Evanston/North Shore


August 2017

As you know, state lawmakers finally passed a budget in early July. We have been assured that we will be paid the $460,000 for domestic violence services that the state contracted with us to provide last year.

The lack of a state budget and this overdue payment created enormous stress and a financial burden for YWCA Evanston/North Shore. We had to lay off staff and borrow against our line of credit -- and incur finance charges -- to keep our vital programs operating. This was an extremely difficult situation, but we were undeterred in finding solutions.

For greater insight, I encourage you to read Damage Done: The Impact of the Illinois Budget Stalemate on Women and Children released by the Chicago Foundation for Women, Voices for Illinois Children and Loyola University Chicago's Center for Urban Research and Learning.

I want to thank you for your unwavering support during this time. From calling and emailing state lawmakers to offering generous financial gifts, your steadfast commitment to YWCA Evanston/North Shore programs made a difference. We, and the thousands of survivors of domestic violence that we serve annually, are grateful.

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

Race Against Hate raises money for Violence Prevention and Racial Equity programs

Many thanks to all who ran, walked or volunteered at the annual Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate on June 18 in support of our mission. Read more here.


Flying Fish Swim Lessons Named "Best of 2017"

YWCA Evanston/North Shore's Flying Fish swim lesson program was named "best swim school" in Make It Better's "Best of 2017" list. Read more here.

Open registration for fall lessons starts August 14. Register here!

"The YWCA Flying Fish are well-known for their phenomenal learn-to-swim program and their skilled Flying Fish swim team, all the while encouraging the positive messages of civil rights and social justice."

Make It Better, on naming the YWCA Flying Fish "best swim school" for 2017

Flying Fish Swimmer Excels Regional Paralympic Games, Junior Nationals

Thirteen-year-old Jordy Heinrich competed in the 20th annual Adult National Open and Great Lakes Regional Games for Paralympic sports in June. She also earned four medals swimming in the Adaptive Sports USA Junior Nationals in July. Read about Jordy's successhere.

YWomen x 10 Celebration set for Nov. 10

Our annual YWomen Leadership Awards event turns ten this year. We're celebrating with a new venue, a new night (Friday, Nov. 10) and a refreshed program. To learn more or purchase a table, contact Trimmy Stamell at tstamell@ywcae-ns.org.

Racial Justice Action Update: Our Let's Talk @ Lunch Participants Have a Good Idea

The U.S. Department of Justice is talking about filing suit against some colleges and universities, because the use of affirmative action in colleges and universities discriminates against white applicants. We're asking this month's Let's Talk @ Lunch participants: How can we use our voices, and our understanding of how racism has operated in our country, to help people understand, once and for all, that there is no such thing as "reverse racism"?  

Participants at last week's LT@L decided to use their "alumni power". They will send notes to the schools from which they graduated, one to the President and one to the Alumni magazine, asking the school to take a stand on this issue, by stating that they will refuse to change admission policies that recognize the disparity that has existed for decades. We hope you'll consider doing this as well. We'll also be talking about this topic:  

  • Tues, Aug. 15 Noon - 1:00pm Skokie Public Library 5215 Oakton Street, Skokie (Funded by a grant from the Skokie Community Foundation)
  • Thurs Aug 17 Noon - 1:00pm YWCA Evanston/North Shore 1215 Church St, Evanston Room 207     

Please join us on Wednesday, August 23rd for a Summer Wine Tasting at Terra & Vine in Evanston!

Learn more about rose` wines from expert sommelier Alpana Singh, and help support YWCA programs at the same time! Click here to purchase your ticket. 

Monthly donations help sustain us

Here's another easy way you can support YWCA programs... become a Sustaining Donor! For as little as $10 a month, you can ensure that we can provide emergency shelter and longer-term housing to domestic violence survivors. You can provide swim scholarships to help kids learn to swim. You can support racial justice dialogues and equity trainings that strengthen our communities. Check Monthly Donation when you make your online donation. It's easy! 

