El Paso del Norte Region

Association History

The Young Women’s Christian Associationbegan in London, England in1855. Later, the movement spread to the United States and grew rapidly. TheYWCA of El Pasoreceived its charter in 1909.

1909    Employment Bureau and Lunch Room started for working women.

1910     52-bed residence for young women opened on East Missouri Street. Gymnasium opened and health education classes were formed.

1912   Traveler’s Aid organized and Director hired. 

1914   Room for rest and sleep added to the cafeteria for business women.

1916   Business and Professional Women’s Club started. Property purchased at 315 E. Franklin for new facilities.

1918     Central Building constructed and dedicated. Girls Reserves organized.

1919     Hospitality House organized by national board to care for Mexican Immigrants coming to the U.S. to ease the shortage of labor due to war.

1920     Hospitality House becomes International Institute and supported by the YWCA of El Paso. Athletic League for women organized.

1921     World Fellowship Committee established.

1925     Catholic Church assumed administration of International Institute. 

1934     Relief School (the only one in Texas) directed by the YWCA and financed by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration.

1963   The “Report of United Fund Committee on Youth Service Expansion” recommeded that “the YWCA progressively ask more professionally trained workers to meet the needs of outlying areas.” 

1964   Teen Program became priority and expanded to two full-time directors.

1970   National Convention in Houston adopted “One Imperative…..to Eliminate Racism.” El Paso YWCA began review of total programs and services. 

1972    Contracted to administer the 4C’s (Community Coordinated Child Care). Expanded in-building day care and contracted with the Housing Authority to provide day care to low-income housing complexes.

1973    YWCA residence for girls closed. Community Childcare became an independent incorporated agency. Staff grew from 27 to 200.

1975   Day care expanded to 13 centers. The YWCA program for incarcerated women in the city-county jail was funded. Staff grew to over 300.

1977  The East Branch Council was established and Phase 1 of the building opened. Capital Campaign Drive slated by United Way for 1979-1980 

1979  Conducted the first “Women in Business” lunch (now REACH) 

1981  The Eastside facility was completed and dedicated as the Shirley Leavell Branch. Membership increased to 7,998 members. 

1985  Land was donated by Paul and Katherine Harvey Trust for a Westside facility named in honor of Katharine White Harvey. Began countywide program for parenting and pregnant teens, Project Redirection. Began a pilot program to help reduce the drop-out rate among Hispanic girls. 

1986  Began Phase II of the Capital Campaign Drive with a goal of $3 million. Conducted community needs study which resulted in the long range Corporate Plan for 1987-92. 

1987  Begin construction on Northeast Branch and Westside Branch. Purchased R.E. McKee Building at 1918 Texas for administrative offices.  

1988-1989  Completed and dedicated the expanded Myrna Deckert Branch and the new Katharine White Harvey Branch. Dedicated the administrative offices as theSarah D. Lee Building and the Central Branch was renamed the Joyce Whitfield Jaynes Branch.

1991  Purchased the Boy Scout Camp in the Upper Valley and renovated it as Camp YW. Received funding to begin a Transitional Living Center for homeless women and children. 

1992  Camp YW served youth in summer camp. Began the Leadership Development Center at Whataburger’s office which also houses the Women’s Employment Program and extended Consumer Credit Counseling Services.

1993  The YWCA Transitional Living Center for Homeless Women and their Children began operations to provide a supportive housing program for as many as 40 women and children at a time.

1994  Began the “Children Cope With Divorce” program, a court mandated educational program designed to help divorcing parents focus on the needs of their children during this potentially traumatic period. Began the Women’s Benefit Luncheon with 800 attending, raising $100,000.

1995  Name changed to YWCA El Paso Del Norte Region. 

1996  February 23, the El Paso Natural Gas Company presented the YWCA with the Hueco Club, a facility with a club house, 9 hole 3 par golf course, driving range, swimming pool, softball diamonds, volleyball, basketball and tennis courts and over 400 acres of undeveloped land.   

1997  Camp YW was named in honor of Mary Ann Dodson. Membership exceeds 17,000. July 20 marked the opening of a pilot Wellness Program at the Shirley Leavell Branch. 

1998  Began a Capital Campaign with a goal of nine million dollars to address building renovation, building additions and endowment.

2001  Dedicated the Independence House; Named the Child Development Center at the Viramontes Branch in honor of Marie Wise; Named the Transitional Living Center in honor of Sara McKnight. Completed renovation of the Lower Valley Branch.

2005  Completed 20-apartment addition to the Sara McKnight Transitional Living Center.

2006  Completed construction of 12 apartments in the Lower Valley for low income senior citizens.

         Register NowCompleted 20-apartment addