From the Editors 29 (2011)Engineer and Editor Juan Hart Moved El Paso Forward 29 (2011)Elizabeth Garrett: Songbird of the Southwest 29 (2011)A Passionate Life: Josephine Clardy Fox 29 (2011)Forgotten No More: Korean War POW Tells Story of Survival 29 (2011)Janice Woods Windle Treasures Family History 29 (2011)Andy and Syd Cohen: The Men Behind the Name 29 (2011)Leona Ford Washington Preserved Black History 29(2011)Ingeborg Heuser Brought Professional Ballet to City 29 (2011)Lee and Beulah Moor Left Legacy of Love 29 (2011)
From the Editors 28 (2010)Chasin’ Away the Blues: Texas Sunday Legislation 28 (2010)Simeon Hart Pioneered Local Industry 28 (2010)Felix Martinez: Southwestern Renaissance Man 28 (2010)Teresa Urrea: La Santa de Cabora Inspired Mexican Revolution 28 (2010)Utopia in Mesilla: The Shalam Colony 28 (2010)Stahmann Farms Produce Pecans on Two Hemispheres 28 (2010)Betty Mary Goetting Brought Birth Control to El Paso 28 (2010)Maud Sullivan Made El Paso Public Library a Cultural Center 28 (2010)Lucy Acosta’s Legacy Continues in LULAC 28 (2010)Belen Robles: Voice for the Latino Community 28 (2010)Toltec Club: Of Ghosts and Guests 28 (2010)
Strong Women Building a Strong City -- From the Editors 27(2008)Notable Women of El Paso 27(2009)The Chew Legacy: The Story of Herlinda Wong Chew 27(2009)Desert Nightingale: Louise Dietrich 27(2009)1909-2009: YWCA Celebrates 100 Years in El Paso 27(2009)Mabel Welch: El Paso’s First Female Architect 27(2009)Myrna Deckert Remains Modest About Achievements 27(2009)Suzie Azar Still Reaches for the Sky 27 (2009)The Moocher: Callie Fairley, First Woman Vice Detective in El Paso 27(2009)Alicia R. Chacón Came to Politics Naturally 27 (2009)Rosa Guerrero: Cultural Dynamo 27 (2009)
From the Past to the Present -- From the Editor 26 (2007/08)Yandell Boulevard Named for Prominent El Paso Physician 26 (2007/08)Japanese Immigrants Came Slowly to Borderland 26 (2007/08)World War II Affected Japanese Immigrants 26 (2007/08)Living, Breathing New Mexico Ghost Town: Hillsboro 26 (2007/08)Canutillo Developed from Land Grant 26 (2007/08)Rómulo Escobar Zerman: Juárez Agronomist and Teacher 26 (2007/08)El Paso Mayor: Tom Lea Jr. 26 (2007/08)Ted Karam: Lebanese Immigrant Lived American Dream 26 (2007/08)Publication Credits 26 (2007/08)
From the Director 25 (2006)First El Paso Protestant Church: St. Clement's 25 (2006)Bowie High School: Always a Bear 25 (2006)Golden Gloves Grew Out of El Paso's Love of Boxing 25 (2006)LULAC Fought Hard to Guarantee Rights 25 (2006)El Paso Women Gained Power in LULAC 25 (2006)McKelligon Canyon: From Cattle to Culture 25 (2006)Tortugas Celebrates Virgen de Guadalupe, San Juan 25 (2006)Bataan Death March and POW Camps 25 (2006)Bataan Survivors Recall Horrors 25 (2006)Anthony Family Had Five Sons in World War II 25 (2006)Sober on the Border 25 (2006)Clyde W. Tombaugh: Farm Boy Reached for the Stars 25 (2006)A Taste of Southwest Wine 25 (2006)
From the Director 24 (2005)From the Editors 24 (2005)Gypsie Davenport and May Palmer Ran Infamous Brothels 24 (2005)Pioneer Attorney William Burges Tackled Unpopular Issues 24 (2005)Richard Fenner Burges: Renaissance Man 24 (2005)Charles Kelly Wielded Power with Political 'Ring' 24 (2005)Tom Charles Wanted World to Know White Sands 24 (2005)Dripping Springs has Rich History 24 (2005)Thomas B. White Directed Innovative La Tuna for 19 Years 24 (2005)Cowboys on the Range --- Missile Range, That Is 24 (2005)Ranchers vs. the Feds: The McNew Saga 24 (2005)Mexican Repatriation in 1930s 24 (2005)White House Department Store 24 (2005)Thomason Hospital Celebrates 90 Years 24 (2005)R.E. Thomason Shaped City, State, Nation 24 (2005)
Postcards from the Past Editor's Column 23 (2004)From the Editors 23 (2004)Solomon C. Schutz Helped Bring Law and Order to El Paso 23 (2004)James Gillett Showed Courage in El Paso 23 (2004)Jim White Explored Carlsbad Caverns for Years 23 (2004)Ben Lilly: Mountain Man of the Southwest 23 (2004)Aldo Leopold Proposed Land Ethics 23 (2004)Escontrias Ranch: A Link to Hueco Tanks Park 23 (2004)Hueco Tanks is Site of Controversy 23 (2004)Marcelino Serna Became World War I Hero 23 (2004)Sam Dreben Soldiered All Over the World 23 (2004)Kern Place Neighborhood: The Man Behind the Name 23 (2004)Farah Manufacturing Now Just a Memory 23 (2004)Texas Knights of Columbus Began in El Paso 23 (2004)
