Events Listings for Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

11:50 am - Transitional Housing Success Story

Lizzie* initially came to the YWCA’s Transitional Housing Program from a substance abuse program she had completed. During the interview portion of her application it was evident that she would need additional sober program time due to her lengthy history of drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence, and instability, but she showed promise, and seemed determined to continue making positive changes.

For the next six months the YWCA staff worked with Lizzie to get the necessary resources in place – including helping her find employment, regular counseling, and working with her to build her financial independence. During her residency Lizzie was able to pass her GED, enroll in community college, and find a part-time job. “The staff was very supportive,” she explained, “Even holding my hand at times.”

Lizzie also testified in front of the legislature on CORI Reform based on her own experiences. After she successfully applied for subsidized housing, she was denied based on her lengthy CORI Report. She felt completely overwhelmed, but the staff worked with her in setting the appeals process in motion.

During her appeal meeting, evidence was presented of Lizzie’s accomplishments since achieving sobriety. Letters of recommendation from professionals who worked with her, and believed in her commitment, were a vital part of the success. “Gail (Brunyak, Transitional Housing Director) would tell me, you have come too far, you have to keep going,” Lizzie said. “She wouldn’t let me give up when things got tough, and she was right, I got through it.”

“The YWCA was more than a roof over my head,” Lizzie explained, “It was a place to come home to.”

Lizzie is hoping to continue making positive changes in her life. Her goal is to help other women who are in some of the same situations she has found herself in, including those affected by drug abuse and domestic violence. “The YW is about making women find their strength,” she said. “My future plans are to begin to advocate for women and help others.”


* name changed to protect client identity

12:40 pm - Hoop It Up!

Hoop It Up!

What if we told you that you could have fun and get fit with an activity that will bring you back to your childhood? You may associate the hula hooping craze with the fifties, but the modern version of hula hoop involves a larger, weighted hoop, and a whole lot of calorie burn! A recent ACE Fitness study found that hula hooping burned approximately seven calories per minute, that’s nearly as many calories as a boot camp or kickboxing class!

The fitness component may be what draws many people to try out hula hoop classes, but it’s the fun and excitement of the activity that will keep bringing them back! Here at the YWCA Central Massachusetts, Hula Hoop Fit is offered twice a week. Instructor Kari Whitney described what attracted her to this workout: “One of my students described the Hula Hoop Fit class as ‘a new kind of workout that doesn’t feel like working out’ and I agree completely,” she said. “I got hooked on hooping, after taking a learn to hoop class, with a friend – I realized that I was getting a really great cardiovascular workout and toning my core all while laughing and having a good time.”

So how can an activity that dates back thousands of years help you reach your fitness goals? The ACE Fitness study found that hula hooping rated as “somewhat hard” on a scale used to measure physical exertion. This result means participants can expect an improvement in cardiovascular health, muscle conditioning, flexibility, and balance.

The fact that the class is fun also helps keep participants coming back for more. Endorphins levels rise through the physical activity, and spirits also improve through the fun class. This can lead to many other positive benefits including stress relief and relaxation, and even decreased levels of depression.

Ann Gifford has been attending the class since it first began here at the YWCA. She also takes water aerobics, and initially joined as a way to strengthen her core and help her arthritis, but it’s the fun factor that really keeps her coming back. “It’s fun,” she said. “Everyone laughs, and we all encourage each other, and it’s just a pleasure to be there. The hour goes by so fast, and I just love it!”

For our current class schedule click here.

3:45 pm - Domestic Violence Awareness Month

 “I could have been a plate,” explained one anonymous viewer of the YWCA’s An Empty Place at the Table. As we observe National Domestic Violence Awareness Month the traveling memorial elicits a range of emotions. The display memorializes all those who lost their lives to domestic violence in Massachusetts during 2011. There are 14 names on the plates, 12 women, one man, and one child. It is a moving tribute to the victims, and a reminder of the impact of domestic violence, as well as the need to continue providing services and fighting to put a stop to these senseless acts.

One woman expressed her sympathy for the victims. “I am a seven year survivor, and I was stabbed six times,” she said. “I cannot understand why I am alive, while so many have lost their lives.”

Like many who view the display, she is thankful that those who lost their lives are remembered, and that the issue of domestic violence is not forgotten.

While significant progress has been made to reduce domestic violence and provide options for victims and survivors, there is still much work to be done. On average, three women in the United States are killed every day as a result of domestic violence, with a women assaulted every 9 seconds. These women are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, and our friends.

The YWCA Central Massachusetts uses this month to spread awareness about this issue and voice our continued support of domestic violence victims and survivors.

With your help we are able to bring a range of domestic violence services to those who need them. Our programs focus on victims’ services, including a 24-hour hotline and emergency shelter, as well as prevention education, and building partnerships with a diverse group of community stakeholders to bridge and strengthen communication networks, to hold perpetrators accountable and to support and insure the safety of victims.

Despite the statistics many people don’t want to believe it could happen to them or their loved ones, but domestic violence can happen to anyone. As another viewer explained, “This display saddens me because I was a witness to domestic violence many times while growing up. It’s difficult to think that one of these people could have been one of my family members.”

It is your continued support that gives victims a place to turn when they need it most, and let’s them know that they are not alone.

Upcoming Events


  • Event Sponsorship