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MLK Day of Service

26 Jan

By Gerry Leonard, Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator

019 - CopyOn January 16, 2016 the YWCA of Asheville hosted volunteers from the UNC-Asheville Key Center as part of our annual MLK Day of Service. To honor and celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., the YWCA partners with volunteers from local colleges to work with our Primary Enrichment (formerly the School Age program) students to create posters to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr., and his lasting impact on our society and the YW’s continued work of eliminating racism.

16 volunteers from UNC-Asheville spent their day at the YWCA – instead of taking the day off – and gave back, by giving their time to make a difference in a kid’s life. Volunteers worked 1-on-1 with our Primary Enrichment students, creating posters highlighted with images of MLK and inspirational quotes – along with glitter, feathers and other creative ways children decorate posters.

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This was not only a day of arts and crafts, but a wonderful opportunity for the Primary Enrichment students, K – 5, to engage with college students to understand the role MLK plays in all of our lives and how his legacy continues on. Some of the conversations I heard began with, “MLK had a dream, what is your dream”? The response from our YW kids ranged from grand dreams of flying in outer space or becoming President to more practical responses of wanting everyone to love each other. This in many ways encapsulates the true spirit of what MLK Day is all about: Honoring MLK and continuing to dream of equity and peace, while believing that you can achieve anything you want.

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The YWCA MLK Day of Service is as much of a service as it is enrichment. Many of the volunteers take this time to share with the Primary Enrichment students what their major is, and what they want to do when after college. This is particularly enriching as many of the children in the Primary Enrichment program come from low-income families where their parents are working full-time, often at multiple jobs. For the kids to hear first-hand from students about what college is like provides such a profound impact on their lives. So, as our young students continue to dream of being an astronaut and running for President, these conversations could very well propel them onward to making their dream a reality.

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We’re always looking for committed volunteers! Learn more at

Club W, Volunteer & Donor Spotlight: Peggy Weaver

7 Dec


Peggy Weaver

Peggy Weaver in the YWCA’s Laurey Masterton Memorial Garden

Peggy Weaver grew up in Chapel Hill, NC, where her father was a university administrator. While Peggy describes her upbringing as privileged, she stresses that “we were taught around the dinner table and in church what was going on in the civil rights movement.” She also notes the important role of the black women who worked in her family’s household while she was a child. “I came to know these women well, and knew that the hopes and dreams they had for their families were the same as ours, but for some reason our society didn’t provide for them the way it did for us.”

In 1991, Peggy’s family moved to Asheville. Peggy’s daughters attended the after school program at the YWCA during this time.

In January, 2011 Peggy retired from her job as librarian at Asheville High. She says: “Joining the YWCA’s Club W was a no brainer. Of course the fitness programs are good for me, but the bonus at the YWCA is that I get to work out next to someone who doesn’t look like me. I love Club W because I can look across the gym or the parking lot and seeing people different from me – all sizes, shapes, colors, ages. I believe to be fully human you have to make it a point to encounter people not just like you. It broadens your whole view of your life.”

Peggy started attending to Tai Chi class every week, and joined the regular after-class gathering at Laurey’s café. They were at Laurey’s the morning that Laurey Masterton passed away after a her long battle with cancer. There was an outpouring of remembrances for Laurey in the community, and Peggy remembers reading a quote from Laurey’s sister Heather, who said that Laurey’s legacy was that she would want you to do something hard for you. Peggy says, “that’s when I thought: ‘I need to volunteer at the YWCA. I felt called to say ‘I’ll help,’ even though it’s not easy for me as an introvert and a home-body.” Peggy works closely every week with members of the YWCA’s Advancement Team – editing grant proposals, filing media clippings, stuffing envelopes – whatever needs to be done. “I’m here to serve this incredible YWCA in my little way, but it.   It gives me great pleasure to be affiliated with a force for what’s good and right in this crazy world we live in.”

In November, 2014 – after coming on an Empower Hour tour – Peggy attended the YWCA’s first Persimmon Luncheon, and made a generous pledge of financial support.

