Your Support Changes Lives

Share this:

*Sarah had just turned 18, and left her former foster home with very few resources. Because she had nowhere to go she ended up returning to live with several family members who were heavily into drugs and alcohol. Sarah quickly realized that this was not a safe place for her to stay, and she reached out to our Independent Living Skills (ILS) program for support.

Through her work with the program, and the commitment of her ILS Advocate, she was able to apply for a housing voucher, rent and furnish her own apartment, and have the length of the voucher extended to five years.

(more…)

United in Remembrance and Conversation: Working Together to Make Our Community Safer for Transgender Individuals

Share this:

by Emily Ostrowski

On November 20th, YWCA Clark County hosted members of the community for a vigil, followed by a facilitated community conversation in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance. Since its inception in 1999 Transgender Day of Remembrance is meant to memorialize those who have lost their lives due to transphobia and draw attention to the increased threat of violence trans people have and continue to endure.

Thirty-three participants joined us for the vigil and many stayed for the community conversation. The community conversation consisted of three groups. Each group was posed a series of questions centering on issues faced by the trans community in Clark County, and ways in which we can make our community safer. (You can read a comprehensive overview of the questions and responses here.)

(more…)

The Benefits of Becoming a Monthly Donor This November

Share this:

Your generosity consistently provides life-changing services to our community. Every gift matters and every dollar is providing safety and support. This November, YWCA Clark County has set a goal for signing 40 new donors willing to make regular, monthly donations.

While any type of donation is an immense help to us, the reliability and commitment you offer by being a monthly donor is invaluable stability that cannot be replicated with one time donations. “When you join the YWCA Clark County Monthly Donor Program, your sustaining gift will provide hope to people during some of the most difficult moments in their lives” says Sherri Bennett, Executive Director. “Your promise is saving lives. It is that simple, and that important.”

(more…)

Women’s Leadership Center Takes On Consent in #MeToo Era in Newest Education Series

Share this:

by Cheyanne Llanos Bare, Coordinator of the WLC

Trigger Warnings: Mentions of sexual assault and rape

The era of #MeToo has opened our eyes to the experiences and stories of countless survivors, as well as the realization that rape culture is extremely prevalent in our society. Yet there remain lingering questions over what constitutes sexual harassment and assault.

The answer lies in consent.

The problem is that many of us have not had conversations or received formal education around consent. Only 8 states require sex education classes to mention consent, so we are often navigating the waters of consent, boundaries, and healthy relationships without a guide. This leaves plenty of opportunity for misinterpretation and miscommunication. For example, a 2015 Planned Parenthood survey found that people varied greatly in what they believe indicated consent.

(more…)

Interview with Former “Young Women of Achievement” Scholarship Recipient Hannah Chong

Share this:

Since 1985 YWCA Clark County has been proud to recognize young women for their volunteerism, commitment to community, and leadership with our Young Women of Achievement Awards. Each recipient, from our first to our two most recent, inspired us by their commitment to better the world around them, and we relish any opportunity we get to spotlight their good works.

This is why we were so pleased to hear from Hannah Chong earlier this year. Hannah was awarded the First Independent Scholarship from YWCA in 2012, which helped send her to Seattle Pacific University for her undergraduate studies. She reached out to thank us for the scholarship, and to let us know that her educational journey had lead her to be recently accepted to medical school at Rocky Vista University in Colorado. We were so thrilled with her success that we decided to interview Hannah about her journey from former scholarship recipient to a future in practicing medicine. (more…)

“CASA Crew” Gives Back During NAMI Walk

Share this:

by Emily Ostrowski

At YWCA Clark County we are proud to have staff and volunteers who seek to get involved in our community, both at work and in their spare time. On May 20th several CASA staff members gave back by participating in the NAMIWalks Northwest 5k Event in Portland.

For those who aren’t familiar, NAMI stands for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Established in 1979, NAMI, according to their website, “is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.” Each year they hosts walks to raise awareness and funds for NAMI branches across the country.

Kelli Burgad, Program Specialist for Clark County CASA organized the walk, initially as a team-building activity for CASA staff. The “CASA Crew”, as they called themselves, consisted of 18 participants, six of which were CASA staff. Several others donated to the team, and in total they raised $2,150!

