Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
A History of Meeting Needs Over 100 years ago the YWCA of Yakima was created to empower and assist women of the Yakima Valley. A small group of women started the local branch in 1909 then incorporated in 1911. By 1935 community support helped create a downtown building where the YWCA could house programs for women. Time has passed and programs have evolved, but the YWCA’s vision of helping women has remained consistent for over a century. In the early years, the YWCA housed the League of Women Voters, offered a place where traveling women could stay the night, and provided employment services. By 1940 over 250 women and girls were participating in YWCA activities like bridge lessons, book reviews, craft lessons, gymnasium classes, public affairs discussions, and distribution of Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for the needy. In the years to follow, services were added such as camps for kids, Spanish classes, sports, exercising, and daycare to name a few.
Focusing On Today’s Needs In 1978 the YWCA became involved in a cause much different than causes it had met before – domestic violence. They began offering emergency shelter for women and children looking to escape abusive relationships, as well as provide support services to help empower those women. Kathryn Culpepper, a YWCA board member from 1976-1982, remembers that what they were doing was a bit controversial at the time, “People wondered why we were doing this. Why would we break up families? But it became apparent that what we were doing was needed. At the time, we didn’t realize how huge it was going to be,” she said. In 2000 the YWCA started efforts to establish a new facility for the organization’s emergency shelter. It took a lot of perseverance and work, but the YWCA finally moved to its new location on 9th Avenue in Yakima last year.
The emergency center features, expanded shelter space, on-site transitional housing, case management, and a comprehensive community resource center. The YWCA plans to finish rehabilitating other portions of their new building by summer 2011. The YWCA has grown with Yakima and the organization is well positioned for future success. The YWCA’s vision – to empower and help women – is still relevant and important to our community today. Attributed in part to the Yakima Valley Business Times