A Conversation with Beth Maczka, CEO and Marsha Davis, Deputy Director

14 Sep

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As Deputy Director, Marsha works directly with program leads to support our YWCA through grant writing and program development. YWCA CEO, Beth Maczka recently sat down with Marsha to talk about her role and passion for our mission.

BM: Tell me a little about your background.

MD: I went to Harvard and got a degree in molecular and cellular biology, but I am mostly interested in social justice work and how we empower communities that are marginalized. [In college] I used to run a theatre group for black students to highlight black playwrights and I worked at this organization called Project Health which [through hospitals and doctors] linked low-income patients to all these neighborhood social services. Although I got my degree in science, instead of becoming a doctor, it was really more important for me to work with underserved populations.

BM: What brought you to the YW?

MD: The mission, hands down. I love being able to say that I work at an organization that eliminates racism and empowers women – knowing that it is going to be the underpinnings of all of the work that we do.

BM: What do you like best about being Deputy Director?

MD: I have had the kind of career where I have gotten to explore a lot of things and this position is the first that I have had that allows me to take all of my skills and apply them in the same place. I get to use my science mind and I get to use my public health mind when we talk about the diabetes program. I get to use my affinity for numbers when we look at budgets. I even get to use my teaching and coaching skills when working with the folks I supervise. Everything that I have done before really positioned me well to be here.

BM: What is your approach and vision for the YW?

MD: To be as clear and vibrant with our mission internally as we are externally. I’d really love for everyone who works for the YW to have a clear sense of how their work is related to the mission.

BM: What is one of your proudest moments as Deputy Director?

MD: The YW’s Stand Against Racism Women of Color Leading Change panel was my favorite thing that I have done so far. It was a wonderful opportunity.

We Will Not Normalize Racism

14 Aug

We are outraged, saddened and disgusted by the display of bigotry and hatred from the white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, VA this weekend. This act of hate and terrorism was directly responsible for the death of a young woman, Heather Heyer, and injuries to numerous others who gathered to stand against racism in all of its forms.

YWCA Asheville stands in solidarity to grieve for the victims of this latest tragedy, including two law enforcement officers, and show our unrelenting dedication to the elimination of racism. While we hold this space, we keep in the forefront of our minds that this is not an isolated incident or an unprecedented one. Our country’s long history and ongoing legacy of racism continue to plague our country with violence, oppression and white supremacy.

We must listen, trust and empathize with people of color, LGBTQ people, faith communities and other groups who suffer under personal and systemic injustices of discrimination and inequities. We will not normalize racism. We will not normalize domestic terrorism. Every day we must work towards an ideal that all people are created equal and have the right to live a life without fear.

Our nation’s strength and resilience stems from our diversity and contributions made by people of different races, genders, faiths, sexual orientations and political beliefs. We call on our white allies to recognize white privilege and racial bias, and to commit to rejecting all forms of hatred, bigotry, and intolerance.

As stated in Heather Heyer’s last message to us all, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

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Read more in YWCA USA’s statement including words from association leadership at YWCA Central Virginia and YWCA Richmond.

Bold Mission, Bright Future

21 Jun

YWCANationalConference2017Delegates from our YW in Asheville recently attended the YWCA National Conference in Washington D.C. where we convened with fellow leaders from associations across the country to share, discuss, advocate, and collaborate together. The energy was high and the intention clear. From workshops to powerhouse keynote speakers the YWCA held up the significance of embracing the intersectionality of our work throughout social justice movements and the imperative to uplift the leadership of young women and women of color.

CapitalHillDay2017_BethMaczka_LaurenWeldishoferWe turned Capitol Hill persimmon as hundreds of YWCA delegates met with their respective representatives in Washington to advocate for our mission, programs, and communities.Thank you to everyone who signed our petition and wrote postcards about potential Federal Budget cuts. YWCA of Asheville proudly delivered over 560 signatures to the offices of Congressman McHenry and Meadows and Senators Burr and Tillis. Our message was to highlight the importance of federal funds in programs that serve women, children and families and what a great job we do in leveraging additional funding to provide high-quality services to our community. The petition and postcards were well received. The general response from legislative staff is that the budget will be significantly re-written before it is finalized and that we should continue to stay in touch during the process – so stay tuned for more advocacy opportunities.

20170616_201132Also during the conference, YWCA of Asheville was recognized as one of three finalists for the YWCA Association of Excellence Award for Racial Justice. We were nominated – out of more than 220 associations nationwide – for the development of our racial justice workshops, our robust Stand Against Racism campaign, and our leadership with our local Racial Justice Coalition. Although we did not win, we congratulate our friends at YWCA of Rochester for their exceptional achievement and are inspired to work even harder for racial justice. Congratulations also to YWCA Greater Atlanta for excellence in advocacy and YWCA Brooklyn for excellence in women’s empowerment. 

Throughout the conference, YWCA of Asheville was posting quotes, insights, and photos in real-time to the YWCA audience nationwide. Read our Social Media Ambassador’s reflections on the YWCA USA Blog.

