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Sexual Assault Hotline Meet & Greet

YWCA Lancaster’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center is Lancaster County’s Rape Crisis Center, and has been for more than three decades. As part of our services, we operate a 24-hour Sexual Assault Hotline, providing support, resources, and a listening ear to any community member who has been impacted by sexual assault, 7 days a week 365 days a year.

This hotline is powered by the community. With the help of dedicated volunteers, our Sexual Assault Hotline connects those in need with support that can help them on their journey to healing and justice. And we are always in need of more community members who can partner with us to provide that invaluable help!

Last month we were so fortunate to welcome some community members and Board members to a meet and greet about our 24 Hour Sexual Assault Hotline. It was the first of its kind, and the We gathered at Southern Market Lancaster, enjoyed a wonderful spread from A La Board & Vine, and our guests chatted with members of our Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling team.

Attendees learned about our 40 hour hotline training class and watched a video presentation that explained more in depth about training, how the hotline works, and how to get involved.

We need your help to continue to provide support to our community! Our next hotline training class starts this fall, and runs on Saturdays in October. To learn more about how to get involved, please email wehearyou@ywclancaster.org 

Be on the lookout for more meet and greet opportunities in the future. We’d love to have you join us in the movement to end sexual violence!

YWCA Lancaster Summer Recap

As the end of summer nears and a new school year begins, we reflect on what an amazing summer it was for YWCA Lancaster! Our highly successful and engaging summer enrichment activities ignited a passion for learning and exploration among its young students. These activities have not only bridged the gap from one school year to the next but also provided an avenue for students to discover new interests and cultivate their skills. Throughout the summer, YWCA Lancaster hosted our TechGYRLS Program, two Empowerment Days, and partnered with the Touchstone Foundation to host the Rise Above Youth Summit! Here are some of the highlights of our summer!


TechGYRLS is a hallmark program of YWCA Lancaster. We focus on empowering female-identifying students ages 9-14 to pursue STEM activities and careers. People of color are under-represented in high-paying jobs in the STEM fields. A lack of female-identifying folks in these fields means fewer role models, especially for young students still forming career choices. This year we offered two TechGYRLS camps, a Zoology Camp and a Tech & Robotics Camp.

Our young campers joined us for an exploration of circuits, and interior and exterior design, and they learned how robots work, and how to build animal habitats and an amusement machine! The TechGYRLS program builds not only engineering skills but also confidence and empowerment with students who share a similar interest. Our campers had an awesome time learning about each summer program and connecting with one another. With many field trips and local excursions, our campers walked away with new friends and a wealth of new tech knowledge. Our goal is to inspire our students and give them memories that will last a lifetime. We are already excited for next summer! Stay tuned this spring for info on how your young one can become a TechGYRL!


Empowerment Day

This summer, we were thrilled to bring back our hit Empowerment Day! Last year we had such a great time and engaged with so many awesome students that we decided to have TWO Empowerment Days this year! Our Empowerment Day camp is a free day-long experience for female-identifying children ages 9-14. The day focused on self-love and empowerment by building connections with others and exploring one’s own experiences. Throughout each Empowerment Day, students participated in morning yoga, arts and crafts, and discussions on topics such as gender roles, self-esteem, body image, and drug and alcohol prevention. They even had a local field trip each day in downtown Lancaster City!

We truly had a blast this summer with our amazing kiddos. Connecting as a group was a special experience each camp and our thought-provoking discussions and conversations shed light on important issues in the lives of children and we all had an opportunity to learn from one another. Our camper went home with many prizes, books, and a new understanding of self-worth and value. For more info on our Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center and its many programs click here!

Rise Above Youth Summit

This summer we collaborated with the Touchstone Foundation and hosted the Rise Above Youth Summit! Throughout the summer intensive, students were challenged and encouraged to understand different perspectives in relation to mental health. They also participated in creative experiences conducted by participants of our 2023 Black Artist Waystation!

