YWCA Carlisle looked back on its 100-year history by celebrating its connections of today and looking to the needs of the future.
The organization held a block party Saturday evening that included entertainment, food, children’s activities and information from organizations that partner with YWCA Carlisle throughout the year.
“We’ve just had a blast,” said Katelynn Edger, interim executive director of YWCA Carlisle. “We’re just so enjoying this wonderful community right now.”
She said attendance at the block party had been “fabulous” throughout the day, with people steadily visiting the food vendors and the children’s area staying busy.
The children’s area included oversized Tic-Tac-Toe and Jenga games as well as face painting, corn hole games, sidewalk games and the chance to have repairs done on an old bicycle or to get a new bike through LifeCycle.
Ryan Brown, pastor of New Life Community Church, which sponsors LifeCycle, said LifeCycle gave away 14 bikes and were able to repair another eight or nine for area residents.
The organization receives so many children’s bikes that the block party gave them an opportunity to give them away or, in the case of two little girls, reunite them with their bikes.
“We actually were able to give two bikes back that had been stolen,” Brown said.
He explained that the girls came to get new bikes but, to their surprise, their stolen bikes were among those available for the choosing. Somewhere along the line, the stolen bikes had been donated to LifeCycle.
Now, those bikes, like every other LifeCycle bike, are registered so that they can be returned to the owner if they are stolen and then recovered.
Safe Harbour, Partnership for Better Health, Bosler Memorial Library and other partner agencies set up shop in front of the YWCA from 3-6 p.m. to share their mission and to provide activities for the community. The Cumberland County Historical Society, for example, gave visitors the chance to dress in clothing typical of 1919.
“Every one of (the community partners) has done something for us,” Edger said.
Linda Manning, co-founder and current president of Carlisle Victory Circle, put it a little more simply.
“We’re friends,” she said.
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Carlisle Victory Circle supports middle and high school students as they prepare for their future through education and character development, Manning said. Over the years, they’ve had students graduate and then return to teach in Carlisle Area School District. Others have gone into nursing, become pharmacists or entered criminal justice fields, among others.
“We have a lot of kids in our programs who also do a lot of programs at the YW so there’s some nice shared support of the community and the neighborhood,” said Angie Fernandez-Barone, program coordinator.
Being part of a block party like the one held at the YWCA so early in the school year allowed the organization a new opportunity to sign children up for their programs and to reach out to families who may not have heard of them, Manning said.
During a short program later that evening, Mayor Tim Scott read a proclamation declaring Saturday to be YWCA Carlisle Day, and state Rep. Barb Gleim, R-Carlisle, offered a citation for the organization in honor of its anniversary.
The YWCA also used the occasion to present two awards. Karen Galbraith was presented the Ruth K. and Nancy J. George Award for Outstanding Volunteer Community Service. The award honors those who have made a significant contribution to the YWCA through volunteer service.
Lindsay Varner, community outreach director of the Cumberland County Historical Society, was presented with the Racial Justice Award, which honors an individual who dedicates time, resources, care and concern to champion efforts to eliminate racism in the community and at its root causes.
A small table near the entrance to the YWCA Carlisle building displayed snippets of its history, including a clipping from The Sentinel on Feb. 8, 1919 that cited the need for a new community organization focused on girls.
“Carlisle has most adequately provided churches for worship, banks for her money and securities, educational institutions for her youth, a home for her aged, a hospital for her sick, a YMCA for her boys—but nothing for her girls,” the article reads.
Names cited later in the article as those who had already stepped up to support the endeavor are ones familiar to Carlisle’s past and, in some cases, its present: Hayes, Flower, Bosler, Biddle, Irving, Bedford, Beetem, Stuart.
By March 21, 1919, the Carlisle Evening Herald reported that $10,646 had been raised with the balance of the required $25,000 expected to be raised by the following Monday.
That November, the Evening Herald reported that Miss Alice Treadwell of New York City had been named as the general secretary of the new YWCA. She had completed courses at the New York School of Philanthopy, and was abroad when war—World War I—was declared. She “returned to serve her country at Camp Lee” according to the article.
Even as YWCA Carlisle celebrated those beginnings, it looked to the future.
“As an organization, we always want to stay relevant. We always want to stay in focus on what our community needs. Every once in awhile, you need a rallying point for the community,” Edger said.
The block party brought out many people who had been working with the YWCA over the years as well as a lot of new people who may become involved, she said.
“We’re hoping that this energizes the community at large to join us. Folks who maybe didn’t know so much about us before maybe now do,” she said.