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YWomen Vote Advocacy Fly-In

YWCA Lancaster CEO Stacie Blake was one of five YWCA leaders selected to join YWCA USA in Washington, D.C. last week for a weeklong advocacy fly-in! Throughout the week, YWCA leaders along with YWCA USA CEO, Margaret Mitchell, participated in a series of Hill and Administration meetings that highlighted several critical YWCA initiatives.

( Kelly Grosser, Chief Mission Impact Officer, YWCA Tri-County Area; Stacie Blake, CEO YWCA Lancaster; Naya Diaz, ED, YWCA Greater Austin; Margaret Mitchell, CEO, YWCA USA; Pam Yuen, Director of Government Relations, YWCA USA; Dr. LaRhonda Megras, CEO, YWCA Central Alabama; Dr. Cheryl Watkins, CEO, YWCA Metro St. Louis)

 

Throughout the week, YWCA Leaders focused on four key areas, which include:

Family Violence Prevention and Services Act

The maintenance and strengthening for FVPSA (Family Violence Prevention and Services Act) in the FY23 Appropriations process, with specific focus on the continuation of services, transitional housing, rapid-rehousing and related services (cash access, included) in addition of significant prevention funding.

This is the first and only funding stream dedicated to supporting DV shelters as well as lifesaving services in safety, childcare, housing, transportation, and counseling.

According to YWCA’s YWomen Vote Survey, 72% of women overall said providing robust funding in the federal budget for program services that support survivors of DV, sexual assault, and other gender-based violence is one of the most important or very important things Congress should do.  This includes 80% Black Women, 72% Hispanic/Latinas, 71% AAPI women, and 78% AI/AN women.

Childcare

The childcare sector is still struggling to recover from the pandemic with staff hiring and retention.  The sector, including YWCAs across the nation, is still down over 100,000 workers when compared to pre-pandemic levels, leaving families relying on a childcare system that has lost 10% of its workforce.

65% of women overall support providing robust funding for childcare in the federal budget.  This is an increase of 7 percentage points since January 2022.  79% of Black women, 67% of Hispanic women and Latinas, 70% of AAPI women and 79% of AI?AN women support providing roust funding for childcare in the federal budget.  70% of overall women support access to high-quality childcare that is affordable, dependable, and accessible.  70% of PA women overall believe passing affordable, quality childcare is the most or very important things Congress should do.

YWomen Vote Survey

The YWCA YWomen Vote Survey debrief was hosted on Wednesday afternoon and the results of the survey were used to inform the meetings with key offices during the Fly-In.  The survey is YWCA’s 5th national survey of women in the US, explores women’s economic, health, gender-based, violence, workplace equity, and racial justice concerns and priorities.  The survey highlights that women are expressing deep anxiety about a broad range of economic, caregiving, safety, and societal concern.  The survey reflects that women are remarkably united – across perceived differences of race, ethnicity, party identification, and socioeconomic and disability status – in supporting policy solutions that address the concerns and needs they have for themselves and their families.  The report included in-depth analysis of the concerns and priorities of women of color – Black women, Hispanic women/Latinas, AAPI women, and AI/AN women – Millennial and Generation Z women of color, and women across party lines.  Women’s concerns are increasing when compared to January 2022, particularly with respect to economic security, gender-based violence, racial justice, mental health, childcare, and reproductive rights.  Of note:  Women’s support for Congressional action to protect access to abortion and reproductive rights is strong and increasing; Women want Congress to take action on child care NOW; anxiety around the economy (Cost of Living/Family Income Not Enough to Pay Bills), threats to personal safety (Mass Shootings and Gun Violence), and white nationalism (rise in white nationalism) dominate women’s top concerns.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

The leaders ended their efforts in attendance at the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s 25th Anniversary celebration.  Among others, Sen Bob Casey was present.  NDVH has answered over 6 million calls for help in the past 25 years.  1:4 women, 1:3 teens, 1:7 men will endure relationship violence.  YWCA, as the largest network of DV/SA services in the nation, was honored to participate in this meaningful celebration.

