Sonia Ashe – Fund Development Coordinator
I was first introduced to the Young Women’s Resource Center (YWRC) when I was fifteen, by Vicki Goldsmith, my Women’s Studies teacher at Roosevelt High School. Thanks to her reference, I began helping at the YWRC as a volunteer with the 5 & 6th Grade Afterschool Program that works with girls ages 10-12 to build self-confidence, talk about healthy relationships and teach reproductive health. I was so excited about the lessons I was learning through the YWRC and my Women’s Studies class that I asked the YWRC staff to help me run a student group that elevated women’s issues and engaged fellow students as female advocates and activists. During a time when I was developing my own identity, my involvement with the YWRC gave me direction and purpose.
In spite of being an intelligent, motivated and informed young woman, I still fell into a lot of the traps parents hope their teenage daughters can steer clear of. That included continuing an emotionally and verbally abusive relationship for years.
Back then, I couldn’t allow myself to believe that I was in the type of abusive relationship I worked so hard to help my peers avoid. I wish I could say that I made the connection right away and that the YWRC helped me make the right decision about the wrong guy early on. That isn’t the case. Yet, in many ways the YWRC still saved me.
The lessons I learned with the YWRC stuck and eventually helped give me the strength and self-awareness necessary to escape the relationship. Afterwards, I was able to put my own experience in perspective and continue on stronger than ever. It took a long time for me to personally apply wisdom I could easily share with others, but once I did, it was like a light turned on. Since then, I have been able to carry myself with confidence, surround myself with wonderful people and pay it forward through working locally in the non-profit sector. Four years ago, I married my best friend and have the most loving and supportive partner I could imagine.
When I found out about the Fund Development Coordinator position with the YWRC last spring, I submitted my application right away. I believe strongly in the need for an organization like the YWRC in our community and can personally attest to the impact the YWRC has in the lives of the girls we work with. Hopefully, by starting early, we can support and guide young women to make healthy decisions that allow them to be the best version of themselves throughout their lives. Then, for those who stumble like I did, the YWRC can be a guiding light that helps them get back up and back on track.
On paper, my job is to raise funds so that the YWRC can continue offering free and voluntary programs for 4,270 young women ages 10-21 in the greater Des Moines community. In my heart, my job is to connect with others who can think back to the challenges of their youth, or who have daughters facing their own challenges right now and extend to them the opportunity to help provide girls with the lessons and support necessary to become strong, self-confident and successful. Thank you to everyone who has kept the YWRC going over the years through generous contributions of money, time and talent. If you would like to do more to help, I would love to hear from you! Reach me at [email protected], or call me at (515) 244-4901.