On a brisk Wednesday morn, we had the opportunity to get a tour of the YWCA facilities. Having partnered with them for our Love Where You Give campaign [which is still happening! Go donate!*], we thought it time to have a little Q&A session with Kate Moss, Communications and Events Manager. It all kinda got us thinking about the real purpose of the YWCA and our donation drive; it's a big deal, having the ability to help those who are currently in a tough spot or unable to otherwise help themselves after having the courage to leave a bad situation. COLLECTIVELY, we help clients find the spaces that suit them. Who better, then, to partner with than a program that offers 'home' [be it temporary or not] to victim's of abusive relationships. The YWCA is highly deserving of our gratitude. Not only for lending a sanctuary to those in need, but for taking a little time to chat with us about the mission, the facility, and the program.
*Donations for the Love Where You Give campaign can be dropped off until December 16th at one of our 15 locations: Zest, Green Ant, The Stockist, Mandate Press, Blooms & Co., Hip & Humble, Avenues Bistro, Vive Juicery, Mod a-go-go, Blue Plate Diner, Tutoring Toy, Rye Waffles & Whiskey, Even Stevens, Sweet Arleen’s, and the Ft. Union Aflac branch.
What does the YWCA stand for? The YWCA Utah is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. What does an empowered woman look like, how does she act, what are her goals? Being safe and free at the heart of her life is fundamental to a woman’s self-determination and empowerment; to her ability to protect, support, and enrich the lives of those she loves and to her capacity to participate in – and shape – the world around her.
From the services you offer it appears that education is the key to empowerment. What educational experiences do you offer? Personal advocacy, economic empowerment, domestic violence support groups, and life skills training. For children in residence there are after school, summer camp and teen programs. Drop-in child care is also provided.
Where do victims of domestic abuse stay when they come? We have apartment-like rooms for single women and women with children.
What kinds of services are offered to them? In addition to safety, shelter, food and clothing, program participants are also offered child care, economic empowerment, racial justice, emotional health, and physical well-being. Personal advocacy, case management, safety planning. Through our Salt Lake Area Family Justice Center residents and non-residents can report crimes to the police, obtain protective orders, speak to a victim advocate, contact an attorney, and find support groups, job training and employment resources.
Can a child stay in the center alone if he/she is a victim of domestic abuse? Generally children come with their mother, but there have been a few exceptions for older children.
Can you tell us [roughly] how many individuals your organization helps each year? The Salt Lake Area Family Justice Center had over 5,278 visits during the 2013-14 fiscal year. They provide confidential walk-in services for adults in abusive relationships and works collaboratively with fourteen community partners to provide accessible, free assistance to those seeking counsel. Our 181-bed shelter for women and children focused on immediate safety and basic needs, such as food, clothing, rest and medical care. Our shelter served 323 women and 548 children last year, and we were unable to meet 1,020 requests for shelter because of lack of capacity. Forty-five families and 24 single women found safe, affordable housing at the YWCA, allowing up to two years to rebuild their lives, with a focus on healing and health, employment, education and permanent housing. Over 650 children lived at the YWCA last year, and all had experienced the trauma of domestic violence. Our caring children’s advocacy and intervention team provides academic support, an afterschool and summer camp program, drop-in child care, and other services for babies and children who need care and attention as they cope with their exposure to abuse and violence. Our domestic violence crisis line answered 2,456 calls.
How does the organization operate in regards to funding and employment? Funding for the YWCA programs and services comes mostly through private sources such as annual charitable donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations. The YWCA also receives public funding. Over 100 diverse men and women make up the extraordinary staff of the YWCA Utah. We are also supported by a volunteer Board of Directors, Community Advisory Board and hundreds of community volunteers.
How long can victims stay in the center? Women and families suffering from family violence stay as little as one night, or up to six months in the shelter. Some women and families opt to stay in our affordable housing for up to two years while working or going to school.
Tell us about the Real Women Run. Real Women Run is a collaborative, nonpartisan effort that began in 2011 with a number of coalition partners, including YWCA Utah and The Hinckley Institute at the University of Utah, as well as Salt Lake Community College, Vision 2020, AAUW, League of Women Voters of Utah, current and former elected female officials and representatives from political parties in Utah, and other organizations that support women. Our aim is to empower women to participate fully in public life and leadership through elected political office at all levels, appointments to public boards and commissions, working on campaigns, or simply learning more about our political system.
How can the community better support the women and children in your shelter? Donations of time, needed items, and money keep the shelter running. Our enduring belief is that better lives for women – all women – will lead to stronger families and communities.
More details at www.ywca.com