The YWCA’s of Trenton and Princeton came into existence in the early 1900’s as women were entering the workforce and civic-minded women in both communities sprang into action to support the growing ranks of working women. With educational programs, opportunities for physical exercise, job registries, training, housing support and more, the women of Trenton and Princeton organized to create unique opportunities for women and girls. Simultaneously, the organizations developed civic agendas that challenged racism, segregation, educational disparities, political issues, and civil rights.
In the 1920s, both the YWCA’s of Trenton and Princeton organized efforts to support women and girls in the African-American community. Founded in 1904, the YWCA Trenton had the largest starting member population of any other YWCA – 1,181. YWCA Trenton worked tirelessly towards the mission and even had Trenton’s first ever public cafeteria in 1925 which served 500 regular patrons for lunch and another 250 for dinner five days a week. YWCA Trenton began to serve African Americans in 1927 with the Montgomery Street Mission and launched the first ever inter-racial day camp in 1944, which reflecting the growing spirit of interracial fellowship throughout the YWCA. That same year, the Board voted to open all facilities of the YWCA to everyone, regardless of race. While each organization remained segregated for many years, both YWCAs achieved full integration by 1950.
In 2005, YWCA Trenton and YWCA Princeton partnered to launch the nationwide “Stand Against Racism” campaign to raise awareness of the existence of racism in our communities. The program quickly spread to nearly every state in the nation and has been adopted by the national YWCA which now administers the efforts from its offices in Washington, DC.
After more than a century of service to the city and the region, the Board of Directors at YWCA Trenton had to make the difficult decision to close the doors in 2015. However, by working closely with YWCA Princeton, it was also decided to continue the important work of YWCA Trenton by keeping alive the services offered to the region.
Latinas Unidas, located 5 South Broad Street in Trenton, was founded in 1992 and serves over 200 families across greater Mercer County annually. Latinas Unidas provides essential life skills education, counseling, job skills and job search, literacy language, and work readiness skills. In 2016, Latinas Unidas began a new program – emPOWER THROUGH – to work with 16-24 year olds to gain long lasting life skills and most importantly, obtaining their high school equivalency diploma.
Together with the local employers, YWCA Princeton sponsors an annual job fair in Trenton to bring the students and the community together. In addition, YWCA Princeton’s Breast Cancer Resource Center Transportation Program provides transportation and mentorship to 90% of Trenton women for doctor appointments and treatment, to participate in wellness programs and in our healing arts program and job coaching.
Earlier this year, YWCA Princeton participated in Art All Night – a 24-hour art and entertainment event held in Trenton. At this event, busts of breast cancer patients and survivors, decorated by them as well as artists were displayed.
The YWCA USA advocacy efforts include Trenton as well with Immigration reform, GOTV (Get Out the Vote), a program to get more voting members during this midterm election.
For decades the YWCAs of Trenton and Princeton have honored successful women in the community. The recognition programs have changed a bit over the years. Our Trenton Program is looking to expand its services to include mentorship programs to immigrant women new to the community, thought-provoking discussions talks with speakers, and individual counseling. We also will be working closely with community partners to bring STEM/Robotics programs for girls of color, Stand Against Racism initiatives, and support groups for BCRC to Trenton in the coming months.