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YWCA 21-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge 2021

We rolled out an all-new challenge for 2021. Did you join us?

YWCA Walla Walla joined 54 YWCAs from Oahu to South Florida to Maine, all doing a version of this challenge. To engage with each other, we used the hashtag #YWCAEquityChallenge on social media. Thank you to everyone who joined us to dive deep into racial equity and social justice. Click here for a catalog of the 2021 21-Day Challenge content.

The 21-Day Equity Challenge was created by Dr. Eddie Moore Jr. (#BlackMind) and co-developed with Debby Irving, and Dr. Marguerite Penick (#DiverseSolutions). The plan has been adopted by Organizations, Associations and Corporations all over the nation/world. Dr. Eddie Moore Jr. is the Director of the Privilege Institute in Green Bay, WI. Dr. Moore created the Challenge to not only help people better understand issues surrounding equity, inclusion, privilege, leadership and supremacy, but also to do so in a way that would build a habit of learning by stretching it over 21 days. We are excited to be offering you this 21-Day Challenge in partnership with Dr. Moore. As you engage in the various activities over the next 21 days, be sure to tag, comment, and follow (1) 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge | Facebook.


The 2020 21-Day Challenge

08/31/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 21

08/28/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 20

08/27/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 19

08/26/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 18

08/25/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 17

08/24/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 16

08/21/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 15

08/20/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 14

08/19/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 13

08/18/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 12

08/17/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 11

08/14/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 10

08/13/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 9

08/12/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 8

08/11/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 7

08/10//2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 6

08/07/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 5

08/06/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 4

08/05/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 3

08/04/2020 – 21 Day Challenge: Day 2

08/03/2020 – Welcome to the 21 Day Challenge! Today is Day 1

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LiNC curriculum creator retiring

Longtime educator Deana York has retired as director of the YWCA LiNC program.

Deana based LiNC on the Impact Life Transitions Program she started at Walla Walla Community College in 2004.

Impact was a model program in Washington state. However, many programs lost funding in 2010, including Impact.

The program needed a new home, and SonBridge offered office space and paid for supplies and equipment. Over time, Impact became self-sufficient through grants and donations.

Deana retired from Impact in 2016, leaving it in the hands of her intern. Then Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin called. She wanted a similar program at the YWCA. She and Deana had discussed this before, but now she had funding. She asked Deana to organize a program, determine objectives, and develop curriculum.

Deana York

YWCA was a perfect place to launch the program: The clientele was already in the building, and classes would give YWCA residents significant tools for growth and success.

YWCA named it LiNC, Living in New Circumstances and piloted the program with staff, who gave LiNC an enthusiastic endorsement.
The first group of survivors confirmed the program’s value. They found the course so helpful they wanted to take it again, so some more in-depth courses became LiNC 2.0.

Deana recently heard from a LiNC 2.0 graduate, who said, “[LiNC] has totally changed the direction of my life and allowed me to minister and assist so many others without entangling myself in an unhealthy way.”
“I have so much respect,” Deana said, “for the work these ladies did to improve their lives and their futures.”

Some conquered addictions to alcohol, drugs, or smoking. Many enrolled in college classes. Others have overcome physical disabilities. And some have even faced new setbacks.

“Yet,” Deana added, “each one of these women is aware of the choices she is now making. Their lives have been positively impacted [by LiNC].”

You let your light shine

We appreciate your gifts to YWCA Walla Walla

So many generous supporters have stepped up for the YWCA in a big way during this crazy year, 2020. Thank you!

When we found our costs rising because of the very same virus that forced the canceling of all our fundraising events, we weren’t at all sure how that would add up.

But here we are, halfway through the last month of the year and within only several thousand dollars of completely covering our 2020 budget needs!

Please, if you would have given at the YWCA Leadership Luncheon, or if you were planning to purchase an auction package at the Believe party, go to our website, or to have your gift matched, visit the Charitable Giving Guide.

Your gifts ensure that there will be a safe place ready for the next woman who comes through our doors seeking peace, dignity, and the outstretched hand of a friend like you.