February 2017

On a gloriously warm January Saturday, many of us from YWCA Evanston/North Shore and our friends and families joined hundreds of thousands in the streets of our cities to support women's rights and racial justice. And, on a recent cold and cloudy February Saturday, our senior staff and board of directors gathered to update our strategic plan. We know we have work to do.

YWCA has been at the forefront of major social movements for over 100 years, and we're not stopping now. We will continue to protect the gains made and work actively to promote legislation designed to protect and advance racial justice and civil rights, safeguard and support women's health and safety, and empower women economically. We know that you and thousands like you are looking to organizations like ours to develop the understanding and tools you need to support these goals, too.

We are ramping up our advocacy efforts and pledge that we will continue to keep you informed about what we're doing and what you can do to further gender equality and racial justice in northern Cook County and beyond.

Thank you for looking to us and for standing with us.


YWCA Evanston/North Shore was a proud co-sponsor of the State of the Communities gathering on Sunday, February 12, featuring Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, and attended by over 400 people from around the area. YWCA Director of Racial Justice Community Programs Eileen Hogan Heineman (3rd from right), energized the crowd with her concrete ideas for taking action. Read her remarks below. 

There are many of us to do this work

"Every single one of us has a role to play in addressing the growing inequities. At a MLK Day Celebration, Evanston Alderwoman Dolores Holmes said, 'We each need to determine what is our part, and then do our part with great heart.' And that is what we are about right now. We each have a part to play, whether this is the first time we've become active or have protested for years." These words were part of Eileen Hogan Heineman's remarks at the recent "State of the Communities" event sponsored by Open Communities in Winnetka.

Read Eileen's complete remarks.

Advocacy actions you can take now

Congress is on recess now, and members of Congress are back in their home districts until February 27. This is a great time for all of us to reach out to our representative and start new relationships or cultivate existing ones.

  • Affordable Care Act: It is imperative that we urge the House and Senate to protect the gains we've made by putting forth proposals that are comprehensive, well-vetted and comparable to the current ACA. Any bill that does not protect women and families is an unacceptable replacement. Members of Congress need to hear from their constituents about how important accessible, quality healthcare is to YWCA and its clients and constituents across the country.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act: On February 7, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act was reintroduced in Congress. YWCA USA, along with over 50 coalition partners, has formally supported this legislation. Over the coming months, YWCA USA will be working to highlight the importance of this legislation in Congress, with the hopes of garnering more cosponsors and pushing for passage of the legislation.
  • Immigration: We encourage support of The BRIDGE Act (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy), bipartisan legislation which was reintroduced in January in both the U.S. Senate (S.128) and House (H.R. 496). The BRIDGE Act would protect undocumented young people brought to the United States as children should the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program be discontinued, and would provide temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to undocumented youth.

What can you do? Read about these and other actions you can take here.

Learn about Women's Economic Progress

March 8, 2017
6:00-8:00 pm

In commemoration of International Women's Day, please join us for a conversation with women entrepreneurs, artists, and law enforcement on the economic challenges women face and the journey ahead.

This evening commemoration will feature keynote speaker Evelyn Diaz of Heartland Alliance and a special performance by "Louder Than A Bomb."

Free admission, but reservations are required and space is filling up fast! Reserve your space today.

Register for our Racial Justice Summit

April 6-7, 2017

We invite activists, educators, faith leaders, practitioners, and artists to (re)imagine with us. The Summit will feature a keynote address by Charlene A. Carruthers, National Director of the Black Youth Project 100, a scholar-activist panel, and workshop sessions. 

The goal of the summit 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 summit is open to the public.

Learn more and register here.

Practice 'Passionate Philanthropy'

In today's world, there are so many issues that demand our attention, and so many ways to give--- whether it's your time, your talent, or a financial contribution. For most of us however, the biggest challenge is deciding which issues align with our hearts. How do we translate our fears, our anger, and our hope for the future into loving actions? How do we practice passionate philanthropy?

YWCA programs get to the heart of some of the most pressing issues facing our society today. Violence against women, homelessness, affordable housing, economic opportunity, racial equity- important issues that demand our attention.

