In November, we celebrated 135 years as an organization empowering women, families, and people of color in this community. It was an honor and a joy to be able to celebrate with friends, supporters, volunteers, and donors all together again in our building. The past two years have been tough for all nonprofits, YWCA Northeast Kansas included. But something we’ve discovered through the challenge is that the spirit of the YWCA movement unites us. It propels us forward in our mission together, whether we’re gathering at the statehouse for a rally or on Zoom for a book club.
Thank you to all who have joined us and supported the work of YWCA Northeast Kansas this year. With your support, we continue to providing life-saving services to survivors, strengthen families through affordable childcare and programs, and empower women and people of color through advocacy, education, and civic engagement.
In this report, you will find updates on our core programs, as well as links to our blog where we dive into some of the new and exciting things our staff and volunteers took on this year.
In solidarity for a brighter future for us all,
Through our Youth Services programs, YWCA strengthens and empowers working families, providing affordable, high-quality care for children aged one through elementary school.
In 2022, these programs:
- Provided safe and affordable childcare to over 30 children in our Early Learning Center.
- Welcomed over 200 grade school children in our Kids Quest before and after school programs and summer camp.
- Prepared over 80 rising kindergartners for the 2021-2022 school year through the Kindergarten Academic Preparedness Program (KAPP) over the summer.
- Supported families of over 90 students in kindergarten through fifth grade through participation in an after-school tutoring program, Families Empowered by Additional Teaching of Students (FEATS).
For the 2022-23 school year, our before and after school programs are held in eight Topeka elementary schools. In fact, we added staff to the McEachron Kids Quest program, which helped 15 families who were struggling to find care that allowed them to hold their jobs. There are still waiting lists for several schools, and growing these programs through additional staff and curriculum investment is key to continue meeting the needs of working families in our community.
The YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment also celebrated a birthday in November. On November 22, 2019, the Day Center opened in central Topeka, providing a safe and supportive space for individuals affected by human trafficking. The doors are open for survivors who simply need a place to rest or a phone charger, and also for those who are ready to ask for help. In the past three years, Advocates have seen a steady increase in the number of people accessing the center, with over 20 clients accessing services in September alone.
Here are some other CSE numbers from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022:
- Advocates answered 2,551 hotline calls.
- The CSE shelter provided 5,796 bed nights to 247 clients.
- Emily Steimel-Handy, CSE Public Education Coordinator, facilitated 134 trainings and presentations on domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking to groups and professionals in the community.
- 80 clients accessed CSE services through the Day Center, where Advocates and volunteers held 52 weekly “Lunch and Chats” with clients and visitors.
- Of the 199 non-residential clients who filled out client evaluations, 100% reported that they received the information they needed for their situation and 99.5% reported that their safety issues and concerns were sufficiently addressed.
- The 2022 Hope for the Holidays program served a total of 240 clients and local families (143 children and 97 adults), providing the opportunity to “shop” for holiday gifts, household supplies, clothing, and more.
Check out our blog to read more about one survivor’s experience accessing CSE services through the Day Center, as well as exciting information about our brand-new text line and a future shelter expansion.
In our continued work for racial equity and healing, YWCA is at the forefront of the most pressing issues in the region, and 2022 was no exception. From speaking up for equal pay to speaking out for reproductive justice, the YWCA movement was a powerful force all year long. Here are some 2022 highlights:
- Over 600 people registered for the Stand Against Racism challenge in April, committing to four weeks of racial justice education, reflection, and conversation.
- Over 400 allies, advocates, and activists showed up to events YWCA hosted throughout the summer to protect Kansans reproductive rights from an anti-choice ballot measure on the primary election ballot in August.
- The YWCA Advocacy Committee and CSE partnered with the League of Women Voters of Topeka & Shawnee County to Get Out the Vote for the November general election, helping 45 new voters register in one day.
- Through an ongoing partnership with the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, community members rounded out three years of Racial Justice Book Club meetings, and a new book group for families of young children started in November.
Read more about this year’s justice and advocacy programs on the blog, and check out the YWCA Advocacy Committee’s 2023 Goals and Priorities so that you’re ready to add your voice in the coming year.
It is never too trite to say that none of this work could happen without the sponsors, volunteers, and donors who support YWCA’s mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. They are crucial members of the YWCA movement.
Volunteers are involved in all areas of our work, and the hours that they give to clean up the building, feed clients and families, and support survivors allows YWCA to spread our budget to meet the ever-increasing needs in the community. For example, our front desk is covered by a volunteer receptionist for 12-15 hours each week. In fact, our 2022 Karen Viola Volunteer of the Year might be the friendly voice that answers the phone if you call on a Tuesday morning!
Donors and sponsors give of their resources, both financially and in-kind, because they know that YWCA Northeast Kansas is making a real impact in the lives of women, children, and people of color in our community. We’re fortunate to have the support of regular donors, annual sponsors, and individuals and organizations who donate through the special events we host throughout the year, such as the Women of Excellence Awards.
Meet the 2022 Board of Directors
Kaitlyn Sester, President
Gina Millsap, Vice President
Liz Steffen, Treasurer
Megan Schwerdt Williams, Secretary
Paige Blevins, Governance Chair
Tara James Wallace
Donna Rae Pearson