Year-round, YWCA demands justice and provides support to diverse communities across the country with the vision of forging a world where women, girls, and people of color can thrive. Observances such as Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month allow us to celebrate, reflect, and uplift one of the unique communities close to our hearts. At YWCA, the AAPI community is an integral part of our staff, volunteers, and communities. We celebrate the timely passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which will take important steps toward ending the hate, bigotry, and violence AAPI communities have experienced, particularly in the last year. YWCA is proud to have advocated alongside our partners in the effort to make this critical piece of legislation a reality. Now we can celebrate while looking ahead at how we can continue meeting the needs of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country, work that we have been proudly doing in many communities throughout our history.
For over 42 years, YWCA of Queens has supported AAPI families by offering services to encourage educational, economic, and personal well-being. They empower community members seeking self-sufficiency by offering adult education programs such as high school equivalency classes and ESL preparation as well as case management services to connect the most vulnerable with resources such as SNAP, Social Security, affordable housing, their Mobile Food Pantry, and more. Additionally, their thriving senior program offers response-driven programs and services with a focus on education, recreation, and enhancing quality of life.
YWCA Glendale also has a long history of working with AAPI community members by supporting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault through intervention services and by maintaining relationships with culturally specific organizations to support their needs. This unique history led them to a partnership with Comfort Women for Redress and Education in support of their installation of the Glendale Peace Monument and their successful efforts to include the history of “comfort women” into California high school textbooks. Recently, they have partnered with Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), Chair of the Congressional Asian American Pacific Caucus; Asian Americans Advancing Justice; and the Korean Resource Center to host events condemning Asian hate and exploring AAPI community-led efforts.
At YWCA Berkeley/Oakland, almost a third of the program participants and outreach includes members of the AAPI community from East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander backgrounds. To support these communities and ensure they are being served by folks who understand their needs, 85% of their English-In-Action (EIA) program partners and visiting scholars are part of the local AAPI community or are international partners from Asian countries. Additionally, their Communications and Racial Justice/Advocacy Program teams regularly work together to provide accessible and inclusive anti-racism resources in their biweekly newsletters, where they share local community resources and mutual aid networks.
These are just a few examples of how the YWCA network continues to empower, protect, and support AAPI communities across the nation. The unique challenges posed by the pandemic have deepened our work to advocate for equity and justice, while the recent uptick in anti-Asian hate has only reinvigorated our commitment to stand in solidarity with all communities of color and to help address the structural inequality and racism that affects us all. At YWCA, we understand that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are an integral part of the American story and that we have a responsibility to honor them not only this month, but year-round by continuing to center their experiences, stories, and communities in our quest to eliminate racism, empower women, and build a world where all communities regardless of color or creed can thrive.