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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.

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.”

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.

Gesa and Life Church part of amazing community

Denise Shives, 2019 Board President, presented two community awards at the Year in Review.

The first went to Gesa Credit Union, our Business Partner of the Year. Gesa invited Denise and Executive Director Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin to their regional meeting to educate 500 Gesa employees about domestic violence, a great YWCA opportunity.

Gesa employees raced to assemble care bags for women in their communities who have experienced domestic violence.

The meeting concluded with a memorable Gesa give-back. Large tubs were brought in to the room filled with toiletries such as full-size shampoos and conditioners, deodorants — all the basics a woman would need for personal care. Then employees at each table grabbed Gesa tote bags and raced to fill them with one of each toiletry item as well as a note of encouragement.

In 15 minutes, 500 employees assembled 2,500 care bags that each Gesa branch could deliver to the shelter in their community.

Life Church was named our 2019 Community Partner.

Life Church members prepared a dizzying array of desserts to complete a meal of assorted roast meats, salads, veggie sides — even mac and cheese for the little ones in shelter.

Several weeks ahead of the holidays, the church began working with YWCA staff to host a Christmas party for families in shelter and former residents.
Eighty-five church members arranged activities planned with extreme care for the comfort and dignity of shelter families, some of whom needed confidentiality for their safety.

Thank you, Gesa and Life Church!

Quiet Force: Women who make things happen

YWCA Walla Walla is co-organizing a project with photographer Augusta Sparks Farnum and Whitman College Community Fellow Jessie Brandt to capture voices of women in our community (Walla Walla and Columbia counties), and we need your help. We aren’t necessarily looking for the first person who springs to mind as a traditional leader. (Though she might be.)
We want to find women who are a quiet force, who keep things moving, who show up, who get things done. She may be part of a group that has been historically under-represented. She may be someone a little unexpected or unsung. We welcome an array of ages, experiences, and perspectives. In fact, we’re counting on it. Our intention is to amplify voices that may not have been widely heard.

With each woman’s consent, the results will be shared on social media during 2020 and culminate in an exhibit, book, or similar project. Each woman involved will have a chance to approve her image and any shared text.

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If someone comes to mind who you’d like to see included in this project, we would love to hear from you. Click here to suggest a woman you know.

Adventure Club kids learning skills through play time

If you ask YWCA director of childcare, Tabitha Haney, what she loves most about her Adventure Club staff, she might tell you that they never shrink from a challenge.
When she presented the staff with information about the School’s Out Washington program, they knew it would be hard work and could make Adventure Club better for the kids in the program, so they couldn’t wait to get started.

ALWAYS LEARNING
School’s Out Washington believes that education for young people doesn’t stop when the school day ends, and that after-school care programs, like YWCA Adventure Club, should be high-quality Extended Learning Opportunities, or ELOs.

Rhena Burt, Adventure Club Site Coordinator, said, “I was excited that we would be one of Walla Walla’s first afterschool childcare programs to focus
on ELOs. How exciting to get to learn more about things we can do to make our program better!”

A SOWA trainer, Kandy Whitaker, visited Adventure Club at Davis Elementary in College Place, the club’s location during the school year. She observed the staff and activities and shared her impressions about the program.

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“We’ve had a couple of assessments now, which helped us choose three areas to set goals in. We decided the most important area to focus on was skill building, because so many skills touch on other areas. With skills like problem-solving, for example, kids are empowered to help themselves
get through challenges,” said Rhena. “We’re also working on
leadership opportunities for kids and on helping children learn to be
more reflective.”

School’s Out trainers and coaches are highly knowledgeable and up to
date on the latest developments in school-age care, youth development
and best practices. “Kandy will be training us on how to achieve our goals,” said Rhena, “and help us create fun ways for our wide range of ages to build new skills together.”

SUMMER OR AFTER SCHOOL
Adventure Club accepts school-age children kindergarten through sixth grade for afterschool care, located at Davis Elementary in College Place; we can arrange transportation from Walla Walla schools if needed.