IT started in Albury providing shelter for young service women and, 70 years later, the Young Women’s Christian Association has grown to support women, families and communities in Albury-Wodonga.
The YWCA is celebrating its 70th birthday this weekend and its local branch is celebrating by hosting groups from across Australia as part of its national convention.
Wodonga’s Kat Bennett is co-president of the local organisation.
The 24-year-old Wodonga Council employee joined YWCA a year ago and she quickly rose through its ranks.
“It’s been an awesome opportunity for me as a young person. It’s just the opportunity to meet many different women,” she said.
“There’s no other organisation in Albury-Wodonga like it ...we’re responding on that local level and need.
“It’s a fantastic feeling to be contributing to this community.”
The group announced its yearly Young Women Leading Change community grants program recipients last night with organisations YES Youth and Family Services, Gateway Community Health’s young mother’s program and YMCA’s physical activity program all receiving funds.
Ms Bennett said the grants program has been one of the most rewarding aspects in YWCA’s history, which dates back to 1942 when it set up a “home away from home” for service women on leave and in transit through Albury.
It moved away from the accommodation side to expand to programs such as leadership training workshops, young mothers sessions and health programs. Its grants program has been running since 2009 and has given out $67,000 in community grants.
YWCA has had a presence in Australia for 150 years and the weekend’s convention attracted its former world president and the executive officer of YMCA Australia.
The women’s human rights movement is present in 120 countries.