2020: You were a lifeline
One of COVID’s surprises has been more time to read, and good books were a comfort and a source of continued lessons in 2020.
You might remember the 1992 movie based on E.M. Forster’s Howards End starring Emma Thompson as Margaret Schlegel. The big lesson from the book, delivered by Margaret, a woman led by both her heart and her mind is this: “Only connect.” Forster encourages us, like Margaret herself, to try to connect, look for what we share, even when it may be difficult, and seek unity and balance. Connect.
And even though we could not and still cannot gather, we found ways to connect. We had to. Without connection, especially in times of crisis, survival is not assured. Life is not good. Mental health is challenged, and hearts hurt.
The YWCA survived in 2020 because of connection. When we had to lay off 25 staff during the stay-at-home order, I didn’t know how to do that. Calls to trusted advisors were a lifeline. And you called us, asking what was needed, how could you help, how much money did we need to raise, was everyone OK.
Some of my best memories of 2020 are waving to people from the front steps as they dropped off gifts.
Once I was stopped at the grocery store by a family I had never met. They noticed my YWCA T-shirt and told me they were praying for the YWCA and everyone there.
Connection is the perfect descriptor for 2020, and I will remember this year as the year of Connection more than the year of COVID. Connection is what made it work, and connection is what will continue to make things work
Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin
Your gifts: $523,345
United Way: $3,897
Grants & contracts: $732,190
Program fees: $311,203
Investment income used: $33,364
Women’s residence & family shelter: $215,788
My Friends’ House: $396,248
Domestic violence support: $432,690
Sexual assault support: $253,026
Adventure Club: $58,941
Marketing & development: $71,929
Community outreach: $35,169
Administration & support services: $ 27,627
20 things we loved in 2020
- Healthy residents. Though the shelter stayed full to capacity after a brief lull early in the pandemic, not one resident was infected with COVID-19!
- Community generosity. The Alternative Gift Fair, founded by the Sustainable Living Center and later joined by Blue Mountain Community Foundation, raised $2.1 million for local nonprofits, which was matched at 100% by the ALL IN Washington fund — all in a year that upended many fundraising plans (including ours).
- MacKenzie Scott’s surprises. Not only were we thrilled by our $1 million donation, we also love that our local community college, YWCA USA, and 59 other YWCAs nationwide received transformational gifts.
- Great food. Several donors supported local restaurants as well as YWCA residents and staff members by purchasing and delivering meals. [Photo: YWCA friend hands off a stack of Sweet Basil pizzas to Anne-Marie in the lobby]
- Joyful holidays. The response to our appeal for donors to adopt shelter families was a huge success. And, in fact, a mom who spent Christmas in the shelter said it was one of the best she’d ever had. [Photo: Green toy truck surrounded by colorful gift bags]
- Family. “I had time to reflect on my priorities. With my dad being ill, I really realized how important these people are to my well-being. They are my shining light through everything.” — Holly Delibertis, Finance Manager
- New LiNC options. 2020 taught us to use online platforms, so survivors who otherwise couldn’t attend have the option of attending “Living in New Circumstances” classes from home.
- Helping hands. We had to cut way back on volunteers this year, but a faithful crew of delivery drivers kept Advocates in the shelter, working with clients, instead of driving to St. Mary’s every day to pick up meals.
- The dogs! Dog-lovers who worked from home got more time with their pets, and 14 furry friends provided emotional support to their humans living in the shelter. [Photo of black and white dog resembling a small Irish Wolfhound in the YWCA lobby]
- A little help from our friends. When virus-killing cleaner was impossible to find, Karen from the YMCA kept our spray bottles topped up and loaned us her giant sanitizing mister until ours arrived. [Photo: Karen from the YMCA hands off a spray bottle to the YWCA’s Anne-Marie]
- The M F Drive-In. When we couldn’t meet safely in person, the drive-in gave our whole community a safe space to hold graduations, church services, and even a baseball-themed YWCA fundraiser. [Photo: The Drive In marquis with part of the “Welcome YWCA” message showing]
- Grateful parents. “Having My Friends’ House as a support for our family during scary times has provided enormous emotional relief to me. I’m very grateful MFH was able to accommodate COVID restrictions and stay open while fostering an environment of safety, learning, and joy.” — A parent, My Friends’ House
- Time to breathe. “2020 brought everything around me to a halt and gave me the opportunity to rethink what was really important in my life — faith, time, family, well-being, safety, growth, love, and true friendship.” — Celia Guardado, Community Relationships and Outreach Coordinator
- Home, sweet home. Despite the pandemic, 41 survivors and their families moved out of the shelter and into permanent housing.
