Tag Archives: Newsletter archive

Red Dress Day observed locally

Trilogy Recovery Community and College Place Prevention Coalition (CPPC) joined YWCA this April and May in our community’s REDress Project.

Jaime Black started the REDress project in 2010 to represent missing Indigenous women and girls. Her first exhibition was in a museum in Winnipeg. (Photos on the Métis artist’s website show several of these powerful images.)

AWARENESS IS A START
April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, is a time to address the community issue and campus issue of sexual violence.

But the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) in the US and Canada reminds us that violence is also an intersectional issue.

That is, when social problems like violence and marginalization overlap, the harm is amplified.

In the US, Native American women are estimated to be more than twice as likely to experience violence as other groups. One in three Indigenous women is sexually assaulted during her lifetime, with 67 percent of the assaults made by non-Native perpetrators. On some reservations, in fact, Native women are killed at 10 times the national average.

PARTNERS JOIN YWCA
Lucinda Victorio
, a School Recovery Support Ally & Advocate with Trilogy Recovery Community, worked with CPPC to spotlight Indigenous women lost in Washington state and create posters about their stories. These women have disappeared from their communities, some killed and some still missing.

Thank you to all the community members who displayed Red Dress yard signs about the project, displayed or donated red dresses, or shared a photo with the hashtag #MMIW.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

YWCA wellness matters

Thanks to YWCA USA and our Board of Directors, staff members are empowered with new online tools and funding to promote rest and resilience.

“Wellness couldn’t be more important,”, said Executive Director Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin, “especially now.”

For the last two years, she said, “we have endured a lot at work and home.” We’ve survived the challenges, “but have we thrived?”

Our Wellness Committee plans include activities and recognition to help reconnect staff social ties that were strained during the many months we couldn’t gather. And a staff newsletter will offer self-care reminders.

“I’m really excited to be a part of the Wellness Committee,” said MFH Office Assistant Brea Green. “Mental health is super important to me and I love the goal of this program.”

Follow us on social media as we share some of the wellness tips we discover. Join us on the wellness journey!

“My hope,” said Anne-Marie, “is that we will build healthy habits together and strengthen our bonds as co-workers and fellow humans.”

Share your favorite health tip with us by emailing wellness@ywcaww.org.

RECAP: In-person YWCA luncheon celebrates love

IT’S NO SECRET that Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin, YWCA Executive Director, radiates positive exuberance in just about any situation.

But as noon on Wednesday, May 4, approaches, she is even more joyful than usual because of the upcoming luncheon.

“As giddy as I am about being back in person,” said Anne-Marie, “I don’t want anyone to feel bad if they choose to attend virtually.”

The 2022 luncheon will be our first hybrid event – one where guests in the ballroom and people watching from home will have similar experiences.

“The point is to be together,” said Anne-Marie. “While I can’t wait to see people in person again, I’ll be beaming my hugs and good vibes to everyone streaming the luncheon from home. We need your virtual presence, too!”

Becky Betts

LEADING WITH LOVE
In these trying times, staying positive and hopeful is difficult. Most of us are overwhelmed and exhausted. Some of us are even a bit jaded.

“Leading with Love,” said keynote speaker and Providence St. Mary’s Manager of Population Health, Becky Betts, “is the message we need to hear right now.”

She will share uplifting stories and treasured life lessons to help us meet our challenges with kindness, compassion, and love. Love, she believes, is “a creative and problem-solving force that ignites imagination and goodwill.”

You will leave inspired to build genuine human connections to heal our homes, community, and world.

YWCA SPONSORS ARE THE BEST
“We have been grateful for the constant support of our sponsors and friends over the past two years as we’ve been finding new ways of doing events,” said Kirsten Schober, Events and Donor Engagement Coordinator.

“It took a while to determine what would be possible this year, but our partners jumped right in as soon as we asked for their help.”

Our sponsors, Kirsten said, “provide solutions to abuse and homelessness that change lives for the better. We are so grateful!”

President wraps up 2-year term

From left: Peggy, Andrea, and Carol.

