In 1884, forty visionary women banded together to form what they called the Women's Christian Association. Three well-known Jamestown organizations eventually developed: the WCA Hospital, the Associated Charities to help those in financial need, and the YWCA for social activity, as well as educational and spiritual classes.
In September 1905, the Women's Christian Association became the Young Women's Christian Association. Among the first clubs organized by the YWCA was the Loving Service Club and I Will Trust (IWT) Club. Starting in 1915, clubs for businesses and industrial girls began in earnest. These clubs gradually gave way to adult classes of interest.
With the coming of World War II, almost overnight the YWCA became the center of war work, Red Cross activities, home defense work, patriotic leagues and military drills.
Throughout the years, the YWCA continued to provide leadership and space for teen activities. By 1969, the Y Teen Club became "Club 401" for girls and boys.
Since its inception, the YWCA of Jamestown has been involved with women working with women. They have advocated for better working conditions for women. Through education and support, they have seen women take leadership roles in business and community affairs.
The YWCA's mission of "eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all" is woven through all of the YWCA's ten programs: TEAM (Teenage Education and Motherhood, over forty years old), Day Camp in the summer, Early Care and Education Day Care Center, Transitions (supportive housing program), four after school programs, CHAT (Community Health Awareness Team), and the newest program started in 2016- Supervised Visitation and Exchange.
In 2000, the YWCA was awarded the first of several subsequent New York State Office of Children and Family Services grants for after school programming and opened their first after school program at Washington Middle School. Bush Elementary followed in 2003, Jefferson Middle in 2014 and Fletcher Elementary in 2005.
The YWCA receives federal, state, and local grant funding to administer their programs. They also receive DSS subsidies for child care and room rentals in our Transitions supportive housing program. Several fundraisers are held annually to raise revenue as well.
YWCA Jamestown pioneered in inter-racial services. They initiated groups and activities for minority groups with the leadership of Mrs. Anita McDonald, a devoted member of the YWCA Board and later President, and a leader in advocating for racial justice.
The YWCA preserves the best of our traditions while it focuses on the future. We serve our community and provide much needed services. We empower women and their families to learn and grow. We work to promote racial justice in our community.
The YWCA continues to serve the local community while it maintains strong ties with the national YWCA which celebrated its 150th year in 2008.