Summit takes on campus violence

SAFER CAMPUSES, COMMUNITY

YWCA Campus Advocate Jessica Matthews and a team of student interns representing Whitman College, Walla Walla University, and Walla Walla Community College, hosted a tri-college summit on sexual violence, “Building Community Through Justice and Healing,” Oct. 25 as part of Domestic Violence Action Month.

“I was searching for examples of sexual violence programming on other college campuses,” said Jessica, “and was inspired by Ohio University’s 2019 national student leadership summit, ‘It’s On Us’.” She was also searching for Covid-safe programming, something that could be done online.

“And I thought, how about a virtual summit?”

Ever since Jessica started in her position of YWCA Campus Advocate nearly three years ago, she has been striving to create more tri-college
programming in Walla Walla.

“Though my campus work was initially focused primarily on Whitman, I quickly became interested in engaging students, faculty, and staff from our other two nearby campuses in conversations about the painful but important topic of campus sexual violence,” Jessica said. “I recruited a team of seven excellent interns from all three colleges, who each brought unique skills. The team of interns and I collaborated with staff members from each school, holding weekly virtual planning meetings to make the summit a reality.”

IMPORTANT CONVERSATIONS

Events like these, said Helena Zindel, Whitman student and YWCA intern, begin vital conversations regarding the ways in which sexual assault is handled on college campuses.

“These conversations will hopefully lead to tangible actions on the part of colleges and lawmakers,” Helena said, “reforms that ensure that colleges take instances of sexual violence seriously and do not use their institutional power to discredit and disbelieve survivors.”

Whitman student and YWCA intern Mia Reese appreciated that the summit emphasized the importance of healing and the ways that communities and institutions can either ameliorate or exacerbate the trauma experienced by survivors.

Professor Nicole Bedera presented “The Hard Part Isn’t Over: Ensuring Title IX Reporting and Resources Don’t Harm Survivors”

Professor Nicole Bedera’s keynote address shed light on the changes made to Title IX under the leadership of Betsy DeVos and made clear the need for urgent action and support on behalf of the movement to end campus violence.

Breakout sessions after the keynote featured a range of topics, from healing from trauma and loss to a guided discussion on Jon Krakauer’s book, Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town.


JESSICA’S LEGACY

The summit on campus sexual violence was the first of what Jessica intends to be an annual tri-college event, one she hopes next year can safely be held in person.

Though we are sad that Jessica Matthews will not return in 2021, her efforts engaging students, faculty, staff, and community members can contribute to future safer campuses and a safer community.

“Next year’s Campus Advocate,” said Mary Byrd, YWCA Director of Client Services, “will have strong connections and traditions to build on.”

YWCA Walla Walla receives unexpected gift

Just in time for the holidays, YWCA Walla Walla was surprised by an unsolicited, unrestricted gift of $1 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. She announced her gift in a blog post on Medium Tuesday morning. 

Why us?

Scott described a rigorous review process focused on nonprofits serving populations with “high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.” In the post, Scott called the pandemic “a wrecking ball in the lives of Americans already struggling.”  

YWCA Walla Walla was one of 384 organizations to receive grants from Scott, and one of nine in Washington state. “I was and still am quite stunned by this,” said Executive Director Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin. “Gifts of this size and of this nature are rare.”

Scott, whose 2020 giving has approached $6 billion, said of the selection process, “We do this research and deeper diligence not only to identify organizations with high potential for impact, but also to pave the way for unsolicited and unexpected gifts given with full trust and no strings attached.”

“I believe that the strong and constant support of our community,”, Schwerin said, “is what put our YWCA in a position to even be considered for such an amazing gift.”

Over the next few months, the Board of Directors will dedicate time to make thoughtful decisions on how to invest the dollars to further our mission and work, in alignment with strategic and long-term plans.

Perfect timing

Scott’s gift could not have come at a better time, Schwerin said.

While the YWCA navigates the challenges of COVID 19, and addresses potential threats to federal funding, gender-based violence is on the rise, making safe shelter more critical than ever.

