POV: you’ve just completed the biggest and longest consecutively run Race Against Racism in the nation on April 29; you’re feeling energized by the cause, excited to be part of such an incredible community, and eager to be part of the work moving forward.
So, what now?
Every day, YWCA Lancaster is proud to partner with you to strengthen the movement to eliminate racism and empower women. There is no one, right way to take action after the Race Against Racism, but here are four ways to continue your journey:
1) Register to vote and get ready to make your voice heard on May 16!
May 1 is the final day to register to vote in the upcoming primary! YWCA Lancaster’s voter education initiative Lancaster Votes is proud to provide ongoing support for anyone who wants to register, find their polling place, and help get the word out about upcoming elections and ballot initiatives.
2) Read the Equity Profile of Lancaster County and get involved in the action group
Earlier this year, YWCA Lancaster in partnership with local organizations launched the Equity Profile of Lancaster County. This first of its kind county-wide deep dive into social inequities has helped fuel the creation of an action team dedicated to raising awareness about the findings of the profile, as well as tackling the opportunities before us to create a more just Lancaster County.
4) Be part of our upcoming Racial Justice Institute
Be part of this unique, interactive, and impactful experience that will provide in-depth grounding for your personal journey towards addressing internalized biases and prejudices, as well as challenging the systems that have socialized them into our every day lives!
4) Join a committee and help shape YWCA Lancaster’s work
Our mission can only succeed if it’s guided by the community. We need your help to shape, inform, and improve our work. We have committees on a range of topic and issue areas, from mission, to finance, to marketing and more!
Thank you again for being part of the work of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. We couldn’t do it without you, and while we have a long way to go to build a just future for Lancaster County, we know that with a community as extraordinary as this, a better world is possible.
YWCA Lancaster’s Center for Racial and Gender Equity partnered this month with Franklin & Marshall College’s new Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation center to train college house advisers on how to facilitate racial healing circles.
It was an incredible experience to facilitate alongside the folks at the core of the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Center: Dr. Gretchel Hathaway, F&M’s vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion and YWCA Lancaster board member; Courtnee Jordan-Cox, assistant dean of student affairs and Roschel College House dean; Jorge Mena-Ali, visiting assistant professor of biology, director of faculty diversity initiatives, and Roschel College House don; and Christian Perry, director of diversity, equity and inclusion.
What is a racial healing?
We have been using resources from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, which defines racial healing as “a process that restores individuals and communities to wholeness, repairs the damage caused by racism and transforms societal structures into ones that affirm the inherent value of all people.”
Why is it important?
Racial healing does a few important things. It helps affirm the inherent value of all people, cultivates a culture of belonging, deepens our understanding of one another’s differences; and supports relationship building, trust, authenticity, constructive dialogue, and repairs the damage caused by systemic racism. It builds community.
How can I host a racial healing circle?
If you have a group of folks ready to have a racial healing conversation and you would like to have trained individuals come to facilitate that conversation, you can contact email@example.com.
On March 24, YWCA Lancaster was honored to join with our community to celebrate the New Choices Career Development Program at Taste of Success: a one of a kind event bringing together inspiring success stories from New Choices, as well as a culinary showdown from Lancaster County Career and Technology students! Thanks to your support, we raised more than $50,000 to support Lancaster County residents in transition!
See stories from the evening
Throughout the night, we shared stories from New Choices students and graduates, demonstrating the immense power we all have as a community to make a change in our career and life path and find success.
Check out the stories below:
Letters from New Choices
Thank you to everyone who attended Taste of Success, and for all those in the community who continue to support our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. Miss the event but still want to support the work of New Choices?
And get ready for the 25th Race Against Racism on April 29!
Taste of Success is a one of a kind culinary showdown celebrating the incredible impact of the New Choices Career Development Program while featuring a delectable food competition with the industry’s future tastemakers from Lancaster County Career and Technology Center!
While our eyes and ears will be taking in inspiring stories of success from New Choices students and graduates, attendees tastebuds will be experiencing sweet and savory creations from six teams of students.
Meet the 2023 Taste of Success competitors:
Gouda life: Brennan Lyon – Lititz Christian School, Kylee Shirk – Ephrata High School, Justin Arias – Hempfield High School
Big Blue Tonka: Jadyn Sumrall – Hempfield High School, Clark Wagstaff – Penn Manor High School, Ricko Brown – Penn Manor High School
Food Warriors: Violet Seymour, Pequea High School, Evan Ingold, Manheim Central High School, Christian Hess, Solanco High School
The Sweet Tarts: Arianys Rodriguez, Hempfield High School, Bradynn Radtke, Hempfield High School, Ellie Smith, Elizabethtown High School
Beach Babes: Jessica Sick, Manheim Central High School, Abigail Ingram, Penn Manor High School, Kailey Dale, Garden Spot High School
Cookies & Cream: Sierra Rowe, McCaskey High School, Ahnaija Heard, McCaskey High School, Azariah Cornish, Manheim Township High School
You can see (and taste!) these teams’ creations on March 24 as we gather together to uplift the incredible impact of the New Choices Career Development Program. Tickets are going fast, so make a reservation today for Taste of Success!
