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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.

A conversation between Beth Maczka & Joshua McClure

29 Jun

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On a mission to serve school age children: Beth Maczka, YWCA CEO, recently sat down with Joshua McClure, the Director of our Primary Enrichment Program.

BM: Tell me a little about your background and why you were interested in working at the YWCA?

JM: I’ve been working with kids for 11 years now. As an African-American man, I want to be a positive role model for youth in the community.  I grew up at the YWCA – taking swim lessons, participating in after school and hanging out with my grandmother. The YWCA is welcoming and accepting. I think the mission speaks volumes, and it is important to me, but also coming here feels like home.

BM: How does your program relate to the YWCA’s mission of empowering women and eliminating racism?

JM: We’ve always been the voice and resource for single parents. They trust our staff and many have been a part of the YWCA since their kids were 6 weeks old. The thing that I hear from parents the most is that the counselors really care about the kids, as if they were their own, like family.  As it pertains to the child care and voucher crisis in our community – these parents want to continue all the way through the Primary Enrichment Program. They don’t want to leave.

BM: What do you think makes our After School and Summer Camp unique?

JM: First of all, we are diverse. Secondly, we have programming that will help meet all the different needs of our kids. We are striving to be more than just a “babysitter,” by having  a greater focus on bridging education gaps during the school year and combating summer learning loss during camp. The homework help we offer is a huge benefit to our kids and also their parents. The [Big Brothers/Big Sisters] mentoring partnership program will also help give kids a voice and help develop social skills – especially our shy and less engaged youth. The kids are also really enjoying other partnerships we are bringing into our program, including Girl Scouts, tennis and ABYSA soccer. 

BM: What is your approach and vision for the Primary Enrichment Program?

JM: I want to be involved. Set a new dynamic. Improve the whole ‘feel’ of the program. Make people feel welcome and engaged – the staff, the youth and the parents.

It is important that they [the kids] see me as more than just an authority figure. I try once a week to spend time in each room helping with homework or playing games. I want to show the kids that I care. I really want to be involved. And they love the time we spend together – they remember the games we have played.

I look forward to the program blossoming with more people knowing about us…parents wanting to do more within the program. Cross promotion between After School, Spring Break, and Summer Camp. We are striving to help with education, enrichment, and health & wellness. I want it to be viewed as a great program in our community.

BM: What would people be surprised if they knew about you?

JM: One of my legs is longer than the other.

BM: You’re such a great dancer & teach our popular Hip Hop Cardio classes! That sure hasn’t slowed you down, has it!?

JM: Nope!

The invisible child care crisis: school age children

6 May

 

Beth Maczka, YWCA CEO

Beth Maczka, Asheville Citizen-Times Guest Columnist

 

Last week’s op-ed highlighted the Invisible Childcare Crisis in early childhood, but the crisis doesn’t stop when a child enters kindergarten.

Access to affordable, quality childcare remains the biggest barrier to a woman’s economic security, even as her child transitions from early learning programs to school.

For Melanie, a childcare voucher for her two school age children allowed her to work and support her family. Working increased her self-confidence and supporting her family increased her self-worth. Ironically, earning a small raise tipped her over the income limit for eligibility, resulting in the loss of her childcare voucher. We call this an “income cliff” and it is very real in our community. Melanie’s situation is not unique. This is happening to hundreds of families in Buncombe County, and we all lose.

Parents lose opportunities to advance in their careers and support their families; employers lose valuable employees and are forced to re-hire and re-train staff. And children lose the chance to gain critical educational enrichment during their most formative years.

In the last 18 months alone, 242 of Buncombe County’s children lost access to school-age childcare.

A primary reason families lose school age childcare vouchers is due to income eligibility requirements being tightened during the 2014 NC legislative budget process. Previously families could earn up to 75 percent of the State Median Income (or $4,187 monthly) for a family of 4 to qualify for childcare vouchers for children ages 6-12. Now that same family can only earn up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (or $2,688 monthly).

