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What We Do

When we look back on the rich history of the YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County, we see a social justice organization that has been on a mission as a powerful resource for women and children in our community for more than 130 years. Part of our challenge today is to make sure our community understands exactly how we’re fulfilling our mission to eliminate racism and empower women and why it’s so important to do both. 

A fundamental belief of the YWCA is that women cannot be empowered unless we address the issues of race and racism. We serve more than 1,200 women and families each year in our Housing and Young Adult Services programs, with the majority being women and girls of color. The women we serve face barriers of both gender and racial discrimination, which makes our Racial Equity Services so critically important.

All three services are intertwined and overlap.

Poverty and lack of affordable housing are two structural drivers of family homelessness, but there is more to the story. Single mothers with young children, (the majority of which are women and girls of color) add to the structural issues leading families towards the cliff into homelessness.

We are also committed to creating an organization-wide culture focused on being aware and responding to the impact of trauma. Trauma informed care emphasizes the importance of an environment that ensures safety, choice, autonomy and empowerment.

We at YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County feel the shockwaves following the death of George Floyd, a black man suffocated by a white police officer earlier this week. We send our condolences to the family and friends of George Floyd, and of Ahmed Aubrey, and Breonna Taylor – to all victims of hate crimes and communities of color. We are also thinking of our sisters and brothers at YWCA Minneapolis and the whole Minneapolis-St. Paul community through this difficult and frightening time.

As an organization with a mission of eliminating racism, we believe we must all do our part to promote and achieve racial equality. We MUST take a stand. We must unite in our vision of a community with peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

We believe that addressing this specific incident alone won’t be enough to prevent future incidents of police violence against Black people, and people of color in America. Our country’s failure to address institutional racism is costing lives. Racism is why coronavirus is killing more people of color than white people. Racism is why police shootings are a leading cause of death for young Black men. Racism is why Black mothers die more frequently in childbirth. Racism has no place in the America we all deserve.

At YWCA, we demand a world of equity and human decency. We envision a world of opportunity. We commit ourselves to the work of racial justice. We will get up and continue to do the work until injustice is rooted out, until institutions are transformed, until the world sees women, girls, and people of color the way we do: Equal. Powerful. Unstoppable.

Please join us in our mission to eliminate racism and empower women by speaking up and speaking out against racism in our world.  Learn more through the YWCA Toolkit for Change at https://www.ywcarochester.org/toolkit-for-change/