Mother-Son Motivation at the YWCA

7 May

In honor of Mother’s Day, we wanted to share a story of a mother and son Club W duo – Kathryn and Adrian Winchell.

Adrian Winchell and his mother, Kathryn Winchell

Adrian Winchell and his mother, Kathryn Winchell

Kathryn and her husband Roger, who is also a Club W member, moved to Asheville in 1980 from Washington, DC when their son Adrian was 18 months old –  looking for a “better place to raise a child.”

Kathryn, an active member of the local La Leche League when her son was young, later helped start the Breastfeeding Center at Mission with Nancy Arney.

Kathryn and Roger joined the YWCA’s Club W Health & Fitness Center when she retired in 2008. Kathryn says: “We looked at a lot of different gyms, but they were more expensive and you had waiting times to use equipment. When we came to the YW my husband was impressed – it was the same machines, but with no waiting list. We also liked that it was a non-intimidating environment.”

Their son, Adrian, had been working as a computer animator on a PBS show in Boston when his studio closed down this past winter. Adrian moved back to Asheville, unhappy with the weight he had gained and looking for a change.

Kathryn took advantage of Club W’s new member campaign to invite her son to join her in the gym for the month of February so that he could “try it out.” Coincidentally, this wasn’t the first time Adrian had been to the YWCA – Kathryn brought him to swim lessons here as a toddler.

Adrian designed the digital artwork for his own custom yoga mat, featuring a Hasbro cartoon character, "Vinyl Scratch." He describes it as "incentive to get to class!"

Adrian designed the digital artwork for his own custom yoga mat, featuring a Hasbro cartoon character, “Vinyl Scratch.” He describes it as “incentive to get to class!”

Adrian had never been a fan of organized sports or gym class, saying: “Whether it’s in art or in fitness, I don’t find competition good for personal motivation, learning, or development.” But after his first class at the YW Adrian’s response was: “Yeah… this is good!”

Club W felt different for him immediately. There wasn’t a “He-Man” mentality. Instead, he describes an environment where he can take yoga, Tabata class, and work out in the gym and not feel like he’s being pushed past his personal comfort level.

Between a low-carb diet and exercise at Club W, Adrian has lost 20 pounds since February.

Kathryn and Adrian motivate each other to get themselves to the gym – saying: “Is it a gym day today?”

Kathryn has also used her decades of work experience to motivate and support Adrian in launching his own small business, We Animate Things, which provides custom animation to businesses and individuals.

Mother and son are clearly both proud of each other and what they have achieved, both professionally and in terms of their health.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Let’s Talk About Sex!

29 Apr

By Holly Gillespie, MotherLove Coordinator

MotherLove tried something new for our most recent Evening Group Session: we handed the design, planning, and facilitation of the session over to our Alumni.  It was a resounding and inspirational success!

MotherLove Alumni at a feedback meeting with MotherLove staff in November, 2014

MotherLove Alumni at a feedback meeting with MotherLove staff in November, 2014

The MotherLove Alumni Committee consists of MotherLove Graduates who have completed high school, but wish to remain active in the program.  At the close of last school year, several graduates expressed a desire to “give back” to MotherLove. They told us they felt the program made a huge difference in their lives and they wanted to help make that difference for young women who are still in high school and just beginning their journey into motherhood.  Thus, the Alumni Committee was born.

When the time came to make plans for an Evening Group Session on the topic of sex, the Alumni Committee convened to take on the challenge.  There were many unanimous agreements during our planning session:

-the conversation needed to feel relevant and valuable to the teen moms and dads,

-adult volunteers would be a welcome addition to the group dynamic, and

-whereas many women can articulate that they alone are the masters of their bodies, many women lack the skill set to assert their personal boundaries and preferences.

This last point drove the remainder of the conversation, for how can an individual protect his/her body from STI’s or unplanned pregnancy without the skills to assert their boundaries and preferences?

MotherLove participants at the MotherLove holiday gathering, 2014

MotherLove participants at the MotherLove holiday gathering, 2014

The Alumni ultimately chose to facilitate several small group discussions centered around 7 composed questions.  The questions ranged from ,”how does having a baby affect your sex life?” to “what if you love someone who cheats on you?”  The goal was to engage all who were present in meaningful, self-reflective conversation driven by an undercurrent of self-advocacy and empowerment.