“We are grateful to MacKenzie Scott, not only for her confidence in our organization,” said Schwerin, “but also for the thoughtfulness she brings to her philanthropic decisions. Her gift shows the women we serve that they deserve to live with dignity, free from violence and discrimination.” 

Six ways to build YWCA Hansel & Gretel Holiday Houses

Last year, and for many, many years previously, YWCA Walla Walla hosted a much-loved holiday tradition, building Hansel & Gretel houses. If you were there, you may remember how much fun the kids (and parents!) had or how many attended. You may recall, especially in recent years, families wearing extremely festive (definitely not “ugly”) Christmas sweaters.

If you’re a little germaphobic, you may also remember a lot of licking of sticky fingers, no matter how vigilant parents and volunteers tried to be with cleaning wipes. Clearly, this isn’t something we could continue with COVID cases on the rise. But we couldn’t completely give up on such a wonderful tradition.

So here are some ways you can build a house with the YWCA and remember all the women and families who need a safe home this holiday season. (Note: The more popular videos may require waiting to skip ads.)

1. Graham cracker houses.

If you’ve made Hansel & Gretel houses before, this process will look familiar. Our volunteers always broke a lot of crackers trying to trim gables, so sometimes we gave up and left the roofs open. But this mom makes it look easy using a serrated knife with short sawing motions to form roof peaks. We always ordered royal icing from the bakery, but these are assembled using a can of dollar store frosting. You can pick up candy there too. We never bought discount graham crackers, though, because we thought they’d break more easily. Let us know if you are successful!

2. Graham crackers, take 2

Here’s a clear tutorial on building sturdy, tidy graham cracker houses. It uses a simple icing of powdered sugar + water that appears to work quite well. The demo doesn’t include decorating techniques, but check out the pretzels in the photo for an idea.

3. Upgrade your house with Pop-Tarts

This may not be the healthiest choice for everyday snacking, but toaster pastries make a cute, quick little house. You’ll need six to make one house, so look for a multipack.

4. Homemade gingerbread for purists

You’ll love Jemma and her tasty tiny houses! You may need to hit up Google for UK-to-US conversion of measurements, or to figure out a substitute for ingredients you can’t find here (golden syrup?), but the size makes a perfect little house for sharing, especially if you don’t want to pile on a lot of candy.

5. One more homemade option

Sally makes her house from scratch with royal icing and buttercream. She also uses some fancy tools. But like she says, there are no rules for making a gingerbread house. Have fun and don’t be afraid to improvise!

6. Buy a kit

Just about every store seems to have a gingerbread house kit, whether you’re shopping online or going inside. Several are in the $10 range, which might cost less than a shopping trip for supplies. Just don’t wait too long to pick yours out…you never know what’s going to run short this year!

Thousands of holiday houses are waiting to be discovered if you go down the Internet rabbit hole. You’ll find everything from raw eggs to hot glue holding houses together and decorations from museum-quality to truly disastrous. Remember: If your house collapses, add a dinosaur!

Have fun!

You may benefit from the CARES Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act provides an opportunity for tax deductions – even if you don’t itemize.


For calendar year 2020, taxpayers who don’t itemize can receive a tax deduction of up to $300 for cash donations to 501(c)(3) nonprofits.
If you do itemize, you may deduct up to 100 percent of your 2020 Adjusted Gross Income.


Furthermore, the limit on corporate donations has been lifted from 10 percent to 25 percent.


Talk to your tax advisor to maximize your CARES Act benefits.

You can make a wish come true

The holidays may look a little different in 2020, but we know that, just like in past years, you’ll make sure that families in the YWCA shelter, in support groups, and in LiNC life skills classes have a beautiful season of peace and joy with the dignity they deserve.

We call the program “Adopt a YWCA family” and it couldn’t happen without you.

How it works

If you would like to help provide a wonderful holiday experience for our women and families, call the YWCA (509.525.2570) or email Jessica Swanson, YWCA LiNC Assistant, at jswanson@ywcaww.org no later than November 20.

Jessica will ask about your donation preferences and then match you with a family to shop for. How much to spend is up to you, but based on past years, she suggests up to $75 per person.

