Our History

Celebrating over 120 years of service to the Spokane community

Established in 1903

Over the past 120+ years, YWCA Spokane has grown and changed to meet the needs of our community, providing various services such as arts, fitness, housing, employment, childcare, education, disability life enrichment, anti-racist activism, and domestic violence support services. Since 1903, YWCA Spokane has been helping women and children overcome social, economic, and personal barriers to accomplish their goals and achieve healthier and more fulfilling lives.

Refining Our Mission

Children in a YWCA childcare facility circa 1980's

Children in a YWCA childcare facility circa 1980's

In 1971, the YWCA adopted the main imperative: “To thrust our collective power towards the elimination of racism wherever it exists and by any means necessary,” and began directing energy towards the current mission of “empowering women and eliminating racism.” It was in 1979 that YWCA Spokane first began providing domestic violence resources, opening the city’s first 24 hour domestic violence hotline and safe shelter for women and children escaping abuse.

Today, YWCA Spokane continues to provide critical programs and services while working to confront racial and social justice issues that negatively impact our clients and community. Areas of focus include supporting victims of intimate partner domestic violence, promoting early childhood education, and confronting racial and social justice issues that negatively impact our clients and our community.

Each year, we provide confidential and trauma-informed programs and services to over 14,000 women, men, children, and families. By working at the intersections of inequality, poverty, and domestic violence, YWCA Spokane is able to disrupt long-standing societal patterns of trauma.

Learn more about our impact

Historical Milestones


A group of YWCA Spokane members gathered in front of a train, circa 1924

Image courtesy of MAC Archives, MS 207 3 L87 1.26470 24.

To prevent disappearances of women and girls during the 1905 Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon, the Travelers Aid program assisted women, girls, and families traveling to and from Portland. YWCA Spokane established booths in train station depots where volunteers assisted women, girls, and families before and after arrival of trains from the east and west.


Reading room at YWCA Spokane circa 1919

Image courtesy of MAC Museum Archives, MS 207 2 L87 1.16834 19

In the 1910s, YWCA Spokane expanded programs focused on empowering women. The Employment Center opened and living accommodations were made available for women entering the city. In 1915, 4,000 visitors came to the cafeteria, employment office, and reading room each month. 


A group of YWCA Spokane members in the St. Nicholas Hotel circa 1920

Image courtesy of MAC Museum Archives, MS 207 2 L87 1.17660 20

YWCA Spokane was originally established with a distinctly Christian purpose; however, in 1926, the organization took a step toward advancing equity when it was decided that church affiliation was not required for membership at YWCA Spokane.


Swimmers in the YWCA Spokane pool, exact date unknown

Image courtesy of MAC Museum Archives, WCA Unproc Box8 APhoto 005

In 1937, YWCA Spokane sold the property of its first permanent home after being gifted the Spokane Amateur Athletic Club building by Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Enloe. The new building, located at the corner of Main Ave. and Monroe St., allowed for the use of a pool, social rooms, sleeping quarters, and a gym and was YWCA Spokane’s home for the next 28 years.


Image captioned "1940: New YWCA camp on Spirit Lake--Gift of Eugene Enloe"

Image courtesy of MAC Museum Archives, 4 MS207 Box14 F6a

YWCA Spokane received a gift of land from Mr. Eugene Enloe to host a summer camp for girls on Spirit Lake, thus expanding youth development programs for local girls. This camp, which opened and hosted its first group of campers in June 1940, was known as Camp Glen Echo.


A group of swimmers at the YWCA Spokane pool circa 1940's - 1950's

Image courtesy of MAC Museum archives, 4 L87 1.19437 40

To support local people with disabilities, the handicap swim program at YWCA Spokane began. The program was intended to support the development of self-reliance, physical health, and mental health among people with conditions such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, stroke, brittle bones, brain damage as well as accident victims, post-operative individuals, and paraplegics.


A group of young YWCA Spokane members in the 1950's - 1960's

Image courtesy of MAC Museum archives, YWCA Unproc Box8 CPhoto 002

YWCA Spokane joins with the national YWCA network within the United States to combat racism, collectively adopting one imperative, “The elimination of racism wherever it exists and by any means necessary”. This marked the beginning of YWCA Spokane’s explicit focus on eliminating racism, which grew to become a central part of the organization’s mission.


Volunteers at the YWCA Safe Shelter in the 1970's - 1980's

Image courtesy of MAC Museum archives, 7 MS207 B16 F26

In 1977, YWCA Spokane began its work in the domestic violence movement with one staff member in the Women’s Resource Center focused on supporting victims of domestic violence. In 1978, YWCA Spokane began offering the only shelter for victims of domestic violence in the region. The shelter briefly closed in 1978 due to a shortage of funding, but reopened in 1979 when YWCA Spokane received funding to support the development of a new program specifically focused on issues related to domestic violence.


Employees of YWCA Spokane in the 1980's-1990's

Image Scanned at YWCA Spokane

During the 1980s, a variety of services expanded and changed. In 1982, the Youth Resource Center and the Women’s Resource Center merged together to form one consolidated department, Women and Youth Services or WAYS. Throughout the decade, the then known as Alternatives to Domestic Violence program (ADVP) offered support for victims of intimate partner violence.


A newspaper article about YWCA Spokane in the 1990's

Image courtesy of MAC Museum archives, MS207 B16 F29

In the 1990s, through partnerships with local medical systems, YWCA Spokane offered low-cost mammograms for medically underserved and minority women in the community.


In 2005, YWCA Spokane partnered with the local YMCA in a capital campaign seeking to create a new building, which would feature the first-in-the-nation co-location of YWCA and YMCA facilities and programs. In 2009, the new “Central Y” joint facility opened at 930 N Monroe St.


In 2016, alongside shifts among the national YWCA network, the agency changed its name from “Young Women’s Christian Association of Spokane” to “YWCA Spokane”.


YWCA offered remote services during the COVID-19 pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a variety of shifts occurred at YWCA Spokane. Aligned with public health guidance, in-person services outside of the domestic violence safe shelter were temporarily unavailable. Staff adjusted to offering early childhood education, family support, women’s empowerment, and domestic violence support services remotely within a changing world.