2024

YWCA Wheeling Receives Prestigious Purple Ribbon Award from National Organization

WHEELING, West Virginia – July 2024 – The YWCA Wheeling proudly announces its receipt of
the prestigious Purple Ribbon Award from DomesticShelters.org, in recognition of the
outstanding community impact achieved through its Capital Campaign, “Building Hope,
Reclaiming Lives.” The campaign launched publicly in January 2023, aimed to raise $16 million
for the renovation of the century-old building located on Chapline Street in Wheeling.
The Purple Ribbon Awards, organized by DomesticShelters.org, encompass 34 categories and
are adjudicated by a distinguished national panel comprising professionals from the domestic
violence field. This marks a significant milestone as the first comprehensive awards program
dedicated to honoring the unsung heroes of the domestic violence movement. Nominations
pour in from across the United States and Canada, making this accolade particularly
esteemed.


“We are thrilled and deeply honored to receive the Purple Ribbon Award from
DomesticShelters.org,” expressed Lori Jones, Executive Director of YWCA Wheeling. “This
recognition underscores the tireless efforts of our organization and community in combating
domestic violence and providing support to those in need. The success of our Capital
Campaign speaks to the unwavering dedication of our supporters and the resilience of our
community.”


The Building Hope, Reclaiming Lives campaign represents a pivotal step forward in the YWCA
Wheeling’s mission to create a safer and more supportive environment for survivors of
domestic violence. Through extensive renovations and upgrades to its facilities, the YWCA
Wheeling aims to enhance its capacity to provide comprehensive services and resources to
individuals and families affected by domestic abuse.


Individuals and businesses have had the opportunity to collect room naming rights during the
Capital Campaign. With a donation of $5,000 over two years, anyone can attach their name
and be a lasting legacy with the YWCA Wheeling.


In accepting this esteemed accolade, the YWCA Wheeling reaffirms its commitment to
advocating for survivors, raising awareness, and fostering a culture of empowerment and
support within the community. The Purple Ribbon Award serves as a testament to the
collective efforts and dedication of all those involved in the fight against domestic violence.
For more information about the YWCA Wheeling and the Capital Campaign, please visit
www.ywcawheeling.org

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2024

Wheeling Juneteenth Celebrations 2024

As community members brought depictions of four black community leaders to life by adding color to the designs on Tuesday, Wheeling Juneteenth Committee Chairman Ron Scott Jr. could feel the excitement build for today’s Juneteenth Celebration.

“This has been one of the best lead-ups to Juneteenth in the city because people are showing up and enjoying themselves,” Scott said Tuesday. “We had folks in the past showing up with the attitude of, ‘OK, let’s see what this Juneteenth is all about.’ This year, they’re not showing up for a crash course in black history but instead are just coming to have fun with us while celebrating the holiday.”

Beginning Sunday, each day this week offered a unique Black history-centered activity for residents to enjoy, organized by the Wheeling Juneteenth Committee. Tuesday’s mural painting was the final event scheduled before tonight’s Juneteenth Celebration, which will be held at 6 p.m. at Wheeling Heritage Port.

The ceremony will begin with music provided by Voices of Praise of Macedonia Baptist Church. From there, various speakers, including city leadership and NAACP representatives, will take the stage to give speeches.

Speakers during the opening ceremony include Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott, Men of Change Vice President Hayden Cook, West Virginia NAACP President Darryl Clausell, Wheeling NAACP Branch member Owens Brown, Wheeling Human Rights Commission member Unique Robinson-Murphy and Nathan Rouse.

After speeches, Ezra Hamilton will take the stage at 7 p.m. in conjunction with the weekly Waterfront Wednesdays at Heritage Port.

“I’m hoping that the speakers really bring it this year, and with Ezra performing, his name speaks for itself,” Scott said. “I think this is going to be one of the best Juneteenth celebrations we’ve had in the city.”