For example, Joyce is a mother of three and makes $32,000 or $2667 gross monthly. That allows her three children to receive services valued at $412 per child per month for a total of $1236 per month. Joyce receives a raise of $500, and she is now making $32,500. Under the new income guidelines, she makes $ $20 over the monthly limit, causing her to lose the $1236 a month in subsidy. A raise of $500 a year means that Joyce will now need to spend an additional $14,100 each year for childcare, or 43 percent of her income. This is a crisis.

Another income cliff occurs when a child who’s been receiving a voucher from birth to age 5, turns 6 years old. The NC state income level for a younger child is $48,504 for a family of four, but when the child turns 6, a family with earnings over $32,256 will lose childcare assistance. This happens immediately, regardless of when in the school year the child turns 6, leading to disruption of care, relationships and routines. Parents still need to work and their children are not able to care for themselves. The crisis is growing.

School age childcare programs are essential for families needing care till the end of the work day or throughout the summer. And low-income children who most need support to participate in quality afterschool and summer camp programs are also most likely to be impacted by summer learning loss.

Quality afterschool and summer camp programs keep children safe, provide nutritious snacks and meals, and provide essential academic supports including homework help, fun educational activities, and enriching field trips.

Remind your NC State representatives that school age children need afterschool care and summer camp to keep them safe and learning, and working families need access to year-round care for their school age children.

Ask your representatives to implement these recommendations immediately:

Make the income eligibility for early learning and school age programs consistent at 200% of poverty.

Create a system to pro-rate fees rather than forcing parents with all or nothing choices. If a family is $200 over the income limit, charge them a slightly higher co-pay rather than removing the full subsidy support.

Support the continuation of a child’s school age services for the school year during which they turn 6.

Working families need school age childcare now.

Beth Maczka is CEO, YWCA of Asheville.

This op-ed is endorsed by the following 5-star centers and child advocacy groups in Buncombe County:

Buncombe County Partnership for Children

Children First Communities in Schools

Asheville Jewish Community Center

Child Care availability is an invisible crisis in our community

29 Apr

 

Beth Maczka, YWCA CEO

Beth Maczka, Asheville Citizen-Times Guest Columnist

Cultures are judged on how they care for the most vulnerable. How will our community be judged when the care for our youngest children is considered? Early learning programs are essential to nurturing children socially and academically while providing critical support to working families.

 

We all know that we have a less than 1 percent vacancy rate for housing in our community. Did you also know that we have well less than a 1 percent vacancy rate for child care?

Affordable child care is the biggest barrier to women’s economic security. Without child care, you can’t look for work. Without child care you can’t work. Without child care it is difficult, if not impossible, to complete your education.

For Mary, finding an available child care opening meant being able to get, and keep, a job for the first time. Yet for hundreds of families, the lack of childcare spaces is keeping them from working.

Over the last year and a half, we have lost 176 slots from our community’s child care services. For a number of reasons, including a 5-month freeze on state child care voucher payments, three 5-star-rated child care centers and two family child care homes closed.

Even if you can pay full price, there are virtually no open places for children, with the longest waiting lists for infants and toddlers. And if you have a child care voucher, a state subsidy to support low-income working parents, there is no place to use that voucher.

A recent survey of child care providers revealed only six openings for children in Buncombe County out of a population of 4,160 children enrolled in full-time care. This is a crisis.

Child care costs more than in-state college tuition. Child care tuition for an infant is about $12,000 a year. In-state tuition to UNC Chapel Hill, including books, is $10,033.

Even at the cost of $1,000 per child per month (or higher), 5-star child care centers lose money on every child under the age of three, due to the high standards of care and the required adult to child ratio. No wonder some centers only serve 3- to 5-year-olds and existing centers can’t afford to expand infant and toddler rooms.

Add on the fact that the state child care voucher reimbursement rate for an infant in Asheville in a 5-star-rated center is $757, while the same state-funded reimbursement rate for an infant in Charlotte is $870 and $1,066 in Raleigh. Yet the cost of living is higher in Asheville than it is in Charlotte or Raleigh.