She says: “I choose to support the YWCA financially because its mission of eliminating racism and empowering women resonates with chords that are so deep in me that go back to my childhood. And I see results. I feel that my contributions to the YWCA, small though they are, make a big difference in the sustainability of the programs here. I love knowing that the programs I support help improve the lives of people who live in my own community.”

To learn more about volunteering at the YWCA, contact Gerry Leonard at or call 828-254-7206 x. 219.

MotherLove Winter Craft Party

12 Dec

By Holly Gillespie, MotherLove Coordinator

’s recent Winter Craft Party was a great success- from crafting to making new friends to a tiny, toddler dance party!


We had around 35 parenting teens and their support gather for a vivacious evening of sewing baby booties, making teething-baby friendly necklaces, and mixing up some homemade biscuit mix.  048

A special shout out goes to the young dads who tried their hand at making wire-work bird’s nest necklaces for their special ladies!



MotherLove enjoyed the company of 4 brave volunteers who were willing to learn – and then lead – our chosen crafts: Katie Foley, Debbie Welsh, Sally Weldon, and our own Adrienne Ammerman.  Many thanks, ladies!


We were also honored to welcome Betsy Stolks, long time coordinator of the WNC Knitters and Crocheters for Others group – a dedicated group of knitters and crocheters who are willing each year to lovingly hand knit baby blankets, hats, and scarves for the young women of MotherLove and their babies.


She shared the following letter with our assembled group:

“These knitted and crocheted baby blankets are made with love and caring for you courageous women.

You are on a very important journey of being a mother of a precious human being. Motherhood is a wonderful and challenging job.

We wish you and your baby a great life, and we hope that this blanket keeps your baby warm and comforted.”


It was a warm, welcoming, and sometimes quite giggly evening that culminated in the distributing of our Giving Tree gifts to our young families.


Many thanks to all those that made this joyous event possible!  Happy Holidays!



Volunteer Spotlight: Ariana Weaver

10 Dec

By Gerry Leonard, Volunteer Coordinator

Ariana Weaver and Gerry Leonard at UNC-Asheville

Every month we will feature a new volunteer in our ‘Volunteer Spotlight.’ For the month of December, the spotlight shines brightly on Ariana Weaver.

You’ve probably seen Ariana around town. She grew up in Weaverville, NC and has spent her entire life here in the Asheville area. More recently, you’ve probably spotted her here at the YWCA – volunteering in our After School program, helping set up at the Persimmon Luncheon, and handing out Voter Pledge Cards at our Health Fair. In fact, Ariana’s link to the YWCA dates all the way back to when she was a student at Asheville Middle School – she volunteered with our After School program back then as well!

Ariana is currently a junior at UNC – Asheville, a Health & Wellness Promotion major. When she needed to fulfill a service learning project with a community partner for school, choosing the YWCA was a no-brainer. Ariana says, “I chose the YW because I love the diversity of their programs and the many opportunities that they have. I was already familiar with their School Age program, and I really wanted to be involved because I love children.”

A moment that stands out for Ariana occurred during the After School program focus on the human body. She helped the students design visual aids to represent the human body and a 3-D model to represent the brain. This was particularly rewarding for Ariana, because “I really enjoyed working with the students as they got to be really involved into designing the project.”

UNC – Asheville recently held their end-of-the-semester event to celebrate completed internships and service learning projects, and Ariana stood proudly next to her YWCA display, filled with pictures and moments from her time in After School. Ariana says: “It was an awesome experience for me. I loved working with the staff who were all really caring and helpful. All the children were great, and were willing to accept me into their classroom. I also felt that the YW as a whole was really organized.”

When Ariana isn’t volunteering at the YWCA or busy with school work, she enjoys being outdoors, reading, writing poetry, singing and dancing. She also really enjoys working out in at Club W – you probably will see her at an upcoming Body Combat class.  And even though Ariana no longer has to fulfill volunteer hours for school, she still plans on continuing to volunteer with the After School program.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the YWCA of Asheville, please visit


YW Volunteer Spotlight: Katie Foley

14 Nov

Katie FoleyBy Gerry Leonard, Volunteer Coordinator

Katie Foley moved to Asheville only planning to be here for a year, but then her career path changed: a new-found focus on women’s health and women’s rights. She’s a firm believer in the idea that “a world that is good for women is good for everyone.” For Katie, having her daily work align with her personal values is really important to her.

