YWCA Central Alabama

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YWCA Central Alabama (originally the Young Women's Christian Association, also called Birmingham YWCA) is a non-profit service organization that provides . The Central Alabama chapter was founded in 1903 and is headquartered in the YWCA Building at 309 23rd Street North in downtown Birmingham. Its current mission is, "dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all." To that end, the organization works to provide affordable housing, child development programs, domestic violence services and social justice programming with a special emphasis on the working poor.

Maybelle Sloss led the efforts to establish a YWCA chapter in Birmingham through her bible class at First Methodist Church. With their financial support, the chapter was incorporated on March 24, 1903. They rented the former Frank Y. Anderson residence at 720 21st Street North in 1905 to establish a home for struggling women. Under the leadership of Anna McLester from 1909 to 1933 the organization grew significantly. In her first year as president the YWCA purchased the former Pollock-Stephens Institute at 423 19th Street North, and then expanded it in 1912 with a gymnasium, swimming pool and dormitory wing. That same year a separate YWCA chapter for African American women was founded by Pauline Jackson. The two chapters began formally working together as early as 1932.

Mary Davis Stradley was hired as executive director to manage the YWCA's day-to-day operations in 1914. With record numbers of women moving into the city to work during World War I the organization's resources were strained. Former board member Rosa Earle Munger donated the property on the Little Cahaba River in Trussville that became Camp Mary Munger in 1924.

In 1948 the Birmingham YWCA purchased the former Dixie Carlton Hotel (originally the Birmingham Men's Athletic Club). Newly appointed executive director Lucille Crabtree helped oversee renovations. A child care program was added in 1984. Two years later the YWCA took over operation of the Family Violence Center. The group began providing transitional housing to women moving out of shelters in 1987. The YWCA building was renovated in the 1990s, providing 64 new apartments along with a Women's Resource Center and an arts center.

The chapter hosted the 2001 National Association of YWCA Executives annual meeting. In 2006 the chapter took over operations of the Interfaith Hospitality House, relaunching it as a component of the YWoodlawn initiative supported by the Goodrich Foundation which also expanded affordable housing options in Birmingham's Woodlawn neighborhood. The group opened a YWCA Family Resource Center nearby in 2011.

Executive directors

External links