Look for Us on the Web - Editor's Column 22 (2003)From the Editors 22 (2003)Victorio Fought to the Death for Homeland 22 (2003)O. T. Bassett and Charles R. Morehead 22 (2003)S. H. Newman: Pioneer Newspaperman Fought Vice 22 (2003)Elfego Baca Lived More Than Nine Lives 22 (2003)Woman's Club Has Long Served City 22 (2003)Cathedral's Beauty Pleases 22 (2003)Albert J. Fountain's Achievements Eclipsed by Mysterious Death 22 (2003)Albert B. Fall's Career Ended in Disgrace 22 (2003)Cloudcroft Baby Sanatorium Saved Many 22 (2003)Dale Resler Worked Hard for El Paso 22 (2003)Price's Dairy Still Family Owned 22 (2003)Woodlawn Bottling Brought Pepsi to Town 22 (2003)Union Depot Witnessed Growth of El Paso 22 (2003)
We're Now on the Web --From the Editor 21(2002)From the Editors 21(2002)Downtown Opium Dens Attracted Many 21(2002)Juneteenth Celebrates Freedom for Texas Slaves 21(2002)Black Cowboys Rode the Trails, Too 21(2002)Ku Klux Klan Had Short Life in El Paso 21(2002)Mining Became Big Business in Southwest 21(2002)Smeltertown Still Exists in Memories 21 (2002)El Paso Played Important Role in the Mexican Revolution 21 (2002)Pancho Villa Led Northern Forces in Revolution 21 (2002)Soldaderas Played Important Roles in Revolution 21 (2002)Pershing, Villa Forever Linked to Columbus 21 (2002)Cristeros Became Mexican Martyrs 1926-1929 -- 21 (2002)Houchen Settlement House Helped New Arrivals 21 (2002)Otis A. Aultman Captured Border History in Pictures 21 (2002)
Hot Springs Have Long HistoryThe Building of a City -- From the Editor 20 (2001)From the Staff (Volume 20)Pat Garrett Enjoyed Controversy 20 (2001)Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire Terrorized Town 20 (2001)History Reveals Rivalry of Madams Etta Clark and Alice Abbott 20 (2001)Kohlberg, Krupp, Zielonka Became Business and Civic Leaders 20 (2001)Olga Kohlberg Pioneered Many Local Organizations 20 (2001)Henry Trost's Architectural Legacy Lives On 20 (2001)Sunset Heights Preserves History 20 (2001)Adolph Schwartz Built Local Retail Dynasty 20 (2001)Zach T. White Brought Progress to El Paso 20 (2001)Masons Became Leaders in Texas, El Paso 20 (2001)Smallpox Epidemic Showed Need for Hospitals20 (2001)El Paso High School Remains Classic 20 (2001)Bhutanese Architecture Distinguishes UTEP Campus 20 (2001)Elephant Butte Dam Solved Early Water Problems 20 (2001)
Pioneer Ranch became Concordia Cemetery 19 (2000)El Paso Grows Up 19 (2000)From the Staff 19 (2000)Chinese Immigrants Helped Build Railroad in El Paso 19 (2000)Volunteer Fire Department Grew into Professional Company 19 (2000)1880s Brought First Theaters to Town 19 (2000)Sisters of Charity Began Hotel Dieu Hospital 19 (2000)Tuberculosis Turned El Paso Into a Health Center 19 (2000)First Public School Built in 1884 19 (2000)Enigmatic Olivas Aoy Began School for Mexican Children 19 (2000)El Paso Public Library Began Modestly 19 (2000)Jesuits Continue to Influence Area 19 (2000)Sisters of Loretto Have Long Tradition in Southwest 19 (2000)Mormons Found Sanctuary in Mexico in 1880s 19 (2000)Mennonite Colonies in Mexico Accept Change Slowly 19 (2000)Flu Epidemic of 1918 Hit El Paso Hard 19 (2000)Early City Planners Saw Future in Scenic Drive 19 (2000)Prohibition Stimulated Economies of El Paso, Juárez 19 (2000)
The Editor's Column : The Building of a City 18 (1999)From the Editors 18 (1999)Magoffinsville Had Lasting Influence on El Paso 18 (1999)Town of El Paso Grew from Pioneer Settlements 18 (1999)Downtown El Paso Is Monument to Anson Mills 18 (1999)1848 War With Mexico Created Southwest 18 (1999)Colonel Doniphan and Volunteers Won Battle of Brazito 18 (1999)Gadsden Purchase Clarified U.S. Boundaries 18 (1999)Early Fort Bliss Occupied Pioneer Sites 18 (1999)Henry O. Flipper Paved Way for Integration of Military 18 (1999)Buffalo Soldiers Defended Western Frontier 18 (1999)El Paso Was Midpoint of Overland Mail Service 18 (1999)Salt War of 1877 Divided Southwest Residents 18 (1999)Geronimo Led Final Fight 18 (1999)Apache Indians Defended Homelands in Southwest 18 (1999)Texas Rangers Helped Keep Order on Frontier 18 (1999)Sarah Bowman and Tillie Howard: Madams of the 1800s 18 (1999)El Paso Grew Up with Arrival of Railroad 18 (1999)
Aztecs Ruled Complex, Rich Society 17 (1998)From the Editor 17 (1998)Aztec Beliefs Helped Conquer Mexico 17 (1998)Cortés Created New Order in Mexico 17 (1998)La Malinche Remains Controversial 17 (1998)Cabeza de Vaca: Travels in Texas 17 (1998)Estebán Furthered Legend of Cíbola 17 (1998)Coronado Searched for Cities of Gold 17 (1998)Oñate Conquered Desert to Explore Southwest 17 (1998)Festival Celebrates Oñate's Historic Arrival 17 (1998)Fray Garcia Left Great Legacy 17 (1998)Franciscans Brought Catholicism to Area 17 (1998)America's First Highway: El Camino Real 17 (1998)Pueblo Revolt Brought Tiguas South 17 (1998)Tigua Indians Survive 300 Years of Ordeals 17 (1998)Area Missions are Part of Living History 17 (1998)San Elizario Presidio Protected Settlers 17 (1998)Ethnic Terms Can Cause Confusion 17 (1998)
