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Houston, Tex.

Fresh@YW is a chance for the YWCA USA to showcase all of the great things that our local associations do to empower women and eliminate racism in their communities. The YWCA USA welcomes Fresh@YW submissions from local associations that describe and highlight the accomplishments of their programs. If you’re a YWCA doing great things in your community, we want to hear about it! Submit your stories here.

YWCA of Houston's Real-Life Cinderellas

YWCA of Houston's real-life cinderellas

Six women, all YWCA participants, overcame obstacles and were honored as real-life Cinderellas by YWCA of Houston.

Six Houston women who overcame obstacles to transform their own lives were honored during a magical evening at YWCA of Houston's "Evening of Cinderella Stories" event in December.
The women, all participants in YWCA’s programs, shared their stories of triumph:

  • Victoria Bibbs: Not sure where life would take her after foster care, she seized the opportunities offered through the YWCA Women Independently Living (WILD) Program and is now a full-time student on the Dean's List at Texas Southern University, where she studies early childhood education.
  • Kristelyn Cooper: In spite of her difficult journey after foster care, Kristelyn, a participant in the YWCA WILD Program, completed over 100 hours of specialized training and field work and passed the state-mandated exam to receive her Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. She now enjoys full-time employment in her field.
  • Alice Juan was instrumental in establishing the Senior Center at the First Filipino American United Methodist Church in Southwest Houston. A longtime advocate for the Philippine community, Juan participates in the YWCA Seniors Program, where she can have a hot nutritious meal daily in the company of senior friends and family.
  • Diocelina Sanchez, a single mother, joined the YWCA team as a classroom aide and took advantage of a job training program that empowered her to earn a Child Development Associate (CDA) certification. She now works as a teacher.
  • Nell Vance was introduced to the YWCA while making a call to cancel her late sister’s meal service. Little did she know, she too qualified for home delivered meals. Receiving daily hot meals assures Vance that she can depend on the YWCA as her extended family and maintain her independence.
  • Chalina Williams, a dedicated professional and mother of five, showed her leadership skills right away. Within two years Williams advanced to the role of Center Director of YWCA’s early childhood center in Houston. She was selected by the United Way Bright Beginnings Program to represent the YWCA in Italy. With the support of the YWCA, Williams was able to bravely face a major health challenge and is now empowered to inspire and motivate others with her story.

"Cinderella stories best describes how we impact the women we serve," says Rayanne Darensbourg, executive director at YWCA of Houston. "We feel like fairy godmothers! Through our housing program for young women who have aged out of foster care, resume building, financial literacy, job training, child care and meals we provide to seniors who have no one to check on them and no one to talk to -- we’ve really made a difference in their lives."

For their special night, YWCAs six "Cinderellas" were treated to complete makeovers by local stylist Thedies Broussard, who provided hairstylists, makeup artists, clothes, shoes and accessories for the event. The event was completely underwritten by corporate partners, including WellCare, Broussard and Chandra Stone Interior Design.

The reception and program was held at the historic Ensemble Theatre on Houston’s Main Street. YWCA incorporated the theme from the play "Cinderella" that was perfromed there by the African-American Shakespeare Company. Honorary chairs for the event were Josefina M. Rendón, judge of Harris County 165th District Court and Audrey Lawson, co-founder of the William A. Lawson Institute for Peace and Prosperity. Local KHOU11 news anchor and former YWCA of Houston board member Shern-min Chow was the emcee, and among those in attendance was Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex).

YWCA of Houston has served women since 1907. Current services include programs for children, teens, women and seniors. For more information about their programs, visit http://www.ywcahouston.org.