At YWCA Northeast Kansas, we envision a world free from racism, where women are empowered, and survivors are free from abuse and harm. This will not happen on its own – with supporters like you, we have been answering the greater Topeka community’s call for safety, support, healing, and empowerment for over 130 years.
Thanks to your help, our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women reached a record-breaking 13,999 individuals in Northeast Kansas in the last year.
In this report, you will find updates on our core programs as well as some new and exciting partnerships and projects that we look forward to continuing in 2022. We hope you will continue to join us on our mission to build a stronger community, together.
#OnAMission to Support Families
Through our Youth Services Programs, YWCA Northeast Kansas supports working families, allowing parents and caregivers to meet the challenge of 2021 and the ongoing pandemic.
Providing safe and affordable care for children is crucial for working women and families. Our Early Learning Center staff teach children from 1 year-old and walking to Pre-Kindergarten their alphabet, numbers, writing, emotional regulation, and even now work on potty-training over the age of 2 ½, which is something that many day care centers do not provide. We are one of very few preschools in Shawnee County to accept DCF payments. On average, 36% of the families in our Early Learning Center use DCF subsidies to help pay for their childcare.
We believe that all families regardless of income should have access to systems of early care and education. We work with early childhood educators and families directly to ensure that this happens.
In 2021, our Youth Services Programs:
- Provided safe and affordable childcare to over 85 children in our Early Learning Center.
- Welcomed 35 grade school aged children from around the USD 501 school district back to our Kids Quest summer camp for an eight-week program focused on fun and avoiding the summer learning slide.
- Prepared 81 rising kindergarteners for the 2021-2022 school year through the Kindergarten Academic Preparedness Program (KAPP) over the summer, including bussing for 45 participants.
- Supported families of over 70 students in kindergarten through fifth grade through participation in an after school tutoring program, Families Empowered by Additional Teaching of Students (FEATS).
MEET NEVAEH EDWARDS, LEAD TODDLER TEACHER
At this year’s YWCA Women of Excellence Awards, Nevaeh was named the 2021 YWCA Empowered Leader. We are beyond excited to honor Nevaeh for her dedication to the children and families served by the YWCA Early Learning Center.
Nevaeh says she loves to teach because she wants to be a positive influence on young minds and wants the children to feel that she will always be there for them, even once they’ve grown out of her classroom. Her positivity is infectious, and her dedication to the children in her classroom is an inspiration to YWCA staff and ELC families alike. Her passion for the toddlers and families she serves has led her to pursue a degree in Early Childhood Education at Allen County Community College.
What ELC Parents Say About Nevaeh
Extreme Makeover: Playground Edition
On September 24, a group of volunteers from Hill’s Pet Nutrition joined ELC parent Owen Matheny – a regular YWCA volunteer – on a project to renovate the ELC playground for United Way of Greater Topeka’s Nancy Perry Day of Caring. We are so grateful for all their hard work, spending an entire day repairing, painting, digging, and building! Our little ones love their colorful playground, complete with a handmade, one-of-a-kind music wall!
The Leadership Academy is an essential program in our mission to empower women and support their economic advancement, building up the foundation of our community.
#OnAMission to Empower Women
Women in the workforce are being called to lead through new and unique challenges. YWCA Northeast Kansas supports them in meeting these challenges through the two programs in our Leadership Academy. With some creativity and added precautions, both programs met safely throughout 2021.
Leadership Momentum is a six-month program designed for established work leaders to accelerate professional growth, enhance self-awareness, improve personal and team performance. The 2021 class is composed of 7 women professionals growing into new levels of leadership or management.
Emerging Leaders is a five-week program supports women new to a leadership role, or preparing to step into a leadership role. Participants gain tools to communicate effectively, understand leadership styles, manage diversity, and handle conflict confidently. In 2021, we completed three cohorts of the Emerging Leaders program, totaling 17 participants.
In 2021, YWCA Northeast Kansas instated an Emerging Leaders scholarship for Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color participants, acknowledging the additional challenges and barriers that BIWOC leaders face in the workplace. 2 participants in 2021 utilized the scholarship, and we look forward to continuing to provide 2 scholarships per cohort during the 2022 session.
2021 Emerging Leaders Participants
Mark Your Calendar for the 2022 Emerging Leaders Program!
Cohort 1: Meets weekly on Wednesdays from 9 to 11:30 AM
March 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
Cohort 2: Meets weekly on Wednesdays from 9 to 11:30 AM
June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
Cohort 3: Meets Weekly on Tuesdays from 9 to 11:30 AM
September 2, 9,16, 23, 30
#OnAMission to Support Survivors
The Center for Safety and Empowerment is a place where survivors can find physical and emotional safety, where they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, perhaps for the first time in years. While some may be driven to see “success” as one particular moment, we celebrate the success of the survivors we serve every step of the way as we bear witness to their strength and resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles and struggles.
Throughout the challenges of 2021, we are proud to have formed new community partnerships to increase our impact and effectiveness in serving survivors of sexual and domestic violence. These partnerships allow us to expand our services, such as a new children’s support group and children’s space in our emergency shelter thanks to a generous donation from Junior League of Topeka.
Advocates at the Center for Safety and Empowerment show up every day to support survivors, and to walk with them on their journeys toward healing and empowerment.