Oasis Restaurants Symbolized ‘50s Teen Scene 13 (1995)‘50s Cars Changed American Lifestyle And Image 13 (1995)Chevy Bel Air Charmed 1950 Car Buyers 13 (1995)San Jacinto Plaza Remains Heart Of Downtown El Paso 13 (1995)Smokey Bear: A Legend Is Made 13 (1995)El Paso's Company E Survivors Remember Rapido River Assaults 13 (1995)Company E Survivor Recalls Days As Prisoner Of War 13 (1995)El Paso Red Cross Essential to War Effort 13 (1995)World War II Took its Toll On The Home Front 13 (1995)Civil Air Patrol Protected Border During World War II -- 13 (1995)Quickie Divorces Granted in Juárez 13 (1995)Atomic Bomb Developed In Southwest 13 (1995)Former Crew Members On B-17s Remember Tough Times 13 (1995)Vintage Warplanes Keep Past Alive 13 (1995)The Cavalry Bugler: Essential To Horse and Man 13 (1995)Sun Carnival 1936 Style 13 (1995)H. Arthur Brown: El Paso Symphony Guru Of The ‘30s -- 13 (1995)Swing Music Helped Dispel The Blues Of The ‘30s and ‘40s -- 13 (1995)The General Store: A Hidden Treasure Of The Past 13 (1995)
Change on the Border 15 (1997)From the Editor 15 (1997)Latinos Work To Change Stereotypes In Hollywood 15 (1997)Cesar Chávez: Simple Man, People’s Hero 15 (1997)Shelter For Farm Workers Becomes Reality 15 (1997)Women’s Shelter Helps To Heal The Pain 15 (1997)Home Schools Become Popular Alternative 15 (1997)Renovation May Revive Downtown El Paso 15 (1997)Title IX Changed Women's Sports 15 (1997)Special Olympics Shine In El Paso 15 (1997)La Fe Clinic Serves South El Paso 15 (1997)ASARCO Works To Clean Up Its Act 15 (1997)A Growing Phenomenon: Single Fathers 15 (1997)Stepfamilies Become More Numerous 15 (1997)Teens Rebel Against Authority 15 (1997)Comics Retain Popularity 15 (1997)Tom Moore And Archie Have Timeless Appeal 15 (1997)
Life on the Border: 1950s & 1960s --14 (1996)From The Editors 14 (1996)A Baseball Team By Any Other Name 14 (1996)Drive-In Theaters Appealed to all Ages 14 (1996)El Paso Trolley First to Connect Two Nations 14 (1996)Barbie Doll Revolutionized Toy Industry 14 (1996)Rabies Took Bite of Sun City 14 (1996)Rabies: A Deadly Virus 14 (1996)Border Patrol Used Variety of Methods to Control Immigration 14 (1996)L. A. Nixon Fought Texas Voting Law 14 (1996)Douglass School Served Black Community Well 14 (1996)Thelma White Case Forced College Integration 14 (1996)Steve Crosno: An El Paso Original 14 (1996)Rock 'N' Roll Defined Teen Culture 14 (1996)A Shopping Mall by the People for the People 14 (1996)Chamizal Dispute Settled Peacefully 14 (1996)Turney Mansion Becomes Work of Art 14 (1996)First Hispanic Mayor Elected in 1957 -- 14 (1996)Flower Children Chose Alternative Lifestyle 14 (1996)
Three Decades of History 12 (1994)From the Editors 12 (1994)The Plaza Theater…Here to Stay!? 12 (1994)El Paso Broadcasting: The Stories Behind the Call Letters 12 (1994)Alphabet Agencies: FDR's Brainstorm 12 (1994)Chihuahuita in the 1930s: Tough Times in the Barrio 12 (1994)Hobo Sign Language Targeted El Paso 12 (1994)Self- Sufficiency Key to Farmers' Survival During Depression 12 (1994)Hanna's Story A Holocaust Survivor Remembers 12 (1994)Former Members Recall Life in Hitler Youth 12 (1994)German Prisoners of War Interned at Fort Bliss During World War II -- 12 (1994)German POWs Remembered at Fort Bliss 12 (1994)One German POW's Story 12 (1994)Ration Books and Victory Gardens: Coping with Shortages 12 (1994)Women Changed Wartime Work Patterns 12 (1994)Bracero Program Hurt Domestic Farm Workers 12 (1994)San Pedro Pharmacy Retains Look of the Past 12 (1994)Teenage Fashions of the Nifty Fifties 12 (1994)Rebel Image of Motorcyclists Set in 1950s -- 12 (1994)
Border Customs and Crafts From the Editor 10 (1992)From the Editors 10 (1992)King on the Mountain 10 (1992)Piñatas! 10 (1992)How to Play the Piñata Game 10 (1992)Out of a Cotton Boll Bloom Beautiful Crafts 10 (1992)Cotton Boll Entertains Too 10 (1992)Hands That Create Art and Soul 10 (1992)La Charreada - Mexican Horsemanship 10 (1992)Boots - A Family Tradition 10 (1992)Some Boys Still Grow Up to be Cowboys 10 (1992)Boot Capital of the World 10 (1992)The Magic of Mariachis 10 (1992)Ballet Folklorico - High School Style 10 (1992)New Generation of Mariachis 10 (1992)The Lady is a Bullfighter 10 (1992)The Midwife: Choices for Border Women 10 (1992)Retablos: Echoes of Faith 10 (1992)Tigua Indians: Dancing for St. Anthony 10 (1992)The Aztec and the Miracle 10 (1992)A Hispanic Girl's Coming of Age 10 (1992)Art - Low and Slow 10 (1992)Wedding Traditions on the Border 10 (1992)
