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By Sally Campbell

The Evanston YWCA has been serving the North Shore since 1931 and each year it grows and deepens its commitment to the women and children it serves. When Barbara Wood and I visited this year as liaisons we were truly awed by the facility, the staff, and the programs.

On entering the building, you first see two swimming pools where free swim lessons are offered to every second grader in the Evanston public. The aquatic facility, open to the public, also is the site of family swims, lap swimming, and pool events.

Moving on to the administrative offices and conference rooms you meet the dynamic, experienced, and highly qualified staff dedicated to the protection, nurturing, and advancement of women and girls.

The YWCA address so many women’s issues of today, with domestic violence a primary focus. They operate a 24-hour hot line and emergency housing along with counseling and education to help victims break the cycle of violence and get on with their lives. Bridge, the longer term housing program aims to help women achieve their immediate goals and sustainable future.

In addition, the YWCA provides violence prevention programs that reach students in elementary, middle, and high schools as well as community organizations. They recently developed a program that enlists men as allies in breaking the cycle of domestic violence.

The relatively new Racial and Gender Equality Program seeks to break down the barriers that divide us so that we can arrive at equal opportunities for all in our communities, schools, and workplaces. This offers awareness sessions which enable participants to see each other in a new light.

The Newest innovation of the YWCA is its Shop for Good Resale Shop in Wilmette located across from the movie theater. Customers can donate or buy gently used clothing, a worthy alternative to bringing your clothes to the Rummage Sale that is not happening this year. Proceeds from the shop go to the domestic violence and economic empowerment programs at the YWCA.

The Evanston YWCA continues to be an outstanding community resource serving the entire North Shore area. It offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for those who can spare their time and talents. These include teaching, tutoring, coaching, mentoring, and helping the new Shop for Good Resale store. F you are looking for a way to make things better in our community the Evanston YWCA is a good place to start.