Nancy Huerta Ramirez is just one of the hundreds of community members who have found success with New Choices Career Development Program— an opportunity to access resume writing, professional/personal development, and even scholarship funds all without charge. We hope you will join us on March 24 for Taste of Success, a celebration of the incredible impact of the New Choices Career Development Program!
I was out of the workforce for a year to take care of my one and four year old sons.
My husband’s job requires him to travel once or twice a month out of state for the whole week, and I lack support from family and friends. I knew because of this I had to be creative if I wanted to work on my professional goals, but I did not know where to start. I had so many ideas in my mind about continuing education, future projects, and I did not know how to find a job that fit my household schedule.
I contacted Deb at the New Choices Career Development Program and explained not just my situation but my ideas. Through New Choices, I found a more than a career counselor, I found someone who understood my needs in the big picture and helped me to narrow/prioritize them.
Deb and New Choices provided resources, guidance, and job listings that fit my schedule during my job searching. Deb found a job that fit my schedule, I applied and got the job at Wellspan as a case manager on weekends. At the same time, Deb helped me to search for universities and colleges for my continuing education goal.
I applied to Millersville University for the MSW online program using the scholarship available to New Choices students to cover some of the fees. I have been accepted and am looking forward to starting my MSW in Summer 2023.
I have no stopped being creative, and having ideas. In the future I want to open a Cafe for moms and kids. Even though I will be taking some time for school, Deb has provided contact information for the person who can help me with this project, an it will be another reason to come back to New Choices for guidance when I’m ready to launch this idea.
There is no doubt this program empowers and supports women to grow in their community.
Celebrate New Choices at Taste of Success on March 24!
YWCA Lancaster is committed to ensuring that communities are safe places for women and families to thrive.
As headlines and research make clear, gun violence is a major threat to our health and safety. From the hallways of Stoneman Douglas High School and Sandy Hook Elementary, to the social venues of the Las Vegas country music festival and the Pulse nightclub, to homes and communities across the country, women and female identifying individuals experience unacceptably high levels of gun violence that leave them at heightened risk of harm and death.
Women’s experiences of gun violence are inextricably linked to domestic violence. Some 4.5 million women in the U.S. have been threatened with a gun by an intimate partner, and nearly 1 million women alive today have been shot, or shot at, by an intimate partner. In an average month, 50 women in the U.S. are shot to death by intimate partners, and many more are injured. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed.
Gun violence is particularly dangerous for women of color, who are nearly three times as likely to be murdered with a gun than white women. Black women are shot and killed by a husband or intimate partner three times more often than by male strangers, and most often during the course of an argument.
Transgender women of color face an even higher increased risk of gun violence: transgender women are four times more likely to experience gun violence than cisgender women, and nearly 85 percent of transgender victims are women of color.
The connections between domestic violence and mass shootings are alarming. Most mass shootings in the U.S. — those in which four or more individuals are killed — are related to domestic violence: shooters killed intimate partners or other family members in at least 54 percent of mass shootings. While women make up only 15 percent of all gun violence, they make up 50 percent of victims in mass shootings, largely due to the correlation between domestic violence and mass shootings. Even when strangers are targeted instead of family members, there are connections between mass shootings and domestic violence: while most mass shootings occur in the home, the shooters in one third of the 46 mass shootings that took place entirely in public between 2009 and 2016 had a history of violence against women. Moreover, in 42 percent of mass shootings between 2009 and 2016, the shooter exhibited warning signs that they posed a danger to themselves or others, and one-third of mass shooters were prohibited from possessing a firearm.
The significant links between mass shootings and domestic violence, and the disparate impacts of gun violence on women of color, are too often overlooked in the public narrative about gun violence. So, too, are the impacts of school shootings on girls of color. Like all students, youth of color face the increasing risk of school shootings. Frequently, when young people are the shooters in school settings, they have obtained firearms at home, likely because an adult did not store it locked and unloaded. However, it is primarily students of color who face the negative impacts of heightened school surveillance and security measures that have been implemented in response to school shootings. Such measures have not been applied equally across all schools, and schools with a preponderance of students of color are more likely to adopt strict surveillance and security measures which can further criminalize girls of color who already experience disproportionate punishment in school.