Border Food Folkways From the Editor 9 (1991)From the Staff 9 (1991)Tortillas: Border Staff of Life 9 (1991)The Booming Tortilla Industry in Mexico 9 (1991)Where's The Beef? In El Paso! 9 (1991)How Do I Love Thee, Piggy? Let Me Count the Ways! 9 (1991)Tamales By Any Other Name Remain The Same 9 (1991)Rio Grande Thanksgiving 9 (1991)The Tigua Indians: Food for Thought 9 (1991)Corn: The Golden Gift from Our Ancestors 9 (1991)Border Pottery - Function and Beauty 9 (1991)Holy Hot Mole! 9 (1991)Looking Back at the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Men Behind the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Hot Peppers : They're Not Just for Eating 9 (1991)Food, Spices Double as Folk Cures 9 (1991)Weeds or Edible Desert Plants? 9 (1991)Cactus: It's Good for You! 9 (1991)Day of the Dead Celebrates Spiritual Tradition 9 (1991)Nutricious, Delicious Beans 9 (1991)Menudo Makes The Big Time 9 (1991)Mediterranean Cuisine: Old Tradition, Fresh Idea 9 (1991)Lenten Foods: From Fasting to Fabulous 9 (1991)Tarahumaras Rely on Nature for Food 9 (1991)Tempting Sweet Breads : Pan de Dulce 9 (1991)
Border Customs and Crafts II From the Editor -- 11 (1993)From the Editors 11 (1993)The Best Little Asaderos in Texas 11 (1993)Glass Work Disappearing on Border 11 (1993)Cockfights Legal in Surrounding Areas 11 (1993)Local Craftsmen Keep Art of Saddlery Alive 11 (1993)James and Joseph Magoffin: El Paso Pioneers 11 (1993)Chile Ristras Brighten Border Homes 11 (1993)Magoffin Home Preserves El Paso's Past 11 (1993)Bavarian Custom Celebrated in El Paso: Oktoberfest 11 (1993)Munich on the Border 11 (1993)Santo Niño de Atocha Called Miracle Worker 11 (1993)Lenten Customs Vary 11 (1993)To Ask is to Receive 11 (1993)Border Maintains Tradition of Posadas 11 (1993)A Visit from Three Kings 11 (1993)Matachines: Soldiers of the Virgin 11 (1993)Dichos Are an Intricate Part of Mexican Culture 11 (1993)Cultural Superstitions Affect Behavior 11 (1993)Que Onda Homeboy! Why Do We Talk Like This? 11 (1993)Traditional Hispanic Children's Games Disappear 11 (1993)
El Paso Women to ResearchEl Paso Women to Research (by name)El Paso Men to ResearchEl Paso Men to Research (by name)
From the Editors 30 (2012)From the Editor, Credits and Contents 30 (2012)Jessie Hawkins and Jenna Welch: Love, Loss and Laughter 30 (2012)Woodrow Wilson Bean: One in a Million 30 (2012)David L. Carrasco Gave Back to Hometown 30 (2012)Cleofas Calleros Made Local History Important 30 (2012)Robert E. McKee: From Rags to Riches to Philanthropy 30 (2012)Kate Moore Brown: A Woman of Many Firsts 30 (2012)Fun in the 1890s: The McGinty Club 30 (2012)
Borderlands Web Issue From the Editor 31(2013/14)Acknowledgements 31(2013/14)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 31(2013/14)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 31 (2013/14)Harvey Girls Changed the West 31(2013/14)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 31(2013/14)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 31(2013/14)
Borderlands 32 Tolerance. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 32(2014/15)Henry Kellen Created El Paso Holocaust Museum 32(2014/15)Bicycle Padre Still Working 32(2014/15)El Paso Connections: Ambrose Bierce: writer 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Bobby Fuller, Rock Icon 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Tom Ogle, Inventor 32(2014/15)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 32(2014)Harvey Girls Changed the West 32(2014)
Borderlands 33 Service. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 33(2015)Nothing Is Impossible: Major General Heidi V. Brown 33 (2015)Local Latino Soldiers Receive Medal of Honor Decades after Heroism 33 (2015)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 33 (2015)Will the Real Leon Blevins Please stand up? 33 (2015)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 33 (2015)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 33 (2015)
Borderlands 34 Inspiration. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 34(2016/17)Building Bridges Instead of Walls: Temple Mount Sinai 34 (2016/17)Ruben Salazar: A Bridge Between Two Societies 34 (2016/17)Luis Jimenez: Art Creates Dialogue 34 (2016/17)Richard "Tuff" Hedeman: The Michael Jordan of Professional Bull Riding 34 (2016/17)Rescue Mission of El Paso Provides Food and Opportunity 34 (2016/17)
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1909-2009: YWCA Celebrates 100 Years in El Paso

