The YWCA Empowerment Center got a new home on the city’s south side, moving its programs closer to the communities they serve.
The move represents the organization’s effort to reconnect with communities of color according to new CEO Vanessa McDowell.
“One thing that I have been intentional about as I’ve taken this role is rebuilding and repairing the relationship that YWCA has with communities of color,” McDowell said. “I think there’s a disconnect that has happened between YWCA and communities of color and we want to change that and make sure we’re visible.”
The center was originally located off of Fish Hatchery Road on Latham Dr, but was due for remodeling when McDowell first inherited the project three years ago from then-CEO Rachel Krinsky.
The location wasn’t ideal with limited parking, space, and no sidewalks.
“It just didn’t feel right,” McDowell said. So at the last minute, she decided to look for a new location.
After months of searching, McDowell found what she was looking for at 2040 S Park Street, a space and location that represented so much of where McDowell wants to take the organization.
“I was extremely excited because it was like wow we can be right here in the heart of our community and the community we serve,” she said. “There’s a lot of natural light in that building and for me, it’s representative of what we’re trying to do to bring a presence or a light into the community.”
The center will be home to YWCA’s restorative and racial justice departments as well the transportation department and job training department, including the YWeb Career Academy.
The location is also near many of YWCA’s partners such as the Urban League, Centro Hispano, and the Literacy Network and it is also close to the South Transfer Point.
The building became open to the public in mid-September and will operate under regular business hours in the beginning of October.
“I hope this provides more accessibility to our programs and allows us to engage with communities of color in a way we haven’t in the past,” McDowell said. “My overall goal for YWCA is that every touch with us is an empowering touch.”