 

WCA Lancaster looks forward to continuing to work together to break down barriers to services for women, families, children, and survivors of gender-based violence. The work done this past week directly impacts women and families in Lancaster through the important work we do at YWCA Lancaster in living out our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women!

Announcing $200,000 County investment in YForward

We’re proud to announce that YWCA Lancaster has earned a new $200,000 investment in YForward, our radical reimagining of our historic Lime St. location from the Lancaster Housing and Redevelopment Authority’s Community Block Grant Program!

We are honored to be in partnership with Lancaster County government for their plans for the future: YForward will help will add sixteen residential units to the existing 38 units and add an additional, ADA-compliant, interior elevator to handle increased traffic and accommodate ambulance stretchers, and transition the Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center from the 3rd floor to the ground floor. 

A space built for community

With YForward, we will be able to enhance our facility reflect the needs of our community. With the support of the County as well as other community partners we’re working to recruit, we will renovate the Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center, completely transforming our space,  and growing where we are:  

We will have community space created for our survivor groups, such as our Trauma Process Yoga Group, Expressive Arts Groups, support groups for all ages, and processing groups after major events or related media reports. 

Discrete and private meeting spaces will provide a confidential area for team meetings, group supervisions, support groups, and educational workshops.  We will also provide a calm and trauma informed waiting area. 

In addition, we will provide a new, private entrance that allows clients to have direct access to services and can minimize discomfort or potential distress with having to enter via a public entrance. If the elevator is not working it will no longer negatively impact Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center clients who are unable to access the stairs.

Forward for a just future

While we are honored to partner with the County on this block grant, we continue to seek more partnerships with other organizations, businesses and community leaders to meet the full need of the project. With your support, we can maximize this unused space where the pool used to meet more urgent needs for our community, and to grow our Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center. We are proud to continue the work YWCA Lancaster grow where we are, expand our vital services, and continue our work of supporting and advocating for victim survivors of sexual assault. Our mission is more important now than ever, and with your help, we can move forward together!

Learn more about YForward and join the movement to build for community.

Announcing the 2022 Women of Achievement Honorees!

We’re thrilled to welcome five amazing community leaders to our collective of Women of Achievement Honorees!

The Women of Achievement Awards is a one-of-a-kind community event that showcases the accomplishments of women and gender expansive individuals who, through their careers and volunteerism, live out the YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women in Lancaster County.

This is the 6th Women of Achievement Awards, which means that together we have created an incredible collective of community leaders from all backgrounds 26 strong, but about to be 31!

At YWCA Lancaster, we work every day to uplift and center the experiences and leadership of women and gender expansive community members. These are the folks who make up the majority of the workforce of our community, inside and outside the home; they provide on average more volunteer labor than anyone in our community, including in creating vital organizations like YWCA Lancaster back in 1889. We center women and gender expansive individuals because when we do that we all prosper.

This year’s pool of nominations was our biggest, and most competitive yet. Thank you to all who nominated, were nominated, and were a part of this year’s selection process.

2022 Women of Achievement Honorees

Salina Almanzar-Oree

Program Coordinator at the Center for Creative Exploration at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design

Salina Almanzar (she/her) is a Puerto Rican and Dominican artist, educator, writer, social justice advocate. Her art and scholarship examine the intersections of Latinidad, feminism, decolonial practice, and Taino spirituality. She is specifically interested in what it means to be ni de aqui y ni de alla, meaning being part of a diaspora that is between spaces and between cultures. 

 

Barbara Jean Ellis Wilson

Executive Director, Lancaster City Housing Authority

Barbara Jean Ellis Wilson (she/her) has dedicated her professional life to public service and strengthening community well-being. Currently leading the Lancaster City Housing Authority, Barbara ensures over 3,100 Lancaster City residents have safe, decent, and affordable housing. Barbara leads the organization of 35+ full-time employees in fulfilling the Authority’s mission to provide housing stability to our city’s most vulnerable populations.  She is the first woman, and only African America, to lead the Lancaster City Housing Authority in its 70 years of existence.  

