Giving Tuesday: Open a Door of Hope

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A fundraising campaign for YWCA Binghamton/Broome County

“Feeling like you matter is a huge part of hope.”
 – Bonnie, YWCA Resident

YWCABinghamton/Broome County has been serving the women and children of the Southern Tier since 1892, and has resided in its current location since 1919. Affiliated with the YWCA USA, YWCA Binghamton/Broome County is a part of the world’s oldest women’s organization with associations across the USA and in 110 countries. 

YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. 

YWCA Binghamton/Broome County has four programs operating out of 80 Hawley Street in Downtown Binghamton: 

  • Residential/Homeless Housing: Dedicated to helping homeless women face issues of domestic violence, substance abuse, financial loss, mental health problems as well as vocational and educational needs. There are five programs designed to meet varying levels of need, such as independent living skills, intensive case management, and permanent supportive housing to name a few. We also offer the only program providing a supportive living environment for mothers in recovery with babies born addicted to opiates with 24-hour-a-day staff support including supportive counseling for addiction, individual counseling, case management, and supportive services such as vocational/educational and mental health counseling

  • ENCOREplus: An education, outreach and advocacy program that provides access to breast/cervical cancer screenings for uninsured or underinsured women. We also work to break down barriers that prevent women from obtaining services such as lack of transportation or childcare.

  • Young Wonders Early Childhood Center: Serves children aged 6 weeks to 5 years. Our classrooms are designed around individualized, loving active learning environments where children learn by doing, and play is the largest component.

  • Perfectly Suited: Provides free professional clothing for needy women and men for job interviews and the workplace. 

    A donation to the YWCA is more than just a donationit saves lives and bestows hope, dignity, safety, and self-sufficiency.

  Below is “Bonnie’s Story,” which will demonstrate how profoundly your donation affects real people. Our shelter truly restored Bonnie’s sense of hope just knowing someone, anyone, cared: “For the first time, I didn’t feel invisible." 

Her story is tragic and her recovery remarkable; it is thanks to our supporters that we are able to open doors of hope and help shut out hopelessness when the unexpected and unfortunate happens.

We rely on people who believe in our mission to ensure women and their children have a safe place to turn when faced with the dire situations that lead them to the doors of our shelter; to ensure that women without adequate health insurance can access free lifesaving cancer screenings; and to ensure parents can work with peace of mind knowing their children are being cared for in a high-quality early childhood center. 

        “YWCA gave me a sense of hope and of what life could be—this is a start. It’s not about where I’ve been. It’s about where I am now, and where I’m going.” 

    Bonnie first attempted suicide at age 10.

    She was born into a family with addiction issues; physically, emotionally, and sexually abused; bullied at school; and taught to steal — by her grandmother— at the age of 13 to help provide clothing and food for her younger sisters. 

    The first time she felt loved was at age 13 when her parents allowed her to get drunk with them. There was dancing and even laughter instead of the usual beatings and neglect that made up her daily life. Thirteen was also when her mom taught her to flirt with men at bars to get favors, and when she first smoked marijuana.

    By age 16, Bonnie was homeless and living under a bridge. She tried to get help from social services, but they determined her parents were responsible for her. Her parents claimed she was living with them, but they would not allow her into the house. She started sleeping with men for food and the occasional place to stay for the night.

    Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and bi-polar disorder, Bonnie spent the next 20 years consumed by addiction and was in and out of rehab and jail many times. She tried every drug that was available including pain pills, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, and heroin. Hoping to escape this cycle, each time she shot up, she said she wished that would be the time she would die.

    A turning point came when recently, at 37, homeless and about to be released from jail, a judge ordered her to stay at the YWCA.

    When she arrived at our emergency shelter and saw that she had toiletries, a pillow, blankets, and food, she became overwhelmed and began to cry at the thought that there are people out there who actually care. She had always felt invisible and unworthy of these things that most of us take for granted.

    “The YWCA staff went above and beyond to get me to the next step,” she said. “It was a welcoming, safe environment with staff that is waiting to help you. I was excited to have the opportunity to live and feel human, and worth something. For the first time, I have a home.

    The structure and accountability made a huge difference in her ability to stay on track to recovery. “Your counselor can see that you’re not okay, even when you cannot,” she said. “It is so important to have people who follow through with you. Feeling like you matter is a huge part of hope.” 

    She is still waiting for a bed to become available at a rehabilitation center. Meanwhile, she has become active in the community: starting an addiction recovery program through her church; joining the board of I’m Dope without Dope; and filming a first person perspective video about addiction and recovery for a local news station. Bonnie hopes to go back to school to become a counselor or social worker.

    “YWCA gave me a sense of hope and of what life could be—this is a start. It’s not about where I’ve been. It’s about where I am now, and where I’m going.”

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    About the Organization

    YWCA Binghamton/Broome County

    YWCA of Binghamton/Broome County
    YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, dignity and freedom for all. Our programs at YWCA Binghamton/Broome County include Residential Services: emergency shelter, supportive housing, and programming for homeless women who face issues of domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health; ENCOREplus: provides breast cancer outreach, education and advocacy as well as assists women in accessing free annual mammograms and PAP screenings; and Young Wonders Early Childhood Centers: provides a loving, caring learning environment for children ensuring they are kindergarten ready.