Living the Mission

February 11, 2016

PJ’s, A Love Story

What do kindergartners at St. Margaret of York School in Loveland, Ohio and children at the House of Peace have in common? Well, they both love a new pair of pajamas!

This past holiday season, three classrooms at St. Margaret of York School presented over 60 sets of pajamas to YWCA’s House of Peace Children’s Program Coordinator, Stephanie Shoe.

Stephanie met with the kindergartners (many dressed in their own pj’s) to promote the clothing drive and answered questions with age-appropriate responses. Stephanie explained to the students, “When they (the children) come to us with their moms, they get pajamas and whatever else they need. They will be very happy to have new pajamas from all of you.” Happy indeed.

YWCA House of Peace

With the goal of helping families and individuals escape violence and achieve self-sufficiency, the YWCA House of Peace offers safety, crisis assistance, and supportive services to those impacted by domestic violence.

Pajama Program

Founded in 2001 by New York native Genevieve Piturro, Pajama Program provides new pajamas and new books nationwide to children in need.

Locally, St. Margaret of York School, Carter’s and Monroe Elementary participate in Pajama Program and provide pajamas to the House of Peace and Court Advocacy families in the Eastern area.


January 28, 2016

Workforce Development Success Story

YWCA Workforce Development participant Reshaunda (left) recently met with John Carey (back), Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, the governing body that oversees adult education in the state of Ohio.

Reshaunda and the other students shown here had the opportunity to share their stories with Mr. Carey. This allowed him to hear firsthand the struggles many of our clients face. He also saw their resilience and amazing will to overcome barriers and continue working toward their educational goals.

Reshaunda’s story is one of courage and determination, and we thank Reshaunda for speaking on behalf of the multitude of students striving to complete their GEDs. She is truly an example of how Workforce Development and its clients live the YWCA mission.

YWCA Workforce Development

The YWCA Workforce Development Program provides education and training to assist individuals in achieving economic self-sufficiency.

With the advent of increased testing fees and the GED being changed from a paper-and-pencil test to a computer-based test statewide in 2015, it was predicted that 3,700 individuals would earn their GED. This is an increase compared to 2014 but is less than a quarter of the 16,500 Ohioans who, on average, received GEDs each year between 2000-13.

It is important for our Workforce Development team to be a sounding board for our participants who are struggling to obtain their GEDs. Rarely do students like Reshaunda, and the others pictured with Mr. Carey, get an opportunity to explain their challenges to our decisionmakers and influencers.



October 27, 2015

Why Building Greatness Matters

Take a need, put a few brilliant minds together, and voilà – the Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP) has a new home.

Doug Rausch, YWCA Vice President of Facilities, and his team of master craftsmen, Greg Klosterman and Matt Hofstetter, constructed four beautiful offices to address safety and climate-control concerns.

Our surroundings inspire us and make us happy. According to Vanessa King, Action for Happiness: “Happiness at work is a win-win. Happy, engaged people are healthier and more productive, have more ideas, are more likely to contribute over and above the responsibilities of their job and help out colleagues, are less likely to leave or be off sick, and are more likely to get to work on time. They are better to be around, because happiness is catching. So, if your team is happy, you and others around them are more likely to be happy too.”

Come pay us a visit on the first floor. The FVPP is thriving in the greatest building, with the greatest people … and that’s what matters!

YWCA – 898 Walnut Street

  • Opened in 1929 after one year of construction and at a cost of $1 million, the YWCA downtown headquarters featured a gym, pool, auditorium, clubrooms and lodging for 285 women.
  • Meeting rooms 1A/1B were previously a cafeteria, and in the 1940s and 1950s it was the only place in Cincinnati where interracial groups could meet and eat together.
  • Today, this building houses 59 staff involved in many programs that annually serve thousands of clients from Adams, Brown, Clermont and Hamilton counties.


September 21, 2015

Workforce Development Success Story

Curtis Ashby first came to the YWCA through our new partnership with Cincinnati Works. Our team provided him with career-exploration services and assessed his work skills using ACT WorkKeys.

Curtis then enrolled in our college and career-readiness class at the CityLink Center location. Upon completion of just one session, his basic education skills were advanced enough that he was able to enroll in the IT vocational training program, Per Scholas.

When he finishes his IT training, Curtis plans to re-enroll in our classes to prepare him for entry into Cincinnati State’s associate degree program in computer technology.