The result was astounding.  Three courageous young women, all fresh out of high school last year, facilitated small group discussions for a mixed age audience on a tremendously sensitive, personal, and often taboo subject.  Each group created an atmosphere of support and confidentiality that made room for teens and adults to share deeply.  MotherLove staff also facilitated a small group for dads. They, too, were open, vulnerable, and reflected on the material in a meaningful way. The evening was truly inspiring.

The success of the evening offers new territory to be explored in MotherLove’s Group Session planning and design. Empowerment means placing power in someone’s hands.  If it is teen moms whom we wish to empower, then it is in their hands that we must place power.  MotherLove’s Alumni Committee continues to grow with each new, motivated graduate.  Their wisdom and perspective will continue to be sought as we aim to foster leadership and self-advocacy in this new generation of young women.

The MotherLove program is made possible with support from the NC Dept Health and Human Services – Women’s Health Branch – Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, Bank of America, Walnut Cove Association, Buncombe County Services Foundation, Duke Progress, TD Bank, YWCA donors, and the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.

For more information, contact Holly Gillespie, coordinator of MotherLove, by email at or by calling 828-254-7206 x 104.

Free Your Mind, Free Your Soul (Nurture Your Body!) at Club W

23 Apr

Claudiette Walker & Ta Tanisha M Robinsons’ Stories
By Tarek Sadeq, Fitness Associate

YW Club W members Claudiette Walker and Ta Tanisha Robinson are from Greensboro (NC) and Youngstown (OH), respectively. They are lifelong friends and enjoy coming to Club W to work out together for “accountability,” and also because they have more fun that way.Claudiette & Ta

After Claudiette and Ta graduated from NC A&T State University in Greensboro, they reconnected after they both eventually made the move to Asheville. Claudiette works with a local call center, while Ta works as a senior buyer.

The two friends agree that the “environment at Club W is particularly non-judgmental, and very relaxing.”  It’s not like other gyms, which can often feel exclusive. Here, there is a great sense of community and friendliness unlike anywhere else in Asheville.

The YWCA mission statement of eliminating racism and empowering women feels relevant, too. Claudiette and Ta commented, “The empowerment piece is definitely here.” Both women feel aware of it when walking through the front doors.

This dynamic duo feels that exercise is a vital part of living a fulfilled and healthy life, and the key to “feeling good.”

“Exercise at Club W serves to free your mind, and free your soul,” says Claudiette. “That is why we come here.”

Advocate to Make Quality Child Care Accessible to Working Families!

23 Apr
Is making sure our children are in quality, safe child care important to you? Then become an advocate!IMG_4832

The recent changes in the child care subsidy eligibility for families will impact over 12,000 school age children in NC.

IMG_4814Our legislators need to hear from us today. Pick up the phone and make your voice heard!  Talking to an elected official may seem intimidating, but they want to know what you think and how they can help. Please use the script below as a guide and make your calls as soon as possible.

Staff will most likely answer the phone and ask for your name and where you live.
When calling Senator Hise, acknowledge you are calling because he serves on the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee


Hi, my name is ___________. I live in Western North Carolina.
Please make the eligibility guidelines the same for families with school age children as with young children. Also, bring back sliding scale co-payments for children in part-time care.
IF APPLICABLE: My family relies on vouchers to provide affordable, safe, high quality care for my children while I work.
Without my voucher I would [fill in what might happen if you didn’t have your voucher, for ex: reduce work hours, place your child in a less desirable care arrangement, quit your job, stop paying other bills/or fill in with what has happened since you lost your voucher.]
Thank you for your consideration.

Senator Ralph Hise:  (919) 733-3460
Representative Josh Dobson:  (919) 733-5862

Other ways you can advocate:IMG_4828

  • Become an advocate on the child care subsidy program and invite your friends, congregants, parents & students to send a message to the NC Legislature using the tools provided in Children First/ Communities In Schools’ Child Care Subsidy Advocacy Toolkit.
  • Sign this Petition: The cost of quality care and learning centers can be $7,000 – $10,000 per year for a child. The child care subsidy helps low-income, working parents meet that expense. By using the subsidy program, children are in safe, quality settings that low income parents otherwise find impossible to afford. Advocate for the restoration of eligibility for all families making up to 200% of Federal Poverty Line.

