A COVID-19 Update from Your YWCA

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A COVID-19 Update from Your YWCA




First and foremost, I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. This is a complicated time, and we are all feeling lots of things.  I know I am feeling a bit of fear.  I have loved ones who are some of the helpers we are hearing about – my mother is a surgical technologist and is going in to work every day to try and make sure lives are saved.  I worry about her because she is on the front lines, but at the same time I am so proud of her – so proud of all the helpers that we see in our community, and in our nation.  And, I think we can be both right now – we can be a little fearful, but we can also be proud and have hope.

As the nation struggles to contain the health and economic impacts of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, I am proud that our association continues to do the work on the front lines of response and recovery. In this time of tremendous uncertainty and fear, our community’s most vulnerable children, women, and their families continue to rely on us for critical services and we feel it’s important to communicate with our friends and supporters that YWCA of Central Virginia will get up and do the work – we will fulfill our mission to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all by keeping our doors open to provide crisis services in our community for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault; as well as working to provide the safest housing for extremely low-income women during this time.

Nonprofits are the backbone of communities, and this proves even more critical during times of crisis – be it fires, floods, or the current pandemic.  When the demand for services increases, a community’s resilience could hinge on the strength and stability of its nonprofit sector.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, your YWCA faces an unprecedented health and safety crisis that threatens our ability to meet the needs of the community we serve. Throughout the Commonwealth and our Nation, nonprofits are preparing for an increase in the community’s need for services that provide crisis help – services working with those who are escaping the trauma of domestic violence, recovering from the trauma of sexual assault, or attempting to stabilize their safe housing in an uncertain financial environment. Many of our clients are facing job loss, exposure to illness at work, and hours reduction that creates financial instability. Organizations, including your YWCA, have been called upon to do more, devoting limited resources to meet the urgent needs in our community.

Your YWCA is following Governor Northam’s Executive Orders as they are released and taking steps to practice social distancing such as operating most of our administrative offices and 24-hour hotlines remotely, but the fact remains that as a human service organization there are still clients in our community that need our help.

All of YWCA of Central Virginia’s programs have been greatly impacted from this public health crisis: our Domestic Violence Prevention Program (DVPP) which hosts the only 24/7 emergency shelters in a seven-county area, our Sexual Assault Response Program (SARP) which is still aiding clients in the Emergency Department virtually during this time, and our Town Center Women’s Residential Housing Program that provides safe, affordable, community-style housing for extremely low-income, single women.

As one of the primary revenue-generating programs for the YWCA, Church Street Bridal has been forced to close temporarily while the “Stay-At-Home” order is in place and has been affected by insecure spending markets and wedding planning uncertainties. This directly impacts wages for some of our staff and overall income that helps fund the operations of the organization as a whole.

The health and safety of the families in our emergency shelter is vital.  In order to accommodate future clients during this pandemic, your YWCA is putting families in crisis into safe accommodations instead of our communal shelter housing.  As we engage in this, the average cost will be $100 for a single night’s stay.  This means that in one week, your YWCA may spend $700 per family to ensure they have safe housing not just from the trauma of domestic violence, but also to ensure they are safe from any potential illness. This was a line item that we did not include in our budget.

Even though our world seems to be filled with ever-changing unknowns, as an organization we are rising to the challenge of adapting our programs and services to continue supporting women in need and victims of violence in our community.

How can you support YWCA of Central Virginia?

  • Consider making a gift of $100 to pay for one night’s safe stay for a family who is homeless due to domestic violence.
  • Donate shelf-stable foods (such as canned goods or even boxed mac & cheese), toilet paper, and cleaning supplies to support both our domestic violence shelter residents and our Town Center Housing community who are also working through the same issues we all are experiencing – job loss, income reductions, and fear.

While this global pandemic will likely change the trajectory of how we treat illness, our communities will recover, and we will emerge stronger and better prepared for future challenges. On behalf of your YWCA of Central Virginia, I wish you peace, comfort, and good health.

With Gratitude,

Ashley Reynolds Marshall, J.D.  — Chief Executive Officer