YWCA has been at the forefront of the most pressing social movements for more than 150 years — from voting rights to civil rights, affordable housing to pay equity, violence prevention to health care reform. Today, we combine programming and advocacy in order to generate institutional change in three key areas: racial justice and civil rights, empowerment and economic advancement of women and girls, and health and safety of women and girls.
YWCA Princeton did not officially receive its charter from the National YWCA Board until 1922, but its origins may be identified in the year 1917 at the time of the entrance of the United States into World War I. Although YWCA Princeton recognized from its inception that its programs should also be available to women and girls of the “Negro” community, they were offered on a segregated basis, as Princeton was then a segregated community.
For a northern community, Princeton had been slow to overcome segregation. It was not until May of 1949 that a legitimate integration of the YWCA Princeton was effected. One of the first signs that the YWCA Princeton would become bold and iconic in its mission was its successful objection to the segregation of blood by race at the Princeton Hospital. Two years later, an inspired and confident membership elected its first black president, Ira (Sadie P.) Dickerson.
What is fondly remembered as “The Waxwood Era” — 1958-1968 — is the result of the leadership of Susie Brown Waxwood, the YWCA Executive Director. Susie Waxwood led the YWCA Princeton during a time of significant growth sparked by its new facility. In honor of her deep comitment to the YWCA mission, her strong leadership and her untiring service, the Susie Waxwood Award was inaugurated at Tribute to Women 2001. Mrs. Waxwood, herself, received the first award.*
We continue to eliminate racism and empower women, locally and globally, in tandem with YWCA USA and the World YWCA! One such example is our Stand Against Racism, an initiative started here and now administered from our national offices in Washington, DC. Another is the World YWCA’s Envision 2035 Report, finalized in 2015 when its Board Members engaged with us in Princeton. They proceeded to the United Nations, and we embarked on a breast cancer mission trip to India!
Yes, India! Our Breast Cancer Resource Center continues to grow. In collaboration with D&R Greenway, we expanded BCRC to 2 Preservation Place while keeping a presence here at 59 Paul Robeson Place. Driving this relationship is the interconnectivity of nature and health. This growth project has also influenced our English Literacy Efforts (our Bilingual Nursery School and English as a Second Language Program.) Our YWCA is the first non-profit in our State to be certified as a High School Equivalency Testing Center. We now administer the HiSET® test, developed by ETS, in English and Spanish.
Concurrently, our Robotics Camp won the STEM Uncovered Video Competition at the National Afterschool STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Summit! This achievement helped fuel the formation of competitive All-Girls Robotics teams in the FIRST Lego League®. Princeton University, Princeton Plasma Physics Lab and Princeton HealthCare System helped with volunteers and space. SES has signed on as a major sponsor of this initiative.
More than 5,000 people walk through our doors each year! Our mission touches thousands of lives annually in the form of child care, dance, arts & crafts, book clubs, educational lectures & seminars, wellness classes and a Newcomers Club that welcomes participants from all over the world. As we embrace another year, we hope you will keep us true to our purpose by becoming a member and/or donor, or by renewing and revitalizing your participation.
* History taken from the book by William K. Selden entitled “YWCA Princeton, A Chronicle of More Than 80 Years of Service to the Greater Princeton Community.” Copyright 2004, YWCA Princeton.