Evanston/North Shore

Press Room

YWCA Evanston/North Shore Racial Justice Summit Set for April 12

Evanston, IL, March 29, 2018 — YWCA Evanston/North Shore is hosting its third annual racial justice summit from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Avenue.

This year’s summit is titled “The Urgency of How,” and its goal is to bring people of all ages and demographics together to deepen their understanding of their own racial identities, develop skills to work for change, formulate action plans, and engage with others.  The keynote speaker will be Tamar Manasseh, a young mother from the Bronzeville neighborhood who founded Mothers/Men Against Senseless Killings (MASK) in 2015 to interrupt crime and violence on a block-by-block basis. MASK focuses on reclaiming neighborhoods “with an army of moms.”

The daylong event also features breakout sessions led by activists, educators, faith leaders, and students discussing immigration, housing equity, voting rights, and a host of other topics.

To learn more and register to attend, go to ywca.org/rjsummit or call 847-864-8445. Student rates and group discounts are available.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore works to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen local communities. It serves more than 10,000 people annually in northern Cook County. For more information, go to www.ywca.org/evanston or call 847-864-8445.

 



Luana Lienhart Joins YWCA Evanston/North Shore in Counseling, Outreach Role

Evanston, IL, March 22, 2018 – Luana Lienhart, a licensed clinical social worker with a background in serving diverse populations, has joined YWCA Evanston/North Shore as community counselor.

In this position, she will serve as case manager and counselor for those affected by domestic violence. She also will focus on outreach, working to educate area communities about domestic violence, including its warning signs, how to help, and available resources.

“I entered the field of social work after serving with AmeriCorps in 2003,” said Lienhart, whose first name is pronounced loo-AH-nah. “After witnessing how many people in the world are intentionally disenfranchised, I felt I had to work to dismantle it. I couldn’t pretend this injustice didn’t exist.”

Lienhart was drawn to YWCA Evanston/North Shore because its mission to eliminate racism and empower women aligned with her values.

“I looked carefully for the right fit and I felt I clearly belonged at YWCA,” she said. “I’m also excited to get more involved in the communities we serve and help people understand domestic violence and what they can do to help. I want to talk to as many people and as many community groups as I can.”

In addition to her new role at YWCA, Lienhart serves as an adjunct faculty member at DePaul University in the Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies program, a position she’s held since 2014. She also is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order, an organization of laypeople, single and married, who follow the example of St. Francis of Assisi through their work in the secular world.

Lienhart, who is originally from Grenada, received her bachelor’s degree from Stephen’s College in Columbia, Missouri, and her master’s degree in social work from Loyola University Chicago.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore works to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen local communities. It serves more than 10,000 people annually in northern Cook County. For more information, go to www.ywca.org/evanston or call 847-864-8445.



Gibson, Hancock Pace Flying Fish Swimmers at Championship Meets

 

Evanston, IL, March 21, 2018 – Matt Gibson placed second in the 13-14 boys 200-yard butterfly at the Illinois Swimming Age Group Championships, and Clio Hancock placed third in the 400-yard individual medley (IM) at the Illinois Swimming Senior Championships to set the pace for the Evanston-based YWCA Flying Fish swim team, which sent swimmers to both meets.

At the age group meet, which was held March 15-18 in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, Gibson finished in a team record time of 1:56.95 in the 200-yard butterfly, which earned him second place in the event. He scored additional points placing fifth in the 13-14 boys 200-yard backstroke (1:57.25), fourteenth in the 100-yard butterfly (54.45), and thirteenth in the 100-yard backstroke (55.23). These times also established new team records.

Senior meet highlights

At the Illinois Swimming Senior Championships, held March 1-4 at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Clio Hancock took third place in the 400-yard IM with a team record time of 4:24.08. She also touched in 2:05.50 in the 200-yard butterfly, which earned her eighth place and also set a team record.

Other Flying Fish swimmers who scored at the senior championship meet include Tommy Hackley, who took seventh in the 1,000-yard freestyle and ninth in the 1,650-yard freestyle; Aidan Dillon, who was tenth in the 1,000-yard freestyle, eleventh in the 500-yard freestyle and fifteenth in the 200-yard freestyle; and Evan Ziolkowski, who placed nineteenth in the 200-yard freestyle.

Age group championships highlights

At the Illinois Swimming Age Group Championships, Lily Consiglio placed tenth in the 13-14 girls 50-yard freestyle, with a time of 24.57, which set a team record. She also finished eleventh in the 100-yard butterfly. Erin Long took sixteenth in both the 13-14 girls 100- and 50-yard freestyle events. In addition, Colton Lane placed 20th in the 13-14 boys 200-yard breaststroke.

The Flying Fish 13-14 boys 400-yard medley relay team (Aaron Martin, Colton Lane, Matt Gibson, Kyle Day) also scored points, placing sixteenth with a time of 3:51.53, also a team record. The 13-14 boys 400-yard freestyle relay team (Aaron Martin, Matt Gibson, Willie Carroll, Kyle Day) placed sixteenth, and the same group placed seventeenth in the 13-14 boys 800-yard freestyle relay.

With nearly 500 swimmers on the Flying Fish swim team and 1,000 annually in its learn-to-swim program, Flying Fish Aquatics at YWCA Evanston/North Shore is one of the largest aquatics programs in Illinois. Learn more at ywca.org/flyingfish.



