The AAUW Corpus Christi Branch held a meeting via Zoom on December 5, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. After introductions of guests and a short business meeting, Program Vice President Dr. Sylvia Rendon introduced our guest speaker, Alma Gomez, YW Teen Program Director at YWCA Corpus Christi.
YW Teen Program
Alma Gomez started with a brief history of the YW Teen Program, noting that it began in 1946 and was originally targeted for 15- to 17-year-old girls. Given the challenges teens face early in today’s society, the program is now offered at the Corpus Christi Independent School District and the West Oso Independent School District to all 5th and 6th grade girls, ages 10 to 12. A typical YW Teen girl is about 11 years old, economically disadvantaged, in temporary living arrangements, and attending an “underperforming” school. The program addresses many of the issues young girls face, such as bullying, developing respect for others, making good decisions, and how to become a leader among their peers.
Based on feedback and responses received from YW Teen participants, the YW Teen program surpasses its goals:
- 92% of participants recognize the need to continue in school and graduate
- 92% of participants learn to accept people different from themselves
- 91% of participants learn to make smart decisions for their lives
- 90% of participants learn to take responsibility for their actions
Alma stated that YW Teen girls report that they feel more confident and have attained courage to face the world because of what they have learned through the program. Many call it an “awesome” program and talk about how they have learned from each other and learned to respect each other.
COVID restrictions have impacted the program this year, but the YWCA staff has found ways to adjust the program to meet social distancing requirements. They distributed backpacks via home deliveries before school started, and the fall semester has included mailouts, Facebook videos, Zoom sessions, pickups at the YWCA office, and various outdoor activities.
Kelly Gonzalez, AAUW Community Outreach Chair, reminded members that we will be sponsoring our annual holiday shopping spree for the YW Teen program, with a few modifications this year. Several members will be putting together individual packages with multiple family gift items for each girl, and the packages will be distributed at the YWCA via a drive-by event. Bags, tissue, and tags will be included in the packages so that girls have the opportunity to individually wrap each gift for their family members.
President Shirley Selz thanked Alma Gomez and Nancy Wesson-Dodd, AAUW member and president/CEO of YWCA Corpus Christi, for the program presentation. If you are interested in volunteering for future YW Teen program events once social distancing restrictions are lifted, contact Alma Gomez at the YWCA.
Scavenger Hunt and Raffle Drawing
After the speaker’s presentation, Program Vice President Dr. Sylvia Rendon introduced the scavenger hunt event that was organized in lieu of our typical holiday luncheon. Dr. Vickie Natale shared a list of 15 holiday items on the screen with a countdown clock and holiday music, giving members 15 minutes to find 15 items around their homes. Members got very creative with their “finds.” Janet Blanke and Dr. Catherine Cox showed off their artistic abilities with drawings of an item they lacked. Several members shared older photographs of times spent in the snow, and the “ugly Christmas sweaters” displayed were adorable. Perhaps the most creative was Susan Birchfield who made a Christmas-shaped cookie by cutting out bread and spreading sugar and cinnamon on top – all within the 15-minute time limit! Sylvia Rendon awarded the prizes (chocolate included) that she will personally deliver to the recipients’ homes. The first prize went to KayLynn Lyon who found 13 of the 15 items (and who had an AAUW notepad with her maiden name on it from 30 years ago!). Second prize went to Peggy Duran for the most unusually AAUW-printed item presented, and the third prize went to both Peggy Duran and Sylvia Whitworth for having a Nutcracker music CD. Lots of smiles and laughter were shared.
The last item on our agenda was the raffle ticket drawing. AAUW members were quite generous this season, and the raffle drawing netted the Branch over $1,200 that will be used for our community outreach programs and other activities this year. The gift card winners were: Kelly Gonzalez, Dr. Sylvia Rendon, and Michelle Balis. Congratulations, ladies!
Story by Dr. Vickie Natale; photo from YWCA Corpus Christi