She currently works at Mission Hospital in the emergency room, collecting information from patients. Even surrounded by heavy emotional situations, she still finds that there is a lot of room for personal growth. Katie is also in the Nursing Program at Biltmore Park. It’s an accelerated program, which she hopes to incorporate in both her medical and advocacy work.

Katie has been volunteering with the YWCA’s MotherLove program for about a month. She was first drawn to the MotherLove program because it lines up with so many of her interests, personally and professionally. Katie says: “I wanted to be involved in a program that supports the needs of parenting and pregnant teens.”

The volunteer moment that stands out for Katie at this point in her experience was the Domestic Violence Vigil at A-B Tech, which took place in late October. Katie says, “it was the first time I was able to interact with the community through MotherLove. It was really encouraging to see the kind of support that came out of the community. It was eye-opening to see that people want to fix, people want to help, and people want to change.”

Katie hopes that through volunteering with MotherLove, she can “learn to interact with people, how to use resources, how to connect with people, and gauge what the community needs most.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the YWCA of Asheville, visit

Asheville DesignBuild Summer Magic!

25 Jun

We are so excited to have been chosen as the Asheville DesignBuild’s summer project!  AVL Design Build 019

The Asheville DesignBuild Studio, a program of the Asheville Design Center, is a multi-disciplinary, hands-on, educational experience that offers students of all design disciplines—architecture, landscape architecture, planning, engineering, graphic design, interior design—an opportunity to significantly contribute to the design and delivery of a new community asset.

The DesignBuild team is working with the YWCA of Asheville to assist in master planning of our campus to improve the vehicular and pedestrian flows. As part of this, they are focusing their built project on enhancing a long run of stairs and creating an outdoor classroom space on the west end of the building. Students engage YWCA members and children, in addition to surrounding community members, to better inform their design process.

AVL Design Build 007Subscribe to Asheville DesignBuild’s amazing blog to read regular updates on their progress. Construction will take place from July 7 through August 7. 

Today, several of the DesignBuild team members were working with our Summer Camp students to help design an art installation for the chain link fencing.


Here’s a video of Clark from DesignBuild talking about why it’s so important to involve youth in the process:


And Caleb (6) talking about the design he created:


Stay tuned here and on the DesignBuild blog for more updates and photos!

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MotherLove Volunteer Banquet

30 Apr

As part of Volunteer Appreciation Week, the YWCA MotherLove program held a banquet to celebrate the volunteer mentors who work with teen parents in the program. Each of the participants spoke about what they appreciated about their mentors. The group also was able to hear remarks from singer Kat Williams. She told the story of how her mother was only 14 years old when she was born, and the challenges she had to overcome to become the success she is today. Williams said that the young women in the MotherLove program should be grateful for the support the program provides, and how she wished her mother could have had a program like MotherLove to turn to. She also graced the group with a song.
motherlove volunteer banquet

Project POWER/AmeriCorps volunteer Sarah Coston works with MotherLove, and had this to say about the event:

We are so thankful that so many of our volunteers and program supporters could attend the banquet and allow us to honor them in person. Their contribution to the MotherLove program is truly invaluable.  Their time, donations, and knowledge shared influence each participants future strengthening their safety net and giving them the knowledge they need and the opportunity to succeed. Without each and every one of them the MotherLove program would be at a loss. We would like to thank all of our mentors as well as the following people:

* Kat Williams for singing and speaking at the Banquet.
* Bruce Kennedy for assisting a participant with filming a video for her senior project on teen parenting.
* Tangela Robinson and Rebecca Penland for speaking during the months of March and April at lunch bunch meetings.
* Karen Scarborough and Joe Tarpley for preparing and delivering meals for Enka High School lunch bunch.
* Greg Spray for organizing and hosting a free shopping spree event with clothes, toys, and parenting tools for program participants and their children.
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If you would like to find out more about the MotherLove program, contact Tangela Ballard-Bowman at 254-7206 x 116 or email If you’d like to make a donation to the program, click here.