From Idea to Immediate Impact: Evanston Swims! Celebrates Five Years

Evanston, IL, March 5, 2018 – Evanston Swims!, a community collaboration that gives second graders access to free swimming lessons, began simply as an idea. It was conceived in 2011 as part of a visioning project to mark the 150th anniversary of Evanston. Although it was bold, the idea was simple: give all Evanston children access to swim lessons so they can be safe around water.

Just one year later, this lofty goal took shape as a pilot program centered on water safety. The pilot worked, and, in the fall of 2013, the program was officially launched. This year marks five years that it has been in place.

“By the end of this school year, we will have reached almost 1,500 kids since the program’s inception,” said Mary Miller, who coordinates Evanston Swims! as a part-time staffer at YWCA Evanston/North Shore. “This is particularly important since we live in a lakeside community.”

Through Evanston Swims!, second graders in Evanston/Skokie School District 65 receive swim lessons when they have half days throughout the school year. They either bring a sack lunch or receive a lunch at school, and then are bused to their swimming site.

“If they don’t have swim gear, like a swimsuit or goggles, we provide that,” said Miller. “We make sure there are no barriers to these kids getting in the water.”

A community collaboration

Miller likened Evanston Swims! to a barn raising – something that only happens because so many people pitch in. The program is a partnership between YWCA Evanston/North Shore, McGaw YMCA, Evanston/Skokie School District 65, and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. It also includes a host of other collaborators. For example, in addition to YWCA Evanston/North Shore and McGaw YMCA, Three Crowns Park and Presbyterian Homes offer their pools. The Great Lake Plunge open-water swim raises funds for the program. And chaperones and instructors come from all corners of Evanston and include parents, Masters swimmers, District 65 middle schoolers, and others who want to be involved.

Henry Clay-Barbour, an eighth grader at Chute Middle School, is in his third year of serving as a volunteer swim instructor with the program.

“I don’t have much else to do on half days, so why not do this? I love the kids and get to see them have positive experiences. I want to do it as long as I can because it’s really rewarding,” he said.

Eden Juron Pearlman, who serves as executive director of the Evanston History Center, was on the Evanston 150 planning committee and has been volunteering with Evanston Swims! since its inception.

“In all the years we’ve been doing this, I think I’ve only missed coming twice,” she said. “This program spoke to me because all through high school and college, I made my money by lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons. It felt like a natural fit. And my daughter and I volunteered together, which was great.”

She added, “It’s exciting to see these children progress. There was a year I had a girl who wouldn’t put her toe in at the beginning, but by the end she could get in, blow bubbles and swim a little. I used to think you couldn’t make a difference so quickly, but you can.”

Centered on public health and safety

Making a difference to improve the health and safety of children in Evanston is what the program is all about.

“Even though we think of swimming as recreation, learning to swim is a public health and safety issue,” said Miller. “It’s wonderful that so many people get this and want to be part of the program. Evanston Swims! goes beyond teaching kids to swim. We’re offering a venue for people to serve. All of the people who are part of Evanston Swims! are making an impact for the next generation of Evanstonians and for generations to come.”

The next sessions of Evanston Swims! will be held March 7 and May 2. To learn more or make a donation, visit www.ywca.org/evanstonswims or email evanstonswims@gmail.com.



YWCA to Screen “I Am Jane Doe” on International Women’s Day

Evanston, IL, February 17, 2018 — On Thursday, March 8, YWCA Evanston/North Shore will screen the documentary “I Am Jane Doe,” in commemoration of International Women’s Day. The screening will be held at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Avenue, and will begin with a check-in/reception at 5:45 p.m.

“I Am Jane Doe” chronicles the epic battle that American mothers are waging on behalf of their middle-school age daughters, who are victims of sex trafficking on Backpage.com. It was written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Mary Mazzio, and has been called a “gripping legal thriller” and a “powerful call to action.”

The event begins with the check-in/reception at 5:45 p.m. and the film will be shown at 6:15 p.m. Following the film, Kaethe Morris Hoffer, from the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, will lead a discussion. Panelists will include Eve Kleinerman of Cabrini Green Legal Aid and Katie Iversen of Selah Freedom, a national anti-sex trafficking organization.

To learn more about the event and purchase tickets, go to www.ywca.org/IWD or call YWCA at 847-864-8445.

International Women’s Day, March 8, is a global day recognizing the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore works to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families and strengthen local communities. It serves more than 10,000 people annually in northern Cook County. For more information, go to www.ywca.org/evanston. 



Laura Moorehead Named Controller at YWCA Evanston/North Shore


Laura Moorehead has joined the staff as Controller

Evanston, IL, February 16, 2018 — Laura Moorehead, a lifelong Evanston resident who learned to swim at YWCA Evanston/North Shore as a child, joined the organization in January in the newly created position of controller.

“This is an exciting opportunity at a place I’ve known for a long time,” she said. “I came to YWCA Evanston/North Shore because I want to work for an organization with lofty goals. We need to work toward eliminating racism, empowering women, and ensuring justice for everyone. These are things I believe in.”

Prior to joining YWCA, Moorehead served as district controller for Northwestern University’s dining services by Sudexo. Before that, she was accounting manager for The Second City in Chicago.