- Job success. While living in the shelter, Trisha completed 40 applications and, during a time of record unemployment, started a new career with benefits, professional training, and a good salary.
- Mariposa leaders. Not every school felt able to offer anything beyond the regular curriculum, but for those who did, our leaders held Zoom-style meetings right in students’ homes. The others worked on plans for in-person meetings to happen in 2021.
- More awareness of racial injustice. The senseless death of George Floyd focused attention on systemic racism in a way nothing else has, involving people all over the world in protest and pushing titles like White Fragility and How to Be an Anti-Racist to the tops of bestseller lists. It shouldn’t have taken a tragedy to get the world’s attention, and YWCA pledges to keep working until justice … just is. [Graphic: Header for the YWCA challenge posts showing part of the title and two smiling young women, one Black, one White]
- Cake. A domestic violence shelter might not seem like the cheeriest place to spend your birthday, but at the YWCA, it means a visit from Cake, Hope, & Love. These volunteer bakers make sure everyone gets a cake on their special day, no matter what age, even during a pandemic. [Photo: Pink and white round cake with decorations spelling out “one”]
- Time at home. “I loved that coming home meant spending more time with my family and pets.” — Jessica Swanson, LiNC Assistant
- Too much to list. You were so generous that we’d need several more pages to count all the blessings of 2020. We are deeply grateful.
Things you made happen in 2020
YWCA doors opened to 497 domestic violence and 94 sexual assault survivors for help and healing. [Graphic: Orange silhouette of open doors]
1,473 calls to the 24-hour crisis line received information, assistance, and referrals. [Graphic: Orange silhouette of phone handset with talk bubble containing a heart]
284 women and 203 children sheltered safely at the YWCA, away from violence and abuse. [Graphic: Orange silhouette of classic house shape with a white heart outline]
Support groups helped 28 survivors feel heard, seen, and not alone. [Graphic: Orange outline of women in hard hats]
LiNC classes gave 22 women “Living in New Circumstances” the tools to plan and dream about new futures. [Graphic: Orange silhouette of toolbox with tools inside]
YWCA shelters offered 8,265 secure bednights for women and children leaving domestic abuse. [Graphic: Orange silhouette of bed with pillow]
366 individuals sought help from Advocates at the Domestic Violence Protection Order Clinic. [Graphic: Orange silhouette of building with pillars]
221 survivors had an Advocate by their side while attending court. [Graphic: Orange silhouette of a book with a hand on top to suggest someone taking an oath in court]
Because no one deserves rape, 17 prison clients had someone to talk to about a traumatic event. [Graphic: Orange silhouette of hands grabbing prison bars]
YWCA Volunteers gave 695.25 hours of work with an estimated value of $17,680.43. [Graphic: Orange silhouette of upraised hand with a heart on the palm]
63 preschoolers and toddlers prepared for school (and life) at My Friends’ House. [Graphic: Orange silhouette of a teddy bear holding a heart]
Adventure Club welcomed 22 children for afterschool fun and friendship-building. [Graphic: Orange silhouette of a toy ball]
207 local 5th-graders discussed important topics like healthy friendships with college student Mariposa leaders (in person, and later online). [Graphic: Orange silhouette of a screen divided into four quadrants to suggest a Zoom call]
Cocoa & Conversation with 476 middle and high school students explored how to create and recognize healthy relationships. [Graphic: Orange silhouette of a steaming cup with a heart on the side]