Soon, Carol Allen, YWCA Board President, will hand the baton to President-Elect Molly Phillips.

After a recent Executive Committee meeting, Carol reflected on her term with Andrea Unck, Secretary; Peggy McClung, Treasurer; and Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin, Executive Director.

Carol’s two-year term began in January 2020. A few weeks later, the COVID pandemic changed life as we knew it.

“It felt like the ground under my feet was constantly shifting. In fact,” she laughed, “sometimes it still feels that way.”

The Believe party video is still available to watch online.

Discussing the past two years, Andrea noted that the annual Phonathon was a great way to start their 2020-2021 term. This event connects board members and donors one-on-one, but of course without any virus risk. And in April 2020, right after shutdowns started, Andrea said, “a need to connect was something we all had in common.”

Without live events to bring YWCA supporters together to rally around the mission, Carol said, “we had to get creative about connecting.”

You responded to the outreach. “It warms my heart that people continued to give, even without live events,” said Peggy.

“We are resilient, and when we feel strongly about something, like empowering women who have experienced domestic violence, we come together,” said Andrea.

Local advocate selected for World YWCA leadership role

Your gifts support positions like Amara’s as YWCA Prevention Advocate

Names of leaders and links to each of their local YWCA chapters are at the bottom of this post.

Amara Killen

On a blustery Walla Walla morning in late September, I logged into a zoom call with Michelle Tehedy, an 18-year-old YWCA leader from Soweto, South Africa. From the ten members of the 2021 World YWCA Leadership Cohort, we were partnered and asked to discuss the issues and solutions from our communities related to gender-based violence (GBV).

Michelle’s energy was contagious across the screen, and yet, despite her glowing smile, she admitted that she was exhausted after a week facilitating a multi-day GBV training course on for 150 youth in her community. We bonded over the inevitable tension of working in the field of GBV prevention, as stories of suffering and loss parallel those of survival and profound fortitude. We were united by our love of dance and our belief that to  end gender based violence we must create space to hear the voices of youth. 

“Feminism is not just an ideal that should be reached by all people, but more specifically, young men.” — Michelle

Members of the World YWCA 2021 Leadership Cohort brainstormed remotely then assembled this using individual videos taken all over the world.

Over the past three months as a member of the Leadership Cohort, I have been working and learning alongside nine other young women changemakers like Michelle from YWCA chapters in India, Kenya, Palestine, South Africa, South Sudan, Taiwan, and Zimbabwe. We are:

Board Members. Students. Activists. Filmmakers. Poets. Social Workers. Dancers. Organizers. Mothers. Sisters.

Together, across a 16-hour time difference between Walla Walla and Taipei, we share our stories, co-create works of art, and participate in leadership development sessions with powerhouse women leaders including:

  1. Japleen Pasricha, founder of Feminism in India.
  2. Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ted Talk “Fire, aim, ready.”
  3. Cynthia Germanotta, president and co-founder of the Born This Way Foundation.

I am endlessly grateful for the opportunity to learn about global issues related to Gender Based Violence, and to showcase the amazing work being done in Walla Walla with the larger YWCA community. In the next few weeks, the Leadership Cohort Members will all be submitting blog posts to the platform World YWCA She Speaks which works to amplify young women’s voices. 

With love,
Amara Killen
Prevention Advocate and Human Rights Activist

Join this global solidarity movement

Please follow up to read our stories, and, if you are a young woman, girl, or female-identified youth, you can submit a blog post yourself to share your voice with the world. We want to hear your story!

Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or comments to me at akillen@ywcaww.org

2021 World YWCA Leadership Cohort‘s online brainstorming session about different forms of gender-based violence that their communities face, which culminated in a video (see above or click here).