Each week, our students met on Tuesdays and Thursdays at YWCA Lancaster for the summer intensive.  Each day began with a Racial Equity Institute presentation led by trainers from our Center for Racial and Gender Equity! Topics covered included implicit bias, stereotypes, mental health, and its relation to race, and much more. Students were led through the book ‘This Book is Anti-Racist’, by Tiffany Jewell. This text served as the foundation for the themes of the Racial Equity Institute presentations.

Our participants also visited local organizations throughout the city including The Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition & The Loop, the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, and the Ware Center. We also participated in workshops led by the four Black Artist Waystation participants, Keisha Finnie, Thunda Khatt, Dominic Jordan, and Kearasten Jordan. Our students learned about spoken word, creative writing, and poetry, and were guided through art and writing activities.

We were thrilled to be part of such an amazing summer experience and thank the Touchstone Foundation, the REI facilitators, and the student participants.  To learn more about the many programs hosted by the Touchstone Foundation click here!

YWCA Lancaster remains committed to providing a well-rounded education that extends beyond the classroom, and the success of these summer enrichment activities is a testament to that commitment. As students return to school, the enthusiasm for learning ignited during the summer will continue to flourish throughout the school year. This was made possible by the dedication of experienced teachers and instructors who went above and beyond to ensure that each student had a rewarding and memorable summer break! We thank them and the many families that became part of the YWCA Lancaster family this summer. We hope you have an amazing school year!

Want to join our team and help shape the next generation of changemakers in Lancaster? We have full and part-time staff and director level positions available!

View Career Opportunities

QUIZ: Test your YWCA Lancaster knowledge!

YWCA Lancaster is investing local support into emergent community needs through YForward: a reimagining of our historic Lime St. location!

This unprecedented multi-year renovation of our 100+ year space will expand our ability to pursue our mission, creating 16 new affordable housing units, curating new trauma-informed spaces for our Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center, and making our building more accessible than ever with a new full-size, ADA compliant elevator.

But making all of that exciting new space possible is…messy.

While we’re anxiously looking forward to completing the work on our lower floor (soon to be called the “Garden Level”), we thought we’d take a moment to look back on some of the unique (and perplexing) features of our reclaimed and reimagined space.

Check out the quiz below to test your YWCA Lancaster building knowledge!

YWCA Lancaster Launches New Victim Assistance Program

YWCA Lancaster is proud to announce the launch of the Legal Assistance for Victims Program in collaboration with Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County. This initiative is funded by an award from the US Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).

The Legal Assistance for Victims Program is intended to increase the availability of civil and criminal legal assistance needed to effectively aid adult and youth victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking by providing funds for comprehensive direct legal services to victims in legal matters relating to or arising out of that abuse or violence.

This three year, half million-dollar federal grant will expand and strengthen the capacity of YWCA Lancaster’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center (SAPCC) and Community Action Partnership (CAP)’s Domestic Violence Services (DVS) of Lancaster County’s Domestic Violence (DV) Legal Center, offering civil legal services to victim survivors free of charge. To provide these services, the agencies have now hired a full-time attorney to handle civil legal matters, as well as a full-time legal advocate, both of whom began this month.

Emily Gracie will support the work of YWCA Lancaster as the agency’s Legal Advocate, and Monica Baturin will serve as the attorney supporting CAP’s DVS program.

Senator Bob Casey and Representative Lloyd Smucker provided key support for the proposed new services to highlight the need for more resources for survivors across Lancaster County.

“The launch of YWCA Lancaster’s Legal Assistance for Victims program will substantially expand the organization’s capacity to provide free legal services to Pennsylvanians who need it,” said Senator Casey. “I am proud to have delivered federal funding to help survivors of abuse overcome financial barriers to seeking the justice and accountability they deserve.”

“I am thankful the YWCA of Lancaster is the recipient of funds from the Legal Assistance for Victims grant program, enabling them to support survivors in our community. I was proud to back the YWCA’s application for funding and appreciate their efforts to expand this vital outreach to survivors. Our Lancaster community is strengthened through partnerships like this. I commend the YWCA and the other organizations that participate in this critical program to help and serve survivors in our community,” said Rep. Smucker.

