Dear Congregation of UUCV,
Gather the Women is a YWCA Carlisle program that began in 2006. It is an economic advancement program for women with limited financial resources designed to guide women toward personal growth and economic independence. It evolved from the dreams and vision of Mrs. June Lutz. Dr. Anne Gero served as our consultant and as a facilitator. Barbara Kohutiak and Sonya Browne currently serve as group leaders.
The program offers one-on-one support, advocacy, referrals, learning opportunities and group work. Program participants meet twice a month for 1.5 hours to discuss an array of topics which include self-esteem, parenting, health/wellness, effective communication, healthy relationships, employment issues, financial management as well as conflict and stress management. Meetings also offer members an opportunity to hone and/or gain skills in areas such as employability, leadership, interpersonal communication and problem solving. Guest speakers, and educational presentations also complement the group work. Gather the Woman also assists participants as they work to cope and heal from personal trauma, such as sexual assault, abandonment, poverty and relationship issues.
On a quarterly basis, members meet with the program director to establish and track their progress toward three economic goals and one personal growth goal. They are asked to sign a contract confirming their commitment to the completion of the goals and they work with the director toward their accomplishment. The program director offers help in the achievement of the goals via case management, community resource referral, accompaniment and/or transportation to appointments, advocacy within the community and with other agencies, as well as encouragement and support.
Held year round at YWCA Carlisle, Gather the Women provides a safe and supportive environment for women with limited financial means to share personal experiences, receive a listening ear, emotional support and help with finding and accessing community resources. As part of the program, free childcare is provided thereby removing a potential obstacle to the women’s participation. Therefore, responsible attendance is mandatory. The current group is an open group. To become a member an interview is required. An important aspect of Gather the Women is that members hold each other accountable for achieving their goals.
Since its inception, Gather the Women has served over 58 women. One of the most repeated phrases we have heard over the years while working with the participants is that it helps them to know that they are not alone in their struggles. Many have expressed that while they may have little to no family support, they have found a family in each other. The women have come from all walks of life and have ranged from being grandmothers to single with no children. Each of them dedicated to the process needed to advance economically and to supporting each other as they grow.
There have been many successes in the program, the majority of the women have been gainfully employed. Many have chosen to go into the medical field. Some of these successes include certifications and/or employment as certified nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, a medical assistant and a phlebotomist. Their employment choices are very diverse and vary from being childcare providers to factory workers. We also have women who have found hidden talents and skills that they have discovered and now are exploring as business opportunities.
We believe that when women can develop skills to advance economically and are able to identify community resources to address their needs and afforded the opportunity to create healthy and empowering relationships with other women in similar situations, they can chart the path needed to create a brighter future for themselves and their children.
Once again, thank you for selecting Gather the Women as your Change For The World recipient. Your graciousness and generosity toward us is deeply appreciated.
With much appreciation,
Mission Impact Director