Dr. Sharee Livingston, DO FACOG, Physician

Patients R Waiting, UPMC

Dr. Sharee Livingston (she/her) is Chair of the ObGyn Department at UPMC. She is the epitome of professionalism and excellence in medicine. She is known and respected by her peers and patients for her surgical expertise. Dr Livingston is a founding board member of Patients R Waiting and has taken her community work to a new level, mentoring students, founding the Doula initiative, and fighting COVID in our community. 
 

Kendra Wolfe

Founder and Executive Guide at Unique Lancaster Experiences

Kendra Wolfe (she/her) is the founder of Unique Lancaster Experiences, a Black and female-owned business that creates meaningful Lancaster-based experiences for tourists and locals that builds community, as well as highlight local, minority, and women-owned businesses in Lancaster. Kendra works to provide opportunities and dignity for impoverished members of the community. She is a role model for others in turning their passion into profitable entrepreneurs who are excited about their careers while connecting with the community in an impactful way.  

2022 Cheryl Gahring Award

We’re also proud to continue the presentation of the Cheryl Gahring award, created in memory of our colleague Cheryl Gahring who passed in 2021. This award is given to an extraordinary young person who represents the future of our community’s spirit of eliminating racism and empowering women.

2022 Cheryl Gahring Young Person of Achievement Award honoree:

Sophie Yost

Manheim Township ’22, Duke University

Sophie Yost (she/her) is a rising Freshman at Duke University. In her high school career, she became the National Field Director for MyVote Project, a national, nonpartisan voter education website with over 250 volunteers (myvoteproject.com). She is the founder of Manheim Township’s Coalition for Social Justice (@mt.coalition) and is a proud member and creator of Manheim Township’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Board to advance and support educational equity 

Join us on October 20!

We hope you’ll join us for 2022 Women of Achievement Awards on October 20, at the DoubleTree in Lancaster. Tickets are on sale starting this moment, so head over to YWCALAncaster.org to book your spot before tickets are gone! We’re so thrilled to be able to uplift and celebrate these honorees with you, as well as the community that helps make it all possible. We’ll see you on October 20!

 

New and Continued Investment in YWCA Lancaster

At YWCA Lancaster, our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women is more vital than ever. We’re thankful to have an incredible community behind us–from organizations to corporations, individuals to elected officials from all parties– who want to join together to meet our mission!

We are proud to update our community on some important recent investments in our programming: these grants, donations, and contract renewals help us to continue to meet the needs Lancaster County, in all parts of the county, and in so many areas of residents’ lives. Whether it’s childcare, counseling, career development, parent empowerment, or community building, YWCA Lancaster is proud to join with you in promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

 

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Trust in our community, trust from our community

With support from the Lancaster County government, as well as community partners both nonprofit and corporate, we’re proud to announce some recent new and continued investment in YWCA Lancaster:

Every contract with Lancaster County has been renewed for 2022-3, an investment totaling more than half a million dollars

YWCA Lancaster received funding from the Lancaster County Community Foundation to support the re-launch of the Black Artist Waystation, and the Touchstone Foundation for Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center curricula

  • Black Artist Waystation was conceived to increase the visibility and support of Black Artists in the Lancaster community. Through the program, our aim is to be a catalyst for artists who create works that define the movement toward freedom and recognize the many efforts that brought us to this moment. Details about the 2022-3 program will be available soon!
  • We’re also partnering with the Touchstone Foundation to implement the Healthy Relationship Project: a researched-based, trauma-informed, and age-appropriate child sexual abuse prevention curriculum created by Prevent Child Abuse Vermont!

We were honored to receive investments from corporate partners, such as the Hershey Company, Truist, Erie Insurance, the PPL Foundation, and more!

Until Our Mission is Met

The mission of YWCA Lancaster has not changed since the 70’s and remains, to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. We’re proud to partner with community members, elected officials, leaders, organizations, and businesses to help make that mission a reality.