“Through this cross-agency collaboration and with unwavering, bipartisan support from our partners in Senator Casey and Representative Smucker, YWCA Lancaster will be able to continue and expand its mission of eliminating racism and empowering women,” said CEO Stacie Blake, “Together, we will be supporting victim survivors in Lancaster County, advocating for justice and accountability, and building an ever-stronger movement to end sexual violence in our community.”

Join the movement:

Learn more at our Sexual Assault Hotline Meet & Greet on August 30!


Openness doesn’t have to hurt.

The following is an opinion piece originally published in LNP on Sunday, July 17, 2023. Read on LNP

There are rarely times when our work is easy. Our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women is a generations-long movement, pioneered by countless Black women and women of color who endured hurt, setbacks, but also joy, so we could continue their legacy and work for a just future.

When times are especially challenging, as they have been this past month–when I had to explain to staff that they are losing their jobs because of political tactics completely divorced from the exemplary work they’ve done for the past 15 years— I look to the voices of our community, and our history, for guidance and wisdom.

I’d like to share with you two quotes that have stuck with me these past few weeks.

The first was a letter addressed to me last month. In it, a community member began their message:

At first, I was confused.

Is it “extreme” to work to empower all women, their children, and families in Lancaster County? Is it “extreme” to partner with businesses, organizations, and individuals across the community to eliminate racism and make our community more welcoming for all? Is it “extreme” to work every day to ensure that women in need have affordable housing, and quality childcare for their families?

If the answer is yes, then we have been “extreme” since 1889.

Through generations of social change and responding to community needs, our mission has focused on peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

And in reflecting on that, I was reminded of another quote: one from YWCA Magazine (yes, there once was a YWCA Magazine!) published in June of 1968. Miriam Heckman writes,

The piece is titled “Openness Hurts”.

And there it was. The “hurt” this letter-writer spoke of, though perhaps not the “hurt” that they intended.

For us at YWCA Lancaster, hurt—and the work of naming it, centering it, and healing it—is part of our mission, and our legacy of fighting injustice in Lancaster County.

There are articles all throughout the magazine that both inspire for their forthrightness and dishearten for how little has changed, with titles like “Turning Preachment into Practice”, “Citizen Responsibility and Police Accountability”, “A Crisis in White Leadership”, and on. No matter how far we have come, it’s hard not to feel as though we continue to face the same obstacles over and over.

We have worked in this community for generations, challenging our leaders—and ourselves—to build a more equitable Lancaster County, even when we fall short of the mark. This has looked countless ways, from pressing local hotels in Lancaster to allow Black delegates to our regional conference to use their facilities in the mid-1950s, to the systemic work of keeping families intact through the court system or supporting victim survivors as the County’s Rape Crisis Center.

And while the work has sometimes “hurt”, our community and its residents are too important, and our mission too vital for our future, to stop or even pause, even when politics tries to obstruct us.

We need to be clear about the issues before us:

We cannot grant partisan actions the ability to chill the work of organizations that are vital to our community.

We cannot allow the definition of “extreme” or “political” to be weaponized against work that has, for generations, been endorsed by all: voter registration, supporting women and families, and more.

We must remain fearless and lean into our strength in pursuit of our mission.

That is our promise—my promise—to you: to keep working until the mission is met.

But we don’t do this alone.

Openness doesn’t have to hurt. It is an opportunity to hold our community—and ourselves—accountable; a chance to continue to learn with you and from you, and to earn trust from our community with each new generation, as we have for more than 130 years.

So I’m going to be open, and ask that you will join our mission: support our work with a donation of funds, your time, your ideas, or your expertise. There is no gift that is too small, because each of us is needed to move our community towards a just future. A monthly donation of any amount would be invaluable to help support our work moving forward.

We believe that Lancaster can live up to its promise of being a great place to live, work, and raise a family for everyone. And to do that, we must work together to challenge the systems that perpetuate inequity. We must lean into our collective strength, even as others falsely call us “extreme”. And we must hold ourselves to a standard of openness and transparency.

