Monday, May 20, 2024

This year YWCA Cambridge was full of events and initiatives that led us closer to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. With the support of our community, donors and supporters, we have been able to directly uplift and support more than 400 people and counting in 2022.

One of our main priorities at YWCA Cambridge is providing the community with safe, affordable housing. This year, at Renae’s Place Family Shelter, we worked diligently to place about 50 percent of our families into permanent housing and provide services to many more despite the challenges created by the ongoing pandemic. At our Tanner Residence, we worked with the Cambridge Housing Authority to hire a residential service coordinator who has started to implement resident programming again at Tanner for the first time since early 2020. In addition, we are now housing more women than before, with our occupancy rate rising from to 97 percent from 72 percent over the past year.

Another one of YWCA Cambridge’s main goals is to support youth through leadership programming. Our organization hosts two youth leadership programs, Gold and GEY (Gender Expansive Youth) for local 11- to 18-year-olds. In our programs, middle- and high schoolers come together to discuss social justice issues, gender equality, LGBTQ history and build a welcoming and supportive community. This year, we recruited 34 participants and supported the first Cambridge Youth Pride Day at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School with guest speaker Ericka Hart. We are always looking for ways to support our younger generations and provide inclusive programs for all youth across Greater Boston.

We cannot do this critical work without advocating for change. Advocacy work is one of the main steppingstones that leads us closer to eliminating racism. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, YWCA Cambridge joined forces alongside a multitude of Cambridge nonprofits to host a Black History Community Walk throughout the city. This event was attended by hundreds and received national attention from the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, an initiative started by President Barack Obama. YWCA Cambridge hosted 10 Advocacy panels and events, discussing racism in the media, sex education and LGBTQ+-affirming education, voter registration and Massachusetts ballot questions. In addition to educational events, we supported transformative bills such as the Driver’s License Bill (enabling driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants), I AM Bill (for menstrual products in schools, prisons and shelters), the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program Act (for rental assistance), Common Start (for affordable early education and funding to day care and pre-kindergarten) and multiple affordable-housing bills.

We look forward to another year of supporting all who enter our historic doors.

Haile Carrillo-Hayes and Whitney Mooney, YWCA Cambridge