Welcome to 2016! We are anticipating an exciting year for our organization as we conclude our 95th year with a plan for a spring anniversary celebration, to welcome new board members, and continue to carry out our strategic vision. But first…an annual tradition for the YW – our TOP 5 Highlights from 2015:
5. Inaugural Class of Empower U Graduated
Fourteen Bergen County girls graduated our unique mentoring and empowerment experiences offered by our Empower U(niversity) Girls Leadership Academy. Our inaugural class of high school sophomores met twice monthly from September 2014 through June 2015; they met with over 20 mentors and were offered experiential learning, leadership lessons, and social action. Congratulations girls! Many thanks to AAUW, United Water’s Women’s Leadership Network, generous individual donors and all the volunteer presenters that made this experience possible for the girls. Our next class is in full swing and set to graduate in June 2016!
4. Moving Women Ahead in Bergen County
Thanks to startup funding from Women United in Philanthropy, the YWCA Bergen County has been busy preparing women to get back to work. Since June 10th, 52 women have graduated from our free training program and 10 have already been employed! We are busy recruiting for the remaining graduates. Because of the success of the Moving Ahead Program, we have been awarded another grant—this one from Community Chest of Englewood—to bring Moving Ahead to even more women in 2016!
3. Charlotte Samuels Inspires Girls… and Women
Culminating this year’s Women’s History Month, Charlotte Samuels (the world’s youngest person to complete the Triple Crown of open-water swimming) delivered inspiration as the keynote speaker of our day-long conference, “Great Expectations: Helping Girls Realize their Potential”. Charlotte led us through her journey from imperfect participant to confident competitor, progressing fearlessly in her course of greatness. Her story not only inspired attendees but the YW as well….check out #2 on the list!
2. YWCA Tiger Shark Were Born
Charlotte inspired us! In September, we formed our new competitive swim team, YWCA Bergen County Tiger Sharks. One of the highlights of this competitive season was on Dec 13th at the RJ Anderson Memorial All Star swim meet, where the team finished with numerous medals and 45% of the team achieved their personal best swim times. We are proud and excited for more great performances from our 67 member co-ed team this competition season. Go, Tiger Sharks!
1. Mission Accomplished: Operation: Makeover Was a Huge Success
On November 5th, seven extraordinary servicewomen were honored for their military service at our second annual makeover event, Operation: Makeover. We were honored to present this year’s event with our partners: Westfield Garden State Plaza and Team Red, White and Blue-Northern NJ. Each honoree received complimentary apparel, accessories, and styling services from Bergen County’s leading retailers and salons. These honorees provided our country with a combined 58 years of service. It was our great honor to provide them with a day that they described as “empowering,” “magical,” and “the best experience of my life.”
Be proud, everyone! We could not have accomplished these wonderful feats without the hard work of our staff, board, volunteers and supporters! In 2016, we will continue live our mission—changing hearts, and minds and improving the life of our community—as we pursue our highest values.
Wishing you a healthy and YWonderful New Year!