About YWCA of Winston-Salem


YWCA of Winston-Salem

Serving the Winston-Salem community for over 100 years, the YWCA of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County is affiliated with the national YWCA whose mission is “eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.” YWCA of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County was founded in 1908 by church women in the community to assist girls coming into the city to work for Reynolds Tobacco Company and Hanes Knitting Company. The YWCA continues it’s commitment to eliminating racism and empowering women by continuing to fund programs right here in our community.

Locally, the YWCA supports this mission through “Change for Life” programs that

  • Empower low income and at-risk children
  • Empower women to live successful lives as they recover from substance abuse
  • Empower YWCA members to live healthy lives, with special emphasis on chronic disease prevention and management

Descriptions of the four primary “Change for Life” programs:

  1. The Best Choice Center Academic After School and Summer Camp

The Best Choice Center is a well respected academically focused after school program and summer camp for children from low-income families.  Children attend the Best Choice Center program as a result of sliding scale scholarship support from United Way. (83% have family incomes below $31,000)

After school enrollment can be as high as 80 children, and summer camp enrollment can reach over 100 children.  Certified teachers and experienced teaching assistants are hired for the after school program, and the academic portion of the summer program. The YWCA provides transportation for children from their schools to the Best Choice Center for the after school program, and some children from local neighborhoods walk to the Center.  Parents and guardians pick them up from the Center.

The Best Choice Center focuses on low-income children’s academic achievement and soft skills development.  The results occur through the following strategies and activities:

  • Providing year-round academic enrichment program with active learning summer camp
  • Hiring certified teachers, experienced teaching assistants, and bilingual staff (five of the current Best Choice Center staff have advanced degrees)
  • Providing transportation from schools to the Center, for field trips and for swim lessons at the Gateway
  • Providing sliding scale scholarships
  • Insisting on respectful behavior
  • Developing trusting relationships with the families
  • Using Parent Council to engage parents in the volunteer leadership of the Center
  • Hosting holiday and year-end celebrations of the amazing accomplishments of the children. These celebrations involve the whole family and are held at the Best Choice Center.

Health and wellness is an important part of the Best Choice experience thanks to generous donors, and is an additional benefit for the families.

  • Families are provided with memberships at the Gateway Sports and Wellness Center, including swim lessons for the children and their families courtesy of grants.
  1. Youth Intervention Services: Teen Court and Work & Earn It

For over a decade the YWCA has operated two well-respected juvenile crime prevention programs – Teen Court and Work & Earn It — funded in part by the North Carolina Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC), the United Way of Forsyth County, and the YWCA. The YWCA works with a number of organizations to provide these programs and services, including the following:

  • Department of Public Safety Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice Community Programs
  • WSFC Court Counselors
  • WSFC School System
  • Wake Forest Law School

The programs are designed to work with youth and their families to ensure youth get back on track after committing minor first time offenses.

Teen Court

Teen Court gives first time juvenile offenders the opportunity to perform community service and give back to their community. The target population for the Teen Court Program is youth between the ages of 9 and 15 who are first time offenders or those who have been diverted from Juvenile Court.

The Program Manager, a YWCA employee, coordinates intake, schedules teen court and provides life skills lessons designed to help the teens make better choices and become accountable for their actions. They are tried by a jury of their peers and later serve as jurors for other youthful offenders.  Wake Forest Law School students serve as mentors, and defense and prosecuting attorneys for the youth.  Local attorneys and judges serve as judges, emphasizing the importance of the program.  All proceedings are held in the Hall of Justice where actual court cases are heard.

Work and Earn It

Juveniles in the Work & Earn It program have committed offenses that they could be incarcerated for.  However, they are referred to the program by Juvenile Court Counselors in order to pay restitution or perform community service.  The target population for the Work & Earn It Restitution Program is youth between 9 and 17 who are on probation or who are diverted from Juvenile Court.

The Program Manager places the juveniles in local non-profits where they are able to earn money to repay their victims or perform community service as a part of their structured sentences.  Local non-profits and governmental agencies collaborate by providing locations for the participants to perform their community service.  The youth not only compensate their victims, but also learn valuable vocational skills.

The goal for both programs is to change behavior patterns and help youth understand the long-term effects of their negative behaviors. We seek the following for youth participating in the programs:

  • Reduce specific problem behaviors presented at referral
  • Complete the program with no additional adjudications
  • Have no new complaints in the 12 months following program completion
  1. The Hawley House and Project New Start

The Hawley House and related Project New Start build stronger communities by rebuilding broken lives and reuniting families.

