Jean Coile Scholarship Helping a New Generation Swim

2 Jul

Paige Peterson is a single mother of 2 year-old twins. A self-described “water and outdoors person,” Pagie says: “So many water accidents happen with kids… it’s very important to me that my daughters learn how to swim at a young age. My granny is 73, and doesn’t know how to swim – I didn’t want them to experience that toll in life.”

Paige Peterson with her daughters

Paige Peterson with her daughters

With that in mind, Paige came to the YWCA in September, where she learned that she was eligible for a Jean Coile scholarship to help subsidize her children’s swim lessons. Jean Coile was the YW’s Aquatics Director from 1999 until 2010; the fund was created upon her retirement to honor her work.

“It means a lot to have a scholarship that I can use when times are tight,” says Paige. “Otherwise we would have to miss out on a month of classes, and the girls would lose some of that momentum.”

As it is, the twins have graduated from the Baby 1 & 2 class to the preschool class. They can do ‘chipmunk cheeks,’ hold their breath, jump in the pool, and are starting to learn windmills.

“I’ve seen tremendous progress from when they first started,” says Paige. “My mom comes with me, and it’s a time for them to bond. The girls love swim class, and it’s good for them.”

The Jean Coile Scholarship is needs-based, and is available on a limited basis to subsidize instructional swimming lessons for adults and children.  For more information contact Kitty Schmidt, Aquatics Coordinator, at 828-254-7206 x. 110.

For more information about the YWCA’s swim lessons, visit

Standing in Solidarity with Charleston

30 Jun

The YWCA of Asheville family has been grieving for the 9 victims of the shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC and their families.

Solidarity with Charleston 002

On June 19, Beth Maczka, our CEO, made the following statement:
“At the YWCA board meeting last night we learned that one board member lost a relative and another lost three Delta sorority sisters in the Charleston shooting. We are all connected – and if we are to prevent future shootings, we must begin acting like these are our family members. Be angry, be sad, be outraged – but feel something and do something. Be a witness, be an ally, be a light in the darkness. Prayers for our sisters and brothers in Charleston.”

Stand 2 (1)

We then called for our staff, members, and supporters to wear their Stand Against Racism t-shirts and join us for photos in front of our marquee sign on S. French Broad Ave, where we had a message of support for Charleston.


In addition, we invited people to write a reflection for our version of the Wailing Wall in the YW lobby. Sticky notes were available with the following prompts: I feel… I wish… I pray… I need… I will…

Solidarity with Charleston 006

Here is what people responded:

I feel devastated and sad.
I will stand against racism.
My prayers go out to all the families. Bless everyone.
I will start a conversation about race.
I will continue to spread awareness
The perpetrator was caught, but the killer is still out there.
I will not let people around me make racial jokes or comments without my intervention.
I pray for change.
Black lives matter. Life matters, period.
I will pray for you Charleston!
God is good
I pray for peace and love to prevail!
I will speak and act for equality and healing among all races
No more guns in the hands of disturbed young males. Period.
I pray for single mothers everywhere. Stay strong.
I feel love
Kindness is a choice
I pray for world peace
Black lives matter
Let’s go down to the river to pray, studyin about those good ol’ days…
Take down the confederate flag and step into the 21st century!
I am sad and I am angry. Enough is enough!
I feel solidarity with Charleston and awe at the thoughtful and loving way the response has unfolded. You have changed the U.S.
I pray to the good people of the south to stand together and rid us of the confederacy. Pray to move on —
I will… keep asking hard questions
Stand up for peace!
I wish for LOVE and kindness for all people
Black lives matter!
I hope that this tragedy will be followed by justice, peace, and meaningful change!
I will… listen
The time is now!
I will not be a silent witness! I will speak up.
Love will triumph over hate.
My love and prayers are with you all.
Black people count!
Wishes for peace and caring.
I feel we do not live in a ‘post racial’ society
I pray for better dayz (Tupac Shakur)
I need the world to change
I will forgive and pray.
I feel sad when a person comes and kills people in god’s church.
I need a system that does not foster hate behind closed doors.
I will always remember.
I feel… betrayed
I will… sign every petition
I wish… for no more reasons to feel pain
I feel sad
I pray that this will never happen again!
I wish it never happened
I will pray for everyone
I wish awareness will be spread!
I feel like we have to take action – together – as a community.
I wish – it never happened. It would stop. It was never like this. America was not raised racist!
I will forgive, but never forget! Love to Charleston
Be the change
I feel sad
I need… a safe place
I feel disgusted (they were in church!!!)
I am sad!
I pray for peace, clarity, and understanding
We are sending love to everyone affected by this tragedy
I wish we saw only love not race
We shall overcome
True Christianity is shining through the hate.
I don’t understand
Take it down!
It feels like we’re stuck. Why can’t we move forward?
I will start a conversation
I will forgive and pray for the people who had to die
Some things just do not make any sense. We worked too hard to turn back now

Another Transformational Year of MotherLove

2 Jun

073Another school year has come to a close for the parenting students of MotherLove.  This year, we wanted to celebrate our graduating seniors with such style that our rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors would enter into their next school year with stars in their eyes for the good things to come.

