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Empowering Change: YWCA CEOs Forge Partnerships at Pennsylvania State Capitol

April marked a pivotal month as four esteemed YWCA CEOs journeyed to the Capitol in Harrisburg, united by a shared vision of empowerment and social justice.

Leading the path of PA YWs were CEOs Angela Reynolds of YWCA Greater Pittsburgh, Kim Bracey of YWCA York, Stacie Blake of YWCA Lancaster, and Stacey Woodland of YWCA Tri-County Area. Together, they brought with them a wealth of experience, passion, and determination to effect meaningful change. Their mission was clear: to amplify the important voices of PA YWCAs, build important relationships, and bridge the gap between activism and state-level policymaking. They share a commitment to fostering mutual education and exploring potential partnerships between YWCAs and state legislators.

They created a great opportunity to advocate for policies that uplifted marginalized communities, to champion initiatives that promoted gender equity and racial justice, and to amplify the voices of those often overlooked.

Pennsylvania currently hosts 18 YWCAs, with an average length of service in each community of over 100 years. A priority for the CEOs was growth and expansion throughout the state to work toward eliminating racism and empowering women in Pennsylvania.

Some goals of the day included:

  • Advancing racial justice and gender equity
  • Women’s Economic Security
  • Affordable Childcare
  • Reproductive justice and healthcare access
  • Strengthening the YWCA’s Impact throughout the state

Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus 

Senator Schwank & Senator Cappelletti – Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus

The CEOs met with Senator Judith L. Schwank (D-Berks County) and Senator Amanda Cappelletti (D-Delaware & Montgomery Counties), co-chairs of the  Women’s Health Caucus. With the common ground of their commitment to empowering women, meeting with the co-chairs was a fantastic opportunity to discuss enhanced access to reproductive healthcare, mental health support, and comprehensive care for women across Pennsylvania.

A partnership could help to tackle issues related to housing security, economic barriers faced by women and closing education disparities among women and girls. By focusing on these areas, the YWCA and the Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus can establish a powerful partnership that not only aligns with the shared missions but also amplifies their impact of promoting the health, well-being, and empowerment of women across Pennsylvania.

 

Representative Daley – Pennsylvania Women’s Health Caucus 

In a meeting with Representative Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery County),  co-chair of the Women’s Health Caucus, the YWCAs were able to identify their shared goals and missions to effect positive change. This is especially important in areas where their interests intersect.

YWCAs shared their priorities with Daley such as women’s access to health care and declaring healthcare a public health crisis. They discussed black mortality rates in Pennsylvania and the need for support in areas of the state where “OBGYN deserts” exist. With their shared mission of empowering women, these two entities could unite and use their voices to expand healthcare services for women across the state.

 

Senator Haywood – State of Black Pennsylvania Report & YWCA Mission

Next, the YWCAs met with Senator Art Haywood (D-Montgomery & Philadelphia Counties). The goal of meeting with Senator Haywood was to build a relationship and begin an open dialogue about how the State of Black Pennsylvania report and its recommendations might overlay with the mission of YWCAs.

The State of Black Pennsylvania Report was released by Senator Haywood in February 2023 and provides a comprehensive analysis of the socio-economic mobility of Black Pennsylvanians from 2010 to 2021. The report’s recommendations include establishing equitable school funding, supporting Black entrepreneurship, improving access to healthcare, and replacing the school-to-prison pipeline with opportunity pathways.

YWCAs have a great opportunity to work with Senator Haywood on initiatives aimed at many facets of positive change within the Black community. With the YWCA focus on eliminating racism and empowering women, there are shared goals of creating and supporting educational programs and opportunities, economic empowerment, Black heath and wellbeing, and housing and community support. With studies conducted throughout the state, such as the Equity Profile of Lancaster County, YWCAs could use their unique perspectives and collective voices to support and advocate for legislation and policies that benefit the Black community in Pennsylvania.

 

Executive Director Hathaway – Governor’s Advisory Commission on Women

In the final meeting of the day, YWCA CEOs met with Moriah Hathaway, Executive Director of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Women. Hathaway and the Governor’s Advisory Commission serve as an extension of the Governor’s office in their respective communities. YWCAs discussed ways to strengthen their ties to state government and enhance their abilities to help shape policy recommendations on issues affecting Pennsylvania women such as issues related to gender-based violence, economic empowerment, healthcare access, and more.