Article first published in Vol. 27, 2009.

Based on the Museum of History YWCA Exhibit script by Susan Novick

View PDF articles:  part1, part2, part3

Mrs. Robert Bruce SmithSandra AlmazanScores of El Pasoans celebrated the opening of the YWCA Centennial Exhibit the evening of April 23, 2009, at the Museum of History downtown. The exhibit, which runs through September, traces the beginnings and development of the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region to the present, complete with photographs and artifacts which have been preserved over the years. The El Paso association is the largest YWCA in the country.

Image caption:  El Paso YWCA Presidents:  Mrs. Robert Bruce Smith, 1909-1910 and Sandra Almazan, 2009-2010

Begun in England in 1855 to assist women who were working outside of their own homes as well as women moving to larger cities from the provinces, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) quickly found interest in the United States, with the first group organizing in 1858 in New York City. Two years later, this group opened the first boarding house for female teachers, factory workers and students. Known as the Ladies’ Christian Association of New York, it had as its objective “to labor for the temporal, moral and religious welfare of young women who are dependent on their own exertions for support.” In 1907, the YWCA of the USA was incorporated in New York City.

Similar groups spread to the East Coast and Midwest with programs including prayer meetings and Bible classes, employment bureaus and restaurants, as well as boarding homes. Just as today’s Ys always offer fitness and exercise programs, many of the early groups provided programs in calisthenics and physical exercise to help women to withstand the effects of long and hard work in factory and office.

1909-1918 The Beginning

In 1909, a group from the Women’s Missionary Union representing the Protestant churches of El Paso met to organize a YWCA to take over its work. Mabel Stafford, a national YWCA secretary, came to town to help organize the association, and the women had their first meeting on April 8, 1909, at the First Christian Church, where all of the Union’s property was given to the new group, including two lots on Missouri Street, furnishings, cash and mining stock. Carrie Smith, the first president of the YWCA, accepted the gift. One month later, the association set up offices on the second floor of the Herald Building. The women first established a lunch room and then provided a residence for the many women who had come to El Paso seeking a healthier climate and employment in the city whose population surged from 15,906 in 1900 to 77,560 in 1920.

Historic YWCA building in El PasoImage caption:  Built in 1917, the YWCA building at 315 E. Frankin St. included an indoor swimming pool, the first in El Paso.  (Photo courtesy of the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region)

By February 1910, the YWCA had raised more than $10,000 of the $20,000 needed to build the boarding house on 541 West Missouri Street. Realizing that the group needed outside financing, Mabel Stafford explained the group’s predicament in a letter delivered to Mrs. Russell Sage, a wealthy New Yorker with friends in the New York YWCA, who came through El Paso by train on her way to California. Mrs. Sage sent the El Paso women $10,000 for the residence, and on March 13, the women held a groundbreaking ceremony. The boarding house opened in October 1910 and served the needs of young women who came through or stayed here until May of 1941, when the building was sold and became the Harvey Hotel. Also in 1910, the YWCA opened a gymnasium in rented space to meet the need for physical exercise.