YWCA USA POSITION
YWCA believes that all women and girls deserve to live free from the threat of gun violence. To this end, we support systemic and structural policy changes that focus attention and resources on the places, spaces, and contexts in which women and girls–particularly women and girls of color– experience significant threats from gun violence: in their homes, as victims and survivors of intimate partner violence; in mass shootings, which are most often perpetrated by those with a history of domestic violence; and at school, where students of color both face the threat of school shootings and bear the brunt of harsh school surveillance and security measures.
To decrease gun violence for women and girls, particularly women and girls of color, YWCA USA endorses the following policy responses:
● Keep guns out of the hands of perpetrators of domestic violence, stalking, and other interpersonal violence
Prohibit those convicted of domestic violence and stalking from obtaining firearms, as well as those subject to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking restraining orders
Ensure that abusers and stalkers subject to a restraining order relinquish all firearms once they are prohibited
Establish mandatory licensing requirements, so that law enforcement and courts can more effectively identify when abusers and stalkers have firearms that should be confiscated
Oppose “concealed carry reciprocity” legislation, which would enable abusers to carry firearms across state lines into states that prohibit “concealed carry”
● Eliminate access to automatic weapons and high capacity ammunition
Ban the sale and possession of assault weapons, high capacity gun magazines (those with a capacity of more than 10 bullets), and bump stocks
More tightly enforcing laws on straw purchases of weapons, and limits on how many guns can be purchased in a month
● Protect students from the danger of school shootings
Mandate “safe storage” requirements such as trigger locks, and requiring that guns and ammunition be stored separately, especially when children are in the house
Ban the sale of firearms to people under the age of 21
Focus responses to school shootings on fostering positive school climate, instead of arming teachers, expanding police presence, or other attempts to fortify schools
Increase the number and availability of counselors and other specialized support personnel in schools
Expand the availability of restorative practices in schools to build healthy communities, decrease antisocial behavior, repair harm and restore relationships
Hold adults responsible for negligently storing firearms
● Strengthen methods for screening and removing firearms from individuals who pose a significant risk of danger to others
Establish and enforce gun violence restraining orders – “Red Flag Restraining Orders” / “Extreme Risk Protective Orders”
Improve background checks
Require universal background checks for all gun sales
Ensure all necessary records are updated in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)
Hold states and federal agencies accountable for accurately reporting records to the NICS database
Increase training and technical assistance to state and local jurisdictions to improve firearm removal and storage
Carefully distinguish between individuals who are mentally unwell or experiencing a crisis and may pose a safety threat, and those who are mentally ill yet do not pose any increased risk of violence
Ensure that accessible, high quality, culturally competent mental health treatment is provided in communities
● Remove legislative restrictions on gun data collection and sharing, including:
The Dickey Amendment, which currently prohibits research by the Centers for Disease Control
The Tiahrt Amendment, which requires the FBI to destroy all approved gun purchaser records within 24 hours and prohibits the National Tracing Center of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from releasing information from its firearms trace database to anyone other than a law enforcement agency or prosecutor in connection with a criminal investigation, and thereby precludes gun trace data from being used in academic research of gun use or utilized in civil litigation against gun dealers or manufacturers.
YWCA USA opposes policy responses that further stigmatize individuals with mental health conditions, or that expand police presence in schools and the criminalization of youth of color, including proposals to arm teachers with firearms and to “fortify,” “harden” or “militarize” school facilities.
YWCA Lancaster is proud to announce its 2023 Black Artist Waystation participants, joining a community-run collective of artists celebrating and uplifting the Black experience, and helping to define the movement toward freedom and recognize the many efforts that brought us to this moment. Exploring the link between Lancaster as a waystation on the Underground Railroad and the freedom seekers who rested here, these artists are living embodiment of the beauty, brilliance, and joy that makes our community extraordinary.
The awardees will receive $2,500 to support their work, as well as receive opportunities to showcase their craft at events throughout the year, while receiving mentorship (Conductors) from previous Black Artist Waystation participants, as well as other community members.
2023 Black Artist Waystation Awardees:
Keisha Finnie (she/her) Keisha work explores the journey of evolution as not only an artist but as a woman of color. Interpreting my personal experiences and observations. Nurturing and visualizing her determination and resilience through touch and a strong vibrant color palette.
Keisha has been artistic since she could remember in her first art class at Ross Elementary School where her 2020 mural “Nurture Your Mind” resides. She’s had work displayed all over Lancaster City from galleries, murals, pianos, food trucks as well as neighboring cities.