Education enriches our clients, like Curtis, and grants them access to new career and educational opportunities. Workforce Development seeks to empower all of our clients and is living the YWCA mission.

YWCA Workforce Development

The YWCA Workforce Development Program provides education and training to assist individuals in achieving economic self-sufficiency.

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce estimates that by 2020, nearly two-thirds of all jobs will require some sort of post-secondary education or training beyond a high school diploma.

Vocational training is important because it provides hands-on training in a field that pays a living wage and has employment opportunities immediately available.

Workforce Development attempts to link its participants to vocational training programs and also provides support to its former clients.

August 25, 2015

Hate Crimes in the Heartland

YWCA recently hosted a showing and staff discussion of Rachel Lyon’s documentary, "Hate Crimes in the Heartland."

The film explores our national conversation on race through the lens of Tulsa, Okla., where two hate crimes, nearly a century apart, are affecting human rights, education and communities today.

Focused in the neighborhood of Greenwood, "Hate Crimes" bravely looks at a false accusation in 1921 that left up to 300 people dead and more than 10,000 homeless. During one 24-hour period, Tulsa’s successful “Black Wall Street” was burned down by its white neighbors. Fast forward to 2012, when Greenwood once again was terrorized by two white men who randomly killed three and critically injured two African Americans.

Join us Wednesday, September 30 (see sidebar), as we continue the discussion. We once again will explore these two pivotal times in Tulsa’s history and how the struggle for closure, justice and change continues today.

"We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognized the rights of others."  — Will Rogers

Rachel Lyons

Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Rachel Lyons (pictured at left with Debbie Brooks, YWCA) has produced 65 feature films, movies for television, feature documentaries and limited series. Her work focuses on critical global issues, human rights, civil equality, art, and archaeology and history.

In conjunction with the YWCA, the Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice at UC Law, and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at UC, Rachel will once again present:

Hate Crimes in the Heartland
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
UC College of Law
2540 Clifton Ave., Room 114
5:30-8 p.m.

Refreshments will be served prior to the film at 6 p.m., and a panel discussion will follow.




August 6, 2015

Celebrating our Youngest Learners

Congratulations to the YWCA/CELC Infant Team for being a winner of the Cincinnati AEYC Inspiring Spaces Contest.

Our teachers were challenged to create an inspiring classroom environment. They submitted a before-and-after photo of the reading area in the infant activity room along with an explanation of the impact on children’s learning.

Pillows, a sheer canopy, butterfly art and baskets for books were added to provide a cozy and comfortable atmosphere where babies and toddlers can read and be read to.

Congratulations to our Infant Team!

YWCA Childcare Center

Managed by Cincinnati Early Learning Center since 2006, the YWCA Childcare Center offers a licensed, 5-star-rated and National Association for the Education of Young Children-accredited childcare program.



July 23, 2015

A Fond Farewell

It’s the fine art on the walls, the proud applause given a GED graduate, the sigh of a woman in a shelter trying to make sense of this day, her new reality.

It’s life. It’s knowing that all of this could not have occurred without you – certainly not to this degree, with this success, with this extraordinary outcome.

You, being the power of one, the face, the motivation, the purpose of this YWCA, spent a lifetime attending to those who felt they had no power, no voice and no purpose.

You imagined, collaborated and created as no other. You inspired us, living fully our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women.

From all of us who have enjoyed you as a friend, mentor and collaborator, we thank you and bid you a very fond farewell. You may be leaving us on a daily basis, but know that you will not be forgotten.

Charlene Ventura

One of the founders of the Women’s Movement in Greater Cincinnati in the 1960s, Charlene joined the YWCA in 1973 and rose to the position of President & CEO in 1988.

In 1976, Charlene initiated the first community-wide forum on domestic abuse, which led to the funding and establishment of the YWCA Alice Paul House, the first shelter in the Greater Cincinnati area. In 1988, Charlene provided staff leadership for a $7 million campaign to purchase the new domestic violence shelter and renovate the historic downtown YWCA headquarters.

Charlene is well-known for overseeing the addition of countless YWCA programs and services, among them the YWCA Heart to Heart Racial Justice Breakfast, the Academy of Career Women and the Rising Stars program.

Charlene will retire August 14, 2015, after 42 years of service.



June 23, 2015

Co-location Success

An attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati gave high marks to a YWCA case coordinator for her exceptional assistance with a client.

This complex case included divorce, domestic violence and custody issues. The client, a wife and mother, was homeless and without a support system in Cincinnati.