Your gift to the YWCA helps address these issues. Your gift can provide long-term housing and support services for women who have experienced domestic violence.

Your gift can provide financial literacy education, economic advancement education, racial justice workshops and equity dialogues. Your gift can do the work that you care about.

How can you show passionate philanthropy? Give today to YWCA. 

January 2017

 "Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. . . Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."

 Martin Luther King Jr. wrote these words in the late 1950s in an account of the Montgomery bus boycott. While it's been 60 years since then, Dr. King's assessment resonates powerfully today. Progress doesn't just happen. It takes the passionate commitment of people who believe that change is possible - people like you who support the social justice work of YWCA Evanston/North Shore.

If you are wondering what more you, as a "dedicated individual," can do to continue to work for justice, I invite you to deepen your engagement with us. I invite you to march, stand, listen and talk. I invite you to be part of our many programs that harness the collective power of individuals to come together to eliminate racism, empower women, and work toward a more just and equitable community for all.

These are challenging times which require courage, compassion, and commitment. Thanks for joining us and thank you for generously supporting our year end fundraising. Because of you, our communities will be stronger in 2017.

Get personally engaged in working for justice

Here's how:


CEO Karen Singer in the kitchen of one of our longer-term housing apartments, which are nearing completion.

Our longer-term housing for survivors will open this spring

Help equip our apartments so they're ready when survivors move in

Our longstanding vision to provide longer-term housing to domestic violence survivors so they can achieve stability is nearing completion! We are almost finished renovating the 16 unit building, but we need your help equipping our apartments for survivors and their children.

If you can help by providing a donation of pots and pans, pillows, or blankets, it would help tremendously! Our domestic violence staff, in conjunction with our friends from Designs With Dignity, have selected the housewares to furnish each apartment and we have created a registry. We request that purchased only come from the registry to guarantee uniformity.

Check our "longer-term housing gift registry" to see what's needed. Thank you so much!

Find your inspiration: "Women Hold Up Half the Sky" closes January 22

There's still time to experience this moving exhibition that illustrates how ordinary people are leading the way to fight the oppression of women - at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and co-presented by YWCA Evanston/North Shore. Learn more here.


Justin Jennings (left) and Johnny Kellams were among the Flying Fish swimmers who competed in the Oswald Roper Memorial Meet in December.

Learn more about why we raise money for swim scholarships

YWCA Evanston/North Shore's Flying Fish swim team held its fourth annual Oswald "Oz" Roper Memorial Meet in December, generating $13,500 for the organization's "Oz Fund," which provides financial assistance to families participating in Flying Fish aquatics programs. Read more here.


Here's how you can make a difference in 2017


November 2016

There are many ways people in our country experience inequity. But one time all voices can get heard is through our elections. We encourage every person to vote, and to help others get to a polling place tomorrow.

What will happen post-election, when our country must start healing? What do we do with the animosity and misconceptions that have been widely spread about "this group" or "that group" during this election cycle? Here are just a few of the opportunities YWCA Evanston/North Shore is offering in the next several months:

  • Explore how we can accomplish our goal of becoming racially just and of creating equitable communities at "Liberation," on Tuesday, November 29, part of our Racial Equity Workshops.
  • Discuss current events through a racial equity lens at informal Let's Talk @ Lunch conversations, held weekly.
  • Attend the special exhibition, "Women Hold Up Half the Sky," which challenges visitors to open their eyes, minds, hearts, and most of all, to take action to improve women and girls' lives locally and worldwide, now through January 22.
  • Deepen your knowledge of issues women face here and around the globe at one of the upcoming programs developed in conjunction with the exhibition:

We look optimistically toward the future, and we will continue to work even harder on the issues that matter most to the thousands of women and families we help each year in the sixteen north suburban Chicago communities we serve. We hope you'll join us.

Together, we can work towards creating just communities which are more equitable and inclusive for all.

Karen Singer

We won the Allstate Purple Purse Challenge!

