CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In 1912, the goal of the newly formed YWCA Charleston was to encourage young women. With that in mind, the organization will continue its centennial celebration with a special event aimed at tomorrow's leaders.
"Young Women Leading Change," aimed at women and girls ages 15 to 35, will take place from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Clay Center.
Participants will attend small group workshops to learn ways to lead change -- by understanding differences, improving communities and becoming tomorrow's leaders. A networking lunch will feature retired Army Lt. Col. Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch, who will speak at the close of the conference.
Kara Williams, president of the YWCA board of directors and head of the program committee for the centennial celebration, sees this as a way to add substance to the celebration.
"We started planning for the centennial more than a year ago," Williams said. The group wanted to look forward to the next century as well as celebrate the accomplishments of the past during this anniversary.
"The YWCA offers a wide range of social services, and we were looking at all of the emerging issues that we see. We finally had a 'light bulb' moment and said, 'We can't tackle all of these issues in a half-day conference!'
"It was too much, too big, so we decided what we can do is help prepare the next generation with the tools needed to address these concerns."
So they looked at their strategic plan, which encourages them to engage the community's youth. That's when they realized this topic was the right one to pursue.
"Ages 15 to 35 is an interesting demographic," Williams said. "At one of our YWCA board meetings, we asked the group members, all successful women in their fields, to invite a young woman whom they know who has leadership potential to come to the 'Women of Achievement' luncheon. You could see them getting excited about this idea." The women and girls they invited determined the age-group focus for the conference.
"We looked at the whole concept of going through life, and as you proceed, you often have your hand up, asking for help," Williams said. "You need to have your hand back, to help someone else along. When you reach a hand back, you get so much more. We want to promote that type of giving."
Riverside High School rising senior Nichelle Draganowski, an active member of the YWCA board, has rallied her friends to join her at the conference.
"I, certainly, will be attending along with at least 10 friends. I am still recruiting though and plan on getting every slot available filled with local young women I know need and deserve this opportunity," Draganowski said.