Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Helping the YWCA Help Women

The economic crisis seems to get worse every day. While we hear a lot about the challenges facing the auto industry and investment banks, we also know that many individuals and families are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. Sadly, as anyone in this area knows all too well, for some the current crisis just worsens an already tough situation. Many local agencies try to help, and this week I’m talking with a representative of one that you might not have thought about: the YWCA.

As Leah Brooks, development director of the Youngstown YWCA explains in this week’s conversation, her organization devotes most of its energy to two primary causes: fighting racism and helping women and families improve their economic and social position. As Brooks explains, the two are interconnected, since racism is at once a source of economic difficulty for many women and an obstacle to self-improvement. The YWCA pursues these goals through education programs, including helping women find available opportunities for formal education as well as informal programs to help them develop financial literacy. The Y also offers subsidized child care and housing, both of which help women move toward financial independence by giving them a more stable environment and making it possible for them to go to work. On top of these projects aimed at developing economic independence for women, the Y also offers health education, arts programs, and more.

In these tough times, the programs offered by the YWCA are even more important than usual. Meanwhile, the Y’s facilities are in bad need of updating. The building is almost 100 years old, and its heating and electrical systems are out of date, but equally important, the organization now needs different kinds of space than it did in 1911. With help from tax credits and other grants, as well as donations, the YWCA hopes to transform its structure, adding apartments for disabled and low-income women, an updated child care facility, and improving the space for offices and meeting areas. At the same time, the renovation will emphasize green construction and create jobs in the local economy.

As this suggests, Leah Brooks’s visit to Lincoln Avenue is in part about fundraising, but I’m generally quite happy to support a worthy cause, especially one that supports people who are working hard to be able to support themselves. You can make a donation or get involved in the YWCA’s programs by visiting the YWCA’s website.

1 comment:

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