YWCA Evanston/North Shore recently won a $100,000 grand prize grant from The Allstate Foundation, triumphing over nearly 200 nonprofits nationally to win the Purple Purse Challenge.

Funds raised will strengthen the community by providing services such as emergency and longer term housing and support, counseling, legal aid and financial education to help victims break free from abusive situations.

"Women Hold Up Half the Sky" runs through January 22

"Women Hold Up Half the Sky" a special exhibition at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center co-presented by YWCA Evanston/North Shore, features ordinary women who have accomplished extraordinary things. It challenges visitors to open their eyes, minds, hearts, and most of all, to take action to improve women and girls' lives locally and worldwide. The following special programs are intended to deepen our understanding of those issues.

Social disparity and racial justice starts at birth

Maternal mortality rates in the U.S. are greater than in 63 other countries, including Libya, Iran, and Turkey - and they're rising.

  • What socioeconomic factors are causing U.S. maternal mortality rates to increase?
  • Why are women of color in Chicago are 3-5 times more likely to die during pregnancy and their baby's first year?
  • What preventable causes result in the deaths of 830 women worldwide each day?
  • What home situations put pregnant women at greatest risk?

Please join us Thursday, November 17 from 6:30 - 8:30 pm at Rotary International, 1560 Sherman Avenue in Evanston, to hear from maternal health experts who will discuss local and global challenges and solutions.

Featuring: K. Sujata, Executive Director, Chicago Foundation for Women (Moderator); Janine Hill, Executive Director, EverThrive Illinois; Dr. Stacie Geller, Director of the Center for Research on Women & Gender, University of Illinois at Chicago; and Caryl M. Stern, President & CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

Free to the public. Reserve your space here.

Community Partners: Evanston Department of Public Health; Lutheran General Hospital; UIC School of Public Health; US Fund for UNICEF

A Walk to Beautiful 


Please join us Thursday, December 1 at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center for a screening of the Emmy-winning film, A Walk To Beautiful, which profiles how one hospital in Ethiopia is helping women overcome significant health challenges related to childbirth.

Featuring a post-film discussion with Allison Shigo, co-producer of the film, Executive Director, Healing Hands of Joy.

Reserve your space here.

Community Partners: Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc.- Delta Chi Omega chapter; Evanston Community Foundation; EverThrive Illinois; Healing Hands of Joy; Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Jewish Coalition Against Sex Trafficking (JCAST) Chicago; Jewish Women's Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago; National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) Chicago North Shore Section; North Shore (IL) Chapter, The Links, Incorporated; SHALVA

Save the date for "Reimagining," our second Racial Justice Summit!

April 6-7, 2017
Unitarian Church of Evanston

We are planning our second annual Racial Justice Summit, and are thrilled to announce that Charlene A. Carruthers has agreed to serve as our keynote speaker! Ms Carruthers is a Chicago-based community organizer and writer with over 10 years' experience in racial, gender and social justice activism. Charlene works nationally to train, mobilize and organize young Black activists to create lasting policy and social change.

Please save the date and look for more information soon!

Iris Barrios and Phil Garcia join staff


We are excited to welcome two more talented professionals to our YWCA Evanston/North Shore staff.

Iris Barrios, our new housing occupancy and employment specialist, will work with domestic violence survivors and their families, including those in our 16-unit apartment building expected to open in February 2017. Barrios also will help clients secure stable employment, providing support with job readiness skills and securing job training and placement, developing resumes, completing applications and preparing for interviews. Read more here.

Phillip Garcia, a violence prevention educator, will be part of the YWCA team working with Evanston/Skokie District 65 to provide sexual abuse education and training in all District 65 schools - a partnership that fulfills the mandate of Erin's Law, which requires that public schools in Illinois implement child sexual abuse prevention programs. Read more here.

May 2016

This is a busy time of year at YWCA Evanston/North Shore. From the Stand Against Racism, to our first-ever racial justice summit, to our upcoming Race Against Hate, we've been working hard to bring people together to eliminate racism.