Moorehead received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado Boulder, and her master’s degree from Dominican University in River Forest.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore works to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families and strengthen local communities. It serves more than 10,000 people annually in northern Cook County. For more information, go to www.ywca.org/evanston.



Rosi Rosas joins YWCA Evanston/North Shore as Human Resources Manager

Evanston, IL, December 18, 2017 — Experienced human resources professional Rosi Rosas has been named YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s new human resources manager. She previously served as senior benefits leave administrator at Tribune Media in Chicago, where she served more than 15,000 employees nationwide.

Rosas said she was drawn to YWCA Evanston/North Shore because it gave her an opportunity to combine her professional skills with giving back to the community.

“My goal is to support the people who are doing the real work of YWCA, people who are working every day to eliminate racism and empower women,” she said. “As a human resources professional, I want to take any burden I can off of the employees so they can focus on this vital mission.”

A Chicago native, Rosas graduated cum laude from Northeastern Illinois University.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore works to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen local communities. It serves more than 10,000 people annually in northern Cook County. For more information, go to www.ywca.org/evanston.



YWCA Evanston/North Shore Wins 2017 Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge

 
Evanston, IL, November 13, 2017 – YWCA Evanston/North Shore raised $556,403 in private donations to win the grand prize of a $100,000 grant through The Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge. The Purple Purse Challenge is an annual campaign that raises awareness about domestic violence and awards grants to the nonprofit service providers that raise the most money in the month of October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore topped the leader board of nonprofit organizations with budgets of more than $1.5 million by raising $556,403 through donations from the community. Together with the $100,000 prize, the organization gains critical funding to support its comprehensive domestic violence services including its 24-hour crisis line, emergency shelter, legal advocacy, counseling services, and longer-term housing program known as “Bridges.”

“Nearly sixty percent of our $5 million budget comes from private giving, so we are incredibly grateful for the support we received from donors -- from Evanston, to Glencoe, to Skokie, to Niles to Winnetka -- during the Purple Purse Challenge,” said Karen Singer, CEO and president of YWCA Evanston/North Shore. “And that money supports survivors from across our sixteen community service area. I’m also awed by the support of our employees, board members, swim families and others who joined with us to make this happen. We couldn’t have done it without their enthusiasm and tenacity.”

According to The Allstate Foundation, public fundraising is a vital revenue source for domestic violence nonprofits like YWCA Evanston/North Shore. A national survey found that on a single day last year, nearly 12,000 requests from survivors of domestic violence for emergency shelter, child care, financial aid and other services went unanswered because programs lacked funding. Said Singer, “We rely heavily on fundraising to support our domestic violence programs. What that really means is that the generosity of our donors and the commitment of The Allstate Foundation make it possible for us to change lives every day.”

About YWCA Evanston/North Shore

YWCA Evanston/North Shore works to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen local communities. It serves more than 10,000 people annually in northern Cook County and provides comprehensive domestic violence services to families in need. Learn more at www.ywca.org/evanston.

About The Allstate Foundation:

Established in 1952, The Allstate Foundation is an independent, charitable organization made possible by subsidiaries of The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL). Through partnerships with nonprofit organizations across the country, The Allstate Foundation works to bring out the good in people’s lives. For more information, visit www.AllstateFoundation.org.



Nia Brown joins YWCA Evanston/North Shore as Policy and Advocacy Manager

 

 

Evanston, IL, November 8, 2017 — Civil rights attorney Nia Brown has joined YWCA Evanston/North Shore as policy and advocacy manager. In this newly created position, she will develop and oversee advocacy work that reflects YWCA’s mission to fight against racial and gender injustice.

“The goal is to bring the issues central to YWCA’s work to the forefront of lawmakers’ minds,” she said.

As a first step, Brown will collaborate with YWCA staffers to set priorities and lay the foundation for YWCA Evanston/North Shore to play an increasingly activist role in advocating for policies that promote gender and racial equity.

Brown was drawn to YWCA Evanston/North Shore because of the organization’s long history in social justice work. “YWCA has always been a leader in intersectional advocacy -- always advocating holistically for the humanity of all people,” she said.

A graduate of Emory University School of Law and Spelman College, Brown has a background in education policy and social justice, with a focus on civil rights. Prior to joining YWCA, she served as a policy specialist for Chicago Public Schools.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore works to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen local communities. It serves more than 10,000 people annually in northern Cook County. For more information, go to www.ywca.org/evanston.



YWCA Evanston/North Shore Receives $20,000 Grant from The Mary Kay Foundation


 

Evanston, IL, October 5, 2017 – YWCA Evanston/North Shore was awarded a $20,000 grant in support of its domestic violence shelter from The Mary Kay Foundation℠ in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which takes place in October.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore was chosen to receive one of the annual grants to further its efforts to combat domestic violence and support women and families in northern Cook County. It is one of 150 domestic violence organizations across the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam receiving grants from The Mary Kay Foundation, which is providing a total of $3 million to such groups.

YWCA will use the grant funding to support its 32-bed domestic violence shelter for survivors and their children. Shelter services include a 24-hour crisis line (847-864-8780), individual, family, and group counseling, legal advocacy, financial empowerment, health education, and nutrition and cooking classes.