By connecting to Hathaway, YWCA CEOs can amplify their advocacy efforts and ensure that the unique perspectives and needs of women and girls, particularly those served by YWCAs, are heard and prioritized in state policymaking decisions.

 

Building Bridges

Through their collective wisdom and varying points of view, these CEOs displayed the true power of collaboration. This meeting of regional YWCAs was only the beginning of a broader movement, a call to action for all who believe in the power of unity, compassion, and progress. Across party lines and organizational boundaries, they made connections that would lay the groundwork for future partnerships, building a foundation for a more just and equitable society.

 

 

Special thanks to Christian Muniz, YWCA Lancaster supporter and friend, always ready to help with relationship building!

Click here to learn more about YWCA’s Advocacy Agenda and ways to take social action and advocate for the advancement of our mission!

REVEAL: The 2024 Race Against Racism shirt!

We’re thrilled to release the 2024 Race Against Racism shirt, adding another chapter to one of the County’s most collected shirt series, and the first featuring an updated look selected by our community and designed by Amanda Choong, a rising star from Pennsylvania College of Art & Design!

Check out the official release video here:

For more than a quarter century, tens of thousands of Lancaster County residents have gathered as a community to make our voices heard, and join the movement to eliminate racism and empower women with YWCA Lancaster. Join us and be part of the biggest and longest consecutively run Race Against Racism in the nation! We know we have far to go on our journey to eliminate racism in Lancaster County and beyond, but together we can build a just future.

Join with your community to name the need, unite with your friends, neighbors and coworkers, and create change. A 5K race cannot end racism, but naming the need is vital, and every step we take together makes a difference. We will keep running until injustice is rooted out; institutions are transformed, and the world sees women, girls and people of color the way we do: Equal, Powerful, Unstoppable.

In response to Resolution 33

YWCA Lancaster is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. The Lancaster County Commissioners’ passage of Resolution 33 declaring Lancaster County a “non-sanctuary county”, as well as continuing to demonize our institutions and LGBTQ+ community for providing family-friendly programming, puts this mission at risk. More importantly, it jeopardizes the safety and security for countless members of our community.

Since 1889, YWCA Lancaster has worked to provide safety, shelter, and empowerment those who need it; for centuries prior to that, our state has been doing the same. It is this history of welcome that has laid the groundwork for our community to thrive: diversity, innovation, and safety.

And while we have far to go to achieve our full potential, actions and rhetoric expressed taken that make our community less safe, run counter to our history, and imperil our future.

YWCA Lancaster opposes any laws or rhetoric that rejects the humanity of our LGBTQ+ community. Further, we believe that we should enact policies that safeguard people of color from police violence and increases police accountability. And as Lancaster County’s Rape Crisis Center, we must advocate for stronger protections for victim survivors of sexual violence.

With local officials’ passage of Resolution 33, they are increasing the chance of a population that is predominantly people of color will be harmed by police violence. In dehumanizing our LGBTQ+ community, they are endangering LGBTQ+ Lancastrians. And with both actions, they are eroding trust in the systems that we rely on to do our work of supporting victim survivors, and our County at large.

What we know:

  • We have learned from our Racial Equity Profile that people of color make up more arrests than their population proportion in 87% in boroughs and townships that report data. Actions like Resolution 33 that embolden more arrests of communities of color will make these already clear inequities greater.
  • Nearly 50% of immigrant women have reported abuse in their lifetimes, three times the national average. Fear that they or their loved ones may face consequences if they report harm will drive victim survivors further into the shadows, increasing harm to them, their families, and our community.
  • Anti-LGBTQ+ laws, policies, and rhetoric are on the rise across the County and our country, impacting a population of our community that is already disproportionately impacted by bigotry, mental health crises, sexual assault, and abuse. Continuing to stigmatize and dehumanize the LGBTQ+ community makes our community less safe and puts Lancastrians in harm’s way.

 

Lancaster County—just like our agency—was founded to support the freedom to grow and thrive and need for sanctuary from persecution. We are proud to partner with you to continue the work of living up to our promise as a community. And while acts like those taken today by our County provide new challenges to fulfilling those promises, we are steadfast in our commitment to you to continue until our mission is met.

Meet our new Board Members!

