The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Feb. 22, 2019

YWCA invites dignitaries for info session

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

A number of local officials participated in the first-ever Donuts for Dignitaries event at the YWCA of Van Wert County Monday morning.

While most of the dignitaries, which included Van Wert County Probate-Juvenile Judge Kevin Taylor, Van Wert Municipal Court Judge Jill Leatherman, Van Wert Police Chief Joel Hammond, and County Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger, passed on the doughnuts, all learned more about the YWCA’s many programs for needy women and families.

YWCA Health and Wellness Coordinator J.J. McClain shows some of the many classes the YWCA is offering this month. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

YWCA Executive Director Kimberly Laudick introduced her staff, including Advocacy Coordinator Kelly Houg, Health and Wellness Coordinator J.J. McClain, Housing Director Jamie Evans, Finance Manager Dani Chiles, Travel Director Theresa Schalois, Outreach Director Julie Schaufelberger, and Adult Case Coordinator Chelli Gamble.

The local YWCA is one of only 50 such facilities in Ohio, but also one of only five that have an advocacy coordinator, Laudick noted. Houg, who took the job late last year, is working to ensure community members learn of YWCA programs that could benefit them.

One of the largest YWCA programs is the housing program, which includes a long-term domestic violence shelter, as well as emergency housing for human trafficking and sexual assault victims and housing for homeless individuals and families.

“For sexual assault, we are the main advocates that go to the hospital,” Evans said, noting that the YWCA program works closely with Van Wert Crisis Care, which provides short-term housing for domestic violence victims, and YW personnel are called when a sexual assault victim is taken to Van Wert County Hospital for treatment.

She also noted that, as of March 1, Paulding County residents will be eligible for local YWCA housing programs, and later provided a tour of the housing area for Donuts for Dignitaries participants.

Van Wert Police Chief Joel Hammond (left), Probate-Juvenile Judge Kevin Taylor (second from left), and County Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger (right) joined YWCA staff members for a Donuts for Dignitaries informational session on Monday morning. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

Evans also talked about another change to the housing program that went into effect January 1. That’s when new state regulations for housing program funding essentially changed the YWCA’s transitional housing program to one that provides permanent housing for those with disabilities — mental health, alcohol and drug, or physical — as well as those who are actively homeless.

While the program is a benefit for those eligible under state guidelines, Evans said it may provide a challenge to the YWCA, which has limited housing available for individuals and families.

“That’s a big change for Van Wert County because, essentially, if we get full, they could stay there forever,” she said, noting, though, that there are currently rooms available in the housing program.

In addition to rooms on the top two floors of its downtown facility, the YWCA also owns two houses, one adjacent to the YWCA on East Main Street and the other the former clubhouse of the Van Wert Woman’s Club on South Washington Street.

Each of those houses can provide space for two families, either on a temporary or permanent basis, Evans said.

Another important staff position is the health and wellness coordinator. McClain talked about the wellness and fitness programs the YWCA has, as well as its fitness facility, noting that the YWCA is trying to provide as many free classes as possible to its members.

In addition to fitness and wellness classes for people of all ages, the YWCA also offers a SilverSneakers program for seniors.

McClain, who provided tours of the YWCA’s fitness facilities, also noted that the YW has a sauna and Jacuzzi available, but has shuttered its swimming pool because of the expense in maintaining it.

YWCA members have 24/7 access to its fitness facilities, McClain said, noting that she hopes to add some cardio equipment to the fitness area in the near future.

“One of our biggest challenges right now are our cardio machines, so we’re really trying to work on grants and opportunities to get that new cardio,” McClain added.

Schalois, who teaches yoga and SilverSneakers classes, also recently took on the popular YWCA travel program first started by longtime member Jean Owens several decades ago.

The program offers a number of trips to YWCA members and others, including a trip on April 27 to Cincinnati for a Stand Against Racism Rally there. The program has traditionally offered a number of day trips and popular mystery trips, as well as longer trips to various locations in the United States and abroad.

Another of the YWCA’s biggest programs is its Summer Food Program, which feeds hundreds of area youngsters each summer for free, as well as an after school program Monday through Thursday that provides a warm meal and a place of safety for children until 6 p.m. each of those days.

Laudick noted that anyone interested in any of the YWCA’s many programs can call 419.238.6639 during regular business hours for more information.

POSTED: 02/13/18 at 8:57 am. FILED UNDER: News