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April is Stand Against Racism Month

11 Apr

SAR_Logo_RGBStand Against Racism is a signature campaign of YWCA USA to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in our communities.  This year, our theme is On A Mission for Girls of Color! We will amplify the national discussion about the impacts of institutional and structural racism on the lives of girls of color.

Last year, nearly 750 sites in 44 states participated. We are proud that Asheville-Buncombe County is one of the most active Stand locations with over 75 participating sites and 29 different public events in 2015.

A-B Tech Stand

Panel discussion featuring: Stephen Smith, Philip Cooper, Vanessa James, Brent Bailey and Dana Bartlett

This year’s Stand is sure to be just as successful with several exciting events taking place throughout the community. Our kickoff off event took place last Thursday, April 7th, at A-B Tech Community College. This event titled, Ban the Box: Promote Employment Fairness, featured two panel discussions that explored efforts to remove the box that asks about criminal records from employment applications.

Here is a list of upcoming Stand events in April:

  • Pack’s Tavern will Stand Against Racism by hosting Pack’s Day on Monday, April 18th, from 11 am – 11 pm. 10% of all proceeds from this day will benefit the YWCA of Asheville.
  • Pour Taproom will take a Stand by donating 10% of all proceeds from Thursday, April 21st, 6 pm – 9 pm to benefit the YWCA of Asheville.
  • Africa Healing Exchange will host a multicultural celebration and benefit to raise awareness and support trauma healing on Thursday April 21st, from 6-9:30  pm at White Horse Black Mountain. This event will feature grammy-nominated singer Laura Reed, with notable guest performers including African-inspired dancers, artists and speakers. African cuisine provided by Kente Kitchen (cash purchase); full bar; vendors featuring coffee, tea and artisan products for sale from Rwanda.
  • The Asheville Chamber of Commerce is joining with the Buncombe County Government, YWCA of Asheville and Mission Health to take a Stand Against Racism by helping businesses better understand how bias shows up in the workplace. Join Lisa Eby and Lakesha McDay on Thursday, April 28th, 11:30 am – 1 pm for “Grey Matter: Understanding the Brain and Bias”. Have you ever wondered where our biases come from? This session will give you insight into the “grey matter”, the brain, and you will learn that we are ALL wired to be biased! Through an interactive workshop, you will see how bias shows up in each of us and leave with concrete steps to minimize the effects of bias in you and your workplace, making Asheville a more inclusive community.
  • The Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Asheville Buncombe County and the Stephens-Lee Alumni Association are co-sponsoring a Stand Against Racism event on Friday, April 29th, 12 pm – 2 pm at the Stephens Lee Center. This program will focus on African American educators that have paved the way for people of color. The panel discussion will discuss the impact of segregation in the Asheville School system, integration, highlight African American educators, and discuss the role that the Stephens-Lee High School played in the education of African Americans.
  • Jubilee! Community will screen the movie “Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity ” and host a round table discussion on Friday April 29th from 6:30-8:30 pm. The film invites America to talk about the causes and consequences of systemic inequity, features moving stories from racial justice leaders including Amer Ahmed, Michael Benitez, Barbie-Danielle DeCarlo, Joy DeGruy, Ericka Huggins, Humaira Jackson, Yuko Kodama, Peggy McIntosh, Rinku Sen, Tilman Smith and Tim Wise.
  • Black Mountain Stand Against Racism will host a public event at White Horse Black Mountain on Sunday, May 1st from 2:30-4:30 pm. Award-winning performer Kat Williams, joined by acclaimed musician, author and speaker David LaMotte, will talk & sing about ways to “Stand Against Racism”. Also participating will be Rev. Hilario Cisneros of La Capilla de Santa Maria in Hendersonville, and Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger, who pioneered online postings of actual slave-ownership records. The event will be interspersed with Kat’s inimitable music. Tickets are $10 or $8 for students under 21; available online at http://www.whitehorseblackmountain.com or call (828) 669-0816, with net proceeds going to Kat’s fund for young black men and women.
  • The YWCA of Asheville will take a Stand Against Racism through a series of Racial Justice Workshops for staff, board and volunteers. The Racial Justice Workshops will be held in the Multipurpose Room on the following dates: Monday, April 25, 6 – 7:30 pm, Tuesday, April 26, 6 – 7:30 pm, and Friday, April 29, 12 pm – 1:30 pm. The goals of the Racial Justice Workshop are to learn shared language and concepts related to racial justice, become familiar with the YWCA’s racial justice framework, and grow more comfortable talking about race and racism.

For more information about these events and a full list of Stand Against Racism events visit StandAgainstRacism.org

A-Team Stand SelfieWe encourage you to take a Stand Against Racism by participating in one of these community events, organizing an event of your own, or simply dining out at Pack’s Tavern or having a beer at Pour Taproom to support the YWCA.

