Tag Archives: teens

What I Have Learned from 5 Years with MotherLove

10 Jun


Holly Gillespie, MotherLove Coordinator

Holly and her daughter Juniper enjoying the MotherLove 2016 graduation pool party.

Working with MotherLove has been a gift that I will always cherish.  I have been let into young lives at times of crisis, transition, power, and transformation.  I have spent my career at the YWCA so far.  I can’t imagine how different my life would be had that not been true.  I have learned so much from working in our community…

  • I have learned that listening matters more than I ever imagined.
  • I have learned to let go of trying to find the perfect thing to say to fix it.
  • I have learned that caring deeply for others means you must care deeply for yourself.
  • I have learned that teenagers can act like adults.
  • I have learned that adults can act like teenagers.
  • I have learned that teenagers often do act like teenagers, and that’s ok.
  • I have learned that you can’t really talk to someone about their love life.  You just have to listen and hope they can hear what they’re saying.
  • I have learned that the love a mother feels for her newborn baby is more powerful and magical than I ever dreamed.  I knew how it felt from the inside, but I cherish having witnessed the beauty of it time and again.
  • I have learned how tough and strong and determined and resilient a young woman has to be to have a baby and finish high school .
  • I have learned to ask for help.
  • I have learned that joy and support and laughter make a heavy load seem light, even if just for a moment.
  • And I have learned that we all have the power to affect each other deeply as we cross paths, and that small gestures of kindness and concern can impact others more than we can imagine.

Life must be about connections, or we are lost.

 – Holly Gillespie, MotherLove Coordinator

Holly Gillespie has been with the YWCA for 10 years. For the past five years, MotherLove has been a big part of Holly’s life.  At the end of the month, Holly will leave the program in the capable hands our new MotherLove Coordinator, Amada Read. We wish Holly the very best – we know she will continue to inspire and empower – and to learn.

The MotherLove program is made possible with support from the City of Asheville, NC Dept. of Health and Human Services – Women’s Health Branch – Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, Bank of America, TD Bank, the United Way of Asheville, Buncombe County Services Foundation and YWCA donors.

New Teen Swim Club!

12 Oct

We are pleased to announce our new Teen Swim Club (for ages 12 – 16). Swim Club will begin on November 6 and run through December 20 (7 weeks). It will meet in our solar-heated pool on Tuesday and Thursday evenings (you can choose one night a week for 50$ or both for $75).

Participants will learn fitness swimming, stroke refinement, competitive swim skills and lifeguarding skills. Swim Club is ideal for swimmers who want to stay in shape for summer swim teams, want to prepare to take a  lifeguarding course in the future, or for serious swimmers who can’t commit to the schedule of a swim team.

Register at the YWCA, 185 S. French Broad Ave. For more information, call 254-7260 x 110 or email tonna.davis@ywcaofasheville.org.

FutureVision Campus Crawl

16 Apr

Report from Katie Clayton, YWCA FutureVision High School Coordinator:

On the outside I was all smiles and enthusiasm. But here is a snippet of what was going on in my head at 7 a.m. on April 3: I packed my camera. I’ve got my shoes. Emergency numbers…check. WHERE’S THE FUTUREVISION CELL PHONE?? Oh, it’s in my hand. Got my backpack with the first aid kit, directions, and itinerary. My suitcase. WHERE IS MY SUITCASE?? Oh, someone already packed it on the mini bus.

Planning a 2 night/3 day college tour trip for 10 high school students, I’d found out, was a little stressful! Since this is the final year of FutureVision, and thus our final Campus Crawl trip, I wanted to go out with a bang, and so off to Wilmington, NC we went!

Four hours into our journey, our first stop was UNC Pembroke, the smallest school in the UNC system, with around 6,000 students. First on our to-do list: Lunch in the cafeteria. Students ate the essential foods necessary for survival during the college years: pizza and french fries. At UNC Pembroke there is more than meets the eye, as the school’s art program is expanding, and they have a small bowling alley in their student activity center! One student liked UNCP so much, she bought herself a UNCP lanyard and keychain.

Back on the road we went: 2 hours until we reached our final destination, Wrightsville Beach! Once we got settled into our rooms we gazed at the view before us and took in the sights of the sound and waterway. It was that perfect time of day where afternoon and evening meet and the setting golden sun makes everything it touches look like a hazy dream. Before going out to a late dinner at Wild Wing Café, we all walked out to the beach, which was on the other side of the hotel from us, and greeted the sea. Everyone was all smiles as we dipped our toes in the water. For a few, the excitement was too much and they decided to take a dip in their clothes! It was the perfect end to a long day on the road.

Day two started with an amazing buffet breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant. French toast, pancakes, breakfast burritos, eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, grits, fruit, homemade yogurt. I think we all tried a little bit of everything. With our bellies full, we headed to UNC Wilmington. With 13,000 students, UNCW offers an array of degrees ranging from Film Studies to Nursing to International Relations. On top of all that, the campus was beautiful and was filled with students biking and skateboarding to class! Several FutureVision students loved the campus and commented that they could easily see themselves there for college, which is always a great thing to hear.