 

Celebrating Our 110th Anniversary

12 May

 

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Beth Maczka, YWCA CEO and the 2016/2017 YWCA Board of Directors

 

Since 1907 the YWCA of Asheville has been at the forefront of social and racial justice movements in our community. The first location of the YWCA in Asheville was founded to support and house single white women moving into the city to work. A few years later in 1913, a group of black women started to meet and created the Employment Club. And, in 1921, the African American Phyllis Wheatley Branch of the YWCA was opened.  Officially integrating in 1967 and merging under one roof on South French Broad Avenue in 1971, the YWCA of Asheville continues to serve women and families in our community, proudly living into our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women every day.

To honor our rich history, highlight those currently making a difference, and share a vision for our future, the YWCA held an event in May 2017 to celebrate our 110 Year Anniversary. Thank you to all who came and made the evening so special. Held at UNC Asheville, guests enjoyed a reception to gather, share memories and view many of the newly archived YWCA photos on display. During the program, we showcased our partnership with UNC Asheville, which helped us preserve and identify historical images and collect new oral histories from YW members. Presenters from both the YWCA and UNC Asheville shared historical timelines, themes, and stories captured during oral history interviews conducted by university students and from our community picture viewing days for over 400 newly acquired YW photos. Our past board presidents and executive directors wrapped up the evening by sharing their hopes and dreams for the YWCA to send us off looking ahead into our bright future.

Visit our website at www.ywcaofasheville.org/history for links to explore the Asheville YWCA Oral History Project from the UNC Asheville History Department, view the YWCA of Asheville Archive at Ramsey Library at UNC Asheville Special Collections and access the new Asheville YWCA Digital Photo Collection through the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, NC Collection at UNC Chapel Hill.

Member Spotlight: Susan McBride

9 Aug
Susan has lived in Asheville for 16 years and has been a YWCA member on and off much of that time. With a little motivation and support from our LiveFit pilot program – Susan is back!
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What brought you to YW originally? I wanted a quiet, clean work out space. I had joined the YMCA when I first moved here. Honestly, the YMCA had too much “M” for me. Guys would be working out on the weights, letting them drop, lots of grunting and groaning. Macho peacock displays of toughness weren’t something I was craving. Also, there would be folks waiting for the machines with impatience. I’m not sure if it’s still like that now. The YWCA health and Fitness Center was more appealing to me. The gym is clean and I rarely have to wait for a machine. The staff is kind, welcoming and helpful. There’s a broad range of people who use the gym and lots of little kids coming and going. It’s a lively, happy place. The group fitness studio used for yoga and other classes is also very nice.
How did you get involved with LiveFit? Out of the blue, I was contacted to be part of the pilot program. At first, I thought it was a promotional call, but it was a real offer to be part of something I was greatly in need of doing.
Tell us a little about your LiveFit experience:  I was looking to get back into a healthful routine after years of stressful work and family situations involving caregiving. I had fallen away from taking good care of myself, stress was ruling my world. Working out for me was a walk to the grocery store to get ice cream or wine. I was demoralized at being out of shape and overweight again – and the only person who could change that was exhausted, depressed me. Being part of this group was a gentle way to motivate into a more healthy routine, including good nutrition advice and support in exercising in many different ways.
Have you met any health & fitness goals yet? I have committed to working out 3 times a week and I’m sticking with that for the most part. I am also eating more healthy food. I’m a work in progress. (Aren’t we all?!)
What are your future goals? I want to do strength training and get comfortable with more equipment in the gym by working with a YW personal trainer – hopefully with Fran [who was an instructor with the LiveFit program.]
Who inspires you? People who are older than me, who are in great shape, quietly and humbly doing their thing in the gym. People who are ill, but continue to come to the gym and do their workouts. I am inspired by the staff as well. It’s good to see them working out too.
Favorite workout/class/machine:  The elliptical is a good cardio workout and easy on the knees. I also like the rowing machine and free weights.
What else do you like most about the YW? I love the childcare program. My daughter did an internship when she was a junior in high school and had an amazing experience caring for infants and learning about community outreach. I like to stop by and see the babies sometimes. They are so loved at the YWCA childcare center. I also love the officer who takes care of everybody at the YW. (That would be the one and only, Charlton Owens!) He tells folks to “get the car in gear and drive it like they stole it!” Then gives a military salute. He makes me laugh, he’s a great person.
Anything else you would like to share? Thank you for reaching out to me. The personal phone call to be part of the LiveFit pilot program was out of the ordinary and got my attention. Talking to real people about taking care of myself has been a gift!

Staff Spotlight: Amanda Read, Mother Love Coordinator

22 Jul

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.image1

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.

Racial Justice Advocacy & Action in Times of Tragedy

12 Jul

We at the YWCA of Asheville are deeply saddened by the local tragedy of events resulting in the death of Jai “Jerry” Lateef Solveig Williams. We grieve with our community for the loss of another young African-American man.

RacismHurtsEveryone_BlackThis, compounded with the appalling deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of law enforcement, deepens our resolve to work towards dismantling systemic racism that undermines our society and threatens us all.
The mission of the YWCA is eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. While details are still emerging through the ongoing investigation of local events, the YWCA of Asheville is committed to working with our community as part of the Racial Justice Coalition to eliminate any and all forms of institutional and structural racism.
Read this statement documenting a meeting with Asheville Police Department Chief Hooper and members of community organizations including the Racial Justice Coalition. As leaders within the Racial Justice Coalition, the YWCA will continue to work closely with APD to ensure truth and accountability emerge from this investigation. Stay connected with us for further updates and dialogue through this Blog and our Facebook and Twitter.