YWCA celebrates 100 years and looks to the next 100

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The Women’s Y celebrates 100 years in Boulder County by honoring women who have served as mentors or helped the community, by hosting a “Because of her better” luncheon.

Janet Beardsley, who retired as executive director of the YWCA Boulder County in 2016 after 30 years, is the luncheon’s honorary chair.

Jackie Trevino, right, reads – left to right – Beatrice, Paisley, Freya and Caroline at the YWCA’s Persimmon Early Learning in Boulder on Friday. (Cliff Grassmick/staff photographer)

“We hope people will honor and talk about the women in their lives who have made a difference,” she said. “Boulder is just filled with women who have given their passion and commitment. And we must continue. We can’t give up yet, there is so much more to do.

She plans to honor Debbie Pope, the current CEO.

“The YWCA has really been a place for women to come and seek support,” Pope said. “I feel like we’ve always been one step ahead.”

A hundred years ago, the YWCA Boulder County offered women safe housing, an employment registry and help finding long-term housing, as well as social events, classes and outings.

The organization has evolved over the years from a women’s community center to a social service provider.

Boulder County YWCA Board Chair Deidre Farrell said she was very proud of the organization’s growing focus on racial justice and equity in education.

“There has been a lot of work and a lot of progress has been made,” she said.

Current programs include Persimmon Early Learning, an affordable daycare; Read to End Racism, a program for elementary schools; STEM E3, a program for young girls of color; and Latina Achievement Support, a program to help Latino high school students achieve their academic goals.

Kate Hise, director of early childhood education and family services, said she brought her son to the YWCA’s emergency child care program as a young single mother during an interview. hiring, setting her on a career path that culminated in her current job.

“If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have this job,” she says. “It lifted me up.”

She added that early childhood programs have changed to meet community needs.

Even before the pandemic, she said, the organization was seeing more families earning too much to qualify for subsidized child care but not enough to afford child care in expensive Boulder County. In response, the YWCA expanded and renovated its space to provide regular, affordable child care and drop-in day care.

The program also increased teachers’ salaries. With teachers reporting quitting their child care jobs due to a combination of low pay and burnout, YWCA teachers are paid for a 40-hour week while working 32 hours.

“Hopefully this can be replicated, because we do really flexible and affordable childcare work,” Hise said.

Giving women the opportunity to make their voices heard is another permanent value.

The YWCA of Boulder County hosted a webinar in February on “Changing the Conversation: Taking Action to End Sexual Assault,” while helping organize the March for Women’s Freedom in July in Boulder.

“This year, we feel like we have to go back to steps that the women before us have already taken,” Pope said. “We are really focused on getting the vote. It is important that people’s voices are heard on the issues that matter most to them.

Going forward, she said, it will be important to continue encouraging women to work together on equity issues, including economic advancement and equal pay.

“There are issues that affect us all,” she said. “We can rally around those things that connect us more than the things that are perceived as divisive. There are many places where we have made very great progress. We have to make sure that we look to the future and move things in the direction they need to go. »

The 100th anniversary luncheon will be held August 26 at the Boulderado Hotel. While the event is sold out, a waiting list is available on tinyurl.com/y4wurwvh.

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