Beth Maczka, YWCA CEO, with a MotherLove baby

Beth Maczka, YWCA CEO, with a MotherLove baby

MotherLove high school seniors, as well as MotherLove’s continuing high school students, were invited – along with family and friends – to gather at A-B Tech for an End of Year banquet in the Magnolia Dining Room, overlooking a gorgeous view of the mountains.  Little ones played with bubbles outside, babies gazed in fascination at each other, young moms and their families shared stories over lunch,  and members of the YWCA’s Eleanor Roosevelt Giving Society enjoyed meeting our MotherLove participants and their babies.

071After a delicious lunch, provided by the chefs of Green Opportunities, it was time to honor the parenting students’ accomplishments for the year.  Tender words of advice and wisdom were offered up by Senator Terry Van Duyn, followed by the distribution of MotherLove’s first ever Senior Scholarship Awards.  Seven graduating seniors received a fully loaded laptop to support their future educational and career goals.  Many thanks to former Director of Women’s Empowerment Diana Sierra for initiating the Senior Scholarship; we hope it will become an annual tradition for MotherLove.

The afternoon closed with reflective thoughts, sage advice, and words of encouragement from Ahmarie Gaines and Jocelyn Franks, two of MotherLove’s graduates from last year who have served on the Alumni Committee throughout 2014-2015.

Ahmarie Gaines and her son

Ahmarie Gaines and her son

Afterwards, Motherlove’s Coordinator, Holly Gillespie, administered a very serious homework assignment for the summer: “Play with your baby.”  The necessary equipment for the assignment (a gift bag of toys) was distributed and everyone left the afternoon full of food, smiles, and the knowledge that MotherLove believes in them.

We are grateful to all those who helped make the entire day a success, and are looking forward to another transformational year in 2015-2016!

A MotherLove participant and her father

A MotherLove participant and her father

Meet Felicia and Joshua – our new Health & Wellness staff!

2 Jun

Joshua McClure, Club W Coordinator

Joshua McClure, Club W Coordinator

Joshua McClure, Club W Coordinator

How long have you lived in Asheville? I’ve lived here 25 years.

What attracted you to the YW? The mission statement. You look at different jobs and different missions – eliminating racism and empowering women really stands out and drew me here. I want to take it a step further and empower the community.

Favorite thing(s) about the YW so far?  Getting to meet a variety of people. I like how open, friendly, and diverse people are at the YW.

Tell us about your background? I used to work for the City of Asheville Parks & Recreation as the  Program Director. I worked with after school,  different community outreach programs and implementing different events. I’m a recent graduate from Western Carolina University with a degree in Psychology and Elementary Education.

What do you do in your spare time? I like to dance and to hang out with friends.  I enjoy running and being active.

Felicia Blow, Membership Coordinator

Felicia Blow, Membership Coordinator

Felicia Blow, Membership Coordinator

How long have you lived in Asheville? I’ve lived here for almost 5 years. I moved here from Raleigh, where I was born and raised.

What attracted you to the YWCA? I’m really interested in the mission and the community-engaged work. I have a strong interest in community development and organizing, and I really support the kind of work here in eliminating racism and empowering women on both a personal level and in the work that I’ve done.

What are your favorite things about the YW so far?  It’s very welcoming. Everyone has been nice and I’ve been able to hit the ground running. I’m excited to strengthen relationships with members and coworkers.

Tell us about your background?  I just graduated from UNC-Asheville in December with a Bachelor’s in Sociology and Psychology. While I was there I helped open a resource center for women, LGBTQ community members, and survivors of sexual violence.

What do you do in your spare time?  In the summer I enjoy swimming, hanging out with my cat Smokey, and reading for fun now that I’m not in school.

Living the Truth of our Mission: Nancy’s Story

1 Jun

Nancy in the YWCA’s Drop-In Child Care

By Alison Gooding

On any given day between Monday and Saturday you can find Nancy Herrera-Mondoza at the YWCA.  She works in the Drop-In Child Care Center, and is an active participant in the MotherLove alumni group.

Nancy is 19 years old and has lived in Asheville for at least 11 years.  She was introduced to the YWCA through her doctor two years ago during a prenatal visit when she sought help for loneliness and isolation.  The YWCA’s MotherLove program was recommended to Nancy as a nurturing and supportive place to meet young women like her who are pregnant and in high school. 

MotherLove helps pregnant and parenting teens stay in school, access higher education and vocational training, develop the skills and knowledge needed to become strong parents and delay another teen pregnancy.  The mentors and other moms in the group were welcoming and invited Nancy in with open arms.  Nancy was able to breathe a sigh of relief and think to herself “I can finally feel better now.”

