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YWCA Central Alabama Celebrates 120 Years of Service

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LaRhonda Magras, CEO of YWCA Central Alabama, outlines numerous services provided by the organization. (Nicole S. Daniel, The Birmingham Times)

By Nicole S. Daniel

The Birmingham Times

Elected officials, community leaders, and residents gathered at the YWCA’s Central Alabama location Tuesday evening to begin the Y’s 120-year celebration.

LaRhonda Magras CEO of YWCA Central Alabama said she wanted to use the occasion to let people know all of the services offered by the organization.

“I think people still don’t know what the YWCA is …,” Magras said. “Some people think all we do is offer domestic violence services … we serve women, children, and families. We have a childcare center for low-income families and those families experiencing homelessness.”

The organization also has 135 units of affordable housing, Magras said. Some are one, two, three-bedroom houses and a family resource center in the Woodlawn community.

“There we do a lot of things around workforce development and domestic violence services. That’s our emergency shelter, and legal services. We really try to wrap services around that particular woman,” she said.

As the CEO, Magras said she is passionate about life changing and rewarding work of her position. “Transformation and lifesaving happen here. We’re very blessed and very fortunate to be here,” she said.

From left, Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Carole Smitherman; Birmingham City Council Pro Tem Crystal Smitherman and Bessemer Cutoff DA Lynneice Washington. (Nicole S. Daniel, The Birmingham Times)

Moving forward the YWCA will “look at our whole model,” said the CEO. “Our services emerge and evolve based on the needs of the community. It is time for us to do an assessment for what is needed in our community and be able to provide those services.”

Some had to be dropped because of COVID pandemic but Margras said those programs like youth development will be revisited.

Attendees helped the Y celebrate the occasion by singing happy birthday to acknowledge its 120 years of serving women and families of the community. Those present included Bessemer Cutoff DA Lynneice Washington, Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Carole Smitherman and Birmingham City Council Pro Tem Crystal Smitherman.

The organization was founded on March 24, 1903, by Maybelle Sloss. Over the years, its programs and services have evolved to include vocational and recreational programming to affordable housing, child care, violence prevention services, and voting rights education.

YWCA Central Alabama is a social justice organization whose work includes supporting victims and survivors of domestic violence through their emergency shelter services, counseling, advocacy, and other resources. For more information or question, contact the YW at 205-322-9922 or through their 24-hours crisis line at 205-322-4878 (HURT).