Dear Friends, Supporters, and Partners:
As we face these uncertain times, YWCA continues to serve communities across the nation – big and small – as we have done for over 160 years. While our mission is to serve the most vulnerable, the COVID-19 pandemic has made our mission more critical than ever, as those who have the least are facing the greatest challenges and now require emergency response.
Today, as we take in women who cannot quarantine with abusers, house those in need of emergency shelter, and care for children whose schools have closed as their parents must continue to work, we are meeting every aspect of our mission to empower women. As we work, we are also meeting the second plank of our mission: to eliminate racism. In a time when resources are strained and scarce, YWCA continues to promote the truth of humanity. Here, we do not tolerate the scapegoating of neighbors out of fear. Here, we serve all people. Here, Black and Brown people lead and organize their own communities.
The reports from our YWCAs leaders across the country are staggering and continue to roll in. Already, 49 of our local associations are experiencing an increase in demand for domestic violence and sexual assault services, and 60 are experiencing increased demand for housing services. Their related challenge is ensuring staff coverage for these essential services, while also ensuring that staff remain safe and healthy.
Our YWCA in the Great Lakes Bay Region faces a scenario that sums up the reverberating effects of the crisis for our team members and those we serve:
“Both of my staff members are single mothers and I’ve given them the ability to work from home for the next few weeks (and possibly longer) with no reduction in pay. I’m not asking them to use PTO – they are (like the women we serve) in the most vulnerable population and need our support.”
YWCA USA is working tirelessly to support the essential services of our associations. We are seeking every opportunity available to privately fund general operating support and working closely with Members of Congress to ensure that COVID-19 stimulus relief proposals include nonprofits.
These days, I don’t send anything without a humble ask: If you, or anyone you know might support us in this work, please be aware that we have established a COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to keep our associations operating at the highest capacity possible.
Over 100 years ago, our associations operated as first responders during the Spanish influenza pandemic. We have been called upon today to do the same during the coronavirus pandemic. We are, and always have been, on the front lines.
I am grateful to our friends and partners for your work and for your support of ours during this difficult time.
Alejandra Y. Castillo
CEO, YWCA USA