The attorney reported that the case coordinator was the sole person who supported the client in all the cases. She assisted in getting the client representation, attended hearings and worked with multiple attorneys. The case coordinator was the person relied on most by the client.

In the end, a divorce was granted, other issues resolved, and the client has returned to college and embarked on a new life.

YWCA Child Welfare
DV Connection Program

To support children’s services staff in their efforts to identify and appropriately respond to families who experience domestic violence, four YWCA Domestic Violence case coordinators work in partnership with Children’s Services at Hamilton County Department of Jobs and Family Services.

The case coordinators assist in developing relationships with domestic violence survivors, educate families on the effects of domestic violence and identify and help strengthen the survivor’s protective abilities.


June 4, 2015


Who knew that a piece of paper, a pencil and a push pin could bring so much joy to a child?

In this HIPPY fine motor and science activity, we received this picture and note from the little boy’s mother. “The pinwheel is his favorite homework so far. He’s been running through the house shrieking with joy just making it spin.”

(And we’re pretty impressed by the selection of books – see the bookcase in background  available to this youngster!)


The Home Instructions for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program is a home-based, family-focused program that helps parents provide educational enrichment to their preschool child/children, ages 3 to 5.

HIPPY empowers parents by giving them the tools, skills and confidence they need to prepare their children for school success.

HIPPY offers free services, guidance and materials to parents. Home visitors provide weekly visits to the family’s home to educate parents on how to become involved in their child’s education and development.

In 2014, HIPPY served 457 children and parents in Hamilton, Clermont and Brown counties.


May 18, 2015

The YWCA hosted a Spring Tea to honor 10 outstanding young women who are recipients of the 2015 Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship Fund.

Nominated by school educators and selected from a group of more than 50 applicants from area high schools, the finalists will receive scholarships to support their post-secondary educational costs.

Each student has been partnered with a mentor from the current class of YWCA Rising Stars, and they will work together throughout the students’ collegiate years. The Rising Stars also presented gift baskets of “college-ready” items – robes, towels, alarm clocks, etc.  to the scholarship winners.

This exceptional group of scholars was recognized at the annual YWCA Career Women of Achievement luncheon May 13.

YWCA Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship

The Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship recognizes the academic achievements and community service of 10 African-American female senior high school students.

Serving as a memorial to Mamie Earl Sells, a dedicated community volunteer who helped and encouraged young people to expand and improve their personal lives and career opportunities, the scholarship, established in 1933, upholds Mamie Earl Sells’ vision of “lifting as we climb.”

Beginning in 2015, all former and current MES scholarship winners will be inducted into the newly formed MES Society.



April 30, 2015


Last week, while sitting in my office, a young mom stopped in.

She said, with tears in her eyes, that she wanted to thank me and the preschool teachers for all we were doing for her son. She said he had attended other early childhood programs, but this was the first time she felt a program truly cared about him and preparing him for kindergarten. Her son came to our center with some challenging behaviors, and the teachers have been working with him to develop the self-control and social skils needed to handle some of the situations that get “hard” for him.

Mom expressed that she appreciated us taking the time to do this. She was also excited to see his progress in other areas. “He is writing his name, recognizing words and beginning to recognize some text. He is my everything, and I want what’s best for him. This is the best place for him right now."

YWCA Childcare Center

Managed by Cincinnati Early Learning Center since 2006, the YWCA Childcare Center offers a licensed, 5-star-rated and NAEYC-accredited childcare program.

The center provides high-quality childcare services for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old.

The program also provides services for families of all income levels.



April 13, 2015

At the Heart to Heart Racial Justice breakfast March 17, a lone bagpiper started the event with a performance of "Amazing Grace."

One participant stated that keynote speaker Kimberle Crenshaw's (photo: second from left) remarks on “intersectionality” were impactful because they are in sync with the mission of the YWCA – empowering women and eliminating racism – and the fact that the intersection of the two is a critical area that has been significantly ignored. She also went on to say that we as a community, as people of various colors and backgrounds, need to educate and empower ourselves for the betterment of society as a whole.

And how precious did that grace appear* when Charlene Ventura, Sister Rose Ann Fleming and David Singleton were recognized for their racial justice efforts in our community.

*lyric from Amazing Grace

The YWCA in History

YWCA Heart to Heart Racial Justice Breakfast
The Annual Heart to Heart Racial Justice Breakfast was established in 2001 to promote the YWCA’s mission to eliminate racism and create a safe space where participants can confront racism.