Juneteenth celebrations kicked off Sunday with a Soul Food Cook-Off held by the YWCA in collaboration with Wheeling Heritage and Towngate Theater. Scott said more than 85 hungry residents attended the event to judge the best soul food in categories including greens, potato salad and cornbread.

“People were asking during the cookoff, ‘When is the next one happening?’ so I knew people were having a good time,” Scott recalled. “Food and cooking is a universal topic, so people were not shy when talking about what greens or sweets they liked. Soul food can’t be nailed to exactly one thing when opened to an entire community like on Sunday.”

The festivities took an educational turn Monday during Ohio County Public Library’s Juneteenth Special Edition Lunch with Books featuring Raymond Thompson Jr. During the program, Thompson displayed photos from his book “Appalachian Ghost: A Photographic Reimagining of the Hawk’s Nest Tunnel Disaster,” which recreates workers’ experiences of Hawk’s Nest through photography using primary source materials.

The 1930s disaster was a large-scale incident of occupational lung disease in the mostly black population of construction workers who mined the Hawks Nest Tunnel near Gauley Bridge, West Virginia.

“I didn’t know anything about the tragedy, and I found the presentation very informative,” Scott said. “I was surprised by how many people in the audience knew about Hawk’s Nest already. I’m a big fan of the medium of photography as an art form and seeing all his work was just great.”

The last celebration before the holiday on Tuesday invited locals to add color to drawings by local artist Vondel Bell depicting local black leaders Anne Thomas and Leon “Chu” Berry and national black leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

Anne Thomas was the first black registered nurse in the city and the wife of Wheeling Ironman and Councilman Clyde Thomas. Born and raised in Wheeling, Berry was a prominent tenor saxophone player in the jazz world whose life was cut short in his early 30s by an automobile accident.

According to Wheeling Heritage Programming Director Alex Panas, after the mural is displayed during the Juneteenth Celebration, it will remain at the Wheeling Artisan Center through the “end of the month.” From there, Wheeling Heritage, the Wheeling Arts Commission and the YWCA will decide where the mural will go next.

Wheeling Heritage Programming Director Alex Panas, who coordinated the art project, noted the mural is centered around the theme of this year’s Wheeling Juneteenth Celebrations: “Our Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams.”

“I think it’s really important to highlight all of our local figures because even though Juneteenth is a national celebration, cities have local ties to the holiday,” Panas said. “Juneteenth is just as much a day of remembrance as it is an opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come as a nation, so being able to spotlight some of those people who have helped Wheeling progress is important.”

Scott found the mural encompassed his goal for Juneteenth activities in the city this year – to unite the community through celebration and commemoration.

“Juneteenth is not just a black holiday but a community holiday for all folks to come down and celebrate,” Scott said. “You might learn something or you might just come and enjoy yourself, but it is open to everyone.”

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2024

Groups come together for new award honoring local women

OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) –

Two area organizations that presented annual awards to women of leadership and advocacy have now joined forces to combine their awards into one.

The Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce and the Wheeling YWCA made the announcement.

The Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce started giving the Athena Award last year.

And the Wheeling YWCA has presented their Tribute To Women award for about four decades.

Both awards recognize women in the Ohio Valley who are exemplary leaders. They not only excel in their chosen fields, but they help to empower other women.


Now both groups will combine to present the Athena Award.

We for many many years from the 70s have done a Tribute To Women every year pre-COVID and then we stopped and then when I was fortunate to get the Athena Award last year, it only made sense that I stepped forward and said we have to do this together. And the Chamber was willing and able and we’re honored.LORI JONES, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WHEELING YWCA

So I’m very excited for the combining and collaboration between the Wheeling Chamber and the YWCA. It seemed like we’re both striving for the same goals, same purpose, same passion behind it. So why not make it bigger and better than it was before.BROOKE ANDERSON, WHEELING AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

To be partnered with the YWCA is a great thing. To honor women’s leadership and work with a very strong women’s organization within the valley, that’s exciting.MIKE HOWARD, WHEELING AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

This year’s Athena Award will be presented June 6th at the Wheeling Park White Palace. If you want to nominate an exemplary woman in your life, log on to the Wheeling Chamber website.

https://www.wtrf.com/news/good-news/groups-come-together-for-new-award-honoring-local-women

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2024

Rethink Crimes Victims – experience a day in the life of a crime survivor

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Vance Memorial Church hosted a walk-through simulation where everyday people experience the life of someone who is a part of the system.

