DEAR YWCA Family,
One year ago, I was asked to take on the role of interim CEO at the YWCA of Asheville, and so much has happened since then! Now, eight months into the role of permanent CEO, I feel that I’ve found my home at the YWCA. I’m extremely proud and excited to share with you the accomplishments we’ve had in the past year, despite it being an extremely challenging one. We are so incredibly grateful for the support of our community, for the support you give us, and the support we’re able to provide together.
This past year, we provided nearly 7,700 hours of no-cost childcare through our Empowerment Childcare program, helping parents pursue their personal and professional growth. Even though some of us had the flexibility to spend much of this past year in the safety of our homes, many families still had to work outside the home, attend job training, or access vital social services. This meant that demand for safe, accessible childcare increased, and we, the YWCA, never wavered in providing that care.
We redesigned our Racial Justice Workshops, offering an expanded three-part series in a virtual format for our community, free of charge. With over 200 registrants, we know that we continue to advance our mission.
We revamped our health and wellness center and maintained safe and clean alternatives in order to continuously provide much-needed opportunities that support a lifestyle of health and wellness. Check out our new class offerings from nutrition to group fitness that prioritizes mindfulness, mental health, and community care as key elements of our definition of health.
In recognition of our staff’s hard work and dedication to our community, we honored our early childhood educators with a raise, made most positions full-time with benefits, and for the first time in many years instituted a cost of living wage increase for all employees.
Thank you to our staff, to all of our program participants, and to you, our YWCA family, for continuing to believe in and play a critical part in our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women at the YWCA. We look forward to seeing you in the coming year!
Diana Sierra, CEO YWCA of Asheville
For a highlight of this years’ accomplishments across all of our program areas please continue scrolling or select the area that you would like to read about.
At the YWCA, we strive to promote equity, inclusion, and diversity not just in our building but throughout our community. We see education as a valuable tool in understanding disparities and how to effectively create change together. With this in mind, our Racial Justice Workshops have the goal of helping participants become familiar with some of the shared language and concepts related to racial justice and develop an understanding of how racism impacts us personally. This year, our Racial Justice Workshop series was updated and expanded to include virtual options. We hosted 6 workshops with over 200 participants, 100% of whom reported an increased understanding of racial justice concepts following the workshop.
Our 21-Day Challenge on Racial Equity
and Social Justice was designed to create dedicated time and space for building more effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership. This past year, we hosted 5 Challenges with over 3,300 participants and our dedicated Facebook discussion groups had a total of 260 members.
Women’s Empowerment’s Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’ by World program, which helps women build a support system while investigating resources to get out of poverty, hosted 36 women. 100% of those participants demonstrated an increase of knowledge of the roots of poverty and the tools to combat poverty following the course. In addition, 89% reported an increase in income, improvement in employment status, decrease in debt, and/or a positive change in their support system. We couldn’t be more proud!
Our MotherLOVE program is celebrating 36 years of serving pregnant students in Asheville City and Buncombe County Schools, with the goal of increasing high school graduation, delaying a subsequent pregnancy, and promoting healthy and nurtured babies of teen parents. In addition to home visits, our program connects teen parents so they can support each other and share their experiences.
This year, MotherLove supported 22 pregnant and parenting teens virtually and in person. We are excited to share that 91% graduated high school or progressed to the next grade (compared to the state average of 30%), and 100% of our participants delayed a subsequent pregnancy. Our team is incredibly proud of our participants and has supported these new mothers with diaper drop-off, access to tablets for virtual learning, group Zoom chats, field trips, and school lunches.
The YWCA Aquatics program is invested in offering accessibility, from integrating swim lessons in the 1950s to providing recreational swim to the Asheville community. This year has been no different; our aquatics team taught 64 ELP children to swim, 85% of whom achieved swimming competency. In partnership with the In Real Life (IRL) after-school program for underserved children, the Aquatics department served 48 children, 100% of whom reached swimming competency, and we hosted 483 community members over the summer for free Community Family Swim.
The Health and Wellness Center offers group fitness classes, one-on-one and group training sessions, an indoor pool, and a fully-equipped gym, but more importantly, it is a community of people who believe in being well; mind, body, and spirit. Our inclusive health and wellness center has opportunities for EVERYbody, regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, race, and age. In the midst of temporary closures and new regulations due to COVID-19, YW members visited our pool and center 17,163 times. Our Health and Wellness team launched a new, more robust membership App. offering more accessibility, community discussion, and easier pre-registration for classes in order to support safety and availability.
This year, Empowerment Childcare served over 300 families in Asheville and Buncombe County, totaling 7,700 hours of childcare and 550 healthy lunches to 400 children. 80% of the families participated in case management support and were connected to resources for employment, housing, or furthering their education.
Our Early Learning Program is a five-star licensed childcare provider, serving children ages 6 weeks to five years. Ensuring that our students of all socioeconomic backgrounds enter kindergarten prepared with the knowledge, skills, and resources that will make them successful is critical to the YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. This year, our Early Learning Program provided temporary care, homework assistance, and remote learning for 28 school-aged children. We served 294 families and 298 children and provided over 25,000 nutritious farm-to-table meals.
32 students graduated Pre-School and are Kindergarten ready and 87% scored
at or above average on the Brigance Screening Tool, a screening tool used to identify students for delays and giftedness.