YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – YWCA Mahoning Valley is growing in the areas of housing and youth development.
The need in early education has shifted from preschool to infant and toddler care where the waiting lists are full, says Leah Merritt, president and CEO. So the YWCA is adding on to the Discovery Place Early Learning Center. Construction began in December to create space for an additional room for infants. The YWCA plans to hire more staff to manage the increased capacity.
Additionally, the YWCA plans to expand in 2023 by acquiring property on the North Side of Youngstown that will be renovated into six affordable, two-bedroom units.
Meanwhile, the organization is restructuring its staff and promoted Keona Christian to child care site administrator; Jessica Gibbs to events manager; and Michaela Write to mission officer. A communications manager will be hired. These changes will allow for more efficiency in the YWCA’s programming, events and advocacy efforts, Merritt says.
The YWCA mission is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. These efforts this year again will include the 21-Day Racial Justice Challenge and Stand Against Racism.
In 2022, the YWCA relaunched its International Women’s Day Celebration after a two-year hiatus. The event focuses on the contributions of women of diverse cultures and backgrounds. YWCA also increased its racial justice programming through events and collaborations with community partners.
And the YWCA helped women and children through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program that started in 2021. The program provides rental and utility assistance to pregnant women and new mothers at risk of homelessness. It also aims to reduce the rate of infant mortality among African American babies. The program will continue in 2023. YWCA is working in collaboration with the Mahoning County Pathways HUB and the Mahoning County Board of Commissioners.