In 1916, business and professional women organized a club at the YWCA, sponsoring a loan fund for girls and women who needed financial assistance by raising money through concerts and vaudeville entertainment. When the United States entered World War I in 1918, the club organized a Red Cross Circle to make bandages and knit garments for soldiers and sailors. They made 15,000 bandages and knitted 300 mufflers, sweaters, helmets, wristlets and socks.

Although the YWCA had built a boarding house, its offices had always been rented, and between 1909 and 1916, the group moved four times. In one of their most successful fund-raising drives, YWCA workers raised $70,000 in a seven-day period from January 25 to February 1, 1917, to construct a permanent office building. Several out-of-town donors gave $30,000, and some 2,287 subscribers raised another $123,252.

This fundraising campaign was the first of its kind in El Paso. Adolph Schwartz, owner of the Popular Dry Goods Co., said of his support, “I regard this subscription as an investment which will yield returns through the girls employed in my store who are members or may become members of the YWCA.” The new building at 315 East Franklin Street was dedicated on February 3, 1918, and served the association until 1969.

While serving working women, the YWCA turned to consider the needs of adolescent girls, and the Girl Reserves were born in 1918. A Girl Reserve was “a girl who is constantly storing up, putting in reserve, more of those qualities which will help her to take her place as a Christian citizen in her home, her school, her church and her community.” The Girl Reserves organized into clubs, many associated with schools, and each club had an adult advisor who worked with the girls on programs based on their particular needs and desires.Girl Reserves

The clubs included special songs, rituals, conferences, training programs and uniforms. The national organization provided materials outlining programs for grade school, high school and employed girls under age 18. Prominent businessman Horace B. Stevens donated three lots in Cloudcroft in 1913 on which to build a summer cottage named “Rest-A-While” that was used for summer camps for Girl Reserves and Y-Teens through 1961 when it was sold.

Rest-A-While cottageImage captions:  Girl Reserves and Y-Teens enjoyed the cool mountain air while at summer camp at Rest-A-While cottage and Rest-A-While cottage in Cloudcroft, N.M., was built on land donated by Horace B. Stevens. (Photos courtesy of the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region)

 

1919-1948 Meeting Needs in an Uncertain World

Throughout this period, El Paso’s population continued to grow, and in 1920 women won the right to vote. In 1919, the National Board of the YWCA established the Hospitality House at the international bridge to aid Mexican immigrants. The local War Work Council of the YWCA began the International Institute for Spanish-speaking women at 122½ South Mesa Street, where instructors taught cooking, sewing and English classes.

In 1922, the YWCA organized a World Fellowship Committee to promote better understanding among girls of all races and creeds. This committee organized lectures and activities that helped members learn about and appreciate other cultures, foreshadowing the YWCA’s current imperative to eliminate racism.

Locally, an African-American woman was added to the Girl Reserves Committee in 1930 to represent African-American girls’ clubs. Former YWCA Board Member Frances Hills said, “The fact that they invited us (African-American girls) to come and participate in their general meeting of the Girls Reserves was really a step in the right direction of eliminating racism.”

As the country entered World War II, the YWCA adapted its regular program to reinforce the contribution of women and meet the tremendous pressures created by the war. Programs included leadership development, health and recreation, and current trends in world, national, and local affairs.

1949-1968 Planning for the Future

Myrna Deckert with group of girlsThe Girl Reserves became the Y-Teens in 1946, and clubs at Jefferson High School and El Paso Technical Institute joined clubs at Douglass School and El Paso, Austin and Bowie High Schools. Hired to lead the Teen Department, Patty Hudgens lived as a resident in the Franklin Street building beginning in 1945, and she recruited leaders for the clubs and attended Inter-Club Council meetings. “Inter-Club was always fun, because this gave the girls a chance to know each other from the various schools, including the Douglass girls. … The Douglass girls had more participation from their mothers than the others, and we always had delightful meals and entertainment when they were the hostesses. The other girls did well, but Douglass outshone them in the food and entertainment,” reported Hudgens.

Image caption:  Myrna Deckert became program director for the Y-Teens in 1963.  (Photo courtesy of the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region)

In 1951, Drusilla Nixon became the first African-American woman to serve on the El Paso YWCA Board of Directors. She was married to Lawrence A. Nixon, respected physician and political activist who challenged the Texas voting rights laws in the 1920s and 1930s until African Americans were able to vote in primary elections. Mrs. Nixon began her participation in the YWCA in 1937 by serving on the Girl Reserves Committee.

