24-Hour Crisis Hotline: 269-385-3587

General Contact: 269-345-5595

What We Stand For

After being founded in 1885, we serve as the oldest and largest association in Michigan. Originally established to provide residence services for young women, today YWCA Kalamazoo serves as a primary resource for economic, gender and racial justice for all women, children and families in Kalamazoo.



  • November 15, 1885: Nine women were called together by Ida Sterns to discuss organizing a YWCA.
  • One week later, YWCA of Kalamazoo (the Association) was organized with 29 Charter Members.
  • This became the first YWCA in the state of Michigan.


  • The Association purchased its first building. The cost of room and board for one week was $3.50.  One room was always reserved for a homeless girl.
  • A charter was issued by the state of Michigan and the Association was incorporated.

The 1910s

  • Volunteers would meet 17 trains a day to assist women, children, and the elderly.
  • The YWCA constructed a new building and began to lobby the city of Kalamazoo to hire a female police officer. They achieved that goal two years later.

The 20s and 30s

  • The YWCA worked with local companies to enforce a 10 hour workday and to provide restrooms for women employees.
  • The mortgage was fulfilled for the building and the pool re-opened.

The 40s and 50s

  • Programs for was brides and “Meals on Wheels” began operations.

The 60s and 70s

  • Programs for female high school drop-outs and married teen girls were added.
  • YWCA of Kalamazoo responded to emerging societal challenges by developing widely acclaimed crisis and intervention programs for victims/survivors of sexual and domestic assault.
  • The YWCA Sexual Assault Program was founded in December 1974, and the YWCA Domestic Assault Program was founded in May 1976.

The 80s and 90s

  • In November 1985, the YWCA Children’s Center was developed to meet the community’s pressing need for quality, affordable childcare.
  • The YWCA built and moved to the current facility in mid-1985, one-hundred years after its founding.
  • Created in 1992, the YWCA Mentoring Program,   provided support and encouragement to adult and teenaged women seeking personal and economic self-sufficiency.
  • Transitional Supportive Housing (TSH), a type of post-crisis-shelter housing,  was established to expand longer-term housing options for victims of domestic violence and their dependent children.
  • Fourteen scattered-site units, where the YWCA serves as landlord to sublet to clients, who can utilize services for up to two years, and who pay a portion of their income in rent.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing project (PSHI) was established in 2009 and provides 4 units of housing support using project-based vouchers.

The 2000s

  • The YWCA closed its longest-standing program, the YWCA Fitness Center
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner services were begun to provide on-site medical examinations by specially-trained nurses for victims/survivors of sexual assault. Patients are referred to as ongoing YWCA crisis intervention services.
  • YWCA USA reorganized under a new mission statement that focused clearly on eliminating racism and empowering women, during that time the Association recommitted its efforts to YWCA hallmark impact: racial justice and women’s economic empowerment.
  • The YWCA offered a continuum of educational and action-based strategies for dismantling racism:
  • Kalamazoo’s Summit on Racism (housing, education and employment initiatives designed to address institutional racism in our community via team action plans)
  • Eliminating Racism (a 2-day training session designed to educate participants about racism and help them to challenge it where they see, hear and/or experience it)
  • Community events such as film series and lunch-and-learn sessions
  • Ongoing education for staff and Board (Racial Justice Education/Action Units)
  • Intervention with organizations in the community that request assistance surrounding specific incidents or issues upon request.
  • In 2008, the YWCA completed a $5 million capital campaign goal by raising $6.8 million toward a complete renovation of the current facility and an approximately $1.2 million building endowment fund to support service delivery into the future.
  • In 2009, the YWCA began to develop specific services for homeless, transient, and precariously-housed children who might not otherwise have access to licensed, nationally-accredited care and education services.