Whew! 2020 has been a year to remember. While COVID-19 has affected YWCA Northeast Indiana, we do not want the many successes we have had this year to reside in the shadows of a pandemic. Grab a cup of coffee and hold on as we share a summary of our 2020 year in review and why we are excited for 2021!
One of the most significant changes of 2020 occurred in our domestic violence programming. Prior to October 2020, we had three separate programs for victims and survivors of domestic violence (crisis shelter, community programs, and Steps to Success). In October, we moved to a model called Success Services, which provides clients with more consistent support throughout their journey. Success Services combines shelter case management, community programs, and Steps to Success into one case management service. Instead of some case managers focusing on shelter clients, some focusing on community-based clients through community programs, and some focusing on Steps to Success clients, domestic violence case managers now have a mixed case load. Further more, case managers are now called Advocates, a name that reflects YWCA's commitment to trauma-informed care.
With the transition, the core focus of support now offered to clients in the shelter is safety, stable housing, and economic support. The core focus of support now offered to clients living in community settings is safety, assessing needs, working on goals to meet needs, and building skills for self-sufficiency. Additionally, the crisis shelter, children's services, sexual assault services, therapy, and housing coordination are now referred to as Opportunity Services as they are distinct from the services the Advocates provide through Success Services.
The Success Services model allows Advocates to have more scheduled, structured time with their clients. The concept for this program came out of a combination of best practice recommendations from ICADV's recentering report, learning about the service models of other domestic violence providers in the state, and observing the barriers and challenges our clients were facing in our previous program structure.
Program Updates During 2020, the crisis shelter has also had to adapt to ever-changing COVID-19 protocols. Children in shelter are being assisted with accessing remote learning, with activity packets being provided to keep them busy during all this stay-at-home time, and Fort Wayne Community School tutors helping to keep students on track. Free therapy is now being offered by THREE therapists for individual and family survivors of domestic violence, stalking, dating violence, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, rape, human trafficking, or other similar abuses or crimes. Services are now available remotely as well as in person, with sites including our Fairfield and Decatur Road locations as well as the Allen County Department of Health. We have continued to provide our domestic violence and sexual assault crisis line 24/7, 365 days a year. In 2019, we handled 2,468 calls and look forward to tallying the 2020 number as the year comes to an end. Eliminating racism is an ongoing aspect of our work, with our diversity council continuing to offer trainings and supports for our staff to ensure we practice as anti-racists in all of our services and programming. We also launched our Racial Justice 101 blog series that touches on a variety of racial justice topics. Due to COVID-19, our Diversity Dialogue events transitioned from in person to a virtual series titled Eliminating Racism through Community Conversations. Our Community Education program provides adult programming about domestic violence and diversity to social services providers, faith groups, parents, and other adult professionals as well as youth programming about healthy relationships to youth in grades 4-12 in over 30 area schools. Due to COVID-19 our staff has to adapt to virtual trainings and has been successful in accommodating the many schedule changes within the schools while still providing dynamic presentations to our audiences. Our Dress for Success program suits women for job interviews and court appearances. The Dress for Success career center helps women develop their resume, practice for interviews, and search for a position. Each woman receives five outfits once she has secured a job. Due to the pandemic, we had to close the boutique (on Calhoun street) for a time, but our staff continued to provide services by dropping off outfits for interviews throughout the community and providing resume and interview assistance via phone. We also continued to provide financial empowerment education and employment skill education to residential clients.
We had 28 graduates from our addiction recovery residential program, Hope & Harriet, in 2020! Hope & Harriet is an intensive residential treatment program in a subacute medical facility for women 18 years and older. Hope House is designed for single women without children or who are not able to see their children and Harriet House is designed for women with children (children can live with them) or who are nearing reunification with their children. The program specializes in family reunification and the pursuit of recovery from chemical dependency. In 2020, we are also excited to report that we became a supporting health agency for Medicaid as a step toward further supporting our clients seeking subacute addiction treatment!
New Initiatives and New Event Successes
We also launched several new initiatives this year. In addition to the Racial Justice 101 blog series mentioned above, we launched our Empowering Leaders video series (special thanks to our corporate partner Fort Wayne Metals) and Power of Persimmon initiative. Please read more about Paula Hughes-Schuh in the Empowering Leaders section below and learn more about Savannah Robinson and Kathy Rogers, featured as inaugural members of Power of Persimmon.
Many of you will remember our remarkable online spectacular for Circle, "There's No Place Like a SAFE Home," which raised over $130,000 for our domestic violence programs and earned a nomination for a Telly award, an international competition for broadcast and non-broadcast excellence. During October we also hosted other activities as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, such as Chalk it Up and Flowers on the River.
Operations, Finance, and our Fearless Leader
We couldn't end our summary without acknowledging the excellent work from our operations and finance staff. Operations were successful in the development and implementation of shifting policies and procedures in both HR and overall operations and in keeping up with federal and state regulations around COVID-19. Facilities management developed and installed safety features through our facilities while still attending to day to day needs. Safety features included plexiglass barriers for staff, wall mount thermometers, and hand sanitizing stations throughout our buildings. Our finance staff implemented a new digital invoice approval system, which was crucial as many of our staff members transitioned to working remotely.