Here are quotes from some of the families at the YW who will be impacted:

IMG_4842“I am a hard working mother who has had vouchers since my oldest was born and I have been able to work my way up. [With] my vouchers being taken away, I could go backwards. This choice of the legislature is going to have more families in poverty, and more children could be neglected because they might be left at home or somewhere where it is not safe.”  – Jasmine, Medical Industry

“[My daughter] and I had increased housing costs and health care costs, and a number of other financial expenditures that are a burden as the only income earner in our family. In January when I do lose my subsidy I will need to take on more work, or find another job, or begin sending [my daughter] home as a ‘latch key kid’ at 8 years old.”  – Elena, Outpatient Mental Health

“I am a full-time working single mother. It is a constant struggle just to pay regular every day bills. With the increase to paying the full amount for child care it will be almost impossible [to meet expenses]. If there is nothing that can be done I will regretfully have to withdraw my three children from the [YWCA afterschool] program. Withdrawing my children will result in them not getting the proper afterschool homework help or getting good activities and exercise.” – Hope, Hotel IndustryIMG_4822

Since October, the YWCA has kept families in the program by subsidizing 75% of their rate increases.  We cannot continue doing this without help. Please consider making a gift today to help us keep families working and children learning and growing.   Thank you.

Why Do We Take a Stand?

21 Apr

The YWCA’s Stand Against Racism brings people together to raise awareness that racism still exists and can no longer be tolerated. This April is the 7th years we’ve held the Stand in Asheville, and we’re proud that Buncombe County is one of the most active sites – with currently over 70 participating sites and 29 different public eventsMs. E

We are truly appreciative of the community’s support of the YWCA and the Stand Against Racism initiative. Here are some examples of solidarity with the YW Stand:

A-B Tech Community College and the YWCA partnered to bring a community-wide Stand Against Racism kick-off event on Thursday, March 26. The event included Jacquelyn Hallum as the keynote speaker, a panel discussion of community leaders including Beth Maczka, and a host of information tables representing the the organizations that comprise or the Racial Justice Coalition.

The College’s value of inclusiveness and its strategic plan priority, cultivate collaborative relationships to promote and increase a culture of diversity among students, faculty, staff and community stakeholders, speak to A-B Tech’s commitment to doing this work,” says James Lee, Workforce Outreach Coordinator at A-B Tech.061

A-B Tech wants to bring people of all races, classes, and states of employment together — the unemployed, under-employed and employed, as well as decision-makers who can offer employment opportunities. The activities were designed to help participants understand how racism impacts employment and have discussions about solutions and best-practices.”

WNC Adoption Resources hosted filmmaker and Korean adoptee, Barb Lee – who grew up in WNC – to Asheville, for a day-long workshop based on her films’ ‘Adopted’ and ‘Adopted: We Can Do Better.’ The event explored parenting a transracial family, fostering positive identity formation, clarifying parental intentions, and navigating the politics of adoption.

ChristyChristy Tate, Co-Director of WNC Adoption Resources says: “WNC Adoption Resources is an organization dedicated to increasing awareness, education, and support for adoptive families, many of whom have adopted transracially and must address issues of racial identity and racism. We hope that by encouraging dialogue about racial issues with help from individuals such as Barb Lee and her colleagues –  who have personal as well as professional experience and knowledge –  that we will raise consciousness, sensitivity and understanding, which will promote action for positive change. We feel that by taking part in the Asheville YWCA Stand, more of us will know about, have access to, and support programs that will help bring peace to our families, communities, and world.

Spellbound Children’s Bookshop in conjunction with the Stand Against Racism, will create an in-store display of books featuring characters of diverse races and ethnicities. The Saturday morning story time (for ages 3-7 years) will focus on diversity and there will be giveaways of Stand Against Racism buttons and stickers.

“Books are often the first way that children encounter new situations, different places, and different kinds of people,” says Leslie Hawkins, owner of Spellbound Children’s Bookshop. “We look forward to the annual Stand Against Racism as an opportunity to remind parents and other caregivers that books play an important role as both mirrors and windows. For that reason, we are also using this year’s Stand as an opportunity to support the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. Children of all colors and backgrounds need to see themselves reflected in books they read, and they also need to see characters who don’t look like them at all. We sometimes hear customers say ‘I don’t think my child will relate to that book’ when shown a book featuring a character of a different race. That’s doubtful, first of all, as there is always common ground, and if you really think that’s true, then you should be making a concerted effort to introduce your child to people of different races and backgrounds in books and in everyday life. After all, we should all be able to relate to each other’s stories, shouldn’t we?”

