Transforming the community by building self-sufficiency

Safeco Insurance Foundation donates $300,000 grant to YWCA Yakima

 Seattle, Wash. (Aug. 12, 2011) — “There’s security here,” Shamira says about her place at the YWCA Yakima’s new transitional housing. And there’s hope. 

After a couple of 90-day stays in the emergency shelter, this mother of five girls is focused on getting back on her feet and starting fall classes at the Yakima Valley Community College. She plans to become a nurse. 

Shamira was one of the first to move into the YWCA’s low-income apartments designed to provide a safe environment – and the resources – for rebuilding lives. One of the advantages of staying at the YWCA’s transitional housing is access to support services, including free counseling. Shamira describes it simply as “group,” where a lot of women get together and everyone can relate with each other. She says, “It boosts our self-esteem.” 

Empowering women and children – like Shamira and her daughters – and building self-sufficiency are primary goals of YWCA Yakima’s Bringing It Home program, which supports long-term solutions to families facing homelessness, poverty and violence. Bringing It Home comprises three core services: emergency shelter, affordable transitional housing and a community resource center that will offer comprehensive support services. 

Thanks in part to a $300,000 grant from the Safeco Insurance Foundation, this innovative program will be expanding the transitional housing to include 16 apartments for families to stay up to 24 months. The primary populations served by the YWCA Yakima are women and children, and a high percentage of them are Hispanic or Native American. 

In addition, the money from Safeco Insurance Foundation will support the development of the new community resource center with classroom and public meeting space and a computer technology lab. The center will provide comprehensive self-sufficiency programming for adults and youth and will be available to everyone within the community. The YWCA expects more than 1,200 individuals to be served in the first year through on-going classes, including educational and job skills training, English as a second language instruction, and financial literacy. 

“This is not just a Band-Aid,” says Erin Black, executive director for YWCA Yakima. “How this project will impact the families we serve will be truly groundbreaking. Through intentional outreach and strong community collaborations that provide affordable, low-income housing and create a hub of self-sufficiency services available to everyone, our community will be transformed by a reduction in homelessness, fewer families dependent upon public resources and safer, more vibrant neighborhoods.” 

YWCA Yakima has been providing shelter and advocacy services for nearly 40 years and services to families for more than 100 years, and John Colgan, a long-time resident and president of the Yakima Valley Community Foundation, couldn’t be more impressed. 

“I can’t say enough about the need and how it’s being met through the YWCA Yakima and the expertise of Erin’s leadership and a dynamite board,” Colgan says. “They are plugged in and getting the job done. This is a monumentally vital project.” 

“The bringing together of people and services will help make the Yakima Valley community stronger,” says Paul Hollie, director, Safeco Insurance Foundation. “After touring the facility and reviewing the strategies, we’re confident that the YWCA is building on their already impressive impact.” 

The Safeco Insurance Foundation’s donation to YWCA Yakima is one of two large grants given this year through the foundation’s Transformational Grants program, which invests in established nonprofits that have used their in-depth expertise to creatively address basic-needs issues facing communities in the Northwest and promote positive change. 

About Safeco Insurance

In business since 1923 and based in Boston, Mass., Safeco Insurance sells personal automobile, homeowners and specialty products through a network of more than 10,000 independent insurance agencies throughout the United States. Safeco is a Liberty Mutual Insurance company.

Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance is a diversified insurer and the fifth largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on 2015 direct written premium data as reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Liberty Mutual Insurance is ranked 73rd on the Fortune 100 list of largest U.S. corporations, based on 2015 revenue.

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