Eliminating racism is a bold mission. We know that. And we know that change won't happen overnight. But change does happen. I hope you'll read the story below about the Stand Against Racism that includes a woman of color talking about the positive changes she's witnessed.

Stories like hers remind us that we can challenge racism and make our communities better, especially when we get as many people as possible - committed people like you -involved in the process.

Thank you for your commitment to racial justice, and for your ongoing support.

Karen Singer

Thousands Stand Against Racism


On April 29, thousands of Evanston and Skokie residents publicly declared their intolerance of racism during YWCA's annual Stand Against Racism. "I can feel the shift in a positive direction," said a first-time participant.

Read more here 

Racial Justice Summit a Resounding Success

On May 5 and 6, we sponsored our first-ever racial justice summit, which 170 people attended. Speaking at the summit, CEO Karen Singer said, "We all have a
responsibility to embrace this work."

Link to films of keynote speeches by Dr. Robin DiAngelo and Dr. Brittney Cooper

A Community Member Gives Thanks for YWCA's "Tireless Work in Racial Equity"

"Everywhere I turn - churches, schools, neighborhoods and workplaces - there are conversations happening that would not be, without your work." This was from an email we received from a community member.

Read more here

Race Against Hate is June 19

Our 17th annual Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate is less than a month away!

We could use your help in the following ways:

  • Plant a lawn sign in your yard to help spread the word! Signs are available just inside the front door of our building.
  • Volunteer! We need over 300 volunteers to help in the week leading up to the Race and at the Race itself. If you're interested, please contact Race Director Trimmy Stamell at tstamell@ywcae-ns.org or 847-864-8445, ext. 121.

This is a positive community event you don't want to miss! Proceeds from the Race benefit the work of YWCA Evanston/North Shore, especially in the areas of violence prevention and racial justice.

Register for the Race today! 

New Guidelines for In-Kind Donations

We are deeply grateful to all of our donors. If you or your organization provide in-kind donations to YWCA or our emergency shelter, please know that our in-kind donation policy has changed.

View in-kind donation guidelines 

April 2016
With your support, we tackle challenging issues: social justice, racism and violence against women. And while we work to enact change with hands-on programs and advocacy, one of the most important things we do is gather people together to learn, to discuss, and most importantly, to act on these issues which affect us all.

With the support of community partners, sponsors, donors, volunteers, and participants, we’re helping broaden awareness at events like March’s International Women’s Day commemoration or the upcoming screening of “In the Game.” We’re providing in-depth education and training at the Domestic Violence Conference in April and the Racial Justice Summit in May, and we’re helping strengthen community by engaging thousands of people at the Stand Against Racism and Race Against Hate.

Thank you for your voice, your commitment, and your generous support which helps us keep the conversation going and helps build stronger families and more equitable communities. Without you, it wouldn’t happen! Thanks for joining us.

Dr. Beth Richie Highlights Intersection of Racial and Gender Justice at International Women’s Day Event

Noted scholar and author Dr. Beth Richie spoke with passion and conviction before 240 guests at the March 8 International Women’s Day commemoration co-sponsored by YWCA Evanston/North Shore, Northwestern University Women's Center, The Woman's Club of Evanston, Frances Willard Historical Association, Evanston Women's History Project, League of Women Voters of Evanston, and the City of Evanston.

Dr. Richie, Professor of African American Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, Criminology, Law and Justice at The University of Illinois at Chicago, spoke about how race and social position have influenced women’s experience of violence and incarceration, emphasizing that gender violence can’t be discussed without addressing racism.

You can’t empower women, end gender-based violence, and work toward genuine equality, she emphasized, without also addressing structural racism, a conviction that is core to our mission at YWCA Evanston/North Shore as well!

YWCA Evanston/North Shore sponsors “When Dad Hurts Mom” on April 14

Domestic violence expert and bestselling author Lundy Bancroft will be the lead presenter at a domestic violence conference we’re co-sponsoring on April 14. Learn more here.

