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Women’s Bureau and YWCA to join efforts

Two closely allied women’s organizations will formally join forces next month. The Women’s Bureau and the YWCA of Northeast Indiana today announced a strategic alignment and restructuring designed to serve Northeast Indiana’s women, children, and families more effectively.

“Rather than continuing to compete for resources, leadership, and staff, our two organizations will come together as one,” said Sherry Early-Aden, board chair of The Women’s Bureau. “We can do much more together than we can separately.”

All three Women’s Bureau programs will transfer to the YWCA of Northeast Indiana, an organization that has been advocating for Fort Wayne women since 1894.

  • Transitions, a residential substance-abuse treatment program for women and their children will be a complement to the YWCA’s Hope House addiction-treatment program.
  • REACT, which offers crisis intervention and counseling for victims of sexual abuse, will be integrated into the YWCA’s continuum of care for sexual abuse and domestic violence victims; with a 24-hour hotline and 24/7 counseling services.
  • Dress for Success, which offers professional attire and career-development services for disadvantaged women, will expand the YWCA’s Economic Empowerment and Steps to Success programs.

“The missions of the YWCA and the Women’s Bureau have been closely aligned from the very beginning,” said Paula Hughes- Schuh, CEO of the YWCA Northeast Indiana, noting that the YW opened Indiana’s first shelter for abused women in 1976. “We look forward to integrating these programs into our organization and providing these women with the support and services they need.”

Hughes-Schuh added that the women currently served by these programs will have easier access to existing YWCA self-sufficiency programs, such as financial literacy, economic empowerment, environmental and nutrition life skills .

Early-Aden likened the change to the blending of two families. “The name on the mailbox may change, but every individual inside experiences even stronger love, support, and care,” she said.

The Women’s Bureau and the YWCA began conversations about greater collaboration in 2010. More recently, The Women’s Bureau has experienced leadership challenges and is currently without an executive director. “As a result, our board decided to look for alternative ways to care for the women in our programs,” Early-Aden said.

Beginning May 1, the YWCA will provide greater stability by assuming management of all three existing programs and the facility at 2417 Fairfield Avenue. The Women’s Bureau will begin winding down operations as a separate entity.

“There are 373 not-for-profit, human-services organizations in Allen County,” Early-Aden said. “There’s no need for competing services and duplicate costs. This restructuring and realignment makes good sense both for the women we serve and for the donors and grant agencies that support our work.”