By Karim Shamsi-Basha
LaRhonda Magras, CEO of the YWCA Central Alabama, sees the mission of the YWCA coinciding with her own personal mission in life.
“The mission of the YWCA is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. That mission lives in the soul of everyone here at the YWCA,” Magras said. “This mission and my own personal goals in life are one.”
The YWCA has taken on this social movement for more than 160 years. Its leaders including Magras combine programming and advocacy in order to generate institutional and powerful social change.
Magras points to the many women who have empowered her over her lifetime, from high school teachers to mentors in college and beyond. Now she says she wants to give back at the YWCA through the many programs it offers women and children.
“We offer a wide range of services. Since when we were founded, our services have evolved. Through the years, we have evolved our programming to meet the emerging needs of our community,” Magras said. “We offer 137 units of housing. We also work with domestic violence and as an emergency shelter for the whole family.”
The YWCA also caters to children with a variety of programs such as the After School Program and a Child Development Center. The YWCA is holding a huge program for children soon.
“We had a big event on the 13th of February at the BJCC called ‘KIDS Korner.’ It was focused on raising awareness for homeless children in our area,” Magras said.
Areas of focus for the YWCA and Magras include racial justice and civil rights, empowerment and economic advancement, and health and safety. There are 205 YWCAs across the country with more than 2 million people served. These numbers do not surprise Magras.
“The YWCA is huge when it comes to helping women and children. To see these women and their families come through our doors with no hope for the future, then to see our staff pour into them and help them get back on their feet, makes everything I do worthwhile,” Magras said. “It makes me feel fulfilled. Doing the work I do is extremely rewarding, I believe I’m where I need to be.”
Living out her mission in life, and having this mission coincide with the mission of the YWCA, gives Magras all she needs to operate as an Alabama Bright Light.
Alabama Bright Lights captures the stories, through words, pictures and video, of some of our state’s brightest lights who are working to make Alabama an even better place to live, work and play. Award-winning journalist Karim Shamsi-Basha tells their inspiring stories. Email him comments, as well as suggestions on people to profile, at firstname.lastname@example.org.