Wilmington YWCA refocuses efforts on supporting women, fighting racism

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Girls Circle, which promotes healthy relationships in adolescents, is one of many programs offered by the local YWCA. The Y recently launched a re-branding campaign to draw attention to its mission of empowering women and eliminating racism. Courtesy photo.
Girls Circle, which promotes healthy relationships in adolescents, is one of many programs offered by the local YWCA. The Y recently launched a re-branding campaign to draw attention to its mission of empowering women and eliminating racism. Courtesy photo.

The YWCA is on a mission.

With that very statement as its new tagline, the local non-profit community organization, located in midtown Wilmington near the Holly Tree community, has joined with its 220 fellow YWCA chapters across the country to refocus its efforts on empowering women and eliminating racism.

“It’s always been our mission but it hasn’t always been on the frontline,” Charlotte Boyd, marketing director and childcare program coordinator for the local YWCA, said. “What we’re wanting to do…is bring more awareness to what our actual mission is and get everybody on the same page, to create a social movement.”

The rebranding initiative is aimed, in part, at reintroducing the YWCA to a public who may simply see it as a place that offers swim lessons and affordable childcare.

“This new tagline is inclusive and intentional. Our goal is to be clear about the work that the YWCA Lower Cape Fear does daily to provide opportunities, eliminate barriers and make resources available to everyone, every day,” executive director Susan Fennell said. “We are a critical resource for women and their families and hope that our new look results in providing more services to more people living in the Cape Fear region.”

For over 150 years, YWCA has been active in fighting for voting and civil rights, affordable housing, violence prevention and healthcare reform, among other issues.

“Despite important work being done…not enough people understood the size, impact, or relevance of YWCA,” Boyd said.

In addition to participating in national YWCA movements like Stand Against Racism and advocating to lawmakers the need for policy to fight inequality, the Lower Cape Fear chapter is hosting a variety of free classes to assist women and solidify non-traditional families.

“Stand Against Racism,” which takes place April 28-May 1 works to “build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in our communities,” according to YWCA USA’s website. This year’s theme is “On a Mission for Girls of Color” and will shine a spotlight on how the harmful role prejudice plays specifically in the lives of young minority females.

No-cost offerings at Wilmington’s YWCA include an aquatic fluid recovery program for breast cancer survivors. The Y also recently added an on-land Pilates version of the water class.

The local organization provides direct support to 80 area grandchildren and the 40 grandparents who are raising them through its Grandparent Support Network program.

And Boyd said the New Choices program for “displaced homemakers” – women who, for various reasons have had to become the “breadwinner of the family” – offers advice, guidance and other resources to enroll in school and find jobs.

The YWCA Lower Cape Fear is also embarking on the 31st year of its Women of Achievement Awards, handed out to local stand-outs in a variety of fields each May.

“But there is still unmet need,” Boyd said. “With this brand awareness campaign, we invite the public to join us on a mission and help even more women, children and families.”

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.

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