Rethink Crimes Victims is an immersive learning activity put on by the Young Women’s Christian Association for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

Challenges and barriers that reflected real-life struggles were used to educate participants on the different aspects of poverty, domestic violence, crime, and recovery.

“This is your story; do you choose option A or option B? Then you are redirected to another location, another station. So, everything here is representative of all community relevant programs that individuals who have experienced hate crimes would have to encounter in order to be considered successful when they come back into their community.”LAURA ALBERTINI-WEIGEL, DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS AT THE YWCA

Laura Albertini-Weigel says that everybody has their challenges, but by building awareness, we can learn more and help lower the barriers people in the system face when re-entering society.

https://www.wtrf.com/news/rethink-crimes-victims-experience-a-day-in-the-life-of-a-crime-survivor

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2024

Ignite Hope Donates $7,000 to Two Local Organizations

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — One local organization that is working very hard to bring awareness to human trafficking in the Ohio Valley made two special donations on Friday.

The Upper Ohio Valley Sexual Assault Help Center and the YWCA of Wheeling both received $7,000 on Friday thanks to Ignite Hope, who is looking to put an end to human trafficking in our region. 

Human trafficking is becoming more common in the Ohio Valley each day, but fortunately for victims, there are organizations looking to change that.

Ignite Hope recently held a fundraiser to bring awareness to human trafficking and to discuss ways to prevent it. Their goal at the fundraiser was to raise a significant amount of money for two other organizations that are doing everything they can to provide resources for victims.

”Ignite Hope is doing a really great job at creating that awareness, and I think that we need to continue rolling that ball down the hill so that we together can fight against trafficking within our communities.”ASHLEY CARPENTER – EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UPPER OHIO VALLEY SEXUAL ASSAULT HELP CENTER

The Director of Operations for the YWCA of Wheeling, Heather Lapp, says partnerships with organizations with similar goals are important to help teach people about human trafficking. 

”The work that we do, if we don’t have that collaboration between other groups, it just helps us build awareness and really stretches our reach out throughout the community.”HEATHER LAPP – DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, YWCA WHEELING

Although the region is dealing with this horrific crime, there are plenty of people in the community who are taking a stand to help those who have been affected.  

”Upper Ohio Valley is like one of the most wonderful communities. They come together no matter what and they support, you know, victims service like people, individuals within the community and organizations. You can’t ask for a better community.”ASHLEY CARPENTER – EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UPPER OHIO VALLEY SEXUAL ASSAULT HELP CENTER

The fight to put an end to human trafficking is not over, but Lapp says that they are moving in the right direction. 

”Seeing all the different people that are actually starting to understand what human trafficking is and that it’s here in our valley and the work that we do. It’s just a wonderful experience to watch women restart their lives.”HEATHER LAPP – DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, YWCA WHEELING

Both organizations that received the $7,000 say they will use the money to continue providing various resources to victims of human trafficking. Some of those resources include the YWCA’s Emergency Shelter for victims to escape from a trafficker, as well as self-defense classes provided by the Upper Ohio Valley Sexual Assault Center.

https://www.wtrf.com/top-stories/ignite-hope-donates-7000-to-two-local-organizations

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2024

YWCA Wheeling Offered Free Trip to Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Atlanta

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — The YWCA of Wheeling is offering students and faculty from local high schools to participate in a 4-day trip to Atlanta to tour four different Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

For no cost, students and faculty from local high schools are invited to join the YWCA of Wheeling to explore what Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Atlanta have to offer. 