Attendees experience meaningful dialogue about racism’s personal and community-wide effect with keynote speakers who have had a national impact on landmark civil rights cases.

Since 2004, local leaders have been honored for their significant contributions in the field of racial justice in Cincinnati. Catering to a sellout crowd of lawyers, community leaders and many supporters, the Freedom Center proves to be a safe haven where we discuss race in heart-to-heart conversations affecting us all.


March 30, 2015

“Thank you for presenting to our class about breast cancer. Now I can go home and share this information with the women in my life that I love,” enthused one of the many grateful students at Winton Woods High School after a recent Great Beginnings presentation.

The YWCA in History

YWCA Great Beginnings Program
In the spring of 1999, the YWCA Breast Health Network created a two-hour program for approximately 150 junior and senior high school students at William Howard Taft High School.

The two-hour program, titled Great Beginnings, consisted of general breast, cervical and testicular health information, breast cancer facts and demonstration of a breast self-exam. The program was well received, and 30,000 students later, it continues today.

This school year, approximately 2,000 young men and women will learn the importance of early detection.


March 16, 2015

While working with a teenage mother of two who had recently experienced domestic violence, a ProKids Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) was very complimentary of the assistance she received from a YWCA Domestic Violence Case Manager. She reports, “The mother was totally despondent," and when the CASA could not make the mother feel better, "the case manager stepped in with the perfect words of support.” The CASA appreciated the case manager’s compassion, communication skills, availability and the difference she made!

YWCA Child Welfare DV Connection Program

To support children’s protective services workers in their efforts to identify and appropriately respond to families who experience domestic violence, four YWCA Domestic Violence Case Manager/Coordinators work in partnership within Hamilton County Department of Jobs and Family Services. They assist in developing relationships with domestic violence survivors, educate families on the effects of domestic violence, connect the perpetrator with Amend, and identify and strengthen the survivor’s protective abilities.


March 2, 2015

Mary is a 20-year-old with an intellectual disability. After years of being abused, Mary sought refuge at the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter. She received wrap-around services from the Project CARE partners and enrolled in CARE’s Safety Training & Risk Reduction (STARR) classes. At the end, Mary remarked, “I did not know what ‘rape’ meant until I took this training; I just knew at that time that things did not feel right when I was being attacked. I now know I have the right to have and enjoy healthy, safe relationships.”

The YWCA in History

YWCA Project CARE (Community, Accessibility, Response, Education)
In 2007, Project CARE was born and has become a groundbreaking, nationally recognized program that provides effective solutions for women with disabilities.

CARE provides comprehensive, multilayered strategies to meet the needs of survivors with disabilities and to prevent abuse against women with disabilities. In 2014, 574 individuals were served.



February 17, 2015

The YWCA Transitional Living Program needed a dedicated office space where staff could conduct confidential conversations with women in our program. Our development staff connected us with friends at Enriching Spaces, who presented us with design options and then supplied the furnishings as well.

Thank you, Enriching Spaces! You are making a difference in women’s lives.

The YWCA in History

Transitional Living Program (TLP)

The YWCA opened its first Transitional Living Center in 1981. At the time, it was the first of its kind and became a national model. TLP provides services to women and children who have moved beyond the emergency phase of domestic violence and are making the transition to independent living. Short- and long-term housing, case management, job-readiness training and advocacy are provided.


February 3, 2015

When Steve entered our Amend Batterers’ Intervention & Prevention Program, he was angry and felt his domestic violence charges were unfounded. But through his group involvement, he learned new ways to deal with his anger and solve disagreements with his family. Steve talked about how he was able to “…be patient and meet people where they are.” He started taking more responsibility and attended parenting classes, eventually visiting his daughter with the help of Family Nurturing Center Supervised Visitation. Recently, Steve called his Amend counselor, Tracey, to thank her and let her know he is reunited with his daughter and is working hard to rebuild trust in his relationships.

The YWCA in History

In 1982, the YWCA received a grant from the Levi Strauss Foundation to develop a program for men who abuse women to help them understand and overcome their violent behavior. It was based on a national model and was the beginning of YWCA Amend.