Women's Films Series features "In the Game" on April 14

Our film series is designed to increase awareness about critical issues significant to the lives of women and girls and to encourage participants to take action when and if they can.

In The Game is a documentary film directed by Peabody award-winner Maria Finitzo that follows the ups and downs of a girls’ soccer team to reveal the very real obstacles that low-income students confront in their quest for higher education. Set in a primarily Hispanic neighborhood, Kelly High School on Chicago’s south side is an inner city public school struggling to provide the basics for their students. The girls face an uneven playing field - or in the case of the girls at Kelly High School, no soccer field at all - little or no support, problems at home, uncertain futures, discrimination, and poverty, but remain undaunted thanks to their teammates and the dedicated mentoring of their coach.

Learn more and purchase tickets here.

Take a Stand Against Racism with us on April 29

What can one person do to eliminate racism? You can take 15 minutes out of your day on Friday, April 29, and participate in YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s annual Stand Against Racism.

In 2015, 100 local organizations in Evanston and Skokie participated in the Stand. Learn more here about how you can participate, either individually or as part of a group.

Join us for "Mirrors and Methods: Tools for Creating Racial Equity" on May 5 and 6

We're hoping to expand the conversation by hosting our first Racial Justice Summit in Evanston on the topic: MIRRORS AND METHODS: Tools for Creating Racial Equity.

We'd love for you to join us for all or part of this two-day event, featuring keynote speakers Dr. Brittney Cooper and Dr. Robin DiAngelo at Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston. More information about why we're hosting this summit and who it's intended for can be found here.

Find detailed information and bout schedule and REGISTER HERE for our Racial Justice Summit.


February 2016


Together with YWCA USA, we recently launched a new campaign to reintroduce YWCA to the public and shine a spotlight on who we are today. As part of this, we’re now using the phrase “YWCA IS ON A MISSION" to describe our passionate, purposeful approach to empowering women and eliminating racism.

Our work hasn’t changed, but our bold new look helps clarify our social justice roots and our focus on:

  • health and safety for women and girls,
  • women’s empowerment and economic advancement; and
  • racial justice and civil rights.

In this newsletter you’ll see examples of work we’re doing in all of these areas – work that brings real change to the fight for gender equality and racial justice.

Yes, we are on a mission. And we’re honored that you’re on that mission with us.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore Works to Prevent Teen Violence in Many Ways

Our Violence Prevention Staff

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. At YWCA Evanston/ North Shore, we’re working every day to prevent teen dating violence. Starting as early as kindergarten, we help students develop the social-emotional skills they need to treat one another with respect, to stop bullying and to prevent violence, especially gender violence, before those patterns become entrenched. Read more from Craige Christensen, our violence prevention education and outreach coordinator, here.

We also work with groups of young men in our violence prevention efforts. Antonio Rice, from our violence prevention team, understands what it takes to reach young men and help them grow in new ways. Read more about Antonio here.

YWCA Flying Fish Marathon Raises Funds, Empowers Youth

More than 380 hundred swimmers on YWCA’s Flying Fish Swim Team recently logged 565 miles in the 22nd annual swim marathon. While the swim marathon is an important fundraiser that provides more than $90,000 to support YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s programs, it also is a challenge that empowers those who do it.

Read more about how the marathon inspires strength and resilience here.

Black History Month Isn’t Just for Schoolchildren

February is Black History Month and Eileen Hogan Heineman, our co-director of racial justice programming, encourages adults to educate themselves on what was missing from textbooks in the past. She also wants us to be alert to stories of racial discrimination today. Read more from Eileen here.

Please join us for a breakfast commemoration of International Women's Day 2016!

RSVP for this event here: http://YWCA.pingg.com/IWD2016

Give from Your Heart

How can you support YWCA programs that speak to your heart? Let us count the ways…

  1. Make a cash donation, either online or via the mail.
  2. Recognize your special someone with a tribute gift.
  3. Give a stock gift and receive a tax deduction for the market value of your donated stock.
  4. Plan for the future and designate a gift from your estate to our Legacy Fund endowment, ensuring that future generations will also benefit from YWCA programs.
  5. Find out if your employer has a matching gifts program which could match, double or even triple the amount of your original donation!