Since 1889, since before women had the right to vote, since before the equal rights for Black Americans were codified, and through two global pandemics we have remained steadfast in our service to community. We have been in this community for more than 130 years, and continually adapt to meet community needs until our mission is met.

Join us!

Recap: an empowering summer at YWonderful Kids

What do you think of when you think summer?

Ice cream, sunscreen, and long hot days are probably on your list. For YWCA Lancaster, summer means community, creativity, and empowerment.

This year, we were proud to offer two free opportunities for female-identifying students in Lancaster to come together, learn through play, and develop new skills. We had an amazing turnout, and were so happy to be able to see so many community members this summer!

Empowerment Day Camp

Hosted through our Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center, we were excited to bring back Empowerment Day Camp by popular demand! Empowerment Day Camp was a unique experience covering topics and activities focused on empowerment, identity, activism, dealing with stress, self and body love!

 

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In addition to fun activities, students also created an interactive art project with the help of local artist Keisha Finnie, who guided the participants through an exercise on self reflection and self confidence, with beautiful results!

TechGyrls

TechGyrls seeks to empower young female presenting individuals in technology, engineering, arts and math and to encourage them to pursue careers within the STEAM fields.

While female presenting individuals make up 29% of the STEAM workforce, BIPOC individuals only make up 4.87%. TechGYRLS youth empowerment program aims to build interest and confidence within these critical areas.

As part of the program, students participated in fun activities focused on current and future technology about sustainable food production. As part of a final project, participants created plans to build their very own colony on Mars!


We would like to extend a special thank you to Arconic for their vital support for TechGyrls, as well as Picterra for generously loaning their detection software which was used in our lesson about machine learning and satellite data. We would also like to thank the The Smithsonian for sharing aerial images of the Serengeti and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory for sharing their concept art related to sustaining plants on Mars. TechGYRLS participants used the Picterra deep learning software to detect animals living in Maasai Mara National Reserve and were fascinated and motivated to create their own concept for Mars-based agriculture for future colonization from the JPL.

We are excited to see what the future holds for our amazing TechGyrls!

On a Mission

The YWCA Lancaster strives to provide high quality, affordable, childcare and learning experiences for the next generation of thinkers, do-ers, and leaders! We were so honored to share these experiences with you this summer, and can’t wait for 2023!

YWonderful Kids Receives Statewide Gold Level Equity Award

We’re thrilled to announce that our YWonderful Kids program has been awarded a Gold level 2022 PA Equity in Early Childhood Education Champion Award from Pennsylvania’s Promise for Children and The PD Registry! We’re honored by this recognition, and will continue to work hard to provide affordable, equitable, and quality education opportunities to the next gerneration of leaders, thinkers, and do-ers in Lancaster County!

More than 50 submissions were received as part of the 2022 recognition of the work being done around equity in Pennsylvania’s early learning settings.

The award, provided from the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), brings awareness to and highlight the equity work being done within Pennsylvania’s early childhood education and afterschool settings, and by child care, evidence-based home visiting and early intervention professionals, as it aligns with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Equity and Inclusion Toolkit, and with the position statement of the National Association for the Education for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Advancing Equity in Early Childhood Education Position Statement.

Congratulations to all the winners, including our sister YWCA YWCA Tri-County Area! Check out all the winners here: https://www.pakeys.org/equity/awards-2022

Opinion: A Call for Women in Leadership

The following is an opinion piece originally published in One United Lancaster on 3/25/22. Read it on One United Lancaster

March is Women’s History Month, a month that contains important intersectional representation: International Women’s Day on March 8, Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, as well as sharing this time with Disability Awareness Month.

Today, the world is facing substantial challenges, and wise compassionate leadership has never been more important. This moment in time demands change and women’s leadership is the answer. A moment that calls not just for looking to the past, but to the future, for justice.

