by Sharon Svec
For the last 100 years, we’ve seen and experienced the greatness of our community, which has built and maintained a safe place where eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all, remains the ultimate mission.
This was evident in 1916, when we established a lunch counter, so that working women could eat and socialize in public. It was also clear in 1960, during the emerging civil rights movement, when we took an official stand against segregation. Over the years, up to seven different programs have been developed to address the changing needs of our community, and to ensure that equality, diversity, and empowerment are celebrated and encouraged in the work we do and the lives we live.
Today, we are composed of six programs, all of which work to empower individuals, who can then take this model of empowerment with them throughout the remainder of their lives. At our 21st annual Empower Luncheon, coming up September 27th, we’ll speak on two of these programs, which work to empower children and youth in the foster care system.
The Court Appointed Special Advocate Program began 35 years ago, when YWCA Clark County and Clark County CASA welcomed a collaboration to empower children in Clark County. CASA volunteers advocate for children in the foster care system who have been stripped of their voice and their rights, and who need just one person to commit to their well-being at a time when all other parties are occupied navigating other agendas.
The Independent Living Skills Program (ILS) came to fruition in 1990, and assists youth in foster care who face an abrupt entrance into society when they are released from a court supervised lifestyle. In Washington State 1 in 4 foster youth exiting foster care will become homeless without the assistance of programs like ILS. Together, these programs served 940 children and youth in Clark County last year. Because of the teamwork and dedication of our YWCA community, many of the children and youth served are now thriving in homes of their own and with capable and loving families.
The power of a community working with shared values and a shared mission is undeniable. It’s easy to see the greatness we are achieving as a whole. It’s not always as easy to see the individuals who make this greatness possible. Each member of our community brings their own unique talents, experiences, and skills. Their passion for empowerment is contagious. It is felt when you enter the parking lot. It is heard when you enter the building, and it is known when you look into the eyes of those you pass in the hall.
That’s why, leading into our 21st annual Empower Luncheon, we will be celebrating the amazing people of YWCA Clark County on social media. Watch our Facebook page now until Sept 26th to learn about our great community. Then, join us at The Hilton Vancouver on the 27th to hear from Derek Clark who just might inspire you to share your greatness.
September 27, 2017
Doors open at 11:30am
Program starts promptly at 12pm