We are thrilled to welcome five exceptional new women to our team of dedicated community members charged with driving our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women forward. Since its creation in 1889, YWCA Lancaster’s board has been fully represented by female-identifying community members, and we are proud to have these women with their expansive experience, perspectives, and expertise join our ranks to help move our mission forward in 2024 and beyond!

We can’t wait to learn, grow, and build a just future with them in the coming years.

Meet our new board members!

Beth Beam, MSW
Beth is a strategic and transformational human resources leader and coach with strong business acumen and business partnering experience. She creates and delivers progressive career experiences and programs that demonstrate an unwavering commitment to igniting positive change and cultivating growth. Beth shares a unique blend of strategy alignment, a zest for transformation and an unwavering dedication to cultivating a sense of value and belonging in the workplace.
Martha A. Guaigua, CPA
Martha, a seasoned Senior Manager at Trout CPA since 2014, excels in Estate & Trust Administration, Taxation, Small Businesses, and Tax Planning & Preparation. With a Business Administration degree from Millersville University, she’s a vital part of the firm’s success. Beyond her role, Martha is a devoted Board Member at the Literacy Council of Lancaster Lebanon, showcasing her passion for education and community service, making her an invaluable asset to Trout CPA and the broader community.
Cindy Lam Guo
Cindy Lam Guo, co-owner of Silantra Asian Street Kitchen, transformed her business since 2015, expanding to three stores. Through partnerships with local nonprofits, she’s donated $35,000, 3000+ pounds of food, and 1000+ items to combat hunger, empower women, and support education. Notably, she responded to the 2020 toilet paper shortage, distributed it free, provided water for BLM rally participants, and led a fundraiser for AAPI Heritage Month. In 2023, she co-led Lancaster City’s first public Lunar New Year celebration, gaining recognition for the Lancaster AAPI Organization. Dedicated to positive change, Cindy works for a future free from racism for her children and generations to come.
Dr. Towahna D. Rhim
Dr. Rhim, Founder and CEO of TD Rhim Consulting, LLC, passionately develops authentic leaders. Backed by evidence-based research, she fosters leaders with the resilience to navigate challenges, lead by example, and own their decisions’ impact. Dr. Rhim’s approach creates psychological safety, empowering potential leaders to fully develop their skills. As a regional Director of Operations with over 33 years in healthcare, she facilitates organizational strategies, manages multi-million dollar projects, and leads facility builds. With degrees from Duquesne University, Lebanon Valley College, and a PhD from Walden University, Dr. Rhim combines her academic achievements with over five years of leadership in the US Army’s medical field.
Beth Ross
Beth Ross, former President of ECW Marketing Group in Lancaster, PA, brings extensive plastics industry experience. With roles at ICI Advanced Materials and GE Plastics, her background includes Electronics Marketing and Sales Development. Holding a B.S. in Home Economics from Hood College, Beth seamlessly combines professional expertise with community service. She has served on boards like Overlook Community Foundation, coached basketball, and volunteered for organizations like St. Joseph Health Ministries and YWCA Lancaster. Currently on the Hood College Board of Associates and Manheim Township Planning Commission, Beth demonstrates dedication to both professional and community roles.

Want to help shape our work?

We have standing committees that help guide and inform YWCA Lancaster’s work at all levels! From finance, to development, to marketing, and more, there is a committee for all interest, passion, and skill set! While our board is only available to female-identifying community members, folks of all genders are able to join committees!

Our Imperative: Your Future

Thank you for supporting YWCA Lancaster in the 2023 ExtraGive! With your support we raised more than $52,000 to support our mission. Whether it was to support our Center for Racial and Gender Equity, our Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center, our New Choices Career Development Program, our Kepler Hall Residence Program, or our YWonderful Kids childcare program, we thank you for commitment to eliminating racism and empowering women.

In a turbulent year for voting rights, reproductive justice, truth telling and victim healing, our community rallied to show support for the imperatives that moved them and we are thankful to partner with you on the things that inspire you towards our just future!

We also invited the community to join us Penn Square to share their imperative with us. We were blown away by the responses!

Thank you for helping to make the 2023 ExtraGive so successful for our mission! Did you miss the day? There’s still time to support:

Announcing the Empowering Growth Conference!