Thank you for continuing to support YWCA Lancaster through the hurt, and through the joy; through the challenges and the opportunities; through generations, and onward towards a just future.




Support our work today with a monthly donation today:


REVEAL: Meet the 2023 Women of Achievement Honorees!

YWCA Lancaster is thrilled to present the 2023 Women of Achievement Honorees!

Each year since 2016, YWCA Lancaster has uplifted the inspiring work of female-identifying community members through the Women of Achievement Awards to celebrate leaders, mentors, and volunteers who embody our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. All proceeds from the event support YWCA Lancaster’s Kepler Hall Residence Program, the County’s longest running affordable housing program.

This year’s nomination process was the biggest and most competitive yet, and we’re so excited to share with you the incredible work of the 2023 Women of Achievement Honorees.

The 2023 Women of Achievement Honorees:


Chelsea Christmas (she/her)

At Her Core Fitness

Chelsea Christmas hails from Lancaster, PA born and raised. She comes from a big family of strong men and women and she am 1 of 5 girls. Chelsea’s purpose and passion has always been to bring women together through health and wellness. She has seen first hand through seasons of pain and uncertainty the importance of turning to health and wellness as a way to cope. Chelsea learned that caring for herself was not selfish, it is her responsibility. She learned that healing is available in healthy communities, that her body can do hard things, and that her mind can tell a new story that leads to hope. When Chelsea connects with the women of AHC she sees herself in each of them and is reminded that purpose can curate the space for other women to start their work toward being healthy, happy, and whole.

Chelsea wants women to walk into spaces they know they will be accepted in; her expertise is in empowering and encouraging the sister next to her to be all that she can be. She believes that when THEY win, we all WIN!

Cindy Lam Guo (she/her)

Silantra Asian Street Kitchen

Cindy is the co-owner of Silantra Asian Street Kitchen. Since 2015, she has grown her business into three stores, as well as spearheaded relationships with local nonprofits, making impactful contributions to the community. Through these partnerships, she have donated $35,000 in funds, along with over 3000 pounds of food and more than 1000 articles of clothing and supplies.

In January 2023, Cindy co-led the very first public Lunar New Year celebration in Lancaster City, and is the chair of AAPI Lancaster. Above all, Cindy wants to foster unity within the Asian community and secure recognition for its strength, and over the last 8 years, she have been and will continue to be deeply committed to utilizing her business as a catalyst for positive change for what is right and just. She has two children, Xander and Charlotte, who are her motivation. It is crucial to Cindy that future generations feel a sense of belonging, free from racism, and be proud to celebrate and share their culture.

Stephanie Thomas (she/her)

Speak to My Soul / A Concrete Rose

Ms. Stephanie Thomas, serves as Volunteer Coordinator and has previously served as Advisor of Speak To My Soul which includes strategic planning, community outreach, marketing and creative ideas. An alumnus of JP McCaskey High School for her secondary education, she has served the past 20 years as an Office Assistant with the School District of Lancaster, and held positions and posts within numerous community organizations throughout her time with the District.

A servant at heart, Ms. Thomas is fondly known in the community for capturing the heart of the audience with her powerful original written spoken word/poetry leaving the audience impacted, empowered, their thoughts provoked and their lives transformed.  She writes for, orates and performs at various events throughout Lancaster, Chester, Berks County and across state lines. She serves as an advocate publicly and privately.  She serves as a invisible scribe, lyrical wordsmith and human pen to write on behalf of those who need assistance releasing communication in writing and/or orally.

Ms. Thomas is the mother of Evita Colon (CEO/Visionary/Founder of Speak To My Soul, Co-Founder of A Concrete Rose, Founder/Editor In Chief of BLK Voices Magazine and City of Lancaster’s 1st Poet Laureate), Tatiyana A. Colon, Silvan J. Hernandez Jr., and Mimi AKA Grandmother to Dominic “DJ” Jajua Jr.

