Celebrating 125 Years of Sisterhood

Celebrating Sisterhood Image

On March 12, 2013, approximately 200 of Brooklyn’s community leaders, elected officials, activists and supporters, celebrated a landmark occasion: the 125th Anniversary of the YWCA of Brooklyn. The 125th Gala and Auction was held at the Roulette Theater in downtown Brooklyn.

Executive Director Martha Kamber and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz jointly recognized three YWCA residents as “Good Neighbors.” The recipients received a YWCA Certificate of Commendation from Ms. Kamber, and an official Brooklyn Proclamation from B.P. Markowitz. In bestowing the honors, Ms. Kamber said: “While the YWCA of Brooklyn is many things to many people –most importantly, it is home to 299 women – and a few men! When you live in close proximity to others and share common areas, your actions directly affect those around you. Tonight, we want to recognize three special women who epitomize what it means to be a good neighbor: Rani Devi, Jeanne Majors, and Ann Thompson.”

YWCA Resident, Jeanne Majors receives her Good Neighbor Award and Brooklyn Pin from Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz

YWCA Resident, Jeanne Majors receives her Good Neighbor Award and Brooklyn Pin from Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz

Another highlight of the evening was a performance by Circle of Voices, the YWCA of Brooklyn’s resident chorus, led by chorus director, Pamela Crawford, did two rousing numbers; the Circle’s theme song, “I Need You To Survive,” and “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now.”

The YWCA's Resident Chorus, Circle of Voices

The YWCA’s Resident Chorus, Circle of Voices

Several elected city officials took to the stage to congratulate the YWCA of Brooklyn on this historic occasion. NYC Council Member Stephen Levin spoke, and a letter of best wishes from NYS Congressman Hakeem Jeffries were read by his District Director Stina Skewes-Cox, and NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery was represented by aide Irene Van Sylke.

While the gala’s distinguished guests are too numerous to cite individually, the YWCA was especially proud to welcome international YWCA delegates, who were in New York City to attend the 57th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women conference. These four guests were: Marcia Banasko, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, Caroline Lambert and Rebecca Vassarotti.

In her welcoming remarks, Ms. Kamber shared the YWCA’s mission, programs and achievements:
• The YWCA is the single largest provider of affordable housing in downtown Brooklyn, and served 425 women last year;
• The YWCA’s Social Justice Community Center is a nexus for grassroots nonprofits, arts and culture in downtown Brooklyn, and over 6000 people utilized the meeting spaces in 2012;
• The YWCA is a tireless advocate for progressive legislation impacting the lives of women and girls, as well as communities of color. Recent legislative targets have been the federal reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act, the 10-point NYS Women’s Equality Act, and an international effort to end child marriages.

In her closing remarks, Ms. Kamber articulated her vision and hopes for the future:

“2013 is the year we hope to expand our services and initiatives. Specifically we hope to raise funds for an aftercare program for young women who have been trafficked; a trauma specialist to work with our residents who have experienced gender based violence and a geriatric social worker to better meet the needs of our aging population.

We would also like to fund our advocacy initiatives and most importantly press to get Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act passed in New York State. Our community programs are offered free of charge to those most in need – and with your support we can achieve our 2013 goals to continue and expand our vital initiatives.”

“For one and one-quarter centuries, the YWCA of Brooklyn has been a change agent, working tirelessly and systematically for social, racial and gender equity,” said Martha Kamber, Executive Director of the YWCA of Brooklyn since 2006. “To this end, we are leveraging our physical facility as a community resource and meeting place to exchange ideas and advocate for sustainable change on the local, state and national level.”