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The YMCA/YWCA of the Central Okanagan looking to drop YWCA designation

Your neighbourhood Y may have have a less cumbersome name and a narrower mandate in the near future.

The YMCA/YWCA of the Central Okanagan is looking to drop its YWCA designation in the year ahead.

“While the board recognizes the important work of YWCA Canada in advocating for women’s equality, supporting women in crisis and promoting women’s leadership, we believe that there is a clear difference between YWCA Canada’s mandate and focus on advocacy and programs for women exclusively and our own local mission, strategic plan and focus on building a healthy community for all ages, genders, beliefs and circumstances,” said board chair Ron Stewardson.

The Central Okanagan YMCA-YWCA was formed in 1981.  At that time, the YMCA-YWCA category of membership in both YMCA Canada and YWCA Canada was popular for Ys that wanted to serve both genders as the YMCA was operated by men, serving men and boys and the YWCA was operated by women, serving women and girls.'

Since that time, YMCAs around the world have become family-focused and the YWCA philosophy and programs remain primarily for women.  Both YMCAs and YWCAs are charitable organizations.

“If approved by Members, this proposed change would not alter our commitment to offer programs and services for women, men, children and families”, said Sharon Peterson, the Y’s CEO.

“Our growing investment in programs to help both girls and boys build strong values and character, and ultimately become strong contributors to a healthy community, is a solid component of our mission and strategic plan .”

Discussions about voluntary withdrawal have been held with YWCA Canada.

“While we would be sad to see the Central Okanagan YMCA-YWCA withdraw its membership if the voting membership does agree to the Board’s proposal, we would welcome the opportunity to work with women in the Okanagan region to explore needs and service gaps for women and girls and the potential to continue to offer YWCA programming," ” said Paulette Senior, CEO for YWCA Canada.

The YWCA Bylaws require this decision to be considered by the Membership at two separate meetings which are scheduled for Sept 20 and Oct.3,.

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