The trip is free for anyone to attend thanks to funding from the The Hess Foundation, Ohio County Schools, and the Communities of Color grant awarded through the Benedum Foundation.

The main purpose of the trip is to show students that there are endless opportunities regardless of ethnicity, race, or social background to pursue outside of the Ohio Valley.

The Cultural Diversity and Community Outreach Director for the YWCA says the trip will be one that will provide a new perspective for anyone who attends. 

”We set up full school visits, like they’re going to take us through tours, we’re going to see classrooms, dorms, we’re going to see the whole experience. That’s why I think the whole four days of it is going to be really nice. We’re going to try to fill it with as much information as we can and as much experiences as we can. It’s one of the more inclusive events that we have cause we want to invite everyone to see what these HBCU’s have to offer.”RON SCOTT JR. – CULTURAL DIVERSITY AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH DIRECTOR, YWCA WHEELING

There are 30 spots for students and 20 spots for faculty on the trip. The trip will be from March 25 to March 28.

https://www.wtrf.com/news/local-news/ywca-wheeling-offering-free-trip-to-historically-black-colleges-and-universities-in-atlanta

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2023

Candles Mark Marshall County Vigil for Domestic Violence

MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. (WTRF) — It was purple bows and soft light outside the Marshall County Courthouse Thursday night, to remind everyone of a silent and tragic form of abuse.

The YWCA held a candlelight vigil for Domestic Violence Awareness Month during October.

The crowd listened as outreach advocates and local officials spoke on the challenge to bring dignity and basic rights to victims.

A survivor also spoke on how it takes a woman an average of seven times to leave an abusive situation.

Thankfully, the YWCA and law enforcement are well prepared to help begin the healing journey.

“When they first come to me, I see somebody who is lost and confused and scared, and so I’m there to help pick them up and show them that they don’t have to go through any of this alone.”ASHLEY TAYLOR, YWCA OUTREACH ADVOCATE, MARSHALL COUNTY

“The biggest thing just like always, if you see something report it to law enforcement. You can call our office anonymously. If you need to call and report something, believe me, we don’t say who calls. We just respond to the call.”SHERIFF BILL HELMS, MARSHALL COUNTY

That number to call for help at the YWCA is 304-232-2748—where you can join a support group and find a safe harbor 24 hours a day.

https://www.wtrf.com/marshall-county/candles-mark-marshall-county-vigil-for-domestic-violence-survivors/
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2023

YWCA Wheeling Receives Project Safe Neighborhood Grant

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Sometimes the most challenging thing about catching and prosecuting criminals is having the personnel power to devote to the cases.

So the Wheeling YWCA is pleased to be able to help with that.

The Y-W is the fiscal agent for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

And they have again received a Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant from the Department of Justice.

“The northern district of West Virginia encompasses also the northern panhandle and the eastern panhandle was awarded $86,000. This is for the U.S. Attorney’s Office to focus on gang and gun crime activity as well as education and prevention of gun and gang activity.”HEATHER LAPP – CHIEF STRATEGIST OFFICER, WHEELING YWCA

They say the grant will help fund collaborative efforts with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, state and local law enforcement, and state and community partners.

They say in past years, the funding has been used to create crimestoppers projects.

https://www.wtrf.com/wheeling/wheeling-ywca-receives-project-safe-neighborhoods-grant/
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General

Celebrating Victory Over Substance Misuse at YWCA’s GLOW Run

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — The glow coming from the J.B. Chambers Memorial Recreation Park Saturday night wasn’t just from the stadium lights—it was from families celebrating the victory of overcoming addiction.

To commemorate National Recovery Month, the YWCA hosted a run and activity day for parents and children along with several of West Virginia’s other outreach programs.

Face painting, glow sticks and nighttime cornhole were all there for the kids, as the adults heard one another’s stories on how they found the strength to push through.