Savannah Thorpe (she/her)

Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus

Savannah “Sav” Thorpe is a biracial Black lady from Lancaster, PA and leader in progressive political communications. Sav has spent her political career harnessing the power of shared values and stories to build a grassroots movement in her home of south-central Pennsylvania. She is currently the press secretary for the PA Senate Democratic Caucus; previously, she worked on the campaigns of Izzy Smith-Wade-El for HD-49, Elizabeth Warren for President, Jess King for Congress, and a number of municipal races in PA. In addition to being a communications practitioner, Sav is also a communications educator regularly contracted to conduct workshops with LEAD-PA, Movement School, and University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice. Sav graduated Summa from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2016 with a B.A. in Writing and a B.A. in Economics. She lives with her fiancé Jordan and their two cats Lucille and Wilco in downtown Lancaster, where she tends to her gardens.

Jayden Stokes (she/her)

George Washington University

Jayden Stokes is a rising Sophomore at The George Washington University, pursuing a dual major in Sociology and Marketing. With a passion for fostering campus spirit and maintaining the esteemed reputation of George Washington University, Jayden currently serves as a dedicated Student Coordinator for the university’s Events and Marketing Team.

Jayden’s journey began in Montreal Canada where she lived until she moved to Lancaster County at the age of 10. She attended school in Lancaster City until moving to Conestoga Valley for high school, where she graduated in 2022. During her time there, she made a lasting impact by founding and serving as the former President of two influential organizations, namely the PoWER (People Welcoming and Empowering Race) Club and the Women’s Liberation Alliance (WLA). Recognizing the need for inclusive spaces, Jayden took the initiative to create environments that empowered not only herself but also those around her.

In the face of unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic, Jayden demonstrated her resourcefulness by implementing an African American Studies course at her high school—a groundbreaking achievement for Lancaster County, and served as a catalyst for cultural education and awareness during a time of significant change. Jayden’s unwavering commitment to cultivating safe and inclusive spaces has become the driving force behind her life’s work. Her dedication to fostering a sense of belonging and effecting positive transformations remains the cornerstone of her journey.

Join us on October 12 for the Women of Achievement Awards Ceremony!


ADA Awareness and Action

Guest blog from Elana Rosen-Kinn, YWCA Lancaster team member and disability rights activist

Let’s talk about disabilities and laws!

Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) laws and how to advocate was key to understanding more about where challenges here in Lancaster are and stem from. In our recent Listen Learn & Lead session, “ADA Laws and Advocacy: What Can We Do?”, we joined together to discuss the ADA laws in depth to understand what each Title means, how it shows up in our everyday lives, and how to advocate for more accessible spaces in our community.

The Titles

The ADA is divided into five titles (or sections) that relate to different areas of public life. Here’s a quick rundown of what each Title covers:

Title 1 refers to employers and the obligations employers and religious organizations with more than 15 employees have to accommodate individuals with disabilities.  It also discusses what employers can and cannot do.

Title 2 relates to all state and local governments.  It requires all programs, activities, and services to be completely accessible or an alternative solution must be found, and also refers to requirements for transportation that any public transportation including Amtrak must have accessibility.

Title 3 covers private business that provide public accommodations such as testing facilities, factories, doctor offices, zoos, funeral homes, warehouses, and other private companies.  They are required to ensure that everyone is included and there is no segregation.  Also, buildings must be accessible so long as it does not inhibit health and safety. Testing facilities must have accessibility or provide alternate location.

Title 4 relates to relay services and other communication aspects.  It requires telephone and television to have relay and closed captioning. It also mandates for TTY or TDD services.

Title 5 covers miscellaneous provisions.

