Founded on the Foundation of Giving

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As we enter into the season of gratitude and thanks, we remember the generosity that spurred our beginnings and empowers us today. From the original charter members to our Mission Making Society members, we are thankful for all those in our history who gave to support our cause. 

YWCA O’ahu was founded on the porch steps of Mrs. Dillingham’s home in 1900. The founding women wanted a place where women could meet and support their community. One of the first programs developed was The Homestead, a residence for working women, which opened to address concerns regarding insufficient safe and affordable housing. 

The Atherton Family donated the original Fernhurst Building as a tribute to their daughter Kate in 1919. Over the course of its history, it helped to provide safe, transitional housing to some 10,000 women. 

In 1924, the members and community were able to raise the $350,000 for the grounds on Richards Street in less than a week and work began on our Laniākea facility in 1926, which was completed in 1927. This year we recognize the generosity of the community as Laniākea celebrates 90 years of providing a safe space to run our programs and offer our services. 

In 1925, the Hawaiian Girls Club donated $1,000 to the new building and named the hall after Elizabeth Fuller, their first president. Fuller Hall is now a reception hall, meeting place, and community icon. Life changing moments occur in our well-loved hall, and we thank the Hawaiian Girls Club making it possible. 

Camp Halekipa merged with Kokokahi Community Trust to create YWCA Kokokahi. Dr. Theodore Richards envisioned Kokokahi to be a place where all people of Hawai‘i could live and play together. This past year, we rededicated Kokokahi, as we continue to grow the camp and retreat property, fulfilling Dr. Richards’ vision. 

The community continued to support us through fundraising events and capital campaigns, and today we are all beneficiaries of these individuals and the community’s generosity. 

Over the decades, the generosity of our members continued. Most recently, we welcomed a new group of supporters, the Mission Making Society. These members pledged to support the mission and vision of YWCA O‘ahu. We are extremely thankful for their dedication and belief in YWCA O’ahu and invite you to join this esteemed group of dedicated women and men who are creating a sustainable future for us. 

For more information on how to be our newest Mission Making Society Member, please visit: https://www.ywcaoahu.org/mission-making-society.

Empowering the Next Generation Through Mentorship

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Hello! My name is Taylor McKenzie and I am a senior at Sacred Hearts Academy. I am also a member of the Girls Got Grit (GGG) mentorship program, which connects students at Sacred Hearts Academy to mentorships with female leaders in the community. Through GGG, I had the opportunity to learn at the YWCA during an eight-week mentorship. 

In history class, we discussed inequality like it was a thing of the past that we are not still dealing with today. This is not true. An example of current inequality is who is being incarcerated in Hawai‘i. In 2013, 44 percent of female prisoners were Native Hawaiians, despite only accounting for 19.8 percent of the population. This demonstrates that Native Hawaiians are disproportionately affected by the justice system. Not only is our society suffering from inequality, more often than not, the people who are being hit the hardest are women. Female incarceration rates have been a growing issue in Hawaiʻi for some time. The majority of imprisoned women are not only Native Hawaiian, they are also mothers. In 2008, the Department of Human Services found that 85 percent of incarcerated women in Hawaiʻi have children. This is 10 percentage points higher than the nationwide average. 

The YWCA is one of the organizations that is working to put an end to the inequality in Hawaiʻi and around the world. In our community, they are a tremendous support in helping previously incarcerated women re-enter the community and reconnect with their families. Through my mentorship at the YWCA, I reconnected with my dream to become a journalist who uses words to make a difference. I plan to continue writing about the issues that women face in the world and support the YWCA in their mission to solve these problems.

MCBL Launches Second Patsy T. Mink Leadership Alliance Cohort

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The Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership (MCBL) at YWCA O‘ahu has launched the second cohort of their Leadership Alliance. Twenty-two outstanding women from a variety of industries were selected to participate in the program, which aims to further develop management and leadership skills in an effort to increase the representation of women executives in Hawai‘i.

“We are very excited to start this journey with a new and inspiring group of emerging women leaders,” said Terri Funakoshi, MCBL Director. “We look forward to working closely with them and empowering them to become their personal and professional best.”

The future Mink Leaders began an intensive 10‐month program that will culminate in a community service capstone project and graduation ceremony in June 2018. Session topics will include Strategic Planning, Emotional Intelligence, Social Capital Building, Principles of Negotiation, Financial Business Acumen and Intrapreneurial Thinking – a majority of which will be facilitated by prominent women leaders. A big mahalo goes to the signature sponsor for this second cohort, Kaiser Permanente.

Participants have already attended the first two sessions in the series. On September 8, the official launch and orientation session was held at YWCA O‘ahu’s beautiful Kokokahi facility, with a class on Group Facilitation. On September 18, the Alliance visited YWCA O‘ahu Fernhurst to learn about the many programs that are dedicated to empowering and supporting women transitioning out of prison, with the goal of successfully reintegrating these women into the community and reducing recidivism.

Next month, cohort members will attend Hawaii Business Magazine’s 10th annual Wahine Forum, Hawai‘i’s largest leadership and career development conference for women. With a theme of “Work Together, Rise Together,” this year’s Forum will feature more than 20 speakers, with a keynote address by Miriam Hernandez-Kakol, U.S. Service Line Leader for Customer and Operations, KPMG. MCBL, along with YWCA O‘ahu, are special partners with Hawaii Business Magazine for the Wahine Forum Conference.

The Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership was established by YWCA O‘ahu, the U.S. Small Business Administration and a community of partners to become the only Women’s Business Center (WBC) in Hawai‘i. WBCs are designed to assist women in starting and growing small businesses, and seek to “level the playing field” for women entrepreneurs who still face unique obstacles in the business world. The Patsy T. Mink Leadership Alliance launched in September 2016 with its inaugural cohort of 14 women, who successfully completed the program and graduated in March 2017. The program is named in honor of Patsy T. Mink, the first female Asian American and the first female from Hawai‘i to serve in the U.S. Congress.