After lunch in the dining hall (more pizza and fries!), it was time to enjoy Wilmington and our access to the beach. Initially, the plan was to tour the Battleship. That was clearly a silly plan, though, because all 10 students said they’d rather go to the mall. After a quick tour of the mall, it was off to the beach! Students rented boogie boards from the hotel and boogie boarded their hearts out.

After beach time, we spent some more time on the water, but this time we took a sunset cruise on the sound and intercoastal waterway and learned about all the surrounding islands and wildlife. We finished up the day with a delicious dinner at Ruby Tuesday and then headed back to the hotel and crashed for the night—we’d had a busy day!

Day 3 was spent on the bus cruising down I-40W heading back to the mountains. It was a great time to reflect on a fun and educational trip. From seeing the student’s reactions to the schools to seeing them play on the beach (for a few of them, it was their fist beach trip!) to seeing them laugh and get to know each other better, the fourth and final Campus Crawl trip was a success.

*Name changed.

MotherLove Spring Break Enrichment

10 Apr

Over Spring Break, participants in the YWCA MotherLove program for teen moms used the week off for fun and learning. On Monday, a group went to Mission Hospital where they visited the birthing unit and met with hospital staff. Tuesday was an entertaining day with lunch and a movie at Biltmore Square Park. On Wednesday, the group toured Western Carolina University. On Thursday, parents and babies enjoyed “Toddler Story Time” at Pack Memorial Library. Katilyn, a MotherLove participant, attended all four days of activities. When asked what her favorite thing about the week was, she said, “Making new friends. I really enjoyed getting to know the other girls in the program.” Moreover, she was very happy to learn that Western Carolina University has a child care center. “I want to go there for college,” she said.

The MotherLove program is currently seeking volunteer mentors willing to spend eight hours a month with a pregnant or parenting teen. There will be a mentor training at the YWCA on Saturday, April 21 from 9:00 am – noon. Food will be provided. For more information, call MotherLove Director Tangela Ballard Bowman at 254-7206 x 116.

FutureVision Success

7 Mar

Meet Brianna*, a participant in the YW’s FutureVision teen program. Now a high school sophomore, Brianna began her involvement with FutureVision as a troubled sixth grader who was quick to act out, quick to speak before thinking, and prone to giving into anger. Through her involvement with the YWCA, Brianna has matured into a young woman who is devoted to her school work, volunteers in YW Child Care, and sets a positive example for the other students in the program.

“I have known two Briannas,” remarks Katie, the FutureVision High School coordinator. “One Brianna would act on anger and negative feelings. The Brianna I have seen grow and develop through high school will now communicate about her problems and process her feelings before acting.” When talking about a problem she is facing, Brianna admits, “The old me would want to fight. The old me would not want to be the bigger person. But now I think about my actions. I think about how they will affect my future, and I know fighting will only hurt me in the end.”

A place where Brianna has truly had a chance to blossom is in volunteering in the YWCA’s Child Care Center. She has a passion for working with babies and toddlers. Brianna knows each child by name, and her face lights up when she sees one of “her babies” with their parents in the hallway or lobby of the YWCA. Wanda Harris, Director of Child Care, is thankful for a volunteer like Brianna and said, “She’s real dependable. She does anything that’s asked of her and will take initiative to go above and beyond. She’s become part of our family.”

The change that has taken place in Brianna over the course of several years is truly inspiring. The YWCA has opened doors for her that she may have never thought to open and peek through. Volunteering in the Child Care Center has instilled a sense of responsibility and ownership of her life, while the FutureVision program has encouraged her in her academics by providing homework help, tutors, and mentors. We are excited to see the path that Brianna takes in the future, and all that she will accomplish in her life.


*Not her real name. Story by Jewel Tavener. Photo by Ami Worthen.

MotherLove Holiday Party

20 Dec

The YWCA MotherLove program for teen moms had their annual holiday party last week. This year was a “pajama party” theme. Everyone enjoyed a wonderful dinner and an entertaining storyteller from Pack Memorial Library. Volunteers presented baby blankets that they had knitted for participants in the program.

Become a Lifeguard this Holiday Season!

14 Dec

Get a Jump Start on Summer Employment! The YWCA of Asheville is offering American Red Cross Lifeguarding Training at the end of December.

The American Red Cross Lifeguard Training course includes Lifeguarding Skills, First Aid & CPR for the Professional Rescuer/AED

Instructor: Houston Stewart

Dates and Times:
Thursday, December 29 8 am – 8 pm
Friday, December 30 8 am – 8 pm
Saturday, December 31 8 am – 6 pm

Cost: $225 (all materials included)

For more information or to register call 254-7206 ext. 110.