Founded in 1903, the Young Women’s Christian Association known as YWCA Central Alabama started as a Sunday school class led by Maybelle Sloss. According to their website, Sloss used the class to raise funds for serving women of small salaries in adverse circumstances.
Vice President, Development Maria Underwood discussed how the organization is committed to social justice & advocacy, affordable housing, quality daycare and domestic violence services.
One program, in particular, comes through their Family Resource Center.
“Our Family Resource Center hosts youth development in the summer,” Underwood said. “One, in particular, is called CREW, which is a seven-week summer enrichment program that engages teens in productive summer activities that introduce them to job skills, like interviewing.
In order to fundraise for their organization, YWCA sponsors three events: “Purse and Passion,” “Kids’ Korner” and “YW Allies.”
The main event, “Purse and Passion,” will take place on April 29th. This year, it will be a virtual luncheon and the focus of this event is to raise money and awareness for all of their programs.
Another event is known as “Kids’ Korner,” which raises money for their child development center that serves children of low-income and homeless families.
The last event is known as “YW Allies,” this event will honor 10 men from Central Alabama who advocate on behalf of gender and racial equity in the community,
According to Underwood, YWCA is currently preparing for their summer programs like “CREW,” preparing for their “Stand Against Racism” campaign and fundraising for their events.
“Right now, we have an application open for our summer CREW program,” Underwood said. “Our child development center is hiring teachers and we are preparing for fun things like Teacher Appreciation week, fall festivals and other activities throughout the year.”
They also recently reopened “My Sister’s Closet.”
“It is a retail shop right by our downtown building. You can either drop off clothes to donate or come in and shop.” Underwood said.
Besides the different programs that YWCA offers, Underwood also said that she likes the holistic approach that YWCA takes when helping an individual.
Director of Social Justice and Advocacy Idrissa Snider, Ph.D. also shed light on her reasoning for working for YWCA and their social justice program.
“As a researcher and practitioner, the main areas that I focus on are black feminist studies and black womanist studies,” Snider said. “I really like the idea of theorizing about how we can eradicate oppression and racism and how people of color are marginalized. One of the things that attracted me to YWCA was the fact that I could actually do the work that I teach and talk about.”
Within their Social Justice and Advocacy program, YWCA is currently working to fight against several issues including predatory lending, preconceived biases towards people of color in the medical field and House Bill 445.
Snider also discussed how her organization wants the Birmingham community to see them. She said,
“We want people to understand that when they need education materials or trainings, or other tools and support, from an organization that seeks to eliminate racism and empower women through domestic violence services, child care, or economic empowerment –that YWCA is that organization,” Snider said. “We want Birmingham to see us moving those efforts ahead in eradicating racism and promoting policies that keep people of color down.”
According to an anonymous parent, YWCA has had a positive impact on her child’s life.
“Since the start of COVID-19, my son has been depressed. He suffers from Anxiety/Depression,” the parent said. “Looking at him you would have never known. For the last 4 months, he has been secluded at home, not wanting to leave the home or even want his family to leave the home in fear of COVID-19. He has not smiled or laughed in four months. I am so grateful for the CREW program and I wanted to personally thank you because today was the first day since March that I have heard him laugh.”
For more information on the YWCA, visit their website, https://www.ywcabham.org/, and to stay up to date on their events, follow them on Instagram @ywcentralal.