Pictured, from top left to bottom right: Maria Dorothy Padua from YWCA Secunderabad, India, Lara Khammash from YWCA Palestine, Michelle Mpho Tehedy from YWCA South Africa, Yvonne Anyango Ogollah from YWCA Kisumu, Kenya, Amara Killen from YWCA Walla Walla, USA, Runyararo Tembani from YWCA Zimbabwe, Latto Catherine Fred Tartisio from YWCA South Sudan, Angela (Zih-Han) Liu from YWCA Taipei, Taiwan, Nsreen Habet from YWCA Palestine, Annie Kumar from YWCA Secunderabad, India

Donors and leaders reflect on pandemic experience, growth

On a warm July evening, members of the Leadership Circle and past YWCA board members gathered to celebrate resilience and optimism at Foundry Vineyards.

“Spirits were high, bright persimmon clothing was abundant, and everyone was simply thrilled to be meeting face to face,“ Executive Director Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin said.

At the time, the so-called fourth wave of the pandemic had not yet hit Walla Walla County, and to our knowledge, thanks to a high percentage of vaccinated guests, no COVID transmission has resulted from the in-person gathering.

Taking stock

Table conversations centered around questions posed by our 2021 luncheon speaker, author and life coach Molly Davis.

Where do we go from here?

What is ours to do?

Of the many changes the past 16 months have brought to our lives, we discovered how grateful we are for some of those changes. For others…not so much.

The parts of quarantine we enjoyed most? Many found more time for reflective walks. “Walking was my discovery. My peace.”

Gratitude is key

Many found a renewed sense of gratitude to all who helped us get through the pandemic – the vaccination clinic folks, the UPS truck driver, the mail carrier.

Our outside activities moved inside our homes, meaning shared Wi-Fi, meeting spaces…a “tight family time” that was as challenging as it was a gift.

“Living daily with my family was scary and wonderful at the same time – exhausting and energizing,” said one mom.

We also learned to make do with less, to live on less, to enjoy simple pleasures like baking bread and making casseroles. “I’m able to be alone and to be content alone.”

The consensus of the assembled guests was that we really didn’t need all that toilet paper! In fact, someone shared that her new shopping motto is, “If I can’t eat it, I don’t need it!”

For some of our guests, COVID forced new life choices, and nearly everyone reported that the pandemic led to a massive personal change of some kind.

The sisterhood of the comfy pants

Where do we go from here? “We can leave behind intolerance and hate and take our resilience, flexibility, and grace into the future.”

And most agreed on another thing we can happily leave behind: “hard” pants. (Because comfy pants rule.)

You help us address county childcare crisis

Childcare table with colorful alphabet magnets and board

In nearby Dayton, where county residents have few childcare options, Tabitha Haney, YWCA Director of Childcare, is working with other experts – from state licensors and inspectors to legislators and architects – in the search for solutions.

Perhaps most affected by the childcare crisis are Dayton General Hospital employees, essential workers who – more than ever during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – need reliable, affordable care.

The Early Learning Coalition is exploring funding possibilities, and we look forward to the continued effort to set up quality care options for Columbia County.

Fun Factory: Your gifts kept our van rolling

Ethan Dolph, Ana Rubie, and Caitlyn Rolfe shared summer crafts in parks and neighborhoods throughout the Walla Walla Valley, thanks to your YWCA support.

After COVID crushed our 2020 plans, we were pretty excited about having the YWCA Fun Factory back.

However, this summer was hardly business as usual.

Several neighboring communities were experiencing virus resurgence that kept kids indoors. Here in Walla Walla, parks were emptier than usual with so many kids taking part in the important Walla Walla Public Schools accelerated learning program, Summer Sol.

While the numbers may not have been as high as previous years, it was great to be offering something for kids who might otherwise have slipped through the activity cracks.

Van driver Ethan Dolph said, “We knocked on doors and tacked up dozens of notes around some of our quieter stops. It was a really great feeling when after a couple of weeks of consistently showing up, we’d finally connect with the kids.”

Just when participation seemed to be gaining momentum, the team had a new challenge: Should they be trying to entice children outdoors in record-setting temperatures? Or on days with risky air quality?

They acquired spray bottles and added N95s to their masking options, and they gained special appreciation for the indoor stops.

Next year might not bring cooler temperatures or cleaner air (though we can always hope), but Ana, Caitlyn, and Ethan did come up with some new strategies and schedule adjustments to help 2022 be even more successful.

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.