Advocating for Accessibility

Like all groups, the disability community is not a monolith, and while advocacy is needed, the approach should be tailored to each individual’s needs. To get us started, we looked at a few different disabilities and discussed to dos and donts for working with them, as well as some general norms for how to approach disability advocacy, such as:

  • Never assume, always ask if they need or want help
  • Do not talk down to an individual
  • Be inclusive, include them in the conversation
  • Be patient
  • Always remain calm
  • Talk in a clear, concise manner using simple speech

We then took a deeper dive into specific disabilities, and looked at how to advocate for the deaf/ hard of hearing, seizures, and cognitive/ intellectual delay, and mental health.

We also had some general advocacy that is good for all individuals with disabilities. We concluded with how do we advocate in our cities and states.

It was an awesome time with people asking questions and sharing thoughts.  Overall conclusions were that Lancaster, and the state of Pennsylvania, can do a better job of providing inclusion and equality for people with disabilities, and our community can help lead that movement together.

Download the full slide deck:

3 Questions with: Tess Feiler

Welcome to 3 Big Questions, a new series where we uplift the voices and insight of our team!

This month’s 3BQ features Tess Feiler (they/she), our Equity Training Coordinator with our Center for Racial and Gender Equity. Tess is moving on from our team to their next adventure, will continue to partner with CRGE on antibias and antiracism trainings!

While YWCA Lancaster has been doing antiracism work for generations, you were part of the first generation of the Center for Racial and Gender Equity as it now exists, what do you think adding this center did for our mission?

I think that adding the Center provided a walk for our talk. The Center allowed us to put our values and mission around anti-racism into some serious action. I also think it met community needs as antiracism education was certainly a need for the populations within Lancaster who wanted to get to a more equitable place with their companies and organizations, but lacked the understanding of how to get there.

I believe, more importantly, that the Center also provided accountability for us, internally. How can we be practicing what we preach? It created opportunities for us to take a hard look at ourselves, and I hope that accountability continues to occur and that those opportunities continue to be taken advantage of.

What was something that has really challenged you about your time here, and something that gave you hope?

I don’t know if there were specific things that challenged me here, but maybe a better framing for it is how I was inspired to be a better person, colleague, friend, and co-conspirator.

I was inspired to be accountable and own my mistakes not from a place of shame but from perspective of love and liberation. One should strive to be accountable, in general, but I think especially working in the Center, accountability is necessary to personal and collective liberation.

I also gained a lot of perspective as well as an appreciation for nuance. To honor our beloved “felt, found, feel” activity: I used to feel like doing anti-oppression work was very clear-cut and easily laid out if one would simply follow the instructions. Then, I found out that there is no framework for being in real relationship with people, and that no community is a monolith. Now, I feel that it is important to break out of rigidity (and that those frameworks really only exist to provide an easier experience for those in positions of privilege and NOT how to actually love someone who has experienced harm). I learned how to honor space for nuance, love, and raw human feelings that transcend oppressive systems.

When I ponder on “something that gave [me] hope”, I think of how during dark seasons where I was experiencing a lot of loss and confusion and grief, I saw the power in our need as human beings for community. I felt hope in knowing there was support and that during times where I felt alone- personally and professionally- all I had to do was look around and realize I had people who wanted to support me. So, community. And love. That gave me hope.

What has your time here taught you about what is possible for the future of our community?

I think this is the most frustrating thing to me. How we have SO much capacity in the community of Lancaster- even across non-profits alone if we looked at it that way. We all have so much that we could do if we could own any and all harm we’ve caused, share and listen to what one another needs, identify the barriers and find creative solutions, and combine our resources and platforms to solve the problems…not for our own benefit, but for our collective benefit. Meeting so many leaders and community members across the county through my time here, I see how much potential our county has to do the things we want to see happen. We just have to get out of our own way, listen (REALLY listen) to the needs of the most vulnerable, and do the brave thing.


Learn more about our Center for Racial and Gender Equity

Celebrating the Parent Empowerment Program

Since 2019, YWCA Lancaster has had the honor of partnering with Lancaster County’s Children and Youth Services to provide court-mandated support to parents looking to reunite with their children. Through budget shortfalls, a global pandemic and the structural inequities it exacerbated and more, the dedicated professionals of the Parent Empowerment Program continued to go the extra mile for their clients: following the person-centered care that is vital to ensuring all families can thrive. Throughout its time here, the Parent Empowerment Program has supported more than 500 families in their journey towards remaining intact or being reunited. In the previous year alone, 73 families successfully completed the court-mandated program.

