This year two members of our whānau reached their twenty year tenure with the YWCA Aotearoa. I had a chat with Carole, manager of YWCA Whangarei and Anne, manager of YWCA Hamilton, both whom have become well respected and integral members of their local communities, to find out about the highs and lows of their two decades with us.
What has been the best thing about working with the Y?
Carole: The People- From those I work with, alongside side, meet, network with, support and assist. I spend a great deal of my time/life at the ‘Y’ so that’s important to me. Love the YWCA Purpose.
Anne: The ever-changing variety of work and personal contact which comes from being a small part of a national and international YWCA movement making a difference for women and families.
What has been (or is) the biggest challenge you have encountered in your journey?
Carole: Accessing funding especially for the hostel. We wanted to add more rooms back in 2006 which would have been a huge asset then but even more so now, but funding the project was not possible without funding assistance. There is such a need for accommodation such as the YWCA hostel and emergency housing yet little funding for such an important and necessary aspect of people’s lives. It is an essential basic need. People need a place to sleep, rest and have personal space where they feel safe.
Anne: The upkeep of rundown old buildings has been one of my biggest ongoing challenges.
What are you the most proud of in your time working with the Y?
Carole: The workshops we have run and continue to run for young women to build self-esteem/positive body image. The YWCA Northland ‘Women of Distinction’ awards we held in 2010 to recognise and acknowledge women who had made a commitment and a significant difference in her community and/or the larger world, and whose achievements demonstrated vision, creativity and initiative, our stand against Violence-the White Ribbon and Say No to Violence events we have held and been part of.
Anne: Helping to organise the Pacific/Australasia YWCA RTI (Regional Training Institute) held at the now-defunct YWCA of Rotorua. Carole also attended this. Seven countries and the World YWCA President attended this RTI, held at Waiariki campus. Contributing to several young Hamilton/Waikato YWCA women's attendance at quadrennial World YWCA conferences held in locations ranging from Brisbane, Nairobi and Zurich; Pacific RTIs (Fiji); the World AIDS conference (Vienna) and UNCSW, New York.
So much has changed in time you’ve been working at the Y and in the women’s movement, especially in the last couple of years with the groundswell of #metoo and the changing political landscape for gender equality. What are you hoping to see in the next few years for the women’s movement?
Carole: Personally I would like to see a decrease in family violence and substance abuse.
Anne: I'd like to see intergenerational women progressing forward together, expressing a variety of views and opinions. We've all fought and won battles at all stages of our life so far and can learn from and listen to each other's challenges and how to overcome them.
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you started at the Y, what would it be?
Carole: Three things: never assume, your voice matters, you can learn something from everyone.
Anne: Quickly learn how to prepare successful funding applications (and how to move on from the declined applications!). Build long-term, authentic relationships.
Carole and Anne, we thank you for your wisdom and the amazing work you have contributed in your two decades of service. We’re excited to see what comes next for you both.