January 2016

“The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” These words originated with a 19th century abolitionist and were later used by Martin Luther King Jr.

A few years ago, Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, added a corollary, saying, “That arc bends faster when it is pushed.”

I have referenced this quote before, including Valerie Jarrett’s addition, because it powerfully illustrates the work we do every day at YWCA Evanston/North Shore. As a social justice organization, we are continually pushing to make the arc bend faster, particularly when it comes to eliminating racism.

At YWCA Evanston/North Shore, with your generous support, we’re turning ideals into measurable progress in the fight for racial justice and civil rights. The work is incremental but the change, over time, is monumental.

What Working for Racial Justice Looks Like

In December, we co-sponsored the Anti-Islamophobia rally, which drew 300 people to Fountain Square in Evanston on a cold winter night.

Last year, YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s racial justice programming and advocacy touched thousands, from classrooms to coffee shops to boardrooms.

We hosted “Let’s Talk @ Lunch” and “Reel Talks,” which engaged diverse groups across our communities in conversations about race. And nearly 500 people from institutions such as Northwestern University, Unitarian Church of Evanston and Niles Township High School participated in our racial equity training. In addition, we doubled the size of our annual “Stand Against Racism” to 10,000 participants.

This year, we are adding “Let’s Talk @ Lunch” sessions at the Skokie Public Library, and we are planning bigger community gatherings that will engage more people in productive discussions about race.

Would you like to get more involved? Or could your office, institution or house of worship benefit from training offered by YWCA Evanston/North Shore? Learn more by clicking here.

Flying Fish Aquatics breaks down cultural and economic barriers to ensure that all children have the opportunity to learn to swim.

Aquatics Programs Have Grown in Diversity

What does swimming have to do with racial justice? Plenty. Statistics show that people of color drown at much higher rates than whites.

“Not long ago, people of color were not welcomed in public pools, so they didn’t learn to swim,” said Pete Caragher, YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s aquatics director. “This institutional racism led to cultural barriers to learning to swim.”

YWCA’s Flying Fish Aquatics program has worked hard to eliminate those barriers. In 2005, five to ten percent of participants in all Flying Fish programs – from swimming lessons to the Flying Fish swim team – were children of color. Today, that number has risen to 30 percent.

“Building our second pool allowed a renewed focus on our mission, which is that all children should learn to swim, be safe around water, and also reap the empowering benefits of the sport,” said Pete. “When you look at the diversity of our swimmers today, you can see that this has happened.”

He added, “The generosity of the community, from supporting the second pool to giving to the Oswald "Oz" Roper Memorial Fund and the swim marathon, has been instrumental in this progress.”

What You Can Do to Stand Up for Racial Justice

  • Register for our Racial Equity Workshops in February;
  • Look for opportunities to engage in productive discussions about race (like “Let’s Talk @ Lunch”);
  • Attend movies, plays and programs with post-performance discussions (like “Reel Talks” on January 19 and 26);
  • Take part in YWCA Evanston/North Shore’s “Stand Against Racism”on April 29th;
  • Participate in the YWCA Evanston/North Shore's annual Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate on June 19th (registration opens in March!);
  • Learn more by reading (all of the titles below are available in the racial justice lending library in our lobby). Some suggested titles include:
    • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
    • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
    • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Thank you for making a difference in 2015!

Your support has enabled YWCA Evanston/North Shore to reach thousands of individuals in our communities. Because of you, more women and children have found shelter and are healing from the trauma of domestic violence and abuse, including financial abuse. Your gifts have helped individuals work together and learn ways to talk about race and racism. And your contributions to our scholarship program have helped more children learn how to swim, ensuring that they can be safe in and around water.

Your gifts make a difference because they help enhance the safety and well-being of thousands of women, children and families each year. Thank you for giving to YWCA Evanston North/Shore. We appreciate your support, and we wish you a safe and prosperous 2016!