In 1956 the women began planning a new central building and by 1959 focused on developing decentralized programs in the city’s neighborhoods. That year Kay McIntyre became Executive Director as part of the movement toward adding experienced professional staff. Myrna Deckert, a woman who would become a powerhouse for the YWCA, became Teen Program Director in 1963.

The group began planning its first capital campaign since 1917, hoping to build on property it had purchased on Montana Avenue. By June 1966, only half of the $1.25 million in pledges had been raised, and the YWCA scaled back its building plans and revised its goal to $850,000. When cheaper land and more acreage became available at Brown and Cliff Streets, the association bought the property in 1967 and later sold the Montana and Franklin Street properties.

YWCA in El PasoThe new Central YWCA building was opened in 1969. “Oh my, we were so excited when we moved from Franklin to the Brown Street Building. … Everybody was excited about it, and I think it’s kind of from that point that we sort of really took off,” said Joyce Whitfield Jaynes, El Paso YWCA and YWCA World Service Council Board Member and namesake of this branch.

Image caption:  The Central YWCA building at 1600 Brown St. was later named the Joyce Whitfield Janes Branch. (Photo courtesy of the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region)

1969-1988 Branching Out to Meet the Needs of Girls and Women

By 1970, El Paso’s population was 322,261, with one of the lowest median incomes of any city in this country. Its population was young, 20.8 years, and its major industry was clothing manufacturing, employing more than 10,000 women, many with young children. The YWCA began working with other agencies to administer programs funded by federal, state and private grants. Kay McIntyre retired in 1969, and taking her place was Myrna Deckert, who would hold the position of Executive Director of El Paso’s YWCA until 2002.

Deckert began to work on diversifying the membership of the board of directors and staff, and among the first Hispanic women on the board were Rosa Guerrero, Leticia Paez and Rosa Gonzalez. Susan Melendez, former board member and current YWCA El Paso Foundation trustee reflected, “We needed more Hispanics and more members from the East side and the Northeast side … We brought in some young dynamic women. The Y Board is so strong, and they have incredibly passionate women on that board. … I attribute a lot of that to Myrna and her vision."

In 1970, a delegation of African-American women at the national convention in Houston proposed a resolution that the elimination of racism be the singular emphasis of the YWCA. Following heated discussion, the delegates adopted this imperative and it remains so today. Leticia Paez, former Y-Teen member and YWCA board president, attended the 1970 convention and remembers what the One Imperative discussion meant for her: “I think at that point it really shifted the YWCA’s mission. … The One Imperative really made the YWCA at the national level an agent for social change, instead of a social service organization.”

The El Paso YWCA has always been a leader in the nation, and in 1970, this association developed a Residential Intervention Center (RIC), providing private group homes for troubled teen girls, one of the first in the country. Parade Magazine published an article on the program in 1972, promoting it as a model for similar programs in other cities.

The YWCA provided child care for its participants when the Central Building opened in 1970, but it was soon evident that child care was a need throughout the city. In 1972, the YWCA contracted with the El Paso Housing Authority to administer bilingual and bicultural community services and child care in nine housing complexes. The YWCA also began to administer the Community Coordinated Child Care program, a child care resource, referral and advocacy program. The Y’s staff grew from 27 to 300, and the day care program expanded in 1975 to 13 centers that offered after-school programs.

As more and more women entered the work force and higher education institutions, the YWCA developed more support services for them. In 1978, the Women’s Resource Center opened at the Central Branch to help women with counseling, parental seminars and life management services. Another very popular program created that year was the Consumer Credit Counseling Service to assist people in financial difficulty.

Since 1979, the YWCA has sponsored the REcognized ACHievement Awards (REACH) Luncheon, which publicly recognizes women and girls who make significant contributions to business, organizations and community in El Paso. In 2003, the REACH program expanded to Las Cruces. Today, REACH also presents the Myrna Deckert Lifetime Achievement Award.

The 1980s brought two very important programs for girls. In 1985 Project Redirection brought services to pregnant and/or parenting teens in El Paso County. The program’s goals were to help teens stay in school, access health care and postpone a subsequent pregnancy. Blanca Orona, former YWCA board member and first Hispanic president of the YWCA Board said of the program: “To this day we still provide that service. … The program not only works with the mothers, but also with the fathers that want to be involved, encouraging them in taking responsibility for their actions and also helping them stay in school so they can help economically.”

The Mother-Daughter Program in partnership with UTEP and the Ysleta ISD was established in 1986 to help sixth-grade girls make the decision to stay in school and pursue a college education. Mothers and daughters partake in a year’s series of monthly activities focusing on careers, academic success, community resources, goal setting and personal growth. UTEP president Diana Natalicio said this program “is a good example of the ways in which our organizations are complementary and the ways in which we could work together.”