The organization says while it’s rarely a straight path to recovery, the struggle is always worth the success.

https://www.wtrf.com/news/good-news/celebrating-victory-over-addiction-at-ywcas-glow-run/

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2023

Wheeling YWCA receives $141,000 grant to support freedom from addiction

That’s the difference between addiction and independence for the women in the YWCA’s WIND program.

And now they now have $141,000 more to make that journey happen.

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They are one of the recipients of Governor Jim Justice’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative Treatment Supervision Grants.

It will support WIND’s mission of reintegrating patients into the community, through mental health treatment, life skills and community service.

Despite their extensive work, their program director says there’s always more that they can provide.

“We see spikes, we see lows, but it’s typically a steady flow from the courts into the different programs that are local. We still don’t have enough programs. We still don’t have enough services. So there’s still a gap that we get creative trying to meet those needs.”LAURA ALBERTINI-WEIGEL, WIND PROGRAM DIRECTOR, WHEELING YWCA

While the YWCA’s headquarters are in Wheeling, the therapy home is in Marshall County, which can house six women and provide for all their physical needs.

As for what the grant money itself will go toward, it will cover staffing for the home, along with transportation to get to and from therapy meetings.

That’s until each of its occupants are ready to complete the final step in overcoming addiction…stepping out and finding their own place where they can flourish on their own.

https://www.wtrf.com/news/good-news/141000-grant-to-support-freedom-from-addiction/
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Featured

Wheeling YWCA introduces scholarship to boost educational opportunities for disadvantaged women

WHEELING, W.Va. — The YWCA’s mission is to help women, and that effort continues in Wheeling, where a new scholarship aimed at educational opportunities for those who need them most was announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Not everyone’s pathway is the same, so The Hartford SMART529 Scholarship is set to provide the chance of higher education to women in the Wheeling YWCA program.

“That would help them go to school, whether it be a 4-year school, a 2-year school, a certification of some sort, a trade school, whatever hopes they have, whatever goals they want to meet,” said Liz Handzus, director of marketing and development, Wheeling YWCA.

The scholarship could also be associated with other costly items, like books, necessary attire, laptops, and more to aid their journey to self-sufficiency.

There is an application process.

“They have to get a staff recommendation letter,” Handzus said. “They will also have a formal interview with the advisory council.”

The YWCA helps to empower women who have been victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, who are in recovery, and been blocked by other barriers to life. It serves the entire Northern Panhandle.

“Women here at the YWCA don’t receive the same type of opportunity that other women do, so this is a good opportunity for them to jump over those barriers that they are so often represented with,” Handzus said.

To help make this opportunity possible, the YWCA is asking for your help. Funds would be made out to The Hartford SMART529 Scholarship program.

“I think a lot of people are passionate about higher education because it is a pathway toward self-sufficiency,” Handzus said.

https://wtov9.com/news/local/wheeling-ywca-introduces-new-scholarship-to-boost-educational-opportunities-for-disadvantaged-women#
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Featured

Juneteenth Celebration Continuing to Grow in Wheeling

WHEELING — A weekend of Juneteenth celebrations culminated on Monday night with food, music, and commemoration throughout Market Plaza.

Ron Scott Jr., Juneteenth Committee chair and master of ceremonies, opened the celebration at the north end of the plaza, a poignant location as it was once the site of a slave auction block. At the podium, Scott told the assembled crowd that he was thankful to hold the celebration for the fourth year in a row, especially when the holiday can encounter some “resistance.”

Diana Bell of the Wheeling Griot Society shared the importance of keeping stories alive, not only of African American history. She noted all groups should strive to preserve and share their past.

“Storytelling is an important part of preserving the history we have,” explained Bell. “Every family has it, not just African American families but Italian, Jewish, Korean and Chinese. Every family has stories they can tell, and preserving the story is what is important.”