Are you a mid-career professional woman who is looking for a way to enhance your leadership skills?  Do you know of a woman who has been interested in growing her network to help her progress her career?  If so,

click here to learn more about THE PATSY T. MINK LEADERSHIP ALLIANCe. 

 

 

 

Much More Than a Campsite

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Kokokahi is YWCA Oahu's beautiful 11-acre property in Kaneohe. You may know that Kokokahi offers swimming lessons, spring and summer day camps to children ages 6-12, and a monthly family night featuring a pool-side movie. But, did you know that Kokokahi is home to an amazing adaptive aquatics program?

While there are many who have fond memories of learning how to swim at the Kokokahi pool, a special group has also learned to love the water here - the students of the adaptive swim classes. For over 20 years, Kokokahi YWCA has been offering adaptive swim classes to the Windward community. The YWCA currently operates an adaptive aquatics class and the State's Department of Education (DOE) Adaptive Swim program, providing swim instruction to students with disabilities and severe impairments of all ages.

The woman behind the program is Erin Hisatake or better known to her students as simply “Miss Erin”. Erin developed the current adaptive aquatics classes when she started working with the DOE as they came to Kokokahi each year for a month. Students from Heeia Elementary, King Intermediate, and Castle High School joined her classes and for the 13 years Erin has been with YWCA O‘ahu, she has been developing her classes to focus on what students of all ages and abilities can do rather than focusing on their disabilities and challenges. “Every student comes with different kinds of challenges and the students are usually treated differently because of them.” However, Erin explains that what her students want and experience in her adaptive swim classes is the feeling of being no different than all the other students. 

The experience of being treated just like any other student has allowed her students to concentrate on swimming better and faster instead of on their inhibitions and anxieties. “Once they enter the water, their demeanor changes.  Being in the water is a treat,” Erin says. Parents even notice. They have mentioned to Erin that sometimes when their children do not swim for a while their behavior changes, but when they resume swimming their behavioral issues are minimized. Most would credit Erin’s passion, ability, and dedication, but she credits much of the success of her students to the splendor of the place and the community, “There is something about Kokokahi,” Erin explains, “when students come, they and their parents are elated because they fit in immediately.”

Erin says she loves to see the progress of her students as the sessions go by. She can see increased swimming and water skills, and, more importantly, increased confidence. The motivation behind the students is driven by their want to succeed and win. The students in Erin’s class make up a team she coaches called the “Windward Warriors” whom train to compete in the Special Olympics. During this year’s Special Olympics Summer Games swim competition, every one of her students who participated received a medal. In total, the Windward Warriors took home a total of gold medal, 4 silver medals, and 1 bronze medal. The Summer Games are a highlight of their hard work and she’s so proud of them for doing so well this year.

Even if the classes and students change, you can still hear Erin say, “Keep going, keep swimming, never give up!” Erin admits, “they actually say this to each other and so I’ve adopted it.  In teaching my students, the real blessing is they actually teach me never to give up.”

To learn more about the adaptive aquatics classes and to enroll in classes, please visit the Adaptive Swim section on the aquatics website:  https://www.ywcaoahu.org/aquatics.  To sponsor adaptive swim scholarships, please visit:  https://www.ywcaoahu.org/donate/

 

HERstory

Empowerment. The word is in our mission statement, almost every program description, and spoken at all our events. Our mission it to empower women and girls to achieve their full potential and pursue their most successful life. Over the past few months, we witnessed women in our Economic Advancement Program speak about their experiences at an unexpected venue, the State Capitol. YWCA O‘ahu led the efforts to pass House Bill 845, a bill requiring an ID be given at the end of incarceration. House Bill 845 was successful not only because it was enacted into law, but because women in our programs learned a very impactful way to advocate for themselves and for those with similar stories by attending hearings and testifying. Through the legislative process, a new sense of empowerment developed from women sharing their experiences and women learned to use their experiences to benefit the greater community.

It is no small feat to testify in front of a room full of people. During the legislative session, legislators assigned to specific subject matter or “committees” review related bills. When one testifies in front of a committee one speaks in front of a panel of legislators, and a room full of State Department directors, advocates, lobbyists, public members, the media, and anyone tuning into Capitol television. There’s an element of vulnerability in testifying, or more accurately, sharing one’s story. For this bill, the women shared that they were either currently incarcerated or had been incarcerated and explained the difficulty in obtaining an ID and its importance. For many it was the first time they had ever been at the Capitol or met a State legislator. The women shared their stories at seven hearings over the course of three months. Through the process, they watched as their words and stories changed the minds of those around them and finally, changed the law. One woman who testified said, “I felt like my experience and my story mattered. That by sharing my story I helped pass this bill. That my input mattered and it was empowering. And it was validating, if that makes sense. That I was able to do something for the good of many.”

Our legislative session lasts just over 100 days but for the women who participated, the impact will continue. As one woman noted, “this has given me the confidence to share my story and experiences. What I say does matter, and I can make a difference.” We hope to see many more of our members and program participants next session, while they testify and attend hearings.

Through our YWCA community, we can continue to create experiences and outcomes for the benefit of the greater community. Join us in January 2018 and learn about the legislative process, share about the legislative process, and/or support our women as they advocate for themselves and many in similar situations.  For more information on the identification bill, please visit the State Capitol website.  For more information on how you can get involved in our policy and advocacy agenda, contact the Director of Policy, Kathleen Algire, at kalgire@ywcaoahu.org or 808-695-2633.