The YWCA, homeless since Dec. 9 when financial problems caused it to close its distinctive College Avenue building (and let go its director, Debbi Embry), has a new lease on life.
In early February, the Y will move into newly-rented space at 1220 Villa St., opening what it is calling its Empowering Women's Center. The office, around the corner from St. Catherine's High School, will be staffed by three employees.
The YWCA's Board of Directors is in the process of hiring a new coordinator -- expected Monday -- for programs which include Dress for Success and Women Out of Poverty, both of which will be run from the new Empowering Women's Center. Other programs, such as the Before and After School fee-based programs for kids were, and will continue to be based at a dozen school sites; programs at the Riverbend Nature Center will continue there.
The Y's IDA (Individual Development Accounts) / Women Out of Poverty program involves intensive training and goal-setting for women participants. They sign a contract with the Y, and depending upon their goals, receive one-on-one training and counseling to facilitate home-buying, education or entrepreneurship. The participants have to save money themselves -- $2,000 is the usual goal -- and they have up to 24 months to do so (the average is 18 months).
When they complete the training, counseling and monitoring, the Y provides a 2-1 match, growing their $2,000 to $6,000, enough for a home downpayment or to start a small business or pay college tuition. The YWCA works with WWBIC (Wisconsin's Women's Business Initiative Corporation) and local partners to provide the funds.
At present, 15 women are enrolled in the program. National Public Radio's Morning Edition had an informative report on IDA's in 2004; listen HERE.
As for what's going to happen to the YWCA's former home on College Avenue -- no new news yet, but we've heard nothing to dispute our earlier story predicting a pending sale of the building to a local osteopath. Stay tuned.
And a reader passes along the news that Embry has been hired as fundraiser for Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC).