Mentorship: An Intergenerational Learning Process

My name is Amelia Joselow and I have been a volunteer mentor with the Girlx Only Leadership Development Program (GOLD) at YWCA Cambridge for nearly three years.

In my outside life I am a researcher and don’t spend any time with youth, so I was thrilled when I went into the YWCA Cambridge after having learned about their mission of empowering women and eliminating racism, and they told me I could help out by being a mentor with the GOLD program. Each week the girls meet and go over a variety of topics to enrich their lives and their understanding of the world, everything from financial literacy, to performance art, to healthy boundaries, to difficult race/racism conversations. I am always amazed at how excited and insightful they are, seemingly much more so than I was at their age. I find fulfillment in my volunteer work with the program as a supplement to my professional work, but really what is most impactful for me is showing up every week and trying to be a positive influence in these girls’ lives, in a way that was lacking for me when I was their age. 

When I was in middle school I was painfully shy and lonely and didn’t know what interests I had beyond what I thought would get me accepted by others. The girls in the GOLD program are so much more self-aware and aware of the society they live in in a way that is truly miraculous. GOLD gives them the space to explore who they are and want to be, as well as empowering them to believe in what they could be when they are older. For the girls it is a growth experience, and for me as well. Over the years I have found healing in seeing these girls grow confidence and grow strong bonds together and it gives me hope for the future of young women everywhere. I am incredibly grateful for the GOLD program and all the amazing work that YWCA Cambridge does. I thank them all for letting me be a part of their work.

Dear Blogger readers and YWCA Supporters,

My name is Puja and I am the Coordinator of the GOLD program. I also have the wonderful opportunity to work with GOLD mentors like Amelia. I want to give a shout out to all of our GOLD mentors for their dedication and the effort they have put into the GOLD program. Our mentors welcome everyone each week, assist with weekly sessions, and provide support to the GOLD participants. Our mentors always come to GOLD with a smile, ready to learn, and have fun, too! From making everyone laugh during dinner to being there to listen during hard times, our mentors are a central part of the GOLD program. The GOLD program would not be the same without them!  Personally, I want to thank all the mentors for their support and guidance during my transition as I joined the YWCA Cambridge staff earlier this year. Mentors,we thank you for all you give to our program.

Interested in becoming a GOLD Mentor? Email Puja at pkranz-howe@ywcacam.org to learn more!

Authors: Amelia Joselow & Puja Kranz-Howe

My Time as a YWCA Cambridge Intern

by Serina Matthew, CCSC Senior, YWCA Cambridge Intern

My name is Serina Matthew and I have been an intern at YWCA Cambridge for the last few months. I am a Senior at Community Charter School of Cambridge. One of our requirements is to complete 100 hours of community service for an organization over 14 weeks. With the help of Whitney Mooney, my supervisor and  YWCA Fund Development Manager, I have learned a lot about nonprofit organizations since my start in January 2019.

Over the 14 weeks, I have had the chance to learn about event planning and fundraising for a nonprofit. We may all think that event planning is not a difficult task but it is when you have to find catering and a space that is within your small budget. YWCA has held multiple events since I have been here. Starting with events to help the residents with their credit and ending with Trailblazing Women, an event that highlights key women figures in the community. When planning these events the first thing is advertisement and that’s where I came in. For many of the events that happened over the last 5 months, I had to use my creative skills to create flyers that appealed to residents and community members. From there, I hung the flyers around the building and surrounding area coffee shops.

After advertising, it’s time to prepare the the logistics and details for the event. For Trailblazing Women,  there were folders that provided information about the community conversation and the women that were being celebrated. Along with preparing folders I also helped with creating name tags for the event speakers which helps set them apart from the audience.

Event planning has many small tedious tasks that help to make an event look professional and put together.  It is important for nonprofits to get their name out into the community and showcase the work they are doing. Making a name for the organization  in the community is important because it drives new volunteers and donors. People become invested in your mission. For example many people come into YWCA Cambridge looking for the swimming pool or exercise equipment. Throughout these moments, I realized many people think that the YWCA is the YMCA.  

I have learned that this nonprofit organization is determined to help young women be empowered to live and work in this predominantly male led world. YWCA is the most caring organization that I know in Cambridge because of what they provide for low income women and children, from Girls Only Leadership Development to safe, affordable housing at the Tanner Residence.

Through this time at YWCA Cambridge, I have gained a multitude of skills that I will take with me to college and beyond. I have learned how to professionally answer phones and guide customers. Along with my customer service skills I have gained the basic necessities of working in an office. I believe this is the most important skill to take away because in the future I will have a job or an internship that will require office experience.

YWCA Cambridge is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Through this experience I have felt empowered to grow as a future business professional and a conscious citizen.

Whitney Mooney, supervisor, and Serina Matthew, YWCA Cambridge intern

Reflections on Youth Empowerment

Theodora Skeadas
YWCA Cambridge Board of Trustees

YWCA Cambridge is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity. These have always been passions of mine. After college, my passion for combating discrimination, the promotion of youth and women’s empowerment, and conflict resolution led me to work and study in Morocco, Turkey, and Iraq. 

In Morocco, I worked for the Sidi Moumen Cultural Center, where I managed a community development project that provided programming on theater, music, and athletics to Moroccan Arabic-speaking women and youth.

While working with Search for Common Ground’s Morocco office, I helped lead a multimedia and intercultural relations program in Casablanca. The project consisted of training French and English-speaking Sub-Saharan migrant women and Arabic-speaking young Moroccan mothers to produce films, documentaries, and advertisements dealing with intercultural relations. We also held discussions on the various forms of discrimination the women encountered, to empower and build relationships amongst our participants, and to break down cultural stereotypes and prejudices.  

I then sought to undertake a Fulbright grant in Turkey, in part, because I desired to leverage my English teaching skills and knowledge of the region and culture in service of Turkish students eager to learn English. Further, as part of my fellowship, I researched the barriers to employment for Syrian refugee youth in southeastern Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan through interviews in Turkish and Arabic, reading, and travel.

My experiences around anti-racism, women’s and youth empowerment, and conflict resolution in the Middle East and North Africa were tremendously meaningful to me.

Today, I am thrilled to be supporting these initiatives through the YWCA Cambridge! I serve as the Clerk on our Board of Trustees, and I have helped support our efforts around the annual Tribute to Outstanding Women, an event where we recognize resilient women who work to eliminate racism and empower other women, and we thank them for their commitment to our local community. Further, as a member of the Governance Committee, I help the Board increase its efficiency, and ultimately improve the effectiveness of the YWCA Cambridge in delivering meaningful services and programming to our constituents.

Theo 1
Conducting research in Erbil, Iraq; November 1, 2013

Theo 2
Theo and her students in Antalya, Turkey;  December 23, 2013

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Board Members, Theo, Jennifer, and Emily; June 25, 2018