about us frequently asked questions
- What does the YWCA do?
- The YWCA West Central Michigan offers services that respond to the issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse. We also provide prevention/intervention programs for girls, so that they can realize their full potential and reduce their vulnerability to violence.
- Is the YWCA only for women?
- Inclusiveness is a priority and a value of the YWCA. The YWCA serves all individuals, regardless of gender, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation.
- Is the YWCA the same thing as the YMCA?
- No. The two organizations come from similar roots in history, but they have never been affiliated with one another and offer different services. The YWCA West Central Michigan is a Michigan non-profit corporation, and maintains an affiliation with the YWCA of the USA.
- Is parking available
- The YWCA West Central Michigan owns a parking lot behind our building for use by YWCA customers and visitors. There is metered parking along the city streets. After 5:00 p.m. the Spectrum lot on the corner of Weston and Sheldon (accessible from LaGrave) is open to the public.
- Is the Heartside/neighborhood safe?
- Yes. The Heartside neighborhood is the area south of Lyon, east of the Grand River, north of Wealthy, and west of Lafayette. It is home to thousands and is a significant corridor for non-profit organizations. Neighbors in the area include the Grand Rapids Police Department, the public library, museums, clothing/gift boutiques, coffee houses, theaters and performance halls, human service organizations, healthcare facilities, galleries, and many housing units ranging from very low income apartments, to trendy lofts, to historic houses. As is true anywhere, there is crime in the area. No matter where you go, please remember to take responsibility for your personal safety by listening to your intuition and using common sense safety habits.
- What is the YWCA’s history?
We were founded in 1900, and we moved to our current facility at 25 Sheldon Blvd. in 1922. It was the first place in Grand Rapids where women could safely dine without a male escort. It also provided a home for the Caroline Putnam School which marked the beginning of community education for women in our community.
The YWCA West Central Michigan’s efforts to confront racism began in the 1940s with the integration of the YWCA’s former “Health Education Department”. Helen Claytor, locally and nationally noted civil rights advocate, led us to a deeper sense of social and racial justice and later became the nation’s first African American board president of a YWCA city association.
We turned our attention to addressing violence against women and children in the 1970s. As society realized the value of improving women lives, it became clear that no progress could be made while women were subjected to violence and injustice. Today our services work in concert to address domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse to reduce girls vulnerability to violence.
- Who are the YWCA’s partners?
- YWCA West Central Michigan services are accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children Inc., and are financially supported by the Heart of West Michigan United Way, the federal government, the State of Michigan, the County of Kent, and many corporate and individual contributors.
- Does the YWCA provide health fitness programs?
- No. Although we have in the past, our services today are keenly focused on addressing violence againt women and children.