“We are incredibly grateful for support from The Mary Kay Foundation℠ and its continued commitment to breaking the cycle of domestic violence,” said Karen Singer, president and CEO of YWCA Evanston/North Shore. “We can put this money to work right away to provide tangible help to women and give them hope for the future.”

About YWCA Evanston/North Shore

YWCA Evanston/North Shore works to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen local communities. It serves more than 10,000 people annually in northern Cook County and provides comprehensive domestic violence services to families in need. Learn more at www.ywca.org/evanston.

About The Mary Kay Foundation℠

The Mary Kay Foundation℠ was created in 1996, and its mission is two-fold: to fund research of cancers affecting women and to help prevent domestic violence while raising awareness of the issue. The Mary Kay Foundation℠ has awarded $70.7 million to shelters and programs addressing domestic violence prevention and cancer researchers and related causes throughout the United States. To learn more about The Mary Kay Foundation℠, please visit www.marykayfoundation.org or call 1-877-MKCARES (652-2737). 



YWCA Evanston/North Shore to Offer One-on-One Financial Coaching


Evanston, IL, September 19, 2017 — YWCA Evanston/North Shore recently announced a new initiative that pairs women with “coaches” to help them develop good financial habits and gain confidence about managing money.

The Advancement Project, as it is called, launches in late September and is geared toward low- to moderate-income women who have completed YWCA’s Basic Money Management classes.

“The Advancement Project is for women who are ready to take the next step in gaining control over their financial lives,” said Shannon Callahan, director of women’s leadership and economic advancement at YWCA Evanston/North Shore.

The program will help each participant identify a financial goal and provide a coach to help her achieve it. Goals might be paying off credit card debt or student loans, or saving enough for a down payment.

Financial coaches -- who are trained volunteers from our local communities -- will work one-on-one with participants to develop plans and strategies to help them achieve their goals,” said Callahan. “That’s the key element: the women who participate will get regular guidance and support from their coaches.”

The Advancement Project is part of YWCA’s ongoing commitment to women’s economic empowerment, which includes giving women the education and training they need to be self-sufficient.

“Financial independence is critical to empowering women and enabling them to live their own, self-directed lives,” said Callahan.

Learn more about The Advancement Project here or call 847-864-8445.



YWCA Evanston/North Shore Announces YWomen 10-Year Anniversary Event on Nov. 10

Evanston, IL, Sept 7, 2017 — YWCA Evanston/North Shore is marking the tenth anniversary of its annual YWomen Leadership Awards with an expanded celebration on Friday, November 10, at Venue One North Shore (the former Berto Center) in Deerfield.

The evening will celebrate the collective power of women to change the world and spotlight all 30 YWomen honorees from the past decade. It also will reflect on 80 years of YWCA Evanston/North Shore.

“In honor of the tenth anniversary of YWomen we are switching things up,” said Karen Singer, CEO and president of YWCA Evanston/North Shore. “We are holding the event on a Friday night and moving to a larger venue so we can accommodate as many people as possible, including the men who stand with us and support the mission of YWCA.”

YWCA Evanston/North Shore launched its YWomen Leadership Awards in 2008 to recognize women making an impact in women’s empowerment, racial justice, and social change. While no new honorees will be named for 2017, those from the past decade will be recognized during this year’s event.

In addition, the evening will highlight the 80th anniversary of YWCA Evanston/North Shore and the impact the organization has had in northern Cook County since the 1930s.

“YWCA Evanston/North Shore began as a safe place for rural women to stay while working in the area,” said Singer. “Since then, we have grown in leaps and bounds to improve the lives of women and families from all angles, including our domestic violence and women’s empowerment services, racial justice work, and Flying Fish aquatics program.”

The celebration on November 10 begins with cocktails at 6:30 and dinner at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are discounted until October 1. To purchase tickets and learn more, go to ywomen17.gesture.com.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s YWomen honorees from the past decade include:

2016: Julie Smolyansky, Evonda Thomas-Smith, Amita Lonial
2015: Delores Holmes, Sunny Fischer, Blair Brettschneider
2014: Mary Morten, Gail Vierneisel, Kourtney Cockrell, Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center
2013: Alaka Wall, Mercedes Fernandez, Rohina Malik, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
2012: Alice Tregay, Kaethe Morris Hoffer, Elizabeth Stanton, LINKS - North Shore Youth Health Service
2011: Ahlam A. Mahmoud, Ann Feldman, Precious Wright, Project Kesher
2010: Bernice Weissbourd, Celeste Watkins-Hayes, Courtney C. Wright, Evanston Women’s History Project
2009: Dorothy Roberts, Pushpika Freitas, Ebony Joy, Junior League of Evanston-North Shore
2008: Fay Clayton, Cheryl Johnson-Odim, Aracely Canchola, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. - Delta Chi Omega Chapter



Thousands Turn Out for 18th Annual Race Against Hate

 

Ricky Byrdsong Jr. on the course at the June 18 Race Against Hate,
named in honor of his father.

June 23, 2017 - - EVANSTON, IL – YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s 18th annual Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate, held June 18 in Evanston, drew almost 5,000 participants and nearly 300 volunteers.

According to Karen Singer, president and CEO of YWCA Evanston/North Shore, this demonstrates how much people want to get involved to end hatred and violence.