We also have a critical shortage in early childhood teachers.

Given the challenge of profitability, paying competitive, if not living wages, to these hard-working saints who care for our children every day is challenging. No wonder we are seeing lower enrollment rates at community colleges and at universities in early childhood education.

Centers are also faced with the rising health insurance costs, which are projected to increase by 16 percent this year. It is no wonder that centers have closed.

Remind your N.C. state representatives that we have a less than 1 percent vacancy for child care slots, a critical child care teacher shortage, and that these conditions are unacceptable for our children, our families and our local businesses.

Ask your representatives to implement these recommendations immediately:

Make the child care subsidy market reimbursement rates fair — based on cost and adjust the subsidy market rate allocation so that it is more equitable.

Increase support for teacher training and compensation for birth to 5 years of age. School age teachers are not the only ones that need a raise!

Our child care center infrastructure is fragile, and we can’t afford to lose any more centers or family child care homes.

Working families need childcare now.

Beth Maczka is CEO, YWCA of Asheville. The mission of the YWCA is Eliminating Racism and Empowering Women. The YWCA of Asheville provides 5-star child care services from birth to 12 years of age along with a range of programs that address disparities in education, health and economic security.

This Op-ed is endorsed by the following 5-star child care centers and child advocacy organizations in Buncombe County:

Buncombe County Partnership for Children

Children First Communities in Schools

Verner Center for Early Learning

Asheville Jewish Community Center Childcare Center

First Presbyterian Church Childcare Center

Mission Hospitals Child Development Center

YWCA CEO Delivers Opening Address to WNC Women Change Makers

23 Mar

On Monday, Beth Maczka of the YWCA of Asheville spoke at the Women Making History Celebration presented by the Asheville Citizen Times. In honor of Women’s History Month, this event recognized twenty women change makers who have shaped Western North Carolina and made Asheville what it is today. Beth picture WomenMakingHistory51These women are:

Anni Albers, Black Mountain College
Becky Anderson, HandMade in America
Leslie Anderson, rejuvenation of Asheville
Terry Bellamy, former mayor, brought affordable housing to the forefront, was on Council when Asheville left the water agreement
Emoke B’Racz, started Malaprops bookstore
Willie Mae Brown, served on myriad nonprofit boards, director emeritus of Asheville GreenWorks
Lillian Clement, first female state legislator in the South
Marie Colton, first woman to serve as speaker pro-tem in the North Carolina General Assembly
Karen Cragnolin, environmentalist, RiverLink
Francine Delany, UNCA’s first black graduate, principal
Wilma Dykeman, author and environmentalist
Frances Goodrich, founded southern highland craft guild
Wanda Greene, county manager (behind the scenes on huge county growth, school construction, A-B Tech)
Deborah Miles, founder and ED of Center for Diversity Education
Susan Roderick, Asheville GreenWorks
Wilma Sherrill, former state legislator
Oralene Simmons, first black student at Mars Hill
Leni Sitnick, first woman mayor, but also grassroots activist who shifted the political landscape with her election
Pat Smith, leader of Community Foundation of WNC
Edith Vanderbilt, essentially created Pisgah Nat’l Forest, Biltmore Industries, etc.

Beth celebrated these women’s groundbreaking achievements and activism with a toast:Beth pic 2 2016WomenMakingHistory18

“Welcome – I am Beth Maczka, CEO of the YWCA of Asheville where our mission is eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

I am humbled to be asked to recognize this group of 20 amazing women.

It is truly impossible to do justice to them in a few minutes, for all that they have accomplished and achieved.

  • Each one of these women is a sheroe in her area of work
  • Each one of these women has a story that is both unique and also shares experiences among other women leaders

Theirs are the shoulders on which we stand today.

Please join me in a toast – albeit a long – a toast to celebrate these amazing women – our foremothers, our sisters, and our friends. 

