Dr. Michelle Rosynsky, current YWCA Greater Flint CEO, has a dream. It started years back, when she was a member of the YWCA GF board of directors. Then, she imagined a place in Flint that would act as a hub for women to get together, support one another, learn valuable life skills and more; now, her dream is nearing reality. “We are in the process of acquiring the remaining funding needed to construct and implement the Women’s Empowerment Center at the YWCA,” says Rosynsky. “The YWCA’s mission is eliminating racism and empowering women and the new facility will help us to fulfill that mission. We have been supporting women since the YWCA Greater Flint was founded in 1908 and now, we are continuing to fulfill our mission in a new and exciting way.”
For the last 20-years, the YWCA has supported and offered help to women dealing with domestic violence, serving approximately 2,500 clients each year with counseling, advocacy and court support, and a Safehouse Emergency Shelter. The organization is also home to the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Center which provides immediate medical attention to both female and male survivors of sexual assault. These integral services will continue while the new Women’s Empowerment Center (WEC) will expand service to include new physical spaces for women and girls to gather and learn, a curriculum focused on racial and gender equity and women’s leadership and empowerment. This new multi-pronged model for women’s empowerment is expected to enhance knowledge and self-efficacy, cultivate networks, and challenge historic patterns of racial and gender discrimination and promote women’s equity and access.
“Our current programs (although extremely important) were not fulfilling the full mission of the YWCA,” says Rosynsky. “The new center will be a safe place for women and girls to gather and learn life skills including financial management, leadership skills and economic empowerment.” Visitors to the center will have a chance to meet with life coaches to discuss life goals, develop action plans and be connected with resources available in the Flint community. “We want to empower women to expand themselves and their opportunities through better confidence and education,” she adds.
The WEC areas of focus include:
- Life Skills Coaching & Programming: focusing on self-esteem, self-care, parenting skills and housing options
- Economic Empowerment: offering work readiness, financial literacy and job search support
- Racial Justice & Equity Education: through Challenging Racism workshops, the Stand Against Racism Campaign and the YWomen vote program
- Leadership Development: offering cohort mentoring programs and classes in problem solving, team-building, negotiation, etc.
The WEC programs will also include middle-school-aged girls with after-school workshops. Topics include personal identity exploration, leadership skill development, career planning, healthy relationships, implicit bias training and more. “We will also develop two-generational programming for mothers and daughters to learn and bond,” adds Rosynsky. “We want to help them work together and support one another.”
Once the WEC is established, YWCA leadership would like to open up a satellite office in the north end of Flint to better serve the female population there. Upon completion of the center, women will be able to sign-up for a class or program by contacting the Flint YWCA or visiting ywcaflint.org.
The YWCA was able to move forward quickly with the development of the WEC after receiving a $1 million dollar donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Currently, the YWCA needs approximately an additional $500,000 to achieve finalization of the facility.
“We are in phase two of implementation and are looking to secure the final funding needed for construction and program development,” informs Rosynsky. “Every dollar counts. To help with securing the funding, we have gathered a dynamic group of women to help us achieve our financial goal. The committee is led by two amazing women, Judy Ebbott and Kathi Horton, who are committed to making a difference in our community and at the YWCA.”
“We are thrilled to see the YWCA exercise bold leadership and build on their solid track record of meeting critical needs of women and children. The new Women’s Empowerment Center will exponentially expand the impact of the YW and ensure that the women of our community can thrive!” Kathi Horton
“The YWCA has been central to my life since I first enrolled my children in the nursery and swimming programs. I have been a volunteer at all levels of the organization, including President of the Board of Directors. The YW empowered me, and empowerment of all women has always been a pivotal goal in all areas of my life. I am happy to give back in more one area to Flint and to the YWCA.” Judy Ebbott
To donate to the project, visit ywcaflint.org, navigate to “get involved” and click on “donate” in the drop box.
As women continue to fight for equality, the importance of support and education of all women is paramount. The WEC at the YWCA Greater Flint will provide a place of confidence, safety and trust for those working to change the world. Rosynsky, staff and the YWCA board of directors are all excited about the project’s potential. “Women are more likely to succeed when they have the support of their peers,” adds Rosynsky. “We are working to fulfill our missions of empowering women and eliminating racism, and the Women’s Empowerment Center is the next step. We are preparing women to be leaders and to change Flint far into the future.”
Photography by Kayce McClure