“For 18 years people have come together, uniting on Father’s Day, to send a powerful message that we will not tolerate racism or hatred in our communities,” said Singer. “We are so grateful for all who participate year and after year and stand up for what is right.”

The Race Against Hate honors the legacy of Ricky Byrdsong, former Northwestern University men's basketball coach, who was murdered in 1999 by a white supremacist. Proceeds from the event go directly toward YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s work to prevent violence and promote racial justice.

At the race, both Singer and Sherialyn Byrdsong, widow of Ricky Byrdsong, asked participants to remember the meaning behind the race, and the ongoing importance of supporting anti-violence efforts.

“I fear that hatred and gun violence are happening too often,” said Byrdsong, noting the shooting in Alexandria, Virginia, the week before the race. “But this (Race Against Hate) is always a highlight of my year because I see people turning out to make a difference.”
Although the event drew thousands from Chicago, Evanston and other North Shore communities, it also included participants from across Illinois and the United States.

To learn more about the Race Against Hate and YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s violence prevention and racial justice work, go to www.ywca.org/evanston.

2017 RACE AGAINST HATE RESULTS:

5K

The top overall male finisher in the 5K was WILLIAM HAGUE, who finished with a time of 15:24. CURTIS WEISENBERGER was second in 15:37, and GEDION YITREF was third in 15:46. The top three female finishers in the 5K were MOIRA RYAN, 18:44, COLUMBA MONTES, 19:06, and DIANA JOCHUMS, 19:26.

10K

The top overall male finisher in the 10K was TOMMY MCHUGH, 34:59. Second was JEREMY REILLEY, 35:26, followed by COLIN WHITE, 37:36. The top three female finishers in the 10K were COLLEEN BAKER, 39:11, AMANDA PORTER, 40:17, and APRIL LIKHITE, 41:23.

Complete results can be found at http://results.active.com/events/ricky-byrdsong-memorial-race-against-hate--8.

The 19th annual Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate will take place on June 17, 2018.



YWCA Evanston/North Shore “Relay for Oz” Raises $16,000 to Help Kids Swim

 

Oswald "Oz" Roper was an instructor and coach for YWCA Flying Fish Aquatics for almost 20 years.

Evanston, IL, June 13, 2017 — YWCA Evanston/North Shore held its fifth annual “Relay for Oz” on June 3-4, generating $16,000 for the “Oz Fund,” which provides financial assistance to children in YWCA’s Flying Fish aquatics programs. The amount raised is enough to cover 1,100 swim lessons for children whose families cannot afford the cost.

The “Oz Fund” is named for swim coach and instructor Oswald Roper, who died in 2013 after serving as an integral part of the Flying Fish aquatics program for nearly 20 years.

More than 150 current Flying Fish swimmers, former swimmers, parents, community members and YWCA staff participated in the event, which was a continuous relay of five lanes of swimmers over a 24-hour period.

“Because of the Oz Relay and the Oz Fund, we are able to expand our outreach to children who might not otherwise learn to swim or participate in aquatics. Swimming is an important public health and safety issue, especially in a lakefront community like ours,” said Pete Caragher, YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s aquatics director and head coach of the Flying Fish.

Added Karen Singer, president and CEO of YWCA Evanston/North Shore, “We are grateful to the many people from our staff, the swim team and our local communities who participated. Many are not regular swimmers, but they did something challenging in support of our mission and helping children learn to swim. It’s a wonderful way to honor the memory of Oswald.”

YWCA Evanston/North Shore is on a mission to eliminate racism and empower women, and Flying Fish Aquatics aligns with that mission by providing access and inclusion to all. To learn more about Oswald Roper or donate to the Oz Fund, go to www.ywca.org/Oz.



YWCA Evanston/North Shore a finalist for racial justice award


Evanston, IL, June 9, 2017 - YWCA Evanston/North Shore has been selected as one of the top three nominees for YWCA USA's Association Excellence Award for Racial Justice. Nominations were submitted from YWCA associations across the country, and the entire network of 216 YWCAs voted for the association whose work they deemed most outstanding.

The other finalists are YWCA Asheville and YWCA Rochester (New York).

"It is an honor to be recognized for the work we do to advance racial justice and civil rights," said Karen Singer, president and CEO of YWCA Evanston/North Shore. "This is a reflection not only of our dedicated staff, but also of the many people in northern Cook County who are engaged with us and equally committed to overcoming racism."

According to YWCA USA, YWCA Evanston/North Shore was nominated for success in advancing racial justice by engaging the community in dialogue, developing and implementing racial equity workshops and issue education programs, and creating equitable institutions.

The winner of the National Racial Justice Award will be announced at the YWCA USA Women of Distinction Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. on June 16.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore works to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families and strengthen local communities. YWCA's racial justice program is funded, in part, by its annual Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate (www.ywca.org/RAH2017), a 5/10K run, walk, and youth mile set to take place in Evanston on Sunday, June 18. Learn more about YWCA Evanston/North Shore at www.ywca.org/evanston.



Letter to the Editor About Evanston Public Library
The following letter appeared in the Evanston Roundtable on June 1, 2017


Dear Editor,

As an organization whose cornerstone mission is to eliminate racism, we work on equity issues throughout the community, including under our own roof, with our own staff and board. We believe every organization should have an equity plan, and revisit it frequently. And while we can’t comment on the specific issues at the Evanston Public Library, we can share what we have learned as we have committed time and resources to engaging institutional leaders in efforts to create more just and equitable institutions.

