YWCA Metropolitan Chicago is the oldest and largest women’s organization in the region, with a mission to eliminate racism and empower women. For more than 140 years, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago has been committed to serving the evolving needs of women and families.
How do you define a ‘well’ community?
YWCA Metropolitan Chicago considers ‘well’ communities to be those where women and their families are physically, mentally and financially healthy. They must have freedom from violence as well as the ability to access quality education and training, and obtaining economic stability.
What additional public/private and community/corporate partnerships do you think are necessary to ensure social disparities don’t get in the way of good health?
We believe improving and expanding existing partnerships are great ways to maximize trust and resources to minimize the effects of social disparities on health. For example, YWCA is not only the largest provider of sexual assault services in Illinois but, working with a variety of our long-term public and private partners, we have added Economic Empowerment programs and education through our Women’s Health Exchange to provide a holistic approach to addressing our client’s overall mental, physical and emotional health needs.
What can community members do to ensure that we’re all truly working as ‘one community’? Local and state government? The media?
To ensure action as ‘one community,’ it is the principal responsibility of the citizens to stay alert, active and engaged. If individuals aren’t aware of issues at the community level, it is impossible to identify needs and take steps to affect change. The media’s role is to investigate and report on those issues and help amplify the voice of the community. And local and state government officials have the obligation to listen to their communities and work together to craft solutions. Elected officials and individuals then must work together with corporate and nonprofit partners, such as YWCA, to deliver on those solutions. Working together, all segments create ‘one community’ and, hopefully, a ’well community.’