Asheville-Buncombe County Relations Council has been an instrumental community partner for the YWCA and the Stand Against Racism imitative, in embracing responsibility for equity and inclusion.

“When working to address discrimination on a community level, it is imperative that community members collectively work towards resolving issues,” says Lucia Daughtery, Executive Director of Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council. “We see the Stand Against Racism Initiative as an opportunity for Asheville and Buncombe County to clearly and publicly state our commitment to ending racism, through participation in concrete collaborative action.”

Two upcoming Stand events include:

HoodTalk_1821 (1)


You can view the full list of Stand sites on our website at

Meet Our Amazing YW Kitchen Staff!

31 Mar

At the YWCA we provide breakfast, lunch, and snack to our Child Care Center, as well as snack to our School Age program. It’s important to us that we help the children in our Centers to be more comfortable trying new foods, and to get quality nutrition while they’re attending our programs.


In order to do this, we have been trained in Rainbow In My Tummy®, and use Rainbow in My Tummy recipes and menus. Rainbow in My Tummy® is a healthy eating program developed by the Verner Center for Early Learning.  It focuses on feeding children a wide range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins while also staying in line with nutrition requirements from the Federal Government.

To compliment Rainbow in My Tummy® the students in our Child Care Center also participate in Farmer’s Market Friday, where they get to taste test a new fresh fruit or vegetable.

Farmers Market Friday 12.12.14 001Most every Friday you can find our Child Nutrition Coordinator, Alex Mitchell, in each classroom passing out samples of produce and talking with the kids about how and where the plants grow, what part of the plants we eat, or how the food tastes, smells or feels. The children, and staff, get to sample foods they may never have had before in a positive environment that encourages trying new foods.

So who makes all of this delicious Rainbow In My Tummy food®? The YWCA’s amazing kitchen staff! Learn more about them below, and contact us if you’d like to come on an Empower Hour tour – which includes a Rainbow In My Tummy® lunch.

Anna RectorIMAG1919

How long have you lived in Asheville?
All my life and then some
How long have you worked at the YW?
9 years
What are your duties in the kitchen?
Check in weekly delivery and put away, make lunch and breakfast, prep for the next day, keep food organized, maintain kitchen.
What is your favorite part of working in the kitchen?
Helping others
What is your favorite Rainbow in My Tummy® Recipe?
That’s a wicked question, there are too many to choose one!

Bettie EddingsIMAG1980

How long have you lived in Asheville?
All my life
How long have you worked at the YW?
6 years
What are your duties in the kitchen?
Fix snack for the after school
What is your favorite part of working in the kitchen?
Working with the staff
What is your favorite Rainbow in My Tummy® Recipe?
Wonderful Waffle Sandwiches

Famia CarsonIMAG1893

How long have you lived in Asheville?
17 years
How long have you worked at the YW?
2 ½ years
What are your duties in the kitchen?
Dish washer/kitchen assistant
What is your favorite part of working in the kitchen?
Coworkers, the positive environment, the fresh fruit juice!
What is your favorite Rainbow in My Tummy® Recipe?
Oven roasted asparagus

Elaine “Pinky” BurtonIMAG1981

How long have you lived in Asheville?
50+ years
How long have you worked at the YW?
6 months
What are your duties in the kitchen?
To prepare snacks for child care which includes infants, toddlers, 2 years olds, 3-4, and 4-5
What is your favorite part of working in the kitchen?
Learning to make healthy snacks
What is your favorite Rainbow in My Tummy® Recipe?
Yogurt, granola, and fresh berries

Learn more at

Introducing our 2013-2014 Annual Report!

30 Mar

We are pleased and proud to present our Annual Report of the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year!


The Annual Report includes highlights of our achievements from the past year, stories from our programs and of our participants, and a reporting of our finances.

You may have received a copy in the mail – if you would like a hard copy, please email You may also read the Annual Report electronically here.

Thank you to all of our supporters!



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