Mission Nonprofit Spotlight: YWCA of Olympia

Each month, Thurston Community Media (TCMedia)’s Mission Nonprofit connects with local organizations and agencies that are making positive impacts in our communities. This month, Mission Nonprofit host Robert Kam sat down with Hillary Detamore, the executive director of YWCA of Olympia.

Olympia Federal Savings LogoThe YWCA of Olympia is a nonprofit that focuses on serving girls, womxn and families. Their mission is “eliminating racism and sexism to advance the social, political, and economic status of all womxn and girls.  All of our activities place the leadership and wisdom of Womxn of Color at the center.  We do this while also seeking to engage people of all genders, races, classes and abilities in the collective work of the YWCA’s vision: All People are valued, live free from oppression, and thrive in a just society.”

Since 1945, the YWCA of Olympia has been working towards their goals. This includes programs like workforce development; basic human services; youth and young adults; racial justice; economic empowerment, and more. “We’ve really been looking closely at the ways that we can move towards an intersectional race equity focus, both as an organization and as a community,” says Hillary. “So that’s what we’re focused on in all of our organization programs as well as our whole organization structure is really oriented toward that mission at this point.”

For the past eight years, the YWCA of Olympia has been working hard to align their values with this focus on racism and race equity. “You’ll notice we spell women with and ‘x’,” says Hillary. “And so, we’re really looking at women being inclusive, fluid and based on self-identity.” All of their programs stem from their values.

While their focus is women, all genders are allowed to participate. And they are working on more opportunities, including learning opportunities, for all genders. They also have specialized opportunities or community building opportunities for people with specific identities, shares Hillary. “Things like our Different Canvas Camp, which is specifically curated for youth of color, affinity spaces like our LGBTQ2S adult affinity space,” she adds, “so we both have programs that are open for everybody and then we have activities that are focused on specific groups of folks.”

With COVID-19, all of their programs have moved online. They have found that this has been helpful for some people, and has actually opened up accessibility, so they plan on having some type of hybrid even after that they are allowed to open back up and meet in person.

Program opportunities for youth include different canvas camps; sex education; substance use prevention; and peer support and one-on-one navigation for queer and trans youth and youth of color. For adults, they have identity focused community building, like the LGBTQ2S affinity space. “ A lot of our work right now is focused on anti-racist education and we’re really, I would say, inspired by or hopeful about the number of folks who have reached out to the YWCA inquiring about how to get involved, how to increase their knowledge base and skill set,” Hillary says. “So, a lot of our work right now is oriented around anti-racist education.” For youth that includes social justice classes and for adults they have different levels of programming depending on people’s knowledge of the issues surrounding racism. Teaching youth and adults about how to be advocates, including grassroots advocacy, is another part of their mission and programming.

You can find more information about all the programs and events on their website. All paid events are offered on a sliding scale and no one is turned away due to inability to pay.

For more information on YWCA, watch the full video and visit the YWCA of Olympia website.

You can watch Mission Nonprofit on channel 77 on Sundays at 4:30 p.m., Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m., Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. You can also watch on TCMedia.org, Video On-Demand or our Roku channel. To learn more about what TCMedia does, visit the Thuston Community Media YouTube channel or the TC Media website and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

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