In 1935, a group of 30 dedicated women sought to incorporate a YWCA in the eastern portion of Los Angeles County. They felt that the needs of women and girls in the San Gabriel Valley were growing with the population and that there needed to be an organization that would give women the resources to grow and prosper.
After World War II, the San Gabriel Valley and the surrounding suburbs of Los Angeles experienced an immense population boom. The YWCA San Gabriel Valley decentralized in order to better serve the larger community. Both the La Verne YWCA and the YWCA Foothills in Glendora were founded at this time.
It was during this time of growth and expansion that the YWCA San Gabriel Valley began to offer a variety of classes and programs to help women enrich their lives and the lives of their families. Swimming classes, teen clubs, the Eco Espanol Club in which members practiced Spanish, a thrift shop, a Career Clinic for High School students, conferences on racism, child care and a variety of volunteer programs for the poor were the hallmark of the YWCA during the 50's and 60's.
The face of the San Gabriel Valley was changing rapidly. As a member of the world's largest multi-cultural organization, the YWCA San Gabriel Valley was quick to respond to these changes. The YWCA partnered with other local organizations to address the issues and concerns of people living in the San Gabriel Valley. During the 70's, with the help of local community advocates, the YWCA embarked on a campaign to help the growing immigrant community learn vital English and job skills while helping advance a wider cultural awareness in the San Gabriel Valley.
Women were also joining the workforce in record numbers. So in 1972, the YWCA initiated a new child care program that focused on individual child development and developing interpersonal relationships in a multi-cultural community. The YWCA's Child Services now serves over 200 children annually through its extended day care and summer camp programs.
The 1980's and 90's saw an expansion of YWCA services that began to confront the needs of senior citizens and women experiencing violence at home. The original rape crisis hotline established by volunteers in the 70's was quickly expanded to meet the desperate needs of women suffering domestic abuse. Today, WINGS Domestic Violence Shelter and Outreach is the second largest domestic violence center in Los Angeles County. It is the only facility to accept teenage boys under 18 into the shelter environment, thus keeping the family intact as much as possible. Today, WINGS Domestic Violence Programs serve more than 19,000 women and children annually who come to us for help from all over the United States.
In 1986, YWCA San Gabriel Valley joined with Intervale Senior Services to provide for the nutritional needs of San Gabriel Valley seniors. That service has since expanded by leaps and bounds, serving approximately 1,500 clients every day with urgency case management, reassurance calls, home bound meal delivery, and services through senior centers all over the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys.
The YWCA San Gabriel Valley faces the 21st Century with a continued dedication to empowering women and girls and eliminating racism, sexism, poverty and violence. The establishment of a Speakers Bureau, along with a variety of community partnership initiatives, and possible facility expansion are our current issues. Our past gives us the knowledge that, come what may, we are a community-based organization that is ready, willing, and able to tackle the challenges of this century. We look forward to a bright future, knowing that our hard work and determination will produce the results we espouse in our mission statement.