When I say “women,” I am explicitly including Black women, Hispanic women, Asian women, trans women, women with disabilities, young women and all who identify as women, with the understanding that we do not all confront these challenges on equal ground.

This is our third consecutive Women’s History Month in a pandemic. We’ve largely passed the point of being able to truly comprehend the physical toll, the family loss, and the generational earthquake of economic impact it has created, but we do know someone—maybe it’s you—who has left their job because of childcare needs.

We all know someone—maybe it’s you—who braved unfair and unsafe conditions to work and support their family.

We all know someone—maybe it’s you—who has stayed in a bad living situation because there was no safer alternative or who lost their housing when rent was raised.

Also, during this time, over 50 municipalities and some states have declared Racism as a Public Health Crisis. There’s never been a time, not a single year, where the U.S. population of African descent hasn’t been sicker or died younger than whites. None of this is justice.

As we look to history for inspiration, I must remember that for the YWCA Lancaster, it’s our second pandemic. Our building opened in 1918 after years of work by local women and was then promptly closed for a time because of the Spanish Flu. I started at YWCA Lancaster in December of 2019. I’ve only known a short time when our work was not fully focused on meeting the challenges faced when a pandemic exacerbates the inequities that have always persisted in our society.

The economic impacts of the pandemic have been called the She-session: women have lost jobs two times more than men. Be careful of the optimistic reports of unemployment results or jobs gained. Always ask the next questions: what about all women?  What about Black women? What about Hispanic women? What about women with disabilities? Then you will have a full picture.

In 2021 the pay gap for women is still 82c/$1 for men. Unless you are a Black woman, then it is 65c in PA or if you are Latina, it is 57c nationwide. This means you work weeks, months longer for the same amount of money. In your lifetime of work, you may earn $1 million less than a man. None of this is justice.

To get out of this she-session, we need more women able to contribute their talents and skills to help humanity to survive and prosper now. We must center the voices and values of women, families, and racial equity. And we need our policies to reflect this as well.

We need to change practices so that women hold power in all facets of life from school boards to boardrooms.

Respecting and including women—all women—is the simple solution for this moment. International Women’s Day was created at a time of organizing for women’s right to vote, and for labor rights. Women’s History Month is a constant reminder of how far we have come, and the countless voices for that have helped us see how far we can go together. More than a century later our message justice remains the same. My call remains the same.

At YWCA Lancaster, we demand a world of equity and human decency. At a time when women’s livelihood, safety, and personhood is being challenged, we envision a world of opportunity and community for all to be their fullest selves. We commit ourselves to the work of racial justice, and we will continue to do the work until injustice is rooted out, until institutions are transformed, until the world sees women, girls, and people of color the way we do: Equal. Powerful. Unstoppable.

Until justice just is.

Comcast Newsmakers: Creating the county’s first racial equity profile

This month we were honored to be part of Comcast Newsmaker’s latest feature! Jasmyne King, Director of our Center for Racial and Gender Equity spoke with Sheila Hyland about our collaborative work with local organizations across sectors to launch Lancaster County’s first Racial Equity Profile.

We’re proud to join with national experts in PolicyLink, as well as so many local organizations in this work, including the Community Action Partnership of Lancaster, Community First Fund, CHI St. Joseph Children’s Health, The High Foundation, the Lancaster County Community Foundation, the Lancaster Chamber, Union Community Care, and the United Way of Lancaster County!

Check out the feature below: 

Access to legal abortion is a fundamental right (Local Voices)

The following is an opinion piece first appearing in LNP 2/3/22

read on LNP

I don’t really enjoy talking about abortion, because it’s private. Or it should be. And still, as we recently passed the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade — a critical Supreme Court decision for safe, legal abortion access in the United States — we are once again faced with the privacy, safety and futures of members of our community being at stake.

For most of my life, people who become pregnant have been guaranteed a constitutional right to make deeply personal and sometimes difficult decisions about their futures.

Pre-viability abortion bans, like the one recently passed and upheld in Mississippi, disproportionately harm young women and particularly women of color — core constituencies of YWCAs across the country — robbing them of their right to autonomy over their future.

