YWCA buildings in Dallas used to feature swimming pools and gyms. Those disappeared a decade ago. Since then, the organization has re-focused on women’s health and financial coaching, but until last week, the YW didn’t have a place to call home.
Intentionally cheerful was the design mission of the new YWCA building.
“We wanted it to feel warm, different, a place you would want to come to, a place maybe you haven’t seen before,” says CEO Jennifer Ware.
Which means trendy couches instead of hard chairs. Walls painted in bright, splashy colors instead of dismal “office green.” A fireplace outside the computer lab.
With all services under one roof, Ware hopes Dallas women will come, and stay a while, instead of zigzagging across town looking for help.
“We may have an agency that does credit building really well so you go there for credit building really well, so you go there for credit building. Well, now you’ve got to work on your savings, so we’re going to send you to another location across town. Then, gosh, you kind of need to work on some job skills so we’re going to send you to a third location,” Ware says. “So it’s very disjointed.”
Especially if you don’t have a car. The new building is on Inwood Road near the Dallas Medical District and Love Field Airport. There’s a bus stop a block away and it’s close to DART.
Luz Contreras’ job title is Financial Empowerment Coach. She says the new building reflects the attitude of the people who work there.
“Non-judgmental, always empowering, because you don’t want to victimize them again,” Contreras says. “They’ve been through that quite enough.”
Contreras has been working with a woman for two years whose credit score has gone up about 130 points.
That’s the kind of news Jennifer Ware loves to hear.
Along with financial planning comes continuing education, mammogram clinics, and parental training that covers everything from pre-natal health to newborn bonding.
That’s a heavy load for one non-profit, but the YW is built for it.