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

14 Sep

Beth_Marsha_July2017

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.

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.

What I Have Learned from 5 Years with MotherLove

10 Jun

 

Holly Gillespie, MotherLove Coordinator

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.

Spotlight On: Melinda Aponte, Nutrition Coordinator

5 May

 

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: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. 

Spotlight On: Stephanie Tullos, YWCA Development Coordinator

10 Mar

Picture1Stephanie Tullos, Development Coordinator, has hit the ground running since joining our team in January—bringing excitement, positivity and creativity to the YWCA.

Here’s more about Stephanie:

How long have you lived in Asheville? I’ve been here since August 2008. I moved here from Charlotte to go to UNC-Asheville.

Favorite thing(s) about the YWCA? I really like that we have an all female Board of Directors. I like working for an organization that is led by women. I also like that there is a lot of diversity here—I think it’s more representative of the community of Asheville than any other place I’ve worked. And I love getting to see all the cute babies every day!

What do you like to do in your spare time? I spend a lot of time with my family, I’m one of five children. We are spread in and around Charlotte, but we try and get together for every birthday and holiday. I’m a bit of a homebody—I just moved into a new house in Woodfin, so I spend a lot of time just enjoying my new space.

People would be surprised if they knew I… attended a public arts school for seven years. I studied visual art, but I love the performing arts—dance, music and theatre. I also enjoy musicals—my favorites are “Chicago” and “Grease”.

The YWCA of Asheville hosts Empower Hour tours the first and third Tuesdays of every month, where you will learn firsthand the YWCA’s work to empower women, eliminate racism, promote health and nurture children. To learn more or to make a reservation, contact Stephanie Tullos at stullos@ywcaofasheville.org or at 828-254-7206, ext. 207.

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! 

A Thank You Note

22 Jul

By Katie Souris

On November 11th, 2011, I began a 10 hour per week position at the YWCA of Asheville assisting the Care Counselor of the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program with general office work such as faxing and creating sign-up sheets. I soon began taking on other tasks, like making the support group schedule and handouts for various health topics. Before long I was doing intakes, attending groups and talking to participants about my experiences living with type 1 diabetes.

I remember the first participant I met in the program, a man named J.J. – we were coming down the stairs from the mezzanine and he was walking up. I recall thinking how he and Mehgan, the Care Counselor before me, greeted each other like old friends and how welcoming he was to me. I didn’t know it then, but J.J. was just beginning his journey towards losing more than 100 lbs.

Katie Souris and program participant, David Gist

Katie Souris and program participant, David Gist

The first time I facilitated our wellness support group was the beginning of my journey towards discovering what I love most about my job. I agonized over my presentation, outlining every detail, rehearsing in the shower, in the car and practicing with friends. The topic was ‘Sick-Day Wellness’ and I made laminated wallet-sized tip cards for everyone to take home. I made peppermint tea that almost no one drank. I was sure everyone thought I was crazy but soon enough we were engaged in a meaningful conversation about people’s experiences. If you had told me that three years later I would feel comfortable facilitating wellness groups and relating to diverse groups of individuals I would have (nervously) laughed at you. This job has helped me practice some of my most valuable skills through direct experience, and learn that talking about health is one of my favorite things to do.

My dream of working full-time at the YWCA and having a bigger role in the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program team slowly became a reality when a little over a year ago I became the Coordinator of Preventive Health. Coordinating the program has given me the opportunity to experience more of the challenges of organizing and implementing a health intervention program. One of the hardest parts has been balancing scheduling, meetings, and grant reporting with the time I spend interacting one-on-one with participants. Yet, just when I feel swamped with spreadsheets and logistics, I’ll have a conversation with someone who is creating and bravely navigating positive transformations in their life.  Getting to tell those stories in the community, to secure great guest speakers and events for participants, and to watch people change is what motivates me.

Now after nearly four years I am ready to create and navigate a change in my life, and I have my work and time at the YWCA to thank for that. I didn’t know when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes my freshman year of college that it would set off such a grand adventure for me. I didn’t know that I’d meet so many amazing people because of it. I didn’t know I would feel drawn to work that related to chronic conditions and public health. Finding the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program has changed my life just as much as I’ve seen it change anyone’s. As I leave my position at the YWCA and begin a new adventure, I am excited to hear how the program continues to grow and improve, as I continue to follow the lessons I’ve learned here.

Thank you Katie for four great years! Katie’s last day at the YWCA is July 31st.