In every decade since 1885, the National YWCA has been studying and acting to resolve critical issues in the lives of women, girls and families. The movement has always understood the necessary connection between providing services for Women and girls and acting to correct social conditions that create the needs for these services. With the later emergence of women seeking employment outside of the home and off the farms, a need arose in the cities for safe, inexpensive lodging, physical exercise and additional educational resources. Women needed a secure refuge from domestic violence. They needed after school care programs for children. The community needed supported living environments for low-income women. The Hamilton YWCA, founded in 1900, by Dr. Julia Goodman and chartered on June 25, 1902, has been an enthusiastic participant in these goals.
1903 – 1920’s
The YWCA of Hamilton offered housing and board, as well as classes in arithmetic, English, bookkeeping, shorthand, spelling and sewing. In 1913, a flood devastated Hamilton and the YWCA building was destroyed. Through the kindness of James Cullen–who offered his residence at 315 Dayton Street–the organization was able to continue. In response to the First World War, the YWCA formed the Hi-Y Club, which supported 100 Belgian orphans and knitted thousands of garments for men in the service and the needy overseas.
1930 – 1945
The years of the Depression made changes in the YWCA. Women and girls were losing jobs and were in acute need. The YWCA offered unemployment classes and from these classes grew the leisure and adult education programs. The YWCA moved to its elegant new building at 244 Dayton Street in 1931. Four days were set aside for special events in that week. Judge Florence Allen of the Ohio Supreme Court gave the dedication. During World War II, the YWCA supported orphans, displaced persons, and persons overseas via the Hi-Y Club. You can read more about how the YWCA supported troops during WWII in this article. It responded to the post-war era by adding programs such as the Newcomers Club, Friendship Club, The War Brides Club, and the Young Matron Club to accommodate the needs of women moving into Hamilton.
1950’s – 1970’s
Efforts began to eliminate racism. The emerging Women’s Movement sought full equality in the workplace.
1970’s – 1990’s
The YWCA provided space for independent support groups such as AA and offered services including a 24-hour crisis line and emergency shelter(Dove House)for battered women and their children. A literacy program for adults was begun. A 45 room residence for single women in need of a semi-structured living environment was operated, and an array of fitness and recreational programs were offered. The YWCA received a grant from HUD to create a transitional housing program for women at risk of homelessness.
1990’s – 2000
The YWCA continued to offer a wide array of services: Dove House, Goodman Place (Mental Health Services), Permanent Residence, Family Literacy Program, and community space for basketball, meetings, wedding showers, etc.
2002 – 2005
The YWCA was awarded Federal Low Income and Historic Tax credits through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency for a $5 Million dollar renovation project to restore and update its historic building into individual low-cost apartments for women in Butler County. The major renovation began in 2003, and the YWCA temporarily relocated residents and staff to the Hamiltonian Hotel. In December 2004, the YWCA moved forward to a bright future by returning to its restored historic building! The grand opening was May 3, 2005.
2006 – 2009
The YWCA undertakes focused programs on Racial Justice. CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) accredits our Mental Health Services at the highest level. The YWCA Dove House opens a Middletown Satellite Shelter for Domestic Violence Victims. The Family Literacy Program begins a partnership with Mad Anthony Writers’ Conference. The Festival of Trees, with its quiet elegance, graces our historic building with a wonderful Gala Evening and Auction, and honors the YWCA Dove House as its chosen recipient in 2008. The Family Literacy Center continues its partnership and welcomes the popular Mad Anthony Wayne Writers’ workshops in April 2009 benefiting the Literacy Program.