Safety matters

“Due to COVID, we are encouraging donors to shop online or to use curbside pickup,” said Mary Byrd, Director of Client Services. “If shopping online, you can have packages shipped to: YWCA Walla Walla c/o family ID number, 213 S. First Ave., Walla Walla.”

“Gift cards are another good way to limit time in a store,” said Jessica. “And as a bonus, they give a parent the joy of choosing their children’s gifts themselves.”

Donors can purchase physical or electronic gift cards (electronic ones can be emailed). And cards can be specific to a store or brand or simply be prepaid Visa cards. If ordering online, donors should order early enough for gifts to arrive by December 15.

Stocking stuffers

Smaller, more general donations are also very welcome. Items that make great stocking stuffers include notebooks, gum or candy, toiletry bags, coloring books and gel pens, headphones, warm socks, and card games.

The deadline to deliver gifts to the YWCA office is December 15. In the interest of safety, you are welcome to buzz the front desk. Then, leave your gifts or gift cards right outside the front doors anytime during office hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., weekdays. Make sure to leave your name and address so we can send you a receipt.

You can still watch YWCA Virtual Luncheon 2020

What do you do when a coronavirus pandemic forces you to postpone a luncheon that typically brings in more than $150,000 of your fundraising budget? How can you continue to provide essential domestic violence and sexual assault services to your community?

1. One answer is that you get by with a little (make that a LOT of) help from your friends!

Our sponsors (shown below and during the luncheon recording) and our loyal donors have rallied to help YWCA weather the virus. They’ve sent notes of encouragement and cards with checks tucked inside.

2. The other answer is that you take your efforts and your mission to the virtual realm. So on May 6, we had an online (Bring Your Own Lunch) luncheon!

The event, which you can view above, includes a message from one of our most loyal donors, a tour of the YWCA Domestic Violence Women’s shelter, updates from the Living in New Circumstances (LiNC) life skills program and a meeting with Mariposa leaders, who talk about their work with fifth-grade girls.

To add a little fun, we had a drawing for a YWCA Swag Bag, a post-quarantine lunch at the YWCA for the winner and a friend, and a 30-pack of Kirkland toilet paper, which you may notice Anne-Marie and Carol avoid mentioning by name on video.

More than 145 supporters attended the virtual luncheon LIVE, but it’s not too late to find out more about what your past support has made possible and what YWCA Walla Walla is planning for the future.

Also, we still plan to honor our commitment to the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center and its currently furloughed employees with an in-person 2020 YWCA Leadership Luncheon on Wednesday, Nov. 6. If gathering is safe by then, we look forward to seeing you to celebrate our community’s resilience!

YWCA Leadership Circle Members

Protection Order Clinic an essential service for survivors

While working from home is prescribed for all nonessential services, YWCA continues to offer the Domestic Violence Protection Order (PO) Clinic.

“I’ve been asked by family and friends if I am still working,” said advocate Jessica Matthews. “The need for protection and shelter for women fleeing from an abusive partner does not diminish during a global pandemic. In fact, we may see a rippling effect and an increase in need.”

The PO Clinic assists individuals filing for protection orders in Walla Walla County. YWCA Advocates can help fill out the necessary forms, and they accompany anyone having their requests for protection reviewed by a judge or court commissioner.

Advocates meet with clients in the third-floor law library, a secure location that offers privacy.

“These documents can be overwhelming on a good day, but even more so during a stressful time like this,” said Jessica.

Jacob Hafen is one of YWCA’s newest advocates and attended the PO Clinic as part of his job training. “During this tumultuous time in everyone’s lives, we are striving to hold even tighter to the flame of hope.”

A pre-crisis bright spot he experienced was receiving a donation of toys and activities.

“Walking in to the shelter with a big bag of goodies and seeing all of the children’s eyes light up felt like Christmas in March. It was wonderful seeing the mothers of these kids ease up. Someone was taking some of the weight off of their shoulders and helping them to take care of their kids.”

Moments like this, Jacob said, make shelter work rewarding. “Survivors need tender moments of support and giving even more now. It’s about being there with other people going through life with all its struggles and pains and aches, then helping them thrive and grow and move on with their lives.”