From July 2020 to October 2021, the Center for Safety and Empowerment:
- Answered over 2,600 phone calls to the 24/7 helpline.
- Saw 30 or more visitors to the Day Center for human trafficking in three out of the past ten months.
- Provided 6,854 nights of emergency housing to survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
- Received feedback from survivors who filled out the Client Evaluation Survey that over 96 percent of respondents reported receiving the information and assistance needed to address their current issues and needs.
- Supported 86 survivors of human trafficking at the Day Center.
- Offered over 80 trainings and presentations about domestic violence to professionals, community organizations, and other interested groups.
Your support is needed to ensure that survivors in Northeast Kansas continue to have access to emergency shelter, life-saving services, and comprehensive support. Click here to donate today!
NEW RURAL OFFICE
This fall, the rural office moved into a new building in Holton as we expanded our service area to include Brown county and enhance programming in partnership with Jana's Campaign. All are welcome to stop by and say hello!
CELEBRATING TWO YEARS AT THE DAY CENTER
November marks two years since we opened Topeka’s first drop-in center for survivors of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. The Day Center remains a crucial lifeline for survivors in the Topeka community.
PUBLIC TRAININGS AND PRESENTATIONS
Meet Emily Steimel-Handy, YWCA Public Education Coordinator! So far in 2021, she has provided over ## trainings and presentations to community organizations, law enforcement, businesses, schools, and faith communities.
DONATIONS TO THE CENTER FOR SAFETY AND EMPOWERMENT
Special thanks to all the individuals, groups, and organizations who donated countless personal care items, household items, clothing, art supplies, and more to the CSE this year!
#OnAMission to Eliminate Racism
In 2021, we strengthened existing partnerships and formed new ones to increase the impact of our racial justice and advocacy efforts. The next year promises even more with the addition of a Racial Justice and Advocacy Director position, thanks to a partnership with Community Action, Inc. Regina Platt joined our team in October, and she is already planning exciting programs for the upcoming year – including the 2022 Stand Against Racism Challenge, continued Racial Justice Facilitation Trainings, Racial Justice Book Club, and additional seminars such as “How to Talk with Kids About Race.”
Kathleen Marker, YWCA CEO, says, “Regina is a leader in promoting and facilitating racial equity and social justice work. We are confident in her expertise and leadership to drive YWCA’s work of gender equity, racial equity, and community education through meaningful systems change in the greater Topeka community”
As implemented, this partnership is a 10-month project. Community Action’s initial investment provides for a Community Assessment and future-planning for carrying out additional racial justice and advocacy work that will be led by the Racial Justice and Advocacy Director. YWCA Northeast Kansas will be carrying out strategic fundraising to continue funding this work beyond the initial 10-month phase. You can support these long term goals by investing in our racial justice work today.
INAUGURAL 21-DAY CHALLENGE
Over 800 members of the Greater Topeka community (and beyond!) signed up to participate in this year’s 21 Day Challenge for Racial Equity and Social Justice in March. In addition to participating in the Challenge, our generous allies and supporters raised $6,500 for the Advocacy and Racial Justice work. This amount is almost 1/3 of our total goal for racial justice designated funding this year!
The Challenge offered participants an opportunity to read, listen, reflect, and discuss a variety of topics related to race and gender based violence. The results of past Challenges and the feedback we have received in our 2021 surveys proves that creating dedicated time and space to build a social justice habit and dive deeper into issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership can have a real impact.
JOIN US IN MAY OF 2022 FOR the Stand Against Racism Challenge. STAY TUNED for more information!
#OnAMission to Work Together
All of the programs and services at YWCA Northeast Kansas are only possible because of a long list of partners and supporters. From welcoming guests and visitors at the front desk, to providing support to children in our Youth Services programs, to holding space for survivors, our volunteers and supporters are crucial members of the YWCA Northeast Kansas team and the YWCA movement. We are beyond grateful for every shift covered, every box of masks or after school snacks delivered, every group project completed, and every dollar donated to make our work possible.
So far in 2021, we’ve had 626 donors support our mission to empower women and eliminate racism. You can help us grow that number before January by making a donation today! See below for more ways to contribute as a sponsor, volunteer, or organizational partner.
Meet Our 2021 Board of Directors
Kaitlyn Sester, President
Gina Millsap, Vice President
Liz Steffen, Treasurer
Megan Schwerdt Williams, Secretary
Tara James-Wallace, Governance Chair
In addition to our annual corporate sponsors, we are grateful for the support of local businesses who support our largest fundraising events each year.
Everything we have to celebrate this year is due to the support of people like YOU, the members of our YWCA community. See below for ways that you can continue to be a part of our mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
At YWCA Northeast Kansas, we are committed to using every donation, both financial and in kind, in advancement of our mission. We put your dollars to work supporting survivors, empowering working families, and advocating for racial justice.
ATTEND OUR EVENTS
Mark your calendars for our 2022 events! Knowing the continued challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and racial and economic injustices in our community, we look forward to a 2022 full of safe and joy-filled events that uplift survivors, women leaders,
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Bring your time and talents to YWCA Northeast Kansas! Ongoing and one-time projects are available for individuals, groups, organizations, and students.