January 2020

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Happy New Year from the YWCA! Welcome to our inaugural edition of "Empowerment Today for a Stronger Tomorrow." We have a wonderful year planned! We will do our best to keep you in-the-know through these monthly newsletters. In this edition, our Dress for Success program and its program director, Marty Kocks-Hamrick, are in the spotlight. Also, a special shout-out goes out to Holly Amber, who has been a volunteer with the YWCA since 1997. Kudos to these remarkable women!

Please also take a moment to read how one man is changing our community one billboard at a time. Jerry Vandeveer is our empowering leader of the month.

Lastly, do you want to get involved in the YWCA? We need your help. Please take a moment to watch the brief video at the end of the newsletter.

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Dress for Success empowers young women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and development tools needed to thrive in work and in life. Dress for Success Fort Wayne is one of 163 affiliates worldwide. Marty Kocks-Hamrick started her position as the Program Director of Dress for Success Fort Wayne in January 2015. Marty not only dresses women for interviews and court appearances but also offers additional support services such as editing resumes, assisting with job searches, and establishing interview skills. On the surface, the program may appear to be the gift of a business suit, but Marty describes it as much more than that. Through the program she is able to help many women find their inner confidence and stability when they need it. Marty says she is very fortunate to have this job and she loves every part of what she does. Our Fort Wayne location has dressed over 825 women since opening in May 2013. In addition to these services, Marty also plans awareness events and quarterly workshops as a way to empower women.

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Holly Amber
"Every day should be Christmas. It is the day we show our love for each other, and the day that we realize we are all one family."
-Holly Amber 
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Holly got involved with YWCA Northeast Indiana as a volunteer in 1997. She is fully committed to the mission and strives to help women achieve self-sufficiency. Holly states, "Everybody deserves to have a good life - they don't deserve abuse. Surely we can all do more to put a little Christmas magic in everyone's life." Holly developed the Holiday Hugs program in 2001, which provides gifts and holiday festivities to the women and children in the YWCA's programs. Over the past 19 years, the community has become very involved through donations and volunteers to contribute to the success of the event. In addition to making sure that each child receives a gift from Santa, Holly also helps prepare for a "shopping" opportunity where the women in our programs can pick out additional presents to give to their children on Christmas morning. Holly's favorite part is the true Christmas magic that occurs when the somber look on a child's face turns to a happy smile and expression of awe when Santa appears and hands them their very own present. We are so grateful for all that Holly has done for YWCA Northeast Indiana, and how she has helped further our mission in the Fort Wayne community. 


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As we enter the new decade, visit our website to view the Diversity Dialogue schedule for 2020! Join us on January 28th at noon for our first event of the year. This month's topic will be Child Marriage. In Indiana, over 3,000 children were married between 2000 and 2015. Marriage before age 18, even if voluntary, has serious risks especially for girls, like steep drop-out rates from school, greater likelihood of poverty, more medical and mental health problems, and increased vulnerability to abuse. Speaker Genevieve Meyer will lead a discussion revolving around child marriage. Learn more and register here.

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Jerry Vandeveer is a Fort Wayne local who started a movement by deciding to come forward and start the conversation. His movement, which utilizes billboards, is meant to prompt others to take action on causes that are dear to him and his late wife, Linda. Currently on his third campaign, Jerry is focusing on empowering women. “During my life with my Linda, I had been amazed at what she and most women could accomplish in a day, month, and a lifetime.” These billboards highlight local women leaders with a simple phrase: Just Imagine. “The billboards were never intended to tell people what to do,” Jerry explains. “But, rather, was to put up a statement and allow readers to think about what they read and process what they think the statement means." As a part of this campaign, Jerry chose to highlight YWCA Northeast Indiana CEO Paula Hughes-Schuh. Jerry says “I believe that Paula’s successes in life make her a perfect role model that women will use as motivation to empower themselves to achieve their dreams." Read more about Jerry's movement here.

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We don't have a pool nor do we offer a spin class. So, what does the YWCA do? Click on this video to learn more about our services, and to see how you can help.