By Catriona Todd | Photos Courtesy of YWCA
Now in its 87th year, the YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County is a leading community organization serving nearly 4,000 registered members. With an overarching mission of eliminating racism and empowering women, the YWCA strives to enable personal and community growth.
Adams County is a multicultural community, and the YWCA is its gathering place. Ashley Andyshak Hayes, director of advocacy and public relations, says, “Working at the YWCA, I have met so many people with different backgrounds, interests, and experiences. There’s something for everyone [because]it brings together such a diverse group of people.”
Many programs make up the cornerstone of the YWCA’s mission to empower women. Through programming in the Gettysburg Area School District, young women are encouraged to explore the STEM career fields, which lack diversity, including science, technology, engineering, and math. Other programs focus on improving fitness and self-esteem.
The annual Day of Transformation, held in April, allows underserved women in the community to obtain professional clothing and advice regarding resumes and interviewing, free of charge. This event is dedicated to the memory and legacy of Jennifer Weaver, who served as an executive director of the YWCA, a founding mother of Survivors, Inc., and vice president of HACC’s Gettysburg campus.
For some members, the journey to fitness has created opportunities to empower others along the same path, and even provide the confidence required to pursue new endeavors. AmyBeth Hodges, a local business owner, borough councilwoman, and mother of three, began her journey at the YWCA in an effort to get fit after the birth of her first child. Five years ago she became an instructor and was voted Pick of the County’s number one trainer in 2015.
“The Y opened up doors for me,” Hodges says as she describes finding her passion for fitness. She finds encouragement in gathering with other like-minded women who can be positive role models for one another as they “build up self-confidence through fitness and have the support of other females.”
For single parents or two-career families, childcare is essential. The YWCA offers childcare in two locations and currently has 305 children enrolled in its child enrichment programs. Full-time and part-time care is available for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years. The TLC program, known as “Temporary Loving Care,” is also available for children while their parents are using the facilities.
“They have a wonderful childcare program,” Hodges says. Her 5-year-old takes part in the TLC program while the rest of the family focuses on fitness. “[The childcare staff] have loved my children. If I didn’t have confidence my children were being taken care of well, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to take so many classes.”
The YWCA also holds Cultural Celebration Events, which explore cultures observed in Adams County in an effort to increase diversity and acceptance within the community. The annual Unity Walk, held each fall, leads participants through various locations where they can learn about the past and present of their community. Through these events, participants are encouraged to realize that differences can do more to strengthen a community than to divide it.
“Education is the key to teaching acceptance,” says Debra Sandoe McCauslin, a local historian, author, and past member of the Hallmark Committee, which promotes the YWCA’s mission. “Traveling and learning about other cultures brings awareness, and that’s what the Y does. It gives people a chance to see that different isn’t bad; it’s just different.”
“Having a community center that offers such a variety of opportunities for fitness, wellness, and social interaction brings together people who may not otherwise cross paths,” Andyshak Hayes points out. “This helps us work toward the YWCA mission of eliminating racism as well as many of the other ‘-isms’ that limit our acceptance of others.”
To learn more about the YWCA facilities and programs firsthand, the third Saturday of each month (noon-5 p.m.) is Free YW Day, where members of the public may enjoy the pool, whirlpool, fitness center, racquetball courts, and gymnasium at no charge. There are also Family Swim hours every weekend for community members to use the pool at a minimal charge.
Whether your interests lie in fitness, emotional empowerment, or simply engaging in the community, there
is something for everyone at the local YWCA. Learn more at