Burgad recognizes the wide array of people affected by mental illness, and was motivated to participate in the walk and support NAMI specifically because they offer free services that can be of help to low income families who are suffering. She also sees the ways in which mental health, as well as lack of access to mental health services, affects the children and families she sees at Clark County CASA.

“Mental illness is a significant part of the work we do with CASA,” said Burgad. “Kids we work with often experience mental illness brought on by trauma, genetics, and life experiences. We also see parents who suffer with mental illness that has brought them to a place of legal trouble due to neglecting, abusing, or abandoning their children.”

In addition to financial burdens, Burgad also sees the continuing stigma around mental illness as a big hurdle towards people seeking help. From CASA Crew’s official NAMIWalks Team Page she writes:

Mental Health issues have been a taboo in past history, but times are slowly changing as we become more educated through science and medicine that mental health is a sickness and treatable just like being diabetic. Individuals don’t have to suffer alone, but there continues to be a great need for understanding and acceptance of mental illness in our communities.

She also appreciates the connection between the missions of NAMI and YWCA Clark County. “Both are very similar in their commitment to a better community and helping others in need that suffer from stigma and discrimination,” said Burgad. “They each provide education to the community to eliminate discrimination and advocate for change.”

Though this was her first year participating, Burgad fully plans to organize another walk next year for anyone in the community who wants to join. She’s already got a name picked out:
“Team HOPE”

Click here to see more pictures from the walk.

Guest Essay by Dennis Kampe: “Volunteerism”

Share this:

In appreciation of our CASA volunteers, we’d like to share this brief essay by CASA volunteer Dennis Kampe. Read below as Dennis reflects on some of his own childhood experiences and how they prepared him for a life of service towards young people. We at YWCA Clark County are so grateful for volunteers like Dennis, whose passion and dedication inspire us and help us live out our mission each and every day!

I was raised on a 25-acre farm in Ridgefield. I struggled in my early years in school, eventually failing the 4th grade. My older sister and brother were out of the house by the time I was in the 7th grade. My mother died when I was 15, and my dad drank excessively. By age 13 I was on my own and responsible for all aspects of the family farm and my life. My high school years were the most difficult and painful years in my life. (more…)

Creating a Culture of Consent

Share this:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and we’ve been holding a series of community events in our ongoing commitment to support survivors and help prevent sexual assault. One such event was a community discussion entitled “Conversation Hour on Consent Culture” co-facilitated by Austin Lea from Planned Parenthood, and Jessie Spinney, Sexual Assault Prevention Specialist for YWCA Clark County.

The topic of consent has been brought to the forefront of news and popular culture in the wake of last year’s #MeToo movement. Now more than ever women and men are feeling empowered to share their experiences and demand that as a society we re-examine the ways we think and talk about sexual assault and the meaning of consent. (more…)

Public Policy Progress in 2018!

Share this:

Washington State Legislature wrapped up their first session of 2018 earlier this month. At YWCA Clark County we are immensely pleased with several pieces of legislation that passed that improve access to reproductive rights, support affordable housing, and strengthen and expand voting and immigrant rights. Additionally, we are proud of our Public Policy Committee’s tireless advocacy for these changes to our legislation.

YWCA Clark County’s Public Policy Committee provides direction and action items for our organization around policy issues directly related to our mission, and those with potential impact on our clients, programs, and community, both at the regional and national level. (more…)

Shedding a Light on Teen Dating Violence: Interview with Prevention Specialist Michelle Polek

Share this:

February was Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, however at YWCA Clark County, raising awareness and working to end domestic abuse is a yearlong commitment. So as we enter March we thought we’d examine some of the statistics and issues surrounding teen dating violence, as well as discuss ways to prevent and educate young people (and adults) about healthy relationship behavior as part of our ongoing efforts to keep our community informed and safe.

It’s common for adults to think about teenage relationships and trivialize their significance as well as their intensity. “There is a tendency to not take teen relationships seriously – to assume that the relationship is just “puppy love” or that youth can’t or don’t cause serious harm,” said YWCA Clark County Domestic Violence Prevention Specialist Michelle Polek. (more…)