Thunda Khatt (she/her)
Thunda Khatt is a Writer and Spoken Word Poet from Baltimore MD based out of Lancaster PA that tells the stories of the unheard. She lifts her voice to amplify those before her that could not speak and encourages those after her to never forget the power of their voice.
Dominic Jordan (he/him)
Sir Dominique Jordan the Prolific One is a poetic vanguard hailing from Lancaster, Pennsylvania; whether it spoken word or on a page, he uses his unique verbiage to inspire others to use their vulnerability as a ‘super power’. He identifies as an Artivist, and teaches across the country about how Hip Hop culture and general creative expression are tools that can be used in the classroom/neighborhood to enhance the overall educational experience. He loves to challenge people to make a difference in their community as they see fit. The Prolific One is also the lead vocalist of the sensational, funky Hip Hop and R&B band, The Prolific Steppas. Lastly, Sir Dominique Jordan is the founder and CEO of both The Artivist Corp. (a social enterprise dedicated to youth mentorship) and Nobody’s Pen (a poetic writers collective). Find him and his efforts on social media using the hashtag #WhatThatImpactDo
Kearasten Jordan (they/them)
Kearasten Jordan is a Black Queer Artist born and raised in Lancaster PA. They enjoy art, music, and being a problem.
There are two upcoming events to celebrate the Black Artist Waystation awardees, with more coming later in the year:
February 3: A meet and greet at EsoArts from 5-7pm
At YWCA Lancaster, we know that the best way to eliminate racism and empower women is to support the next generation of leaders, thinkers, do-ers, and helpers.
That’s why it’s no surprise that one of our extraordinary teachers, Ms. LaTea has been honored with the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool Youth Development Network’s Afterschool Champions Award!
LaTea has worked for YWCA Lancaster for four years and is in charge of our before-and-afterschool program that serves about 30 students from the School District of Lancaster (SDoL). SDoL is a large, urban school district that receives Title I funding. The district is richly diverse and has more than 1,800 English language learners who speak 38 different languages. The district also has a large population of students with disabilities and participate in the Individualized Education Program (IEPs).
Most of the students in our program come from families whose income falls below the poverty line; several have IEPs; some have a primary home language other than English. LaTea treats them all with enthusiasm and care. She meets students where they are. Knowing the challenges they face, she seeks to empower them and plans her lessons and activities through a trauma-informed lens.
At YWCA Lancaster, we love Ms. LaTea, and we are inspired by her passion and care for her students. We’re so proud to honor her, lucky to have her, and thankful to her and all the educators that make YWonderful Kids the award-winning program that it is!
At YWCA Lancaster, we are committed to eliminating racism, empowering women, and making a difference for real people facing real challenges in our community.
For this year’s ExtraGive, we invite you to join us in the fight for justice and envision a future that has realized that change to help guide our work into the a future that promotes peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.
How it works
Fill out a digital postcard below, or request a physical postcard using the form
Use the postcard to tell what a just future looks like to you
We will share your vision on November 18 for the ExtraGive and use your ideas to inform our work moving forward
Bookmark our ExtraGive page to support us on November 18 to make your vision possible!
Fill out your Postcard to a Just Future:
Request a physical postcard:
We’ll also be at Penn Square, Zoetropolis, and the Warehouse Beer Garden on November 18 if you would like to create a postcard there!
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.
DR. SHAREE LIVINGSTON
Dr. Sharee Livingston (she/her)is Chair of theObGynDepartment at UPMC.She is the epitome of professionalism and excellence in medicine.She is known and respected by her peers and patientsfor her surgical expertise.Dr Livingstonisa founding board member of Patients R Waiting and has taken her community work to a new level, mentoring students, founding the Doulainitiative,and fighting COVID in our community.
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 ourcity’smost vulnerable populations. She is the first woman, and only African American, to lead the Lancaster City Housing Authority inits70 years of existence.
Founder and Executive Guide at Unique Lancaster Experiences
Kendra Wolfe(she/her) is the founder of Unique Lancaster Experiences, aBlack 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 worksto 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.
Manheim Township ’22, Duke University
SophieYost (she/her) is a rising Freshman at Duke University. In her high schoolcareer,she becamethe National Field Director forMyVoteProject, 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 isa proudmember and creatorof Manheim Township’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Boardtoadvanceandsupporteducational equity.
Resident story: Elana-Beth Rosen
We were also honored to share the story of a community activist we were lucky enough to have as a resident a YWCA Lancaster.
See Elana-Beth’s story:
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