In 1981, the YWCA opened the community's first emergency domestic-violence shelter as violence in relationships was being reported more and more. Today, the Resolve Family Abuse Program offers round-the-clock shelter, a crisis hot line and other services for domestic-violence victims in Kanawha, Clay and Boone counties.
Homelessness and poverty, too, were on the rise in the early 1980s.
"[There were] large numbers of women with children becoming homeless," Weinstein said. "That was a relatively new phenomena in this community and in this country, [and the YWCA] offered to open up a shelter for homeless women and children in its building."
The YWCA's homeless shelter, Sojourner's, exists today as a 75-bed facility on Washington Street East.
"We wrap many services around these women and children in order to have them move out of the cycle of homelessness to becoming self-sufficient and self-reliant human beings," Weinstein said.
The YWCA also offers permanent housing for the chronically homeless with its Empowerment Homes for Women.
In the early 2000s, the YWCA opened up a used clothing store and a used furniture store to help fund its programs. Revenue from the Past & Present Gently Used Clothing Store offsets the operating costs for the YWCA's transitional housing for battered women. Known as the Alicia McCormick Homes for Battered and Homeless Women and Children, the program offers 18 months of housing to residents who contribute a third of their income to offset costs.
The used furniture store, 2nd Seating, opened in 2003 at 412 Elizabeth St. to help offset the costs of the YWCA Elder Abuse Initiative, which was in the development stages.
"We were seeing more and more elderly and disabled women who were being exploited, victimized and were experiencing homelessness because of it," Weinstein said. "[They were] landing in our homeless shelter. Thus, we created programming to address these needs."
In 2006, the YWCA opened the Shanklin Center for Senior Enrichment, a permanent supportive-housing program for disabled women who were victims of elder abuse and are homeless because of the abuse.
The eight apartments stay full, Weinstein said. She added that the elder-abuse problem in the United States is much like domestic violence was in the 1970s. People talk about it, but not much is being done to stop it at this point, she said.
"The YWCA is trying to take some leadership here in trying to create some programming," Weinstein said.
Last year, the YWCA moved its headquarters to the previous home of the Clay Foundation, on Kanawha Boulevard, after the foundation's board members voted to donate the building to the YWCA. The Clay Foundation also gave the organization an endowment of $2 million, which the organization matched with fundraising.
The YWCA continues to offer physical activity services through its partnership with Nautilus at the Quarrier Street location.
Looking to the future, Weinstein said elder abuse and women in war are two areas that perhaps the YWCA will focus on next.
"[Women in the military] is a whole new phenomenon for our country," she said. "Women are on the front lines. In the '40s, the YWCA helped to recruit women to join the military and the war effort, but we are, only now in the last five years, seeing women join the military and getting up to the front lines.
"This is going to have tremendous ramifications for women who are single women and women with families."
One of those ramifications is post-traumatic stress disorder, which Weinstein said is likely to affect the day-to-day lives of women differently than it does men.
"That's an issue we're looking at," she said.
Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.