History of the YWCA Spokane

Celebrating 110 years of services to the community

The YWCA Spokane from 1903 – 2013


1903
1903 YWCA Spokane HistoryA small group of people met in a room of the YMCA to discuss starting a branch of the YWCA. Four rooms were then secured in the Symons Building to rent, which was made possible by a gift from Mr. John Finch. The Spokane YWCA receives its charter on April 13, 1903. Ninety women pledge to join the new organization. YWCA offers the first night school class for women in the city. English as a second language was taught to 20 young immigrant women.

1914
YWCA moves to Rookery Building
“A spirit of cheerfulness and hope once more prevails in YWCA circles.”

1915
YWCA leases the pool at St. Nicholas Hotel and offers swim classes to women.

1937
Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Enloe offered the Old Spokane Amateur Athletic Club Building at Main and Monroe as a gift, which became the YWCA home for the next 28 years.
“When one wonders how a comparatively small group of women dared to inaugurate the big tasks it did and raise huge sums of money, one can comprehend their daring when one reads that other big, expensive tasks were everywhere being talked of and started by the enterprising and prosperous little city by the falls,” Ellen Ferris, Board President 1972-1973.

1942
World War II Years: YWCA Traveler’s Aid at depots was extended to 24-hour service to aid stranded women and children.
The Quest Club is organized for young women of Japanese ancestry to help with their relocation after internment.

1965
YWCA moves into Rainer Building, a former brewery.

1966
The YWCA opens its drop-in child care service.

1971
The YWCA adopts its main imperative: “To thrust our collective power towards the elimination of racism wherever it exists and by any means necessary.”
“In a nutshell, here is what the YWCA is all about. It is an international fellowship bound together by membership, rooted in its local community, yet bound by fellowship in Christian concern for the whole world; impelled by its purpose to come to grips with the problems and concerns of each succeeding generation of women and girls, and to provide the kind of program that helps them find life and find it more abundantly.” Margaret Cuenod, recounted in YWCA historical records by Ellen Ferris, Board President 1972-1973

1979
The YWCA offers Spokane’s only Battered Women’s Program (currently called Alternatives to Domestic Violence Program). Twenty-four hour crisis support is available to victims. The YWCA opens Spokane’s only confidential safe shelter for women and children victims.

1982
YWCA opens its full-time day care program for children of working parents.

1985
YWCA Legal Advocacy Office opens in the court house. This service provides free legal assistance, monitors the legal system’s response to domestic violence cases and supports victims during court appearances.

1991
YWCA offers the Mentoring Program (now called Women’s Opportunity Center) to assist women who are unemployed or under employed with career development support and networking.

1994
Homeless School Opens

1995
“Rallying for Peace & Safety” Sounding Off Against Domestic Violence

2000
With an award from the Washington State Housing Trust Fund, YWCA purchases a new domestic violence safe shelter, doubling the number of women and children served.

2002
With funds from the office on Violence Against Women, the YWCA commences a Civil Legal Assistance Center for domestic violence victims.

2003
The YWCA Spokane celebrates its Centennial Anniversary.

2005
YWCA and YMCA commence a capital campaign to create a first-in-the-nation co-location of YWCA and YMCA facilities and programs.

2009
YWCA and YMCA open the new “central Y” joint facility.

2013
YWCA opens second safe shelter in Spokane Valley.

2015
The Spokane Family Justice Center opens at the YWCA Spokane in partnership with the partners of the Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Consortium including city and county law enforcement and city and county prosecutors assigned to the Domestic Violence Team.

2016
The YWCA expands its ECEAP program to a total of five sites serving 130 children.