January 9, 2015

Cindy began working with YWCA Every Child Succeeds in 2011 when she was just 14 and expecting. Difficult situations left her homeless and living with various family members. Working with our YWCA staff, Angie Kuper, Cindy is close to completion of the program, has a foster home placement and is returning to get her high school diploma. Despite many challenges, Cindy was always devoted to seeing that her children (now a 2½-year-old and a 2-month-old) had their needs met. Angie submitted her story for the P&G Christmas gift drive and was one of two ECS families chosen! Thank you, P&G ,for making this very special family’s Christmas dreams come true.

The YWCA in History

Did you know that in the late 1980s, YWCA Lifestrides began? This intensive, six-week training program for single mothers assisted them in finding employment with benefits, thus allowing them to transition from public assistance.


December 19, 2014

Tory entered our shelter in October pregnant and with two young children. Her abuser had kicked in her apartment door, terrifying her and her children. She was determined to leave him by Thanksgiving, and our shelter was her safe place to stay while we worked to get her connected to public assistance. Just before Thanksgiving, her housing was approved, and on Dec. 2, Tory gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Mom and children are safe from violence and celebrated the holidays in their new home!

The YWCA in History

The YWCA Alice Paul House opened in 1978 and was just the seventh domestic violence shelter in the nation providing safety and refuge to women and their children.



December 12, 2014

Lori McCarthy is a real YWCA success story. At age 85, she finally has decided to retire. Lori’s husband died at age 44, leaving her to raise six children on her own. She dedicated herself to that endeavor whole-heartedly, and her family of talented and successful children is living proof.

The YWCA has been honored to call her part of our family for the past 30 years. Lori began her work here as the Payroll & Accounts Payable person in the Finance department. During her tenure, Lori proved to be a continual learner, keeping up with every change and new technology. Calm and cheerful, Lori stays unruffled even when facing serious deadlines. Dependable and loyal, she has come to work, rain or shine, missing only one payroll in 30 years! At every employee event, she receives more applause than anybody else.

Thank you, Lori, for your 30 years of service to the YWCA.

The YWCA in Cincinnati: A Century of Service, 1868-1968

Did you know that the YWCA Women’s Industrial Society and Employment Bureau was formed in 1865? To further implement its idea of providing skills before employment, the Industrial Institute opened a night school at 132 Broadway. Fifty-six girls attended the first meeting in 1866; bookkeeping and stenography were the most popular subjects.



December 2, 2014

Our Rural Team is breaking down barriers for Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault survivors in Adams and Brown counties. The Rural Team is exceeding their projected outcomes for the first grant year in many ways:
  • Prevention Education has served 520 new rural students with their updated, evidence-based programming.
  • Court Advocacy has provided case management and court accompaniment to 45 rural clients.
  • More than 20 community partners are engaged in two countrywide task forces to coordinate services for survivors in their communities.
  • We have provided three trainings and three community education events to 120+ rural professionals and community members to increase knowledge on domestic violence and sexual assault. 

DV/SA may be far too common and consequential in rural communities, but it is changeable. We are working hard to be a part of that change and to live the YWCA mission!

The YWCA Still Leading the Way: The Years 1968-1993

In 1979, the YWCA opened a domestic violence crisis shelter to serve Clermont, Clinton and Brown counties. The House of Peace opened in an old farmhouse on the property of Grailville in Loveland, Ohio.



November 14, 2014

United Way of Greater Cincinnati had its Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program present at the United Way Impact Spotlight Luncheon on November 11.

Ashley Auciello is a single mom who started HIPPY in September 2013 and is currently enrolled in year two of the program. She describes an “Aha!" moment when she realized she should accept her son's work for what it was, rather than looking for "perfection." It is perfect … just as it is!

Ashley’s daughter will enter kindergarten in the fall of 2015, and HIPPY is preparing her for school success. Since 2009, more than 84% of HIPPY graduates have been assessed to be ready for kindergarten!

The YWCA in Cincinnati: A Century of Service, 1868-1968

Did you know the YWCA played a significant role in the formation of what is now known as the United Way of Greater Cincinnati? Its vision of a central bureau of charities to meet the needs of the whole city became the Associated Charities of Cincinnati, founded in 1979, and, later called the Community Chest & Council of the Cincinnati Area, originated under the auspices of the WCA (our early name).


November 6, 2014

Lydia came to the YWCA Workforce program in early August. Lydia’s primary goal was to improve her education. The YWCA helped support Lydia as she spent time studying and working with Kate Ionna to improve her math skills. Lydia recently earned her GED.

Lydia is just one of the individuals the YWCA has assisted. She demonstrates how we are all living our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women.





Learn more, get engaged, empower others, empower yourself.