And driving it all was our Board of Directors and our fearless leader, Paula Hughes-Schuh, who also served as the Site Administrator for the Region 3 Safe Recovery Site, this region's quarantine center for the homeless population during COVID-19. It was no shock to us when she won Northeast Indiana Community Leader of the Year, an honor bestowed on her by KPC Media's Influential Women 2020 .
Whew! Thank you for taking the time to read what we know is a lengthy summary. Do know that without you, our supporters, we wouldn't have been able to meet the needs of our community, nor would we have been able to transition quickly in response to the pandemic. We are beyond grateful!
Onward to 2021! Read below about our new house - we are beyond excited!
YWCA Northeast Indiana Looks Forward to our New House
YWCA Northeast is moving!! Our new house, formerly Don Hall's Guesthouse located on Washington Center Road, will allow for all YWCA programs and administration to be under one roof. Since the absorption of the Women’s Bureau programs in 2018, YWCA Northeast Indiana has been busting at the seams. Currently, YWCA Northeast Indiana has facilities on Decatur Road, Fairfield Avenue, and Calhoun Street. “The acquisition of The Guesthouse will support YWCA Northeast Indiana’s growth and expanding provision of services for the next couple of decades, especially with our addiction recovery program,” said Paula Hughes-Schuh, CEO of YWCA Northeast Indiana. “We want to think long-term about how we serve the citizens of our community. We look forward to restoring the visibility of the YWCA while repurposing a local landmark at the same time.” YWCA Northeast Indiana's addiction residential program for women includes Hope House (located in same building as our domestic violence crisis shelter and administration offices on Decatur Road) and Harriet House (located on Fairfield Avenue). Harriet House is only one of six addiction recovery residential programs in the state of Indiana that allows women to have their children live with them in recovery. “Our addictions recovery program experiences wait lists of over 100 women for our current 50 beds,” said Hughes-Schuh. “Currently, there are 186 beds for women seeking recovery in northeast Indiana and 350 beds for men. Only half as many beds are available for women, illustrating the inequality in services currently offered in our community. We hope to be able to meet more of the demand with the acquisition of The Guesthouse.”
The Guesthouse provides 86,000 sq. ft., which will be used for housing, kitchen/dining space, and private case management and expanded therapy offices, allowing YWCA Northeast Indiana to provide fully integrated services to clients. “Our family took pride in The Guesthouse and wants to see continued use of the property that honors our legacy in Fort Wayne," said Bud Hall.
The Guesthouse property consists of over 8 acres fronting on Highway 69 and Washington Center Road with ample room for future expansion.
To stay up-to-date on our new house, visit www.ywcanein.com/newhouse.
To the family and friends of Mary Ann Houston, we offer our deepest sympathies for your loss. Mary Ann began her employment in 2009 as our receptionist and retired in 2017. We have fond memories of her.
"Mary Ann was always extremely motherly and caring towards me," said Jennifer Rohlf, Director of Empowerment. "She was always checking in on me as I ran to and from the building to conduct educational presentations all around the area, telling me I work too hard. She was so proud of all the young women that worked at YWCA Northeast Indiana and was glad to see women succeeding, and being empowered and self-sufficient in the work they did each day. Her daughter was also her whole world. She was so excited to be able to move to be with her daughter when she retired."
Aja Michael-Keller, a former YWCA Northeast Indiana co-worker, said, "She was a quiet powerhouse of a single mom who overcame more challenges than most will ever know. She was the type of woman who didn't speak unless she had something to say - and her words always rang true. She was also dedicated to her studies. She came late to Ivy Tech (I am guessing she started in her late 50s) and took classes part-time while she continued to work, which spanned the better part of a decade. She engaged tutors and classmates to help in her goal of earning her degree. I was there when she graduated and I never saw someone so proud, yet so humble, in her success."
Mary Ann Houston passed away on November 25, 2020.
YWCA Northeast Indiana’s Power of Persimmon initiative honors empowered women who diligently seek to help empower other women through mentorship, networking, and education. Kudos to these remarkable women!
As Director of Legal Personnel for Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Savannah Robinson considers herself a goal-setter and a goal-achiever. When she sees that something is wrong, she strives to find a way to make it right; when she thinks something can be improved, she seeks a way to make it better.
She also has her own health and wellness business and is the founder of Fearless Fridays. She also serves as the President of Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana and sit on several other boards within the community. Read more here.
In 2009, Kathy Rogers started KB Search Team. She possesses over 35 years of experience as an executive in the Staffing and Search Industry. She has provided staffing and consulting to businesses throughout a variety of industries and non-profit organizations. She has been very active in the community serving on many boards, including Junior Achievement, Youth for Christ Northern Indiana, Ivy Tech Community College, and WBCL, to name only a few. Read more here.
Stay tuned to upcoming newsletters to see who will be featured next in Power of Persimmon! Thank you to our media partner, Glo Magazine.
End of Year Giving
Looking for ways to support us? For a monetary gift, please visit our donation page online. Or, you could consider our in-kind needs list. We are always in need of basic items to provide to our clients who are experiencing crisis. In addition to our basic needs, you have the opportunity to provide items for our Chic Boutique, as well as donating school supplies for the children living with us as remote learning continues.