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:
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.
By Leah Berger-Singer, Preventive Health Coordinator
As you walked through the hallways of the YWCA on February 11th, you might have smelled something that reminded you of your family’s cooking – the smell of garlic and onion sizzling in a pan of olive oil. The delicious smell was coming from the Multipurpose Room where twelve participants from the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention program gathered for a Cooking Demonstration led by Cathy Hohenstein, Registered Dietitian for NC Cooperative Extension, and her Intern Clara.
Before the program began, we chopped and peeled vegetables to prep for the Turkey Chili and White Bean Soup that would be served to the group. As participants arrived to the Cooking Demo, they were given handouts on a variety of topics related to soups and chili ranging from ways to soak and cook dried beans to a list of healthy soup toppings. Next, participants were given a sample of both the Turkey Chili and White Bean Soup and were even able to try some of those healthy soup toppings, such as Greek yogurt, cilantro, jalapeno, and green onion.
Cathy explained the health benefits of using soaked beans for soup recipes rather than canned beans (no sodium or preservatives!) and provided different techniques and prep options. Gene Collington, Diabetes Wellness and Prevention participant, said, “I enjoyed it because it shows you what you can do with beans. You can make beans in different ways other than just dried or cooked beans.” Cathy also gave other helpful kitchen tips. Did you know you can make a broth just by boiling vegetables?
Throughout the Cooking Demo, Cathy showed participants how to make the White Bean Soup step-by-step. Participants were delighted to watch her make something as healthy, fresh and delicious as this soup was. Walter Robertson, Diabetes Wellness and Prevention participant, said, “The structure of the class was very well put together. It was informative, informal, and a relaxed atmosphere. She didn’t rush through it and she explained everything.”
This Cooking Demonstration is just one example of the various workshops we have in the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention program. We have workshops such as Grocery Store Tours, Farmers Market Tours, and other Cooking Demos. Participants also have the opportunity to learn something new and health-related in our Weekly Support Group. Don’t just take my word on the program, Walter said, “It’s very beneficial. We get something out of it, and the discussion doesn’t just end after the program”. This is a great example of how Cooking Demos, Support Group, and other workshops provided in the program are learning experiences that start in the YWCA, but they expand outside of our walls and continue into the homes of the participants in the Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program.
To learn more about joining our Diabetes Wellness & Prevention Program, contact Leah Berger-Singer at email@example.com or at 828-254-7206 x. 212.
The YWCA of Asheville’s Diabetes Wellness and Prevention program is supported by an educational grant from Novo Nordisk Inc., the NC Dept. Health & Human Services – Office of Minority Health, Mission Health Community Benefits Program, YWCA donors, and the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.
The 3 year-old classroom in the YW’s Child Care recently learned how to make kale chips… and they loved them. We think you will too!
Ms. Alex, our child nutrition coordinator, came by the class in the morning to tell the children all about kale. The children got to smell and touch the raw kale… some even went ahead and tasted it! They received their own bowl of kale leaves, and carefully removed the stems. Ms. Ashanti and the other teachers helped them dress their kale with oil and salt. Then Ms. Alex baked the kale while the children had lunch and napped.
The children loved eating the crispy, crunchy, salty kale at snack time. It went fabulously with some freshly baked corn bread.
- ½ pound kale
- 1 tbs of olive or canola oil
- ½ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees
- Wash and dry kale, remove thick stem in the center of the leaves. Chop or tear kale into bite-size pieces about the size of potato chips.
- Using a cookie sheet, lay out parchment paper or baking mat.
- Toss kale pieces with olive oil and salt
- Spread kale in one layer on the cookie sheet, make sure leaves aren’t overlapping.
- Pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes, flipping/stirring/rotating halfway through.
- Serve fresh out of the oven.
Success Story from Director of Preventive Health Susan Kettren:
Having a history of diabetes and wanting not to be another statistic were the main reasons why five years ago Mildred sought out the YWCA’s Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program. She continues to this day invested in the program serving as one of our valuable Mentors. What she liked about the program then and what she hopes that she now provides to our current participants is the feeling that of the staff and mentors are here to help you. “We are all in this together and we want everyone to succeed in meeting their goals,” she says. For Mildred, besides increasing her exercise, she feels she has done a 180 degree change for the better with her diet and eating habits. “Practice what You Preach” is her motto. Thank you Mildred!
