Worcester – a city that has long been associated with having problems with prostitution – made more prostitution-related arrests than any other Massachusetts city in 2013.
The YWCA of Central Massachusetts will be working to spread awareness about domestic violence through several initiatives during the month of October.
The campaign for Domestic Violence Awareness Month began on September 2, with The Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse Campaign. As part of this campaign, the YWCA has the opportunity to raise funds and win prizes to help support the Domestic Violence Services program. This year the celebrity spokesperson was actress and activist Kerry Washington. Donations are being accepted through October 3; click here for more details.
The official kickoff for Domestic Violence Awareness Month will be the Dance for Peace: End Domestic Violence dance-a-thon to be held at the Fitchburg Senior Center. The event takes place on Friday, September 26 with teams from Mount Wachusett Community College, Worcester State University, Clinton Savings Bank, and Workers’ Credit Union, as well as board members, staff, and supporters coming out for a great cause. Mayor Lisa Wong of Fitchburg will read the 2014 Proclamation.
Thank you to our sponsors who made this event possible: Headline Sponsors, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Clinton Savings Bank, Leominster Credit Union, Workers’ Credit Union; Media Sponsor, Worcester Telegram & Gazette; and Spotlight Sponsors, Fidelity Bank and Nypro. For more information, or to sign up as a dancer, click here.
On October 1, at 9 a.m. the YWCA will take part in a ceremony declaring October to be Domestic Violence Month. The event will take place on City Hall Plaza with a representative from the Mayor’s office reading the 2014 Mayoral Proclamation. A purple flag will also be flown at City Hall in recognition of DV Awareness Month. All are welcome to attend.
On October 27, the YWCA will host the Annual Daybreak Breakfast at the College of the Holy Cross. Keynote speaker, Craig Norberg-Bohm, Coordinator of the Men’s Initiative for Jane Doe, Inc. and Director and Co-Founder of the Massachusetts White Ribbon Day Campaign, will speak to the crowd about Working Together: Engaging Men to End Violence Against Women. The event was made possible by Daybreak Breakfast sponsors, Fidelity Bank and Webster Five Cents Savings Bank. To register click here.
The YWCA USA’s Week Without Violence will be held October 13 – 17 with the theme, Work Against Violence. According to the American Medical Association, more than 20 percent of women in the United States have experienced intimate-partner violence, stalking or both. Approximately 50 percent of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors will lose their jobs as a result of abuse. Learn more about the YWCA’s Week Without Violence here.
The YWCA’s travelling memorial, “An Empty Place at the Table,” will also be on display at different places around Central and North Central Massachusetts. The display memorializes all the victims of domestic violence who lost their lives in Massachusetts during the previous year with a place setting symbolizing the void left behind by each victim. It is intended to honor those who were lost and to increase the public’s understanding on the impact of domestic violence in our communities. This year the display includes the names of 10 victims of domestic violence. To view the locations of this year’s “An Empty Place at the Table” display, click here.
The statistics are staggering, concerning and alarming. Among them, the fact that there are nearly 1 million estimated domestic violence incidents nationwide each year.
Leominster Credit Union contributed $1,000 to the YWCA of Central Massachusetts for their Dance for Peace event. Funds raised from this event support the YWCA’s BWR program to end domestic violence.
The YWCA of Central Massachusetts, the longest-serving agency by, for and about women and girls in central Massachusetts elected new officers and directors at its 129th annual meeting on June 19th.
Newly elected to serve a three-year term to the agency’s Board of Directors are: Sonya Atherly of Worcester, In-Home Therapist/Outpatient Clinician with the Multicultural Wellness Center; Amanda Baer of Grafton, an associate attorney at Mirick O’Connell in the firm’s Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Group, Litigation Group, and Family Law Group; Mary Feeney of Pepperell, a Partner at Bowditch & Dewey; Deborah Gavron-Ravenelle of Worcester, the Chief Compliance Officer and Director of Compliance and Privacy at Reliant Medical Group; and Sheila King Goodwin of Worcester, Senior Vice President of Retail with PeoplesBank.
Elected to serve a second three year term until June 2017 are: Deborah Bitsoli of Framingham, the Chief Operating Officer at Saint Vincent Hospital; and Susan Woodbury of Worcester, who retired in 2011 after serving as a Trustee of the Worcester-based George I. Alden Trust for 18 years. Elected to serve a one-year term until June 2015 is Micki Davis of Worcester, the Coordinator of the CEV Center at Clark University; and Linda Looft of Leicester, Assistant Vice President for Government and Community Relations at WPI.