Other speakers at the event shared their unique perspectives regarding their connection to the history of slavery and racism in and beyond Wheeling.

Darryl Clausell, president of the West Virginia and Wheeling NAACP, called on those in the audience to imagine the slave block once erected where he stood for his speech.

Unique Robinson-Murphy, communities in schools site coordinator for Wheeling Park High School, shared her pride in being a mentor for Black children in local schools, something she didn’t have as a child.

Mayor Glenn Elliott contrasted his own ancestors’ freedom of choice in building their future with the experience of enslaved peoples.

The Rev. Twila Davis of Macedonia Baptist Church then conducted the libation ceremony. Afterward, she led the crowd in a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by J. Rosamond Johnson and James Weldon Johnson.

After the opening ceremony, festivities moved to the south end of the plaza, with performances by Voices of Praise of Macedonia Baptist Church and Soul Pantry, a funk/soul band. While listening to music, festival-goers enjoyed food from local vendors, including SouthPaw Eatz, Euphoric Donuts and SweetZekes Coffee.

Organizations such as the Wheeling Griot Society and Partners of African American Churches (PAAC) also had tents at the festival to educate and share the importance of the holiday.

Many local Black-owned businesses, such as Dee’s Hair & Beauty Supplies, sold clothes and other goods at the event. Amari Poole, an employee of Dee’s Hair & Beauty Supplies, was pleased with the exposure they gained at the event.

The 21-year-old also shared her excitement at having a Juneteenth celebration in the city she grew up in.

“When I was younger, we normally didn’t have a lot of events like this, especially here on the plaza,” she said.

Wheeling native Kenny Shuman, 52, also expressed that as a kid “it used to be nothing but the Italian Festival going on in Wheeling.”

“To have something like this is an improvement. It’s about time,” Shuman added.

The sentiment “It’s about time” was echoed by other attendees, as both young and old emphasized the need for the Juneteenth celebration in the city to continue.

“It’s important to have a Juneteenth celebration because what happens in little towns like ours reflects the overall country,” said Scott. “If they’re doing it in New York, L.A., and Detroit, we definitely should be doing it in Wheeling.”

Robinson-Murphy explained that not only the Black community in Wheeling but anyone who “supports and encourages events like this and uplifting Black voices” should attend and support Juneteenth celebrations.

“I have younger cousins and a daughter who will hopefully experience this plus more, more than what I had,” said Robinson-Murphy.

“It feels good to witness the event grow so much in the past four years,” added Scott. “It’s gone from looking online and seeing comments of ‘made-up holiday’ to now people asking ‘what are you doing for Juneteenth this year?’”

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General

4th Annual YWCA Wheeling Mini-Con Returns

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — A very special event is returning to Wheeling.

The fourth annual Mini-Con hosted by The Wheeling YWCA is Saturday, June 24 from 12 to 5 p.m.

The event is a smaller version of what you might see at a regular comic book convention.

The event will include several comic book vendors, local artists, cosplayers, retro video games and toys, and much more. Also included will be a demonstration by the Lightsaber Academy from Parkersburg, a costume contest, as well as various raffles and prizes to be won.

The event is one that helps bring the community together and enjoy a different form of entertainment.

”I think events like this are perfect for a community. Because if I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times a community is nothing but similar people with different interests but like minded all together. Like we are all made up of so many different types of people, but there are some events that bring us all together as a community.”RON SCOTT JR. – CULTURAL DIVERSITY AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH DIRECTOR FOR YWCA WHEELING

This will be the first year that the event will not be held at the YWCA center. Instead it will be held at Vance Memorial Church on National Road in Wheeling.

https://www.wtrf.com/wheeling/4th-annual-wheeling-ywca-mini-con-returns

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General

YWCA Wheeling to Give Out 37 Scholarships through OVAASA Program

WHEELING, W.Va. – May 10, 2023 – Each year, the YWCA Wheeling holds the Ohio Valley African American Student Association Banquet where nominated students receive scholarships from partnering businesses, schools and individuals to help them further their education and secure a future career path. This year, 37 students will receive a minimum of a $200 scholarship.