The looming Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization threatens to set society back. People who are pregnant in Lancaster County and across the country would face significant harm as the first generation in half a century to enter adulthood without the fundamental right to make the decision whether to continue a pregnancy.

In the past 50 years, our country has made tremendous strides in improving the economic outcomes, educational attainment, health and safety for women. All of that stands to be undermined by the Supreme Court.

Individuals who are denied an abortion are four times more likely to live in poverty than those who can access care. Restrictions on abortion care hurt working-class and low-income people the most, as the cost of transportation, child care and taking time off work often combine to put access to care out of reach.

Many remember what it was like before and do not wish those realities on communities today. We know restricting abortions does not end abortions. Rather, it will return us to the days of dangerous, back-room, secretive abortions for most — while those with greater resources have more access to care. The same old story of privileged access.

Roe v. Wade is clearly established precedent, and my access to health care, or yours, shouldn’t be up for debate. Individuals require access to safe, legal abortions, high-quality care and protection under the law.

For more than 50 years, YWCA has supported a person’s freedom to make fundamental decisions about whether and when to have children. Abortion decisions should be left to pregnant people and their doctors. We haven’t changed our stance on this matter of established law. I believe in your right to privacy and your right to your future.

Read more in our policy positions

Black History Month events

February is Black History Month and YWCA Lancaster is planning a curated offering of events to engage community members in the past, present, and future of Black History in Lancaster.

February is Black History Month, yet the work of celebrating Black history, local and national, is work the YWCA Lancaster strives for year-round. We are proud to offer these experiences for Lancaster County residents to hear from local Black voices, and build collective understanding around Black history, present, and future all 365 days of the year.

High on the Hog

What: A hybrid culinary and storytelling event

When: 2/11/22

“High on the Hog” will feature a meal from two Lancaster chefs: Chef Oliver of Homage and Patience Buckwalter of Grape Leaf Cafe, as they detail their cuisine and how it ties back to their family upbringing and the Black culture. Meals will be available for pick-up to a limited number of registrants, and the discussion with local chefs will be digital.

High on the Hog, available on Netflix, will be the encouraged pre-viewing film that will be discussed during the evening.

5:30-6:30: Meal pick up at YWCA Lancaster (110 N. Lime St. Lancaster 17602)

6:30-7:30: Virtual program with Chef Oliver and Patience Buckwalter

Please contact Jasmyne King with any questions jking@ywcalancaster.org

More information: https://ywcalancaster.org/programs/crge/socialjusticeclub/

 

Reclaiming Our Time

What: A collective space for the Black and Brown community

When: 2/20/22 (digital)

This is a collective space that recognizes the systemic inequities Black and Brown people endure while celebrating excellence and the unwavering ability to have joy.

More information: https://ywcalancaster.org/calendar/reclaiming-our-time-3-2021-05-30-2021-06-27-2021-07-25/2022-02-20/

 

Black History Month Pop Quiz

What: A fun, quizbowl style event to test your Black History Month knowledge and build community

When: 2/27/22 (digital)

In partnership with Millersville University and and Crispus Attucks Community Center, YWCA Lancaster will hold a quizbowl-style friendly competition for community members to come and test their knowledge of local and national Black History Month Topics.

More information: https://ywcalancaster.org/calendar/popquiz-black-history-edition/

 

Continuing the work year-round…

Because the work of celebrating Black history and culture must happen beyond just February, the YWCA Lancaster is also offering important ways to continue the work with us:

 

Listen, Learn, Lead: Bail and Pretrial Detention

What: An interactive learning session featuring Michelle Batt of the Lancaster Bail Fund

When: 3/3/22 (digital)

Michelle Batt of the Lancaster Bail Fund to learn about the oppressive nature of pretrial detention and bail, and how bail funds can support unjust imprisonment, as well as action steps change it.

More information: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIoduygpz4oE9flUQSiRXBn9F1t3ZNAYZxN