Tag Archives: ywca of asheville

Bold Mission, Bright Future

21 Jun

YWCANationalConference2017Delegates from our YW in Asheville recently attended the YWCA National Conference in Washington D.C. where we convened with fellow leaders from associations across the country to share, discuss, advocate, and collaborate together. The energy was high and the intention clear. From workshops to powerhouse keynote speakers the YWCA held up the significance of embracing the intersectionality of our work throughout social justice movements and the imperative to uplift the leadership of young women and women of color.

CapitalHillDay2017_BethMaczka_LaurenWeldishoferWe turned Capitol Hill persimmon as hundreds of YWCA delegates met with their respective representatives in Washington to advocate for our mission, programs, and communities.Thank you to everyone who signed our petition and wrote postcards about potential Federal Budget cuts. YWCA of Asheville proudly delivered over 560 signatures to the offices of Congressman McHenry and Meadows and Senators Burr and Tillis. Our message was to highlight the importance of federal funds in programs that serve women, children and families and what a great job we do in leveraging additional funding to provide high-quality services to our community. The petition and postcards were well received. The general response from legislative staff is that the budget will be significantly re-written before it is finalized and that we should continue to stay in touch during the process – so stay tuned for more advocacy opportunities.

20170616_201132Also during the conference, YWCA of Asheville was recognized as one of three finalists for the YWCA Association of Excellence Award for Racial Justice. We were nominated – out of more than 220 associations nationwide – for the development of our racial justice workshops, our robust Stand Against Racism campaign, and our leadership with our local Racial Justice Coalition. Although we did not win, we congratulate our friends at YWCA of Rochester for their exceptional achievement and are inspired to work even harder for racial justice. Congratulations also to YWCA Greater Atlanta for excellence in advocacy and YWCA Brooklyn for excellence in women’s empowerment. 

Throughout the conference, YWCA of Asheville was posting quotes, insights, and photos in real-time to the YWCA audience nationwide. Read our Social Media Ambassador’s reflections on the YWCA USA Blog.

 

Celebrating Our 110th Anniversary

12 May

 

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Beth Maczka, YWCA CEO and the 2016/2017 YWCA Board of Directors

 

Since 1907 the YWCA of Asheville has been at the forefront of social and racial justice movements in our community. The first location of the YWCA in Asheville was founded to support and house single white women moving into the city to work. A few years later in 1913, a group of black women started to meet and created the Employment Club. And, in 1921, the African American Phyllis Wheatley Branch of the YWCA was opened.  Officially integrating in 1967 and merging under one roof on South French Broad Avenue in 1971, the YWCA of Asheville continues to serve women and families in our community, proudly living into our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women every day.

To honor our rich history, highlight those currently making a difference, and share a vision for our future, the YWCA held an event in May 2017 to celebrate our 110 Year Anniversary. Thank you to all who came and made the evening so special. Held at UNC Asheville, guests enjoyed a reception to gather, share memories and view many of the newly archived YWCA photos on display. During the program, we showcased our partnership with UNC Asheville, which helped us preserve and identify historical images and collect new oral histories from YW members. Presenters from both the YWCA and UNC Asheville shared historical timelines, themes, and stories captured during oral history interviews conducted by university students and from our community picture viewing days for over 400 newly acquired YW photos. Our past board presidents and executive directors wrapped up the evening by sharing their hopes and dreams for the YWCA to send us off looking ahead into our bright future.

Visit our website at www.ywcaofasheville.org/history for links to explore the Asheville YWCA Oral History Project from the UNC Asheville History Department, view the YWCA of Asheville Archive at Ramsey Library at UNC Asheville Special Collections and access the new Asheville YWCA Digital Photo Collection through the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, NC Collection at UNC Chapel Hill.

Member Spotlight: Susan McBride

9 Aug
Susan has lived in Asheville for 16 years and has been a YWCA member on and off much of that time. With a little motivation and support from our LiveFit pilot program – Susan is back!
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What brought you to YW originally? I wanted a quiet, clean work out space. I had joined the YMCA when I first moved here. Honestly, the YMCA had too much “M” for me. Guys would be working out on the weights, letting them drop, lots of grunting and groaning. Macho peacock displays of toughness weren’t something I was craving. Also, there would be folks waiting for the machines with impatience. I’m not sure if it’s still like that now. The YWCA health and Fitness Center was more appealing to me. The gym is clean and I rarely have to wait for a machine. The staff is kind, welcoming and helpful. There’s a broad range of people who use the gym and lots of little kids coming and going. It’s a lively, happy place. The group fitness studio used for yoga and other classes is also very nice.
How did you get involved with LiveFit? Out of the blue, I was contacted to be part of the pilot program. At first, I thought it was a promotional call, but it was a real offer to be part of something I was greatly in need of doing.
Tell us a little about your LiveFit experience:  I was looking to get back into a healthful routine after years of stressful work and family situations involving caregiving. I had fallen away from taking good care of myself, stress was ruling my world. Working out for me was a walk to the grocery store to get ice cream or wine. I was demoralized at being out of shape and overweight again – and the only person who could change that was exhausted, depressed me. Being part of this group was a gentle way to motivate into a more healthy routine, including good nutrition advice and support in exercising in many different ways.
Have you met any health & fitness goals yet? I have committed to working out 3 times a week and I’m sticking with that for the most part. I am also eating more healthy food. I’m a work in progress. (Aren’t we all?!)
What are your future goals? I want to do strength training and get comfortable with more equipment in the gym by working with a YW personal trainer – hopefully with Fran [who was an instructor with the LiveFit program.]
Who inspires you? People who are older than me, who are in great shape, quietly and humbly doing their thing in the gym. People who are ill, but continue to come to the gym and do their workouts. I am inspired by the staff as well. It’s good to see them working out too.
Favorite workout/class/machine:  The elliptical is a good cardio workout and easy on the knees. I also like the rowing machine and free weights.
What else do you like most about the YW? I love the childcare program. My daughter did an internship when she was a junior in high school and had an amazing experience caring for infants and learning about community outreach. I like to stop by and see the babies sometimes. They are so loved at the YWCA childcare center. I also love the officer who takes care of everybody at the YW. (That would be the one and only, Charlton Owens!) He tells folks to “get the car in gear and drive it like they stole it!” Then gives a military salute. He makes me laugh, he’s a great person.
Anything else you would like to share? Thank you for reaching out to me. The personal phone call to be part of the LiveFit pilot program was out of the ordinary and got my attention. Talking to real people about taking care of myself has been a gift!

