YWCA improves the lives of more than 10,000 women and their families each year, but the details of each woman’s story are what keep us focused on our mission. Names have been changed to protect our clients’ identities.
Brionna J., Product Manager at Instagram, sat down with us to share her meaningful, impactful and life-changing experience in our Head Start program. In her words, “I don’t know where I would be today if it weren’t for the educators who entered my life through the Head Start program.”
“I can’t say enough kind and thankful words about this program. When I applied for school I had no idea how I was going to afford daycare for two boys. I was barely keeping my head above water while working a full-time job, plus some. Education was the only option at that point in my life. I had to improve my skills and get a long-lasting career that would change the future for me and my small children. This was all made possible by the wonderful people in YWCA’s Economic Empowerment Program. Even through COVID, they provided so much support. This took much weight and worry off my shoulders. I always felt like I had a kind, welcoming and understanding resource to reach out to when I felt like I was falling behind or wanted to quit because it was a lot to take on. With the support, encouragement and resources provided to me I was able to complete my program with honors and gain a job in my field before I even had my diploma! My success is in large part due to the Economic Empowerment Program. I hope to set a great example of how wonderful this program is for the success of women.”
Jane and her three children were referred to YWCA through St. Martha’s Hall. COVID-19 had a devastating effect on the family’s life – her abuser escalated the violence and trauma in the home, and Jane lost her job. Once she and the children were settled, her Case Manager brought her to YWCA for an intake interview. She and her children seemed sad, but having another supportive agency welcome them with toys, games and warm clothing had them smiling by end of the interview. Jane and her family are now in their own apartment safely away from her abuser, the children are back in school, and her employment opportunities are very positive.
SEXUAL AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
YWCA values the coordinated community response to sexual and domestic violence. For more than 30 years, we have partnered with area hospitals and police departments to meet the needs of victims/survivors in our community. Recently, we partnered with Mehlville EMS, providing “shoe cards” with YWCA and shelter information to keep on their ambulances. Shortly after, EMS responded to Abby, a victim who did not wish to go the hospital. EMS was able to leave her with YWCA’s shoe card, (before this, they had no resource to share). Abby reached out to YWCA the next day, when she was able to make a safety plan and obtain safe housing with the help of our staff. YWCA’s shoe cards are now kept on multiple jurisdictions’ ambulances in St. Louis County, and the ambulance district of St. Louis City.