       The YWCA Wheeling received 89 nominations from Ohio Valley schools including; Olney Friends School, Wheeling Park High School, The Linsly School, John Marshall High School, Bridgeport High School, St. Clairsville High School, Martins Ferry High School, Weirton High School, Wheeling Central High School, and Bellaire High School.

       The Ohio Valley’s top African American High School seniors are being invited to receive these awards. Submission by their guidance counselors and evaluations by the committee aids the YWCA in deciding who will be honored each year. This year the banquet will be held on May 11th.

       “This is the 14th year we will be holding the OVAASA Banquet to hand out scholarships and really just honor the students for their achievements over the years. The students deserve this time of recognition and each year it’s an awesome feeling to see past scholarship winners attend the banquet or want to get involved on a different level because of the impact it had on them,” said Ron Scott. Jr., Cultural Diversity & Community Outreach Director at the YWCA Wheeling and founder of OVAASA.

        Community members and businesses have partnered and donated to the YWCA Wheeling to designate a gift towards students going into a certain profession.

       The YWCA Wheeling is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families and strengthen our community. The organization offers programming for family violence prevention, cultural diversity and community outreach, residence and emergency homeless sheltering, human trafficking victims and non-treatment recovery. YWCA Wheeling is an active member agency of the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley. For comprehensive information, visit www.ywcawheeling.org.

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Dress for Success

Dress for success

Make a great first impression

By KIM LOCCISANO – Staff Writer
(kloccisano@timesleaderonline.com),Times Leader

You only get one chance to make a first impression, especially when it comes to meeting a person you hope will decide you are the right person for a job needing filled.

Like any other important event in life, the process of looking your best for a job interview or to attend a job fair will always prove to be a good investment of your time, effort and resources.

Among the resources you can count on dedicating toward securing a new employment opportunity will often be some money.

However, when getting your resources together in advance of an interview or a job fair, make sure to consider thinking, just a little, outside the box, particularly in an effort to protect what might already be over-stretched personal resources such as time and money.

When gathering your interview ensemble together or your work clothes for the start of a new job, take the time to learn what clothing styles are appropriate for a particular work site scenario.

If you are completely unsure what is right to wear, it is time to get in personal contact with someone more knowledgeable and who would enjoy helping you get on some firm footing where workplace wardrobe matters are concerned.

When it comes to women and our willingness to help out someone in need of just the right thing to wear, the American tradition of extending a hand to offer help to a total stranger or close friend is more often than not what will be found.

Women of the Ohio Valley area have a long tradition of helping each other through local resources. Donations of all types of clothing are made to area agencies and assistance programs on a daily basis, and women in true need of accessing those items will readily find they have direct access to available needed clothing programs.

The challenge of preparing to enter or reenter the workforce is a process which can be helped immensely if an individual is given access to the right clothing types and styles to wear for initial experiences such as job fairs, interviews and an initial period of work at a new job.

This should never be considered the time to take the idea of investment dressing to the limits of your financial situation.

In today’s world of gently used clothing boutiques offering top quality items for just a few dollars, there should be no need to even consider spending big bucks on an interview suit or a work week wardrobe when your foot is barely in the door.

Most communities in this area have well established women’s clothing consignment or charitable organizations based on gently used clothing resources available to one and all.

A stellar example of one such resource available to all area women is the Wheeling YWCA and its outstanding program, “The Y Not Repeat Boutique.”

Don’t think the merchandise is up to your standards? Think again.

If you are comfortable shopping for line labels you easily recognize, the Y Not Repeat Boutique is the perfect place to shop – yes shop – for gently used and never worn items from a wide range of companies.