Late last month, YWCA Lancaster learned that the contract for this program has been awarded to another agency moving forward. We are deeply saddened to lose these committed team members, and the decision is no reflection on the quality of work and care that they have provided through their time at YWCA Lancaster. We are working closely with the new agency to ensure that above all, the experience for clients remains uninterrupted and they experience as little uncertainty and confusion as possible.

Mission forward

Since its founding in 1889, YWCA Lancaster has served women, children, and families across Lancaster County. Through generations of social change and progress, we have remained steadfast in responding to emergent community needs, from providing affordable, safe housing, to quality childcare, to the work of helping families stay intact. Our work will continue, as our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women is more important than ever. We are grateful for the community’s trust in this work, for the Parent Empowerment Program team, and for your continued dedication to building a just future in Lancaster County and beyond.

One Year Since Dobbs (YWCA CEO Letter)

Dear YWCA Leader,

Tomorrow, June 24, marks one year since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, immediately triggering dozens of state abortion bans and restrictions, leading to further and continued bans throughout the country.

With the door opened wide for states to roll back access to abortion care, we have heard—and in many cases witnessed—the direct, dire impact of this decision on women’s lives. Countless stories detail the emotional, physical, and economic impact of taking away women’s—especially young women’s—ability to choose if and when to become a parent.

The deluge of attacks on the fundamental right to seek abortion care continues unabated. Just in the past several weeks, we have seen a fetal heartbeat ban proposed in South Carolina. We have seen the North Carolina legislature override the governor’s veto—which means most abortions are now banned in North Carolina after 12 weeks of pregnancy, instead of being legal up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. We’ve seen continued litigation to eliminate the availability of mifepristone—one of the medications that is used in medication abortions. A decision out of Texas will most certainly make its way to the Supreme Court, with repercussions across the country.

We need to say it out loud: Policies that block access to abortion are deadly, and even more so for women of color and low-income women.

As an organization committed to advancing gender and racial justice, we cannot hide from the very real impacts of these harmful policies—no matter where we live. Nor can we hide from the ripple effect that these attacks have had, and will continue to have, on the rights, safety, education, and opportunities of people of color, transgender people, women, and other marginalized communities. Legislative bans are being placed on gender-affirming care for transgender youth, and in some states, for transgender adults. We continue to see book bans that undermine the ability to teach an inclusive history and to create inclusive schools where every child can learn. Even attacks on no-fault divorce—a critical legal procedure that should be available to any woman, particularly those who need safety from their abusers.

There is deep and powerful connectivity between legislation advanced to restrict voting access, abortion rights, gender-affirming care, immigration, economic support, and other threats to the health, safety, and economic security of women, people of color, and marginalized groups.

At this moment of deep uncertainty in our communities, I invite each of you who are part of the YWCA movement to lend your voice, your leadership, and your community presence to the collective effort to ensure that every woman and person who can become pregnant has full autonomy to make decisions about their reproductive health and lives.

On Saturday, YWCA USA Board Chair Pia Wilson-Body, Board Vice-Chair Dr. Ann Branan Horak, and I will be in community with the CEOs, Executive Directors, board members, staff, and community partners from our North Carolina YWCAs as Vice President Kamala Harris addresses the nation about the Dobbs decision, access to abortion, and the future of reproductive justice. At the same time, organizations all across the country will be holding marches and rallies in solidarity and community with one another.

This is a moment to remember what has been taken from us, and to strengthen our resolve to defend these rights, protect our communities, and create a world in which all women, girls, and marginalized people can thrive. Whether you join virtually on social media (these sample posts can help) or in person at a community event in your area, I invite each of you to join with us in this moment of solidarity, community, and renewed commitment.

With gratitude,

Margaret Mitchell,