Institutional racism still exists, and there is much work to be done at all levels to address the issues that keep white privilege in place. No institution, including YWCA Evanston/North Shore, is immune from deeply held beliefs that are based in inequality. Every institution struggles with racial inequity, and the process of examining institutional racial equity is both difficult and unsettling. Yet this examination is critical if we are serious about creating an equitable community for all who live and work here.

The work that goes into developing a racial equity plan is not easy. There are predictable patterns of how institutions and individuals respond to confronting racial inequity. Those sounding the alarm of inequity are often dismissed. People tend to respond with defensiveness. Traditionally excluded groups are often blamed for their own marginalization.

We hope the Evanston Public Library, like all institutions, will continue working toward racial equity. YWCA Evanston/North Shore is steadfast in its commitment to support organizations in Evanston on this critical, necessary, journey, and we stand as allies with others who are working towards this same end. We all have a long way to go.

Karen Singer
President/CEO




Letter to the Editor About Illinois Budget

The following letter appeared in the Evanston Roundtable on May 18, 2017

Dear Editor,

Last week, we had to lay off five hard-working and dedicated people. This didn’t have to happen.

The State of Illinois currently owes YWCA Evanston/North Shore $280,000 for services rendered to survivors of domestic violence. By June 30, that number will rise to $460,000. We continue to provide emergency shelter, counseling, and legal advocacy for domestic violence survivors and their children, in spite of the State’s current unwillingness to pay. This situation is devastating to us, as it is to many other organizations throughout the state. Many have closed critically needed domestic violence services, and some have had to close their organizations all together.

Domestic violence funding was the not included in the FY17 stopgap budget, meaning that domestic violence agencies have not received state dollars since September of 2016, despite having signed contracts for FY17. HB 3259 was introduced to correct this oversight, and the bill identified available dollars to fund domestic violence services. HB 3259 needs to be called immediately to correct this error. The bill has overwhelming broad bipartisan support with a super-majority in both the Senate and House, support from our two Evanston representatives and state senator, from the 3 legislative leaders – Senate President John Cullerton, Republican Leader, Christine Radogno, and House Majority Leader, Durkin, and from the Governor’s Office. Despite this support, Representative Greg Harris, whose responsibility it is to call the bill, has not done so. We do not understand why the bill has not been called.

You can help:

(1) Call and email House Appropriations Chairperson, Greg Harris and demand he schedule HB 3259 for a hearing. Email: greg@gregharris.org Phones: Chicago (773) 348-3434 and Springfield (217) 782-3835

(2) Call and email your state senators and representatives, letting them know that it is important to you that domestic violence services in Illinois are fully funded.
We serve close to 800 survivors of domestic violence each year. They should not bear the brunt of political stalemate and inaction.

Thank you,
Karen Singer, President/CEO
Maureen Kenney, Board Chair
YWCA Evanston/North Shore



Men Take a Stand to End Violence Against Women

by Larry Gavin, Evanston RoundTable

May 3, 2017 - On April 26, YWCA Evanston/North Shore sponsored a dinner, “Men Taking a Stand,” attended by 180 men as a first step in engaging men to take a leading role to end violence against women in Evanston and the broader community.

“Our goal at YWCA is to provide an opportunity for men who are leaders in our communities to come together to examine the deeper, more systemic reasons that lead to gender violence,” said Karen Singer, president and CEO of YWCA. “Why do men abuse? What roles do popular culture, sports, economics, and other societal forces play, and how can men get involved to work for change?”

She added, “We really believe that until men engage in helping to solve the issue, we are not going to end gender violence.”

The keynote speaker at the dinner was Jackson Katz, Ph.D., a longtime leader in a movement advocating that men must take an active leadership role in ending violence against women. He framed the problem and discussed the “bystander model,” which is a leading approach being used to engage and train men.

“We come to this conversation,” said Ms. Singer, “as colleagues, friends, and leaders from across our community, to see how we can work together to create safety for all those we love and to create a community that is safer, more respectful and healthier for women and girls – and men and boys.”

The Continuing Problem

“Some gains have been made, but not fast enough and certainly not deep enough,” said Ms. Singer. “We should be outraged that violence against women is so pervasive and continues to be what many consider one of the largest public health issues we face. The statistics are staggering.”

Nationally, one in five women have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner; one in three women have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.

“Gender violence continues to plague our communities, impacting women from all different backgrounds, socioeconomic classes, ages, and religions,” said Ms. Singer.

“For the majority of women, they first experience violent episodes between the ages of 18 and 24; and they are likely to continue to experience that as they move to adulthood,” Kristen White, Chief Operating Officer of YWCA, told the RoundTable. “So it starts young, and the fact that girls are experiencing it tells us that boys are acting aggressively in that same age range.”

The issue is not just a national problem, it is a serious problem in Evanston. In 2015, the Evanston Police Department reported that there were 347 domestic batteries in Evanston, 113 domestic-related assaults or criminal trespasses, and 111 cases in which orders of protection were entered. The EPD says there were also 991 domestic conflicts that did not rise to the level of criminal conduct.

“These numbers are important as we begin to understand the dimensions of the problem, but we also know they dramatically underreport the true incidence of domestic abuse in our city,” Ms. Singer said.