Often included among the shop’s inventory are items from Pendleton, Ralph Lauren, Ann Taylor, Neiman Marcus, Evan-Picone, Jones of New York, Gap, Izod, Liz Claiborne, Talbots, Miss Pendleton, Pendleton Classic, ON by Leboff and more.

On any given day, the merchandise available there will change, as donations of clothing for women is being brought through the doors destined for some TLC and a place among the unique boutique’s well maintained display racks.

A vital aspect of this program is giving women in need comfortable access to quality clothing and sound advice when making choices of elements that they want to come together as an outfit, an ensemble or a suit.

Local libraries can provide free access to internet resources and to current magazines which hold limitless suggestions for making clothing decisions for various interview and job seeking scenarios.

What they seldom offer is information on how to pull together the right attire without spending more than you can intelligently afford to; enter organizations such as the Wheeling YWCA.

Such opportunities for painless, quality shopping experiences are a goal met every day through the YWCA’s boutique offerings to the public as well as the individual clients they serve through various efforts, one of the most successful is the personal shopper program.

Volunteers traditionally staff the shop, and through their regular interactions with women walking through the shop door with a limitless variety of challenges and goals, they become well informed on points of style trends and traditions.

Many of the volunteers on the boutique staff bring a career’s worth of knowledge about fashion and are there to help customers by suggesting items for their consideration, and to provide reliable feedback as a person goes through the sometimes overwhelming process of preparing to enter or reenter the workforce, step into a student-teaching assignment, attend a business formal event or the like.

But the idea of dressing for success is not something that needs to wait for a particular opportunity to come about. Shopping at the Y Not Repeat Boutique has the possibility of being every bit as enjoyable an experience as does an outing to a mall, but it will never bring with it the financial pitfalls that can readily come from thinking your perfect interview suit, first day on the job attire or even a homecoming or prom formal or suit can only be found by shopping at traditional retail resources.

In addition to the clothing items donated to the boutique at the Wheeling YWCA, there is an always changing inventory of accessories, coats, sweaters, shoes, scarves, jewelry and more.

It is a very special shopping experience, and a great avenue to share with others the items you no longer find doing anything for you other than taking up space in your closet or dresser drawers.

Volunteers and donations are both always welcomed and appreciated, according to Rhonda Hayes, the YWCA staff member in charge of the operations of the boutique, its volunteers, and more.

“The next time you clean your closets, think of us for those gently used clothes,” offered Hayes.

“But make sure also to take a moment and look around the boutique. There are always new items to be discovered and ways our volunteers can help customers no matter their needs,” she said.

“In the past year, we have seen almost 6,000 women come through the boutique, almost a quarter of them with referrals. However, in all of this business, and with an all volunteer staff, we have raised over $7,000 in profit. This is amazing,” shared Hayes, referring to the resources of the boutique being certainly some of the most cost effective to be found among shops in the area open to the public.

Shoppers, browsers and donors are welcomed during regular business hours, with detailed information available for the asking by calling Hayes at 304-232-0511.

Two dress for success points experts routinely share for women working on getting into the workforce or returning to it include these basics:

The first thing a hiring manager sees is the way you look and the way you carry yourself. Being correctly dressed for the interview may very well help get you called back for a second interview.

Select an interview outfit a couple of days before the interview or starting your new venture and try it on to make sure it fits, that it is comfortable and that you feel as though you look good in it.

Feeling like your appearance is well put together for any event will help you to be more confident and carry yourself with more poise.

Remember to look a person in the eyes when having a conversation or during an interview.

Things like remembering to exchange a solid handshake, to sit forward and comfortably in a chair, and to not fidget may sound like directives for children, but they have a very real value in many of life’s scenarios.

Just for the record: cell phones are not wardrobe accessories for the average person.

And though we routinely have cell phones in hand almost 24-7, remembering to turn it off and leave it in your car, purse, brief case or someplace similarly out of sight, is a much more welcome image than the look on your face when it sets off during an interview or initial meeting with potential or new employers.

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