The 1980s saw a major building program of branches throughout El Paso. The Shirley Leavell Branch opened in 1981 on the East side, while a small facility in the Northeast was expanded and named the Myrna Deckert Branch in 1983. The Lower Valley Branch was dedicated in 1987, and the Katharine White Harvey Branch on the Westside opened in 1988 on land donated by the Paul and Katherine Harvey Trust in 1985. Capital campaigns in 1979 and 1986 financed these branches which were coordinated by Myrna Deckert and a building committee. In 1988, the YWCA moved its administrative offices to 1918 Texas Avenue and dedicated it to Sarah D. Lea to honor a former YWCA president.

1989 to the present – Empowering Women and Eliminating Racism

As El Paso went from being a manufacturing center to a service-oriented economy, the YWCA continued to focus and programs for children and families. It purchased the Boy Scout Camp in the Upper Valley in 1991, renovating it as Camp YW and naming it in 1997 for Mary Ann Dodson. Partnerships with Insights Museum and the Ysleta ISD made it possible to offer science camps for children.

In 1994, the YWCA initiated Children Cope with Divorce, a court-mandated four-hour educational program designed to help divorcing parents focus on the needs of their children during this potentially traumatic period. The program partners with Rollercoasters, sponsored by the El Paso Child Guidance Center, which is designed to help children between the ages of 6-15 who are experiencing changes in family relationships or family conflicts and stress.

The Y’s leadership in child care continued as it successfully bid on the Workforce Development Board’s Child Care Management Service contract in 1990, serving as a referral and placement service covering all licensed day care facilities in El Paso. In 1999, the YWCA opened the Judy and Kirk Robison Mi Casa Child Development Center for homeless children in cooperation with the Homeless Coalition. Today the YWCA provides child care in 14 pre-school child development centers and 51 after-school programs throughout El Paso. Five of the child development centers were among the first to receive Texas School Ready™ certifications, and the Texas Early Education Model (TEEM) selected the YWCA in 2009 to pilot a new academic curriculum for toddlers. In 2008, the Y began negotiations with the U. S. Army to implement after-school, youth and child care programs to serve soldiers relocating to Fort Bliss through the BRAC process.

In 2008, the association piloted YW Zones, a youth fitness initiative featuring GEO Fit Curriculum, Wii Fit gaming systems and fitness lessons through interactive dance instruction. A grant has made it possible to expand the YW Zones to all five branches and incorporate fitness activities into after-school programs.

Homeless women and children, often fleeing violent domestic situations, are being helped by the Sara McKnight Transitional Living Center (TLC), opened in 1993. They may stay for up to 24 months while they participate in activities to help them transition to permanent housing. A 20-family expansion of the TLC opened in 2005 on Altura Avenue. A former resident commented, “The TLC fostered healthy thinking in my mind, which is what turned me around. They could have given me a place to stay for a moment, and that would have been fine. But because that extra piece was there to help change my thinking, it completely changed my life.”

With the Junior League of El Paso, the YWCA constructed Independence House, offering housing, case management and mentorship to survivors of domestic abuse. The YWCA is the largest provider of transitional housing for El Paso families and in 2007-2008, 82 percent of the families in such programs moved to permanent housing.

In 2007, the local YWCA’s separate Community Development Corporation completed 12 apartments adjacent to the Lower Valley Branch, offering housing for older adults who choose to live independently and remain active in their community as yet another example of concern for community housing.

Several local YWCA leaders have served on Board of Directors of the YWCA of the USA and on the World Service Council. In 1999 the El Paso YWCA served as fiscal agent for the Change Initiative, a massive reorganization plan approved by the membership at a special convention in Dallas in 2000. Former El Paso YWCA board president Leticia Paez served as the first president of the newly created YWCA National Coordinating Board.

El Paso’s YWCA created its Racial Justice Committee in 1997 to foster awareness on racism and discrimination to staff, participants and the El Paso community. The association collaborates with the El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center on the Racial Justice Institute which offers a curriculum of 150+ modules available for training seminars for businesses and community groups. The Racial Justice “We…the People” Initiative fosters justice, appreciation for diversity and the elimination of racism through core values of Respect, Understanding, Acceptance and Appreciation through education, collaboration, dialogue and advocacy.

Most El Pasoans think of recreation and child care when the YWCA is mentioned, and indeed, it provides vast opportunities and services in both these areas, but it is so much more, as a compilation of its history shows. In 1994, some 800 people attended the first Women’s Benefit Luncheon, the YWCA’s major fundraising event, raising $100,000. On April 16, 2009, Lisa Ling spoke to a gathering of about 1,650 women and men at the YWCA’s annual event, raising $423,653. The YWCA is a careful steward in its financial resources, stretching its dollars to serve more than 100,000 people per year. Just as important are its 2,000 trained volunteers throughout the community who help implement their programs.

On May 3, 2009, the national YWCA General Assembly voted by 91 percent to revise its mission statement to the following: YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Ever mindful of changing roles of women, the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region continues to grow in its focus and physical locations, trying to reflect the needs of its community and to fulfill this mission. Reflecting on the history of the local YWCA, Sandra Braham, Chief Executive Officer, said, “The beautiful part of the Centennial is it gives you the opportunity to pull together the community, to remember what a difference this organization has made.”

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