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A conversation with Beth Maczka, CEO and Amanda Read, Director of Women’s Empowerment

17 Oct

Amanda and Beth

Amanda Read leads our Women’s Empowerment department, which includes two programs: MotherLove, mentoring and support for pregnant and parenting teens, and Getting Ahead, empowerment for low-income women working towards economic self-sufficiency. YWCA CEO, Beth Maczka recently sat down with Amanda to talk about the important role these programs have in our community today.

BM: Tell me a little about your background and how you came to the YWCA.

AR: I’m from Greensboro, NC, got my Masters in Social Work from USC, and the day I was walking across the stage, I got a call saying I got the [MotherLove Coordinator] position here at the YW. I was so excited and said, of course, I would take it!

BM: Tell me how your department relates to our mission of Eliminating Racism and Empowering Women.

AR: Both of our programs, MotherLove and Getting Ahead, focus on Empowering Women by really trying to meet people where they are. In both programs, you see these ladies who see the end goal for where they want to be and they just don’t know what it looks like to get there. Our programs offer information, give women the opportunity to learn to build upon their skills and connect them to resources so that they can empower themselves. When it comes to Eliminating Racism, we work to alleviate some of the barriers that these women are facing on a daily basis…where their neighborhood is, if they have a language barrier. I honestly think the department really encompasses our mission fully.

BM: What do you think makes our Women’s Empowerment programs unique to our community?

AR: As a small staff we are able to develop strong relationships and I feel that our participants get to know each other within our programs and connect on a deeper level. They get to build their own community within the YW.

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

AR: I’m excited for Getting Ahead with our new Coordinator, Giannina Callejas. We did more marketing out in the community – knocking on doors, giving out flyers, meeting people face to face. I would say most of our referrals and new participants are coming from the different public housing developments in Asheville. We have a lot of ladies who have never stepped foot in the YWCA before. It is great to expand our reach.

Getting Ahead Graduation

16 Dec

On December 15th, 12 new graduates of the Getting Ahead In a Just Gettin’ By World program celebrated completing the 16 week curriculum.
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This group of ladies – ranging in age from 19-80 – have explored the causes of poverty, the hidden rules of class, and the importance of language and communication.  They have all formed plans to achieve the ‘future stories’ they have planned for themselves.

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The YWCA will support these graduates through follow-up support for  the next 18 months, and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish!

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Here is some of what the graduates had to say about their experience in the program:

It has been amazing to learn about everyone’s stories! I have learned a lot of tips of how to get ahead in my future!

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My overall experience was wonderful. I was able to learn many things that can help me in the future….The class was never a “sit and read the book” experience. It was a pleasant place to be.

This class has reshaped my thinking process – the way I approach situations as possibilities, not as obstacles.

I liked the friendly, respectful atmosphere I encountered with the other Getting Ahead Investigators!

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I learned to plan ahead and think about my actions before I actually do something.

Getting Ahead was a great experience to learn about how I came into poverty and it wasn’t all my fault. But how easy it is to get yourself out and it can be done. I love the class and the people, you all are so supportive.

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Beginning now I am going to take control of my finances and get them under control. And by that I mean to pay them off one by one or get help and do it right and fast.

The Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin’ By World program is made possible through funding from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina’s People In Need grant, as well as the Sisters of Mercy of North Carolina Foundation. Thank you!