Since her parents speak little English, the MotherLove staff were instrumental in keeping Nancy’s high school teachers informed of her appointments and flexible with her homework assignments. MotherLove also kept Nancy focused and aware of what she needed to do to earn her diploma.

Having her son Fernando was transformational, changing her life, and her career focus to wanting to work with children. 

Nancy in her high school graduation cap and gown

Nancy in her high school graduation cap and gown

After graduating, Nancy wanted to further her education but lacked the financial resources. She started working long hours at a low-wage job under deplorable conditions.  During that time she was missing out on her son’s developmental milestones.  She again felt stuck, anxious, and lonely.

That’s when the phone rang.  It was Holly Gillespie, the MotherLove Program Coordinator.  Holly called to tell Nancy about a job opening at the YWCA’s Drop-In Child Care.  Nancy applied, aced the interview, and quickly joined the Drop-In staff, working regular hours up to six days a week.

The YWCA is helping pay for Nancy’s education, and she has already earned credits toward a degree in early childhood education. Nancy is getting closer to her dream career of working full time in a child care setting.

Her almost two year-old son is with her during the day and she is thrilled to “learn and help my son out too.”  Fernando is thriving at Drop-In, impressing her with how he is learning to use the potty, wash his hands, and use his words.

Nancy and her son Fernando, May 2014. Photo by Sandra Stambaugh

Nancy and her son Fernando, May 2014. Photo by Sandra Stambaugh

Now that Nancy is working at Drop-In and has Fernando with her, she has found that many aspects of her life are improving.  Her relationship with her own parents has deepened and strengthened.   Nancy is able to prove to herself and her family that she is responsible and is prioritizing her son and her career. She is independent, she is empowered, and is on the road to self-sufficiency.

Nancy recently joined the MotherLove alumni group where she helps mentor high school students in the program.  She feels strongly about the value of having a peer talk to high school students about pregnancy and parenting, in addition to older role models and teachers.  She wants to be that peer-voice, helping young mothers and letting them know that “things are not as easy as you think – but I can help, and MotherLove can help too.” 

Holly says: “Nancy was very quiet and reserved for the first three months she was a participant in MotherLove. This Spring, she facilitated a powerful conversation with both teens and adults on a very sensitive topic – and she did a wonderful job. Over the past several years I’ve witnessed her find her voice. I believe she lives the truth of the YWCA mission.

Your donation is vital to helping create success stories like Nancy’s. Thank you! 

The MotherLove program is made possible with support from the City of Asheville, NC Dept Health and Human Services – Women’s Health Branch – Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, Landwirth Foundation, Preyer Family Foundation, YWCA donors, and the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.

Beth Maczka Talks with Katie Christie, the YW’s School Age Director

26 May

Beth Maczka, YWCA of Asheville CEO, recently sat down with Katie Christie, the YW’s School Age Director. 

Katie Christie (left) and Beth Maczka (right)

Katie Christie (left) and Beth Maczka (right)

Beth: Tell me a little bit about your background.

Katie: I moved to Asheville from Miami. I grew up in the arts, always dancing and singing. My father is a doctor who wishes he could be a musician! I grew up seeing shows, and got the bug early on. When I was a senior in high school in 1988 I traveled for a month to the then Soviet Union as part of an arts exchange program. That’s when I realized that I could take my art and do something valuable in the world. I founded a nonprofit called Voices United, and did that work for the past 25 years.

Beth: What made you interested in working at the YWCA?

A group of children from the School Age program watching their peers perform dances from across different cultures.

A group of children from the School Age program watching their peers perform dances from across different cultures.

Katie: The mission made me excited – it’s very bold and strong. I love the idea that YWCAs around the world are working towards eliminating racism and empowering women. It’s important to me to feel that I’m working at a place where change is happening, and change is happening right here in this building.

I love working with young people – I’ve been doing it my whole life. I didn’t plan on being an educator, but I have a huge passion for it. It helps me feel hopeful about the world. If you’re interacting with young people you see there’s more in the future than we can imagine.

Katie Christie talks to a group of visitors in our outdoor classroom about the importance of state child care subsidies.

Katie Christie talks to a group of visitors in our outdoor classroom about the importance of state child care subsidies.

Beth: What do you think makes the School Age program unique?

Katie: There’s a really great mix of kids in our program, which is really important and directly supports our mission. We also have a great team of people working with the kids who are enriching the lives of the kids and finding innovative ways of doing that. We’re able to move through the community, pick children up, and take them to different opportunities around town.

All that goes into the YW is also trickling down into the school age program and that sets it apart, because all this other work is going on around them the program then strives to meet the goals of the mission. This is about the kids in the community and how they can see their role in the world as they grow up.

Beth: What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

Katie: In the School Age program we have a really great core of people and programming, and lots of potential for it to be even more outstanding – the kind of place that people are hearing about and talking about. It’s exciting to think about how to get that done.

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!


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