Leave a legacy

Would you like to have a lasting impact on your community? A Planned Gift can benefit you, your family and YWCA Evanston/North Shore. Learn more here.

December 2015

Not long ago, I walked into a store in Evanston and the clerk behind the counter looked up, smiled and said, “Do you remember me?”

It took me a minute – because she truly looked different – but then I recognized her as a former client of our domestic violence services. We talked for a few minutes. She told me that she was divorced and living with her daughter in an apartment. She also was proud to report that she was financially independent and supporting her daughter on her own.

After I left the store, I remembered that she had arrived at our shelter with horrible physical injuries. So to see her now, healed and transformed, made me deeply proud of the work we do, which you so generously support.

I’ve been told that YWCA Evanston/North Shore is a “light in the darkness” for women and children who are enmeshed in domestic violence. Thank you for all the ways that you help us keep this light burning bright, offering hope and transformation to those who need it most.

Warm wishes for the holiday season,

Karen Singer

Shelter Residents find support from the community during the holidays

Grateful. That’s the word Norma Canales, Children’s Program Coordinator at YWCA Evanston/North Shore, uses to describe the women who stay in our domestic violence shelter. “They are grateful in so many ways,” she says.

This feeling is particularly acute during the holidays when shelter residents worry about how they will make the season come alive for their children. When they learn about the YWCA Holiday Store, they are relieved that they have one less thing to worry about.

At the “Holiday Store,” a room filled for the day with toys, winter coats, games and other items that have been donated, residents do their shopping. They “shop” with chits, and take their time pondering their choices. “It’s like they’re at Toys ‘R’ Us,” says Norma.

They also choose when to give the gifts to their children, like they would if they were in their own homes.

“We give our shelter residents as many choices as possible because it’s respectful and empowering,” says Trimmy Stamell, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at YWCA Evanston/North Shore.

Equally if not more important, gifts for women staying in the shelter for the holidays are also donated. These women often arrive with nothing other than the clothes they can carry. Volunteers come in and wrap a selection of gifts (pajamas, slippers, bath robes, bath sets, manicure kits, etc.) for each resident.

According to Norma, the women recognize the generosity of the vast community behind this holiday effort and are moved.

“They say thank you again and again, but language doesn’t describe the profound gratitude they feel,” says Norma. “I see the gratitude in their eyes.

Drawing on the leadership skills they’ve honed through competitive swimming, YWCA Flying Fish team members Halley Seed (left) and Julia Bartol are spearheading this year’s “Lend a Hand” program. Donations from “Lend a Hand” are used to stock the YWCA Holiday Store.

What Good Can I Do?

Drawing on the leadership skills they’ve honed through competitive swimming, YWCA Flying Fish team members Halley Seed (left) and Julia Bartol are spearheading this year’s “Lend a Hand” program. Donations from “Lend a Hand” are used to stock the YWCA Holiday Store.

How often have you asked yourself that question? With so many problems and critical needs in our world today, you may be wondering, “What good can I do?” or “Can I really make a difference?”

The answer is: You can do a lot. And yes, you can make a difference.

1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. That’s a sobering statistic that you can help change.

Domestic violence is often a silent issue. People don’t like to talk about it, and women are often reluctant to seek help when they need it. But domestic violence does happen. And when a woman needs help, YWCA Evanston/North Shore is just a phone call away. We offer 24-hour crisis intervention, emergency shelter, confidential counseling, and court-advocacy. And soon, we’ll be adding a longer-term housing program to give women the time they need to really get back on their feet.

We all know someone who has been affected by domestic violence. This is why your gift makes a difference. Your gift can help abused women and their children get safe, stay safe and heal from the trauma of domestic violence.

  • $97 pays for a night in our emergency shelter.
  • $250 provides 24-hour counseling and safety planning.
  • $500 provides a court advocate who can help with filing an Order of Protection.
  • $1,000 helps a woman and her children access all of our services to help them get safe, stay safe and begin to heal.



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