A Call to Action

“The battered women’s movement formally started in the 70s and 80s when women formerly battered really took on the mantra, ‘We will not be beaten” Ms. Singer told the RoundTable. “They started shelters and started to seek legal remedies, and legislative reform, but the focus was on helping women as victims.

“As the years went on, there has increasingly been recognition that expands the focus from women as victims to men as perpetrators,” Ms. Singer continued. “We are not going to end gender violence if we do not address the root problem. And the problem is men abuse women. So how do we begin to engage men as allies with us in ending it?”

To address this issue, the YWCA identified 14 men who are leaders in the community and asked them to identify additional men to form a host committee consisting of 45 men. The host committee, in turn, invited additional men to the Men Taking a Stand dinner.

Ms. White said the group of men is diverse by age, race, and profession and employment background.

“This whole process has been very encouraging,” said Ms. White.

Dr. Katz, the keynote speaker, discussed many of the same issues covered in a TED talk he gave several years ago. In his TED talk, he said there needs to be a paradigm-shifting perspective on issues of gender violence, sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse of children.

He said these “have been seen as women’s issues that some good men help out with, but I have a problem with that frame, and I don’t accept it. I don’t see these as women’s issues that some good men help out with. In fact, I’m going to argue that these are men’s issues, first and foremost.”

Blaming the victim in the domestic violence field is pervasive, he said, “which is to say, blaming the person to whom something was done rather than the person who did it.”

He said society has to get away from questions like, “Why did she go out with those men?” “Why did she keep going back?” and “Why did she wear that to that party?” to questions like, “Why did this man beat up Mary?” “Why do so many men rape women?” “Why is domestic violence such a big problem?” “What is the role of religious belief systems, the sports culture, the pornography culture, the family structure, the economics?”

Dr. Katz said, “One of the powerful roles that men can play in this work is that we can say things that sometimes women can’t say, or, better yet, we can be heard saying some things that women can’t be heard saying. … We need more men who have the courage and the strength to start standing up and saying some of this stuff, and standing with women and not against them.”

Dr. Katz is a co-founder of Mentors in Violence Prevention, which is a widely used model, and it introduced the bystander approach. A bystander includes friends, teammates, colleagues, coworkers, and friends.

In this approach, “the goal is to get men who are not abusive to challenge men who are.” It recognizes that abuse occurs along a continuum and “we’re trying to get men to interrupt each other.” As an example, if men are playing poker and one man makes a sexist or degrading comment about women, a fellow man in the game could interrupt and say, “I don’t appreciate that kind of talk.”

Dr. Katz said, “The bystander approach is trying to give people tools to interrupt that process and to speak up and to create a peer culture climate where the abusive behavior will be seen as unacceptable, not just because it’s illegal, but because it’s wrong and unacceptable in the peer culture.”

He said the paradigm shift that has to occur is not just understanding these as “men’s issues,” but “they’re also leadership issues for men.”

The goal is to turn men into “empowered bystanders,” who are allies in ending violence against women.

Building an Evanston Model

The YWCA has been looking at several national organizations that have models, such as the bystander model and the white ribbon campaign, to help men become leaders in ending violence against women, said Kristen White, Chief Operating Officer of YWCA. Many of these models have training programs, and the YWCA is still in the process of considering whether one model might be a good fit for Evanston or whether it would make sense to pull parts from a number of different models, she said.

“We also want to take time to get input from men who attended the Men Taking a Stand dinner,” Ms. White said. “We are inviting them to a follow-up breakfast, expected to take place in a few weeks. We’ll have an informal conversation and really begin to talk with them about their questions and concerns: What do they need to know, how do they need to be educated, and what will resonate with their peers to create interest in the effort? We want them to help shape what this will look like so it’s responsive to their interests.”

Ms. Singer said, “Men have to have input into that. This nucleus of men we’re hoping to form will help create the path in terms of what makes sense for them in our community. We don’t want to come in and say, ‘This is what you should do.’”

She wants men in the community to come up with a model that will change the culture in Evanston.

“When a man works to end gender violence, he not only changes the life of women, he can change the lives of children as well,” said Ms. Singer. “When a boy hears from men in his life, and society as a whole, that ‘being a man’ is about love, strength, and kindness and not power, control and aggression, that changes him.”

A Nucleus of Men in Formation

Many men who helped to organize the dinner and who attended the dinner are prepared to take a leadership role to help end violence against women.

“One hundred and eighty Evanston men took a stand on April 26 to demonstrate to all the woman in our lives – moms, wives, daughters, female friends and colleagues – that we care; that we want our society to be as safe for a woman as it is for a man,” Mayor-elect Steve Hagerty told the RoundTable. “Sadly, that’s not the case as domestic violence affects one in four women. Because domestic violence often occurs at the hands of men – many of whom have experienced violence themselves in childhood – it’s important that we be part of the solution. We need to alter our language making sure it’s clear that men are involved and take positive action when we observe physical or verbal assaults or remarks directed towards women.”

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz told the RoundTable, “I think we have a unique opportunity in Evanston to bring together men from all walks of life to understand and talk about domestic violence issues in different ways. Changing the dialogue on this subject raises needed awareness that these issues affect both men and women. We all are responsible for creating a society that has no tolerance whatsoever for domestic violence. Period.”