The Hawley House is the only state-licensed residential substance abuse program for women in Forsyth County, and Project New Start is a program for incarcerated and post-release women. Staff and volunteers in the YWCA’s Supportive Services for Women Department provide integrated solutions for Hawley House and Project New Start participants to help them become physically, mentally and spiritually healthy women, free of substance abuse and employed.

The evidenced based model used at the Hawley House program is highly unique and not replicated by other services in Forsyth County.  The unique aspects of this program, which help women facing the serious life and death issues of addiction, include the following:

  • A treatment plan based on individual needs (9, 12, 18 month options)
  • Treatment that includes residential stay and after care
  • Highly structured elements in place to protect the residents in their recovery from addiction:
  • All female environment
  • No use of methadone for treatment
  • Services provided on-site at the Hawley House to reduced interaction with individuals still using drugs or on methadone
  • Structured program with high accountability conducted in a safe environment to reduce temptations that occur during recovery
  • Comprehensive program that addresses health outcomes, financial stability, while providing basic needs for the clients we serve

The integrated solutions are accomplished through long-standing coordinating partnerships with organizations such as NC Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Experiment in Self Reliance, WFBH Downtown Health Plaza, Addiction Recovery Care Association (ARCA), Daymark Recovery Services, Crisis Control, and Forsyth Technical Community College.

Six women, age 18+ who have the disease of addiction, can participate in the residential program at a time, with an average of 12 women being served for a portion of each year.

Project New Start has a target population of women — 15+ years in age who are currently incarcerated at the Forsyth County Detention Center or are post-release and seeking residential or outpatient services to become healthy and productive members of our community.

Activities for incarcerated clients include weekly classes for up to 20 women. Over 700 women are served each year. We focus on increasing their knowledge of positive decision making, positive choices, goal setting, and breaking down barriers to improve their quality of life specifically for the women who are in domestic violence situations. We deliver spiritual literature and information about community resources to use upon release. The program head also conducts personal interviews during professional visits to gather information needed to successfully help each client upon release.

Activities for post-release women include a weekly support group at Hawley House (transportation provided); free dinner meals on Thursdays; referrals and transportation to Project Reentry, NC Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Crisis Control, Downtown Health Plaza, and Financial Pathways. We also provide assistance and transportation in getting Social Security cards and identification; and emergency financial assistance for rent, medications and utilities.

Outcomes sought for clients of The Hawley House and Project New Start include the following: better physical and mental health, gainful employment making a living wage, reliable housing and reunification with families when appropriate.

Hawley House residents are often referred from Project New Start.  It is estimated that 40-50% of residents come from this program.

The Hawley House and Project New Start program are important initiatives in the Mayor’s 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness.

  1. Gateway Sports and Wellness Center

The 96,000 square-foot Gateway Sports and Wellness Center has one of the largest aquatic centers in the Southeast, a Wellness Workout Center, an indoor track, a 3-court basketball gymnasium and more. Its programs and member services include land and water wellness classes, one-on-one guided journey to wellness and nutrition services, SilverSneakers & Silver & Fit (senior wellness programs), swim lessons, and much more.

Being a member of the Gateway facility allows the YWCA of Winston Salem & Forsyth County to fund the programs above and the life changing programs at the Gateway  facility.

At the Gateway facility, the YWCA “Change for Life” programs promote health and wellness among special populations, with special emphasis on chronic disease prevention and management.

In an effort to engage in targeted, evidence-based preventive health programs with measurable impact, the YWCA, in collaboration with Novant Health and WFBH, has launched a program called “Gateway to Success.”  This program serves Medicaid, dually insured and uninsured patients who are pre-diabetic or have type 2 diabetes. Doctors at the Downtown Health Plaza and in Novant practices refer the patients and follow their progress. The medical professionals provide a behavioral health specialist, dietitian, and wellness coach to meet regularly with participants at the Gateway facility, recognizing both the medical and behavioral issues surrounding diabetes.

The participants qualify for memberships at the Gateway facility as a result of a United Way grant. The YWCA upgrades the membership to the family level as an in-kind contribution to encourage family support of the patient’s lifestyle changes. The Gateway staff help participants stay encouraged, engaged and working toward their wellness and nutritional goals. Measurable outcomes change the patients’ A1C level and BMI.

Gateway YWCA