Also, elected by the membership are the members of the Nominating Committee who will serve a one-year term until June 2015. From the Board of Directors: Joyce Augustus of Northbridge, a Financial Analyst at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette; Etel Capacchione of Worcester, Director of the Youth Academy at Dynamy/YOU, Inc.; Micki Davis; and Susan Woodbury.
Elected to serve as officers for a one-year term were: Linda Looft, President; Micki Davis, Vice-President/President-elect; Joyce Augustus; Karen Kempskie-Aquino of Worcester, of Seven Hills Bookkeeping, Assistant Treasurer; Etel Capacchione, Clerk; Christienne Bik of Shrewsbury, the Director of Government Relations for Fallon Community Health Plan, Assistant Clerk.
“All of us at the YWCA are honored and thrilled to have women of such high caliber leading the Agency and working on behalf of women, children and families in our community,” said Executive Director Linda Cavaioli.
Before finding the YWCA, Fyteema spent years bouncing around, taking care of her mother who had issues with substance abuse, staying with friends, and suffering in an abusive relationship, all so her son could have a roof over his head. The cost of housing, and child care held her back from making positive changes in her life.
When she did live with her mother there were many times when there was no food in the house, or the roles were reversed and Fyteema found herself as the caregiver. Without guidance from the adults in her life she did the best she could to get by. At 15 Fyteema became pregnant. What she initially viewed as a mixed blessing has now become her motivation for a better life.
After her son was born Fyteema spent some time living with his father. The relationship became abusive, but with no where else to turn she suffered through it for the sake of her child. So much of her life became taking care of her son and her mother, and trying to deal with her own pain and abuse.
After her mother passed away at the beginning of 2014, Fyteema explained that things became clear. She was ready to get off the emotional rollercoaster, get out of the abusive relationship, and stand on her own for herself and her son. “I started seeing things differently,” she said. “I wanted to give my son the life that I wish I had.”
When she found the YWCA she knew she found a place where she belonged. The YPP has put her on the path to financial stability and a brighter future, and the Domestic Violence Services program helped her get away from her abuser and into a safe home.
Fyteema found housing, and recommitted to her education and future. She is currently working towards her GED in the Young Parents Program. She hopes to continue her education after the YWCA and train to become a contractor or electrician.
Fyteema’s three year old son Maurice is doing well. She is working with the Worcester Public Schools to get him all the help he needs, and is focused on maintaining a stable life for him. “I knew being a teen parent on my own would be hard,” she said, “But I never knew it would be this hard.”
Recently Fyteema told her story at Teen Lobby Day at the State House, advocating for herself, and other women like her. She was also able to attend the Worcester Technical High School graduation to see President Obama speak.
“Things are going well,” she said, “But most important is that I love being a Mom.”
YWCA USA CEO Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D. was the featured speaker at the YWCA Central Massachusetts’ Annual Meeting on Thursday, June 19, 2014. Dara had just finished up at the YWCA USA’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., where the theme “Fearless Future” governed the three day agenda. She continued this theme of looking forward in her speech to the YWCA Central Massachusetts.
Dara brought up many discussion points for the organization as it moves forward. She mentioned that she had visited many local YWCAs in her time as the CEO of the YWCA USA, and is working with YWCA leaders to move the organization forward as a national movement, while also making sure that each local YWCA is supporting the needs of the individual communities.
While the feedback of local organizations is important to her, she described her own vision: to have high impact, fiscally sound local organizations with a strong track record of social change; to continue the legacy of our famed historic past; to secure diversified and sustainable funding; to have strong talent at all levels and a ladder of opportunity for leaders to climb forward; and to build a movement that strengthens whole communities.
Her call to action for the YWCA is to dream big and take bold steps that propel us into a “fearless future.” She emphasized that as an organization we need to dream big, and continue our work as an impactful, mission-driven movement.
Massachusetts boasts some of the best schools in the country. Our students deserve the best health education, especially since 68 percent of our state’s chlamydia cases occur in young people, with the rate in Worcester dramatically higher than the state average.
Five women whose professional accomplishments have helped improve the lives of women and girls in their communities received the YWCA’s Katharine F. Erskine Award during the annual Tribute to Women luncheon Tuesday at Mechanics Hall.
N-Cite Media Collective and the YWCA’s Racial Task Force joined up to empower youth through the creation of two films that challenge existing ideologies and present stories that they say are not being represented in the media.
The YWCA, through its many community programs, has gained recognition in being a community support organization. Find out what the news and media outlets are saying about us.