YWCA Lancaster’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center is proud to present the Empowering Growth: Childhood Trauma Care Conference on February 15, 2024, at the Downtown Lancaster Marriott! With support from Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s Community Violence Prevention/Reduction Initiative, YWCA Lancaster aims to strengthen the existing community of care in Lancaster County by presenting an opportunity for quality trauma-informed support services. The conference is designed for educators, therapists, counselors, case managers, advocates, and anyone who supports children and youth in a professional capacity.

As Lancaster County’s rape crisis center for more than three decades, YWCA Lancaster’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center will offer the Empowering Growth Conference featuring a diverse and accomplished slate of presenters for the one-day conference, as well as a keynote session from Suzanne Estrella, the Commonwealth Victim Advocate from the Pennsylvania Office of Victim Advocate. Local experts Representatives from Lancaster County’s Multidisciplinary Team who support youth during and after child abuse investigations will also participate in a panel discussion on mandated reporting.

Other topics for the Empowering Growth Conference will include:

  • The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)
  • Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth mental health
  • Best practices for engaging youth with virtual therapy
  • Wellness for the helping professional
  • Play therapy

And more!

Up to five Continuing Education Units (CEUs) will be available at the Empowering Growth Conference through Millersville University for professionals licensed through the State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors.

 

Tickets for the Empowering Youth Childhood Trauma Conference on February 15 are $50, with discounts for multiple tickets. CEU credits are an additional $25 per ticket and can be reserved at EmpoweringGrowthConference.com!

Empowering Growth:
Childhood Trauma Care Conference

February 15, 2024

8am – 5pm

Lancaster Downtown Marriott

Four ways to catch YWCA Lancaster on ExtraGive day!

YWCA Lancaster is hitting the streets for ExtraGive day on November 17! We’re inviting our community to share their imperatives to help shape our work in 2024 and beyond.

Join us at these locations throughout the day to share your ideas, build community, and give EXTRA to YWCA Lancaster’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women!

Penn Square, Lancaster City

10am – 5pm

Blue Line Lancaster (F&M Campus)

10am – 2pm

561 W Frederick St, Lancaster, PA 17603

Silantra Asian Street Kitchen

12pm – 1pm

101 E King St, Lancaster, PA 17602

Our Town Brewery

4:30-8pm

252 N Prince St, Lancaster, PA 1760

We can’t wait to see you!

The ExtraGive is happening now, be sure to give EXTRA at one of these locations or at the link below:

Coming soon: My Imperative

In 1970, YWCA’s across the country adopted the One Imperative. As the name implies, it was a simple and direct refocusing of our association and all of our sibling association’s work: “the elimination of racism wherever it exists and by any means necessary”.

More than a half century later, after leaps in racial justice, LGBTQ+ equality, and women’s rights, we find ourselves in a precarious place. The rights of women and people who can give birth are being restricted; the personhood of queer and trans community members is being attacked and legislated against; our very history is being rewritten to erase the scars of slavery and its lasting impacts to this day.

At YWCA Lancaster, we are united and strident, in not backing down to these forces, but instead redoubling our commitment to supporting you, and our community, as we have done since 1889. Our imperative remains the same.

For this year’s ExtraGive, leading up to and through November 17, we will be inviting you to share your imperative, and why it matters to you. Your imperative could be affordable housing, or quality childcare. It could be a career that you’ve always wanted, or healthcare for all. Whatever your imperative is, we want it to be part of the just future we are writing together for Lancaster County.

 

Look for more about how you can be part of the My Imperative campaign soon, and in the meantime, bookmark our ExtraGive page for fast access on November 17, and sign up to be a fundraiser to help us go the “EXTRA” mile!

Visit our ExtraGive page

 

What’s your Imperative?

In 1970, YWCA’s across the nation passed the One Imperative: a declaration that the most important priority for our associations to focus on to empower women was the elimination of racism, where ever it exists, by any means necessary. More than 50 years later, we are still pursuing that imperative, but we need your voice, your insights, and your dedication to help shape our work moving forward.

What is your imperative? What drives you and inspires you to build a just future? Your imperatives are what keeps our mission emergent, dynamic, and steadfast in the face of headwinds at all levels of our society.

We’re inviting you to share your imperative to help shape our work– it could be “affordable housing” or “supporting survivors”, “good quality jobs” or “thriving wages”. Whatever it is that drives you to build a just future, we want to support that work, as we always have, since 1889.

Check out what your community has been saying below, and submit your Imperative today! And be sure to give EXTRA to YWCA Lancaster on November 17!

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!