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