Today we celebrate women…

  • Who revived and inspired our community
  • Who broke through walls and shattered glass ceilings
  • Who spoke up, spoke out and led

We celebrate our foremothers

  • Who wrote laws when women did not have the right to vote and
  • Who wrote books when women did not have a voice

We celebrate groundbreakers who built, who created, who dreamed. 

We celebrate women who fought for a seat at the table and then moved forward to lead the City, the County and the State.

  • Who led banks and foundations,
  • Who created schools and guilds and bookstores
  • Who birthed numerous nonprofits, community initiatives and treasured institutions

We celebrate artists who envisioned a more beautiful, unified, and resilient community.

  • Who reminded us of the importance of our elders, our sacred spaces and our heritage
  • Who hoped and created and saw a way forward because art and beauty creates clarity and inspiration

We celebrate women who worked and raised families and women who worked and raised organizations and changed systems.

We celebrate every woman who ever doubted that it was possible, but got up the next day and made it so.

  • Made it so despite set-backs, made it so despite illness, and made it so despite lost funding
  • Made it so out of sheer determination and sweat and sometimes, just by showing up

We celebrate women who reached down and lifted up their sisters to help and follow.

  • Who nurtured an idea, encouraged a hope and mentored a young woman just starting her career

We celebrate women of color who broke the double barriers of racism and sexism.

  • Who opened doors at school systems, at colleges, at universities, at City Hall and organizations throughout our community
  • Who showed us that we gain strength and knowledge through diversity and increased opportunities for all

We celebrate women who celebrated!

  • Who created the Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer breakfast, the RiverLink Float Parade and the Power of the Purse luncheon
  • With music and art and food and dancing, these women showed us all what was good and right and worthy. And they showed us the importance of celebrating our victories and our struggles and the importance of just coming together

We celebrate women who saw potential…

  • Who saw potential in rural towns, in a forest, in a polluted waterfront, in a vacant lot and in a boarded up downtown
  • Who saw potential in local crafts, in neighborhoods, in community centers, and in community gardens
  • Who saw potential in other women, in children and in families

We celebrate women who laid down, Woulda, Coulda, and Shoulda and raised up, Will, Can and Did!

These women, our foremothers, our sisters and our friends, showed us the way.

  • They lit the path
  • They gave us a vision when we couldn’t see what was possible
  • They created clarity out of red-tape and bureaucracy
  • They saw, they collaborated and they did.

Today we celebrate

  • Our ground breakers – Edith, Becky, Pat, Leslie, and Karen
  • Our game changers – Lillian, Marie, Wilma, Wanda, Leni and Terry
  • Our justice makers – Francine, Oralene, Willie Mae and Deborah
  • Our artists and creators – Annie, Frances, Wilma, Emoke and Susan

To all of you, our foremothers, our sisters and our friends, thank you!

Thank you for your vision, your courage, your audacity, your voice, and your wisdom. Thank you for:

  • Your years of number crunching, proposal writing, strategic planning and law making
  • Thank you for your years of attending board meetings, community meetings, public hearings, and fundraisers and cleaning up when the charette, program, forum or gala were over
  • Thank you for your years of creating art, music, and literature, and your years of building institutions to make our community more livable while honoring our rich heritage

Thank you for changing the rules and changing the diapers

Thank you for seeking justice and pursuing peace

Thank you for making a way when the way was not clear

Thank you.

We are a better community, a better city, a better county, a better region, and a better state because of each of you.

You are the women who match these mountains – and you made it so.”

 

 

Farmer’s Market Friday: Prunes!

4 Dec

Today for Farmer’s Market Friday Ms. Alex, the YWCA’s Nutrition Coordinator, brought a special guest – CEO Beth Maczka!

Beth sang a song about prunes, and the kids all got to learn about how prunes are made – they even got to taste a bite. Everyone (well, almost everyone) loved “nature’s candy.”

Learn more about the YWCA’s Drop-In Child Care and full-time Child Care.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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…

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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.
ENOUGH
I will start a conversation about race.
I will continue to spread awareness
Praying
The perpetrator was caught, but the killer is still out there.
#takeitdown
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