The Mission

The YWCA of Kauai is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

Our Local History:

The YWCA of Kauai was founded in 1921 by Elsie Wilcox and was quickly established as a leader and advocate on issues of women’s empowerment and the elimination of racism on our rural island.

The YWCA of Kauai has crafted a local vision specific to the needs of Kauai that involves: a strong commitment to eliminating violence in all of its forms, especially in the areas of domestic and sexual violence; providing treatment to those who have been traumatized by violence; and providing the skills training and opportunities for change necessary so that individuals who have been violent can live productive and caring lives. In all of our services to victims and perpetrators of violence, our primary emphasis is to be victim-centered and to foster empowerment.

  • 1924 – Established a dormitory for girls in Lihue as a complement to the existing boy’s dormitory so that girls could attend high school alongside the boys.
  • 1930s – Began offering outreach health services and social work to the women and girls of the plantation camps on Kauai.
  • 1940s – Actively advocated for Japanese residents who were placed in internment camps.
  • 1980 – Established the island’s first Women’s Shelter, offering safety and protection to women and children escaping domestic violence.
  • 1985 – Established the Alternatives to Violence Program to provide assistance for those who have been violent in their intimate relationships.

Current services at the YWCA of Kauai include: a Shelter for victims of domestic violence, the Alternatives to Violence Treatment, Sexual Assault Crisis and Counseling Treatment,  General Counseling Services, Adult and Juvenile Sex Offender Treatment, 24-hour Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault hotlines, Prevention Education, Youth Development Programs, Girlz Tech, Girlz Dayz Camp, and Camp Sloggett.

YWCA Around the Nation and the World

The YWCA is the oldest and largest multicultural women’s organization in the world. Across the globe, we have more than 25 million members in 122 countries, including 2 million members in 300 local associations in the United States. More important than the numbers is our mission to eliminate racism and empowering women. We provide safe places for women and girls, build strong women leaders, and advocate for women’s rights and civil rights in Congress.

Learn more about the World YWCA here.

The YWCA was established in the United States in 1858, 3 years after its establishment in England. The mission statement of the YWCA ends with the phrase, “Peace, Justice, Freedom and Dignity for All People.” Initially, the mission was fulfilled by operating boarding houses for women as the tensions of an increasingly urbanized and industrialized society began to place new strains on women and family life.

As the years passed, the national YWCA became involved in myriad issues affecting women and children. They range from the fight for fair labor laws in the 1920s to actively supporting the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The YWCA was intimately involved in the Battered Women’s Movement of the 1970s and continues to work towards a society free from violence.

  • 1860 – The first boarding house for female students, teachers, and factory workers opened in New York City.
  • 1870 – In a YWCA Boston residence for girls, board members installed pulley weights on the back of closet doors, allowing girls from farms to continue to exercise in the city.
  • 1877 – The Boston YWCA offered a course in calisthenics for young women at a time when women are considered too frail for exercise.
  • 1889 – The first African-American YWCA branch opened in Dayton, Ohio.
  • 1918 – YWCA’s program on social morality became the official Lecture Bureau of the Division of Social Hygiene of the War Department “to cultivate an attitude of honest, open, scientific interest in the subject of sex.”
  • 1919 – The YWCA held the International Conference of Women Physicians, the first gathering of medical women.
  • 1920 – Based on its work with women in industrial plants, the YWCA Convention voted to work for “an eight-hour/day law, prohibition of night work, and the right of labor to organize.”
  • 1934 – The YWCA encouraged members to speak out against lynching and mob violence, and for interracial cooperation and efforts to protect African American’ basic civil rights.
  • 1934 – YWCA delegates supported birth control services and worked to make it more widely available to the general population.
  • 1942 – The YWCA extended its services to Japanese American women and girls incarcerated in World War II Relocation Centers.
  • 1960 – The Atlanta YWCA cafeteria opened to African Americans, becoming the city’s first integrated public dining facility.
  • 1965 – The National Board of the YWCA created the Office of Racial Justice to lead the civil rights efforts.
  • 1972 – YWCA established ENCORE, and education, exercise and support program for post-mastectomy patients.
  • 1995 – The YWCA Week Without Violence was created to united people against violence in communities. The annual observance is held the third week of October.
  • 2008 – The YWCA celebrated its Sesquicentennial Anniversary, 150 years of service, with the launch of the “Own It” campaign, The campaign focused on igniting a new generation of 22 million young women aged 18 to 34, inspiring them to get involved with important issues facing women and the country today.
  • 2013 – Today over 2 million people participate in YWCA programs at more than 1,300 sites across the United States.

Today, the YWCA carries on the 150 year old tradition of advocacy by fighting for the renewal of VAWA, lobbying for immigration reform that protects women and children and working towards deficit reduction that protects women and families.

Learn more about National YWCA here.