What is the YWCA Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program?
More than 25.8 million Americans have diabetes, the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Medical expenses for people with diabetes are two times higher than for people without diabetes, leading to an estimated $174 billion in annual diabetes costs in the United States. Yet, the disease is preventable – and often reversible – through diet and exercise.
Over the past five years, the YWCA of Asheville’s Diabetes Wellness and Prevention Program has helped 48o people with diabetes and pre-diabetes in western North Carolina manage the disease through discounted or free disease education, fitness and support services.
The program strives to reduce health disparities among low-income and minority men and women through services that include:
• A year-long membership to the YWCA of Asheville fitness center
• Free partnership with an on-site personal trainer specialized in diabetes
• Education training from Mission Health physicians, nurses and other medical staff
• Monthly consultations with Mission Health pharmacy interns
• Certified diabetes education from Mission Health
• Support groups, cooking classes and access to partnering minority health programs
Studies have shown that people with pre-diabetes who lose weight and increase their physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and, in some cases, return their blood glucose levels to normal. Diabetes can lead to serious conditions and complications, such as blindness, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney damage, and stroke. Studies have also shown that when people with diabetes work together with their support network and their health care providers, the likelihood of developing complications from diabetes is significantly reduced.
With support from the Mission Healthcare Foundation, NC Dept. Health & Human Services – Office of Minority Health, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC Foundation, the United Way of Asheville & Buncombe County and others, the YWCA of Asheville reduces the financial healthcare burden for local families and for the entire community of Asheville through its Diabetes and Wellness Prevention Program.
For more information about this program, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 254-7206 x 212.
photo by sandra stambaugh
Resolutions might be about change, but successful resolutions start with acceptance – accepting who we are, what we want, and how we need to grow.
That’s what you’ll find at the heart of Club W, the YWCA’s premier health and fitness center. The facility itself has a spacious, fully equipped gym….a 75-foot-long solar-heated pool…a wide range of fitness and water exercise classes…a fitness studio with ergonomically designed floors…and FREE drop-in child care. But Club W is first of all about people.
It’s a place where everyone’s welcome. A place where people are building spirits as well as bodies. A place where change happens, and people are making a real difference in their lives.
Club W. Where you can be YOU.
Stop by for a tour any time – we are waiving our enrollment fee for the whole month of January.
Find out more on our website, www.ywcaofasheville.org or by calling Director of Health & Fitness Susan Macdonald at 254-7026 x 213.
Thanks to all of our great staff and participants, Salsa, Sabor, y Salud was a success on many fronts this fall! The YWCA Preventive Health Department is very happy that we could offer health and nutrition classes to Latino families. The families that attended during the six weeks were dedicated and eager to learn, offering the insight and participation to guide their own experience.
“Gracias a mi nuera!” (“Thank you my nanny!”), exclaimed one of our participants as she was leaving with her family and added a big hug for Chloe, an intern from UNCA. Chloe and Jack who facilitated the children’s program were loving and engaged with all of the participants, offering education and attentive supervision. Jack is great at getting every child involved in the activity or game. Stephanie, another intern from UNCA, provided a cool confidence and welcoming attitude that made the adult group feel comfortable sharing about their experiences. She gave an invaluable talk on ingredients to watch out for on nutrition labels that I think will prompt big changes for the better in the pantries of our Salsa families.
Thank you as well to Susan Kettren, our Directora of Preventive Health, who didn’t give up on us and was willing to change the dates and help us secure a time and space. Thank you to Ellen Bailey who helped us with outreach and offered her experience with the program and her connection with the Latino Community. By hosting a dinner and interactive survey for participants, Ellen and the students at UNCA are making the Salsa, Salud, y Sabor Program more applicable and accessible.
Thanks to Norma who helped with interviews during our fiesta and to Zaire who led a gym tour in Spanish for us and helped with outreach. What a blessing to be able to come together and create community!
We hope to run the program again in the summer and have even more families come together to dance, share, and establish habits for lifelong health.
YWCA Preventive Health