Marcus Campbell, Assistant Superintendent/Principal of Evanston Township High School, told the RoundTable, “It is important that men take a stand against gender violence because historically men are the overwhelming perpetrators of violence against women. Engaging men in conversations about how societal definitions of masculinity propagate concepts of violence and dominance are important to eradicating this cycle.”

“I came away from that meeting reinforced with the fact this is a men’s issue, a boy’s issue, that we’ve got to more purposeful about,” said Chris Livatino, Athletic Director of ETHS. “There’s a sense of machismo, and this whole messaging in our society that you have to learn to crack through, and that can be difficult for young men and boys. The heart of the matter is how do you change boys into men who respect and value women the way that they should.

Mr. Livatino said, “Our focus and mission for athletics in Evanston is to develop great human beings and great people. We’re trying to develop people who care and respect other people. We don’t have a perfect system and framework in mind, but we have the intentionality and the purpose to try to improve in this area with the young men in our athletic program.

Ms. White told the RoundTable she hopes a model that makes sense for Evanston will be developed by mid-summer.



YWCA Evanston/North Shore intensifies its outreach to men
 
Dinner on April 26 will include male community leaders, discussions of domestic violence as a “men’s issue”

Evanston, IL, April 11, 2017 - YWCA Evanston/North Shore continues to confront domestic violence from all angles, and, as part of that strategy, is stepping up its efforts to include men in developing solutions.

The organization is sponsoring its first-ever men’s leadership dinner titled “Men Taking a Stand” on Wednesday, April 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the Merion in Evanston.

The dinner will include nearly 200 community leaders and is hosted by a committee of men such as Evanston Second Ward Alderman Peter Braithwaite, Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, ETHS Principal Marcus Campbell, Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Superintendent Paul Goren, Evanston Chief of Police Richard Eddington, and Evanston Mayor-Elect Steve Hagerty.

“Our goal at YWCA is to provide an opportunity for men who are leaders in our communities to come together to examine the deeper, more systemic reasons that lead to gender violence,” said Karen Singer, president and CEO of YWCA Evanston/North Shore. “How do certain institutions produce abusive men? What roles do popular culture, sports, economics and other societal forces play, and how can men get involved to work for change?”

She added, “We really believe that until men engage in helping to solve the issue, we are not going to end gender violence.”

The dinner will feature keynote speaker Jackson Katz, Ph.D., a leader in the growing movement of men working to prevent gender violence. Katz, who presented a popular TED Talk titled “Violence Against Women – It’s a Men’s Issue,” is the co-founder of Mentors in Violence Prevention, an influential program in North America. He also is the key architect of the “bystander deterrence” approach to sexual assault and relationship abuse used in sports culture and the military.

The men’s leadership dinner is by invitation only, but interested parties can call YWCA Evanston/North Shore at 847-864-8445 if they’d like to be included and space is available.
Katz also will be the presenter at a violence prevention workshop the following day, co-sponsored by YWCA Evanston/North Shore and Oakton Community College. The workshop will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at the college’s Des Plaines campus, 1600 E. Golf Road.

The violence prevention workshop is open to the public, but geared to social workers, professional counselors, psychologists, addiction counselors, marriage and family therapists, teachers, occupational therapists and other professionals to help them learn more about engaging men as allies in preventing gender violence. Continuing education credit is available.

Space is limited at this workshop and advance registration is recommended. For more information and registration, go to www.ywca.org/DVConference or call 847-864-8445.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore works to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families and strengthen local communities. It offers comprehensive domestic violence services including a 24-hour crisis line (877-718-1868) and an emergency shelter. For more information, go to www.ywca.org/evanston.



YWCA Evanston/North Shore to host second Racial Justice Summit April 6-7

 


Evanston, IL, March 13, 2017 — Building on the success of its inaugural event last year, YWCA Evanston/North Shore is hosting a second racial justice summit April 6-7 at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Avenue. The event is open to the public.

Titled “(Re)imagining,” this year’s summit focuses on brainstorming new ways to work toward racial justice. It also includes local artists – poets, rappers, musicians – to help foster creativity and innovative ideas.

“The summit is the only one of its kind on the North Shore,” said Donique McIntosh, YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s director of equity and inclusion. “We are interested in engaging as many people as possible, particularly young people, in coming together to imagine new ways to work for change. There is no more ‘business as usual’ with racial justice work. We need to think about doing things differently.”

She added, “This year also has a local focus. Our speaker and our breakout session leaders are all doing innovative things right here in the Chicago area.”

The summit begins on Thursday, April 6, at with a reception at 6:00 p.m. followed by a showcase of artists at 6:30 p.m. On Friday, April 7, the event begins at 8:30 a.m. followed by a keynote address by Charlene A. Carruthers at 9:00 a.m. Carruthers is the national director of Black Youth Project 100, an activist-based organization of black 18-35-year-olds headquartered in Chicago.

Friday’s schedule also includes breakout sessions on racial justice issues, skill building for equity work, and creating action plans.

To learn more about the racial justice summit and sign up to attend, go to www.ywca.org/rjsummit or call 847-864-8445.

 




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YWCA Evanston/North Shore intensifies its outreach to men

YWCA Evanston/North Shore to host second Racial Justice Summit April 6-7

 

Learn more, get safe, get involved, empower yourself.