Staff Spotlight: Amanda Read, Mother Love Coordinator

22 Jul

Our July Staff Spotlight features Amanda Read, MotherLove Coordinator. Amanda is new to the YWCA and to Asheville, and we couldn’t be more excited to have her part of our YWCA team & community.image1

How long have you lived in Asheville? I moved to Asheville in May, so I’m really new to town. Previously, I lived in Columbia, SC where I completed my Masters in Social Work at the University of South Carolina. I grew up in Greensboro, NC.

How long have you been at the YW? My first day at the YWCA was May 30th, so I have been here for just a little over a month.

Favorite thing(s) about the YWCA? I love the culture here at the YWCA. I am so happy to be a part of an organization that values the community served and its staff members. I like knowing that I am working for a purpose that will benefit peoples’ lives. It is also a perk to come to work every day and see people being active and working out. It motivates me to get moving for my own health and wellness.

What do you like to do in your spare time? I love to spend time with my family and friends. On the weekends, I like to watch live music. I will often drag a family member or friend to see a show with me regardless of the musical genre—I listen to anything from Hip-Hop, Indie, Grunge, R&B, Classical and Turkish music.

People would be surprised if they knew I… Love to watch Chinese and Thai soap operas. I find the acting and storylines more entertaining than American television. If asked, I will shamelessly recommend amazing dramas to watch on a rainy day.

Racial Justice Advocacy & Action in Times of Tragedy

12 Jul

We at the YWCA of Asheville are deeply saddened by the local tragedy of events resulting in the death of Jai “Jerry” Lateef Solveig Williams. We grieve with our community for the loss of another young African-American man.

RacismHurtsEveryone_BlackThis, compounded with the appalling deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of law enforcement, deepens our resolve to work towards dismantling systemic racism that undermines our society and threatens us all.
The mission of the YWCA is eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. While details are still emerging through the ongoing investigation of local events, the YWCA of Asheville is committed to working with our community as part of the Racial Justice Coalition to eliminate any and all forms of institutional and structural racism.
Read this statement documenting a meeting with Asheville Police Department Chief Hooper and members of community organizations including the Racial Justice Coalition. As leaders within the Racial Justice Coalition, the YWCA will continue to work closely with APD to ensure truth and accountability emerge from this investigation. Stay connected with us for further updates and dialogue through this Blog and our Facebook and Twitter.

A conversation between Beth Maczka & Joshua McClure

29 Jun

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On a mission to serve school age children: Beth Maczka, YWCA CEO, recently sat down with Joshua McClure, the Director of our Primary Enrichment Program.

BM: Tell me a little about your background and why you were interested in working at the YWCA?

JM: I’ve been working with kids for 11 years now. As an African-American man, I want to be a positive role model for youth in the community.  I grew up at the YWCA – taking swim lessons, participating in after school and hanging out with my grandmother. The YWCA is welcoming and accepting. I think the mission speaks volumes, and it is important to me, but also coming here feels like home.

BM: How does your program relate to the YWCA’s mission of empowering women and eliminating racism?

JM: We’ve always been the voice and resource for single parents. They trust our staff and many have been a part of the YWCA since their kids were 6 weeks old. The thing that I hear from parents the most is that the counselors really care about the kids, as if they were their own, like family.  As it pertains to the child care and voucher crisis in our community – these parents want to continue all the way through the Primary Enrichment Program. They don’t want to leave.

BM: What do you think makes our After School and Summer Camp unique?

JM: First of all, we are diverse. Secondly, we have programming that will help meet all the different needs of our kids. We are striving to be more than just a “babysitter,” by having  a greater focus on bridging education gaps during the school year and combating summer learning loss during camp. The homework help we offer is a huge benefit to our kids and also their parents. The [Big Brothers/Big Sisters] mentoring partnership program will also help give kids a voice and help develop social skills – especially our shy and less engaged youth. The kids are also really enjoying other partnerships we are bringing into our program, including Girl Scouts, tennis and ABYSA soccer. 

BM: What is your approach and vision for the Primary Enrichment Program?

JM: I want to be involved. Set a new dynamic. Improve the whole ‘feel’ of the program. Make people feel welcome and engaged – the staff, the youth and the parents.

It is important that they [the kids] see me as more than just an authority figure. I try once a week to spend time in each room helping with homework or playing games. I want to show the kids that I care. I really want to be involved. And they love the time we spend together – they remember the games we have played.

I look forward to the program blossoming with more people knowing about us…parents wanting to do more within the program. Cross promotion between After School, Spring Break, and Summer Camp. We are striving to help with education, enrichment, and health & wellness. I want it to be viewed as a great program in our community.

BM: What would people be surprised if they knew about you?

JM: One of my legs is longer than the other.

BM: You’re such a great dancer & teach our popular Hip Hop Cardio classes! That sure hasn’t slowed you down, has it!?

JM: Nope!

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.