Frequently Asked Questions
Who are we?
Q. What is YWCA Metro Vancouver?
A. YWCA Metro Vancouver is a volunteer and membership-based organization that serves the community at large. We are a registered charity and a member of the United Way of the Lower Mainland.
We are a resource for women and their families and provide programs and integrated services that foster economic independence, wellness and equal opportunities. You can find us at numerous locations across Metro Vancouver. We are also part of a larger network of YWCAs across Canada and around the world.
Q. What is the strategic focus of the YWCA?
A. Our work aims to address the systemic causes of poverty and social inequality and the particular challenges faced by single moms. YWCA Metro Vancouver's 2011 strategic plan includes key advocacy strategies, which are to:
- Engage business leaders to support public investment in early learning and child care
- Raise public awareness of the inappropriate sexualization of women and girls in media
- Integrate our advocacy messages regarding housing, anti-violence, work/life balance and single moms into YWCA materials and CEO speaking opportunities
- Work with governments and community to implement reforms to better serve mothers without legal status in Canada
Q. What are our values?
A. We have four core values that reflect the culture of the organization:
- Responsibility and Accountability
- Holistic Well-being
Q. How is YWCA Metro Vancouver related to other YWCAs?
A. We are linked to other YWCAs across Canada and around the world. But even though our network extends globally, we think locally. That way we can serve you better. Most of our programs and activities are developed to meet demands that are specific to Greater Vancouver residents.
Q. How are the Vancouver chapters of YWCA and the YMCA related?
A. We might have similar names but we are separate entities. We have different boards, different mandates and different histories. The main difference is that the YWCA focuses on the welfare and equality of women and their families. The YMCA, meanwhile, is dedicated to "bringing people together." For more information on the YMCA, see their website at http://www.vanymca.org/.
Who do we serve?
Q. Do you have to be a young woman to get help from the YWCA?
A. Not at all. All kinds of people can use our services and programs. We have something for everyone, whether you're young or old, male or female. We offer child care centres, youth and mentorship programs, career services, counselling and support services, and a co-ed health and fitness centre, just to name a few!
Q. So why are you called the Young Women's Christian Association?
A. The name goes back 100 years to our creation. Our founders were dedicated Christian women who were concerned about the living conditions and salvation of young women in their community.
Today, we have a much broader focus. While we still strive to be at the forefront of social change, we also offer a wide variety of programs and services to help women and their families improve many aspects of their lives.
We've kept the name because it's part of our heritage. It also has to do with brand recognition: If you're in a foreign country and need some assistance, you'll know the YWCA is the place to go!
Today, the YWCA stands for inclusion and support no matter where you are or who you are.
Our membership is as diverse as the community we serve. We work with everyone, regardless of race, religion, age or gender.
Q. Can men take part in YWCA programs?
A. Men are welcome to take part in many aspects of the YWCA. They can use the YWCA Health + Fitness Centre and the YWCA Hotel. Many of our employment and child care programs are also available to males.
But many of our other services are geared towards women and families. We feel that with our history, our mandate and our limited resources, there is still so much to do to address the special needs of women.
But that doesn't mean we aren't open to change. We are doing on-going research to see where we can better meet the demands of our community. So let us know if you have any suggestions.
Q. If you're a charity, why don't you only serve the poor?
A. The YWCA (and the government of Canada) believes charities have a very wide mandate that looks beyond helping the poor. We are called a charity because we strive to enrich and improve the lives of all people living in our community.
What about money?
Q. Why do you charge money for many of your services when it's obvious that many people can't afford it?
A. We charge reasonable rates for the services we provide. But if you can't afford to pay, you will not be left out in the cold. You can apply for full or partial subsidy for any of our programs and services, including our Health + Fitness Centre and YWCA Hotel.
What do we believe?
Q. What does the YWCA believe about equality for women?
A. The YWCA believes in equal opportunities for women and men. We also know, however, that we can't be idle and wait for the system to evolve all by itself. At the YWCA, we work to foster change by educating the public on the status of women.
We also support and encourage you to help initiate these societal changes yourself.
Q. Does the YWCA become publicly involved in issues that affect the community?
A. As often as we can. We are currently focusing on three key issues: violence against women, the development of a national child care system, and support for single mothers. We also work with other YWCAs on a national level on campaigns such as the YWCA Week Without Violence Campaign.