History of the World YWCA Organization
||Becky A. Hall
The World YWCA is the oldest and largest multicultural women’s organization in the world with a history of working for social and economic change. The organization is unique in that it is guided by human service-oriented programs [Women’s Health Services, Early Learning Centers, Women’s Economic Empowerment programs] rather than physical service programs [gym and aquatic programs]. Founded in 1858 and now headquartered in Washington D.D., the YWCA is a women’s membership movement whose mission is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
Historically, the World YWCA has been a leading advocate for women and all people for social justice and human rights issues ranging from education, poverty, health, equal pay and all major issues facing communities with an emphasis on sustainable development.
In the United States, the YWCA represents almost 3 million women, girls and their families, and more than 25 million women world wide. The YWCA is represented in more than 122 countries and has more than 350 associations in the United States, with 13 in Massachusetts.
Brief History of the YWCA of Greater Lawrence
The YWCA of Greater Lawrence is a part of the World YWCA women’s membership movement, and today offers more than 21 programs for underserved community women, children and families. Most programs and services are offered free of charge or at nominal fees.
As an organization, YWCA of Greater Lawrence has been an important voice for women, children and families since it was established in 1892 by local women visionaries.
These visionaries saw the need to offer help to immigrant and young women coming into the city to work in the mills and shops. Recognizing that these women were largely unskilled, uneducated and often had unsafe housing, the visionaries worked to fill these needs by offering food service, secure, safe housing, English classes, library resources, as well as professional training in such new technology as the typewriter. They began these services in an effort to empower these women to help themselves and their families, while achieving economic independence to lead self-sufficient, safe, dignified lives.
In the early 1900s, the YWCA of Greater Lawrence established a city services bureau in Lawrence, in order to aid families with housing, health, employment and emergency situations. By the mid-1900s, the YWCA of Greater Lawrence began its work with young people providing safe and enriching summer activities, child care and athletic programs.
Today, under the leadership of Rebecca A. Hall, Executive Director, we are a vibrant community resource, offering more than 21 mission critical programs surrounding domestic and/or sexual violence, women’s health advocacy services, supported housing, pre, after-school and summer children’s programs, gender-specific programs for girls, as well as health and fitness classes and programs, including a summer day camp called Camp Y-Wood.
For more information about all the programs and services offered at the YWCA of Greater Lawrence, please see the Programs & Services tab on the Home Page.