Any group of any size can become a participating site of the Stand Against Racism. Participating can be as simple as hanging a poster or wearing your “Stand Against Racism” t-shirt and tagging the YWCA of Asheville as part of our Stand Selfie Campaign. Or you can host a public event, rally or day of service. No matter what shape the “stand” takes in each participating site, you can unite our community in a bold demonstration that delivers a clear message: We are on a mission to eliminate racism.

If you would like more information about Stand Against Racism or are interested in becoming a participating site, please contact Gerry Leonard at 828-254-2706, ext. 219 or gleonard@ywcaofasheville.org.

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.”

 

 

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!

YWCA Awarded SNAP ED Grant – Helping Us Make Even More Rainbows!

30 Nov

058Since 2012 the YWCA has provided healthy meals and snacks from our Rainbow in My Tummy Program for our children in our Child Care, After School, and Drop-In Child Care. Rainbow in My Tummy was created by the Verner Early Learning Center and is a way to help child care centers feed their children healthfully while still adhering to government guidelines. We stick to whole grains, mostly fresh fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and low fat dairy. Almost all of the food that comes out of our kitchen is made from scratch by our stellar kitchen staff every day. Read “A Day in the Life of the Rainbow In My Tummy Kitchen” here.

084Now, we’re proud to announce that we will be running SNAP Ed programming starting this fall, making us the first implementing agency in Western North Carolina! SNAP Ed is a grant designed to get Nutrition and Physical Activity education to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients, as well as the general public.

As part of SNAP Ed our Nutrition Coordinator, Alex Mitchell, will run Color Me Healthy, a nutrition and physical activity curriculum, with our 3-5 year old Child Care students.  Summer Camp students will get to participate in a physical activity curriculum and participate in regular food and nutrition activities as well.  We will also hold events for our parents to learn how to make good nutrition and physical activity choices at home.060

“Nutrition and physical activity education is so important to start early, and SNAP Ed funds will give us the chance to provide these lessons,” says Alex. “I’m personally excited to get to interact with our kids and families more, and to teach information that they will then take out of the YW and into their homes and communities.”

Do you have an idea for what we should call this “snappy” new work at the YW? Email your suggestions to marketing@ywcaofasheville.org!

“I Want Them to Know They Can Do It!” MotherLove Alumni Give Back

8 Oct

By Holly Gillespie, YWCA MotherLove Coordinator

I want to celebrate with you a realization of the ideals of empowerment…  

MotherLove alum Gaines and her son

MotherLove alum Ahmarie Gaines and her son

The other week, 8 graduates from the MotherLove program gathered for the first Alumni Meeting of the year.  Several women came directly from a full work shift, most brought their baby with them, and no Alumni are older than 20.  That means 8 working teen parents took 2 hours of their busy and often complicated lives to come together to, in their words, “give back” to the program.

I was deeply moved when, inspired by a prompt from our star volunteer, Debbie Welch, each Alum offered her or his reason for giving up a weeknight of potential downtime to come to the group. The consensus sounded something like this: “MotherLove has meant so much to me and helped me so much.  I want to do whatever I can to help the program and to offer that support to young moms who are still in high school.  I want them to know they can do it; they can graduate!”

I asked the group how they wanted to spend their time together, suggesting a range of ideas from regular social gatherings, to planning Evening Support Group Sessions for the young parents enrolled in the program this year.  The group unanimously chose to take on the responsibility of not only planning, but facilitating a Group each month for the parents still in high school!

The 2015 Alumni Committee’s first delivered Evening Group Session will take place this month.  Alumni chose to begin the session by each sharing the story of their personal journey through parenthood and high school.  Afterwards, they will co-facilitate small groups to ask current participants what they want to gain from the MotherLove program this year, and any skills or information they feel they need to learn as new parents.

Nancy Herrera-Mendoza, MotherLove alum, in her high school graduation cap and gown

Nancy Herrera-Mendoza, MotherLove alum, in her high school graduation cap and gown

I want to highlight that the format of this session is top-notch, utilizes best practices, and is infused with the ethics of empowerment.  These women and men are fresh out of high school and leaning on instinct and personal experience… and they have created a model that scholars would envy.  

Words cannot express how impressed I am with this group of young parents.  I am deeply grateful for the privilege of walking with them on their parenting journey, and am inspired by their drive and motivation to share what they have learned.  This is the essence of empowerment.

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

Introducing our 2013-2014 Annual Report!

30 Mar

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

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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 marketing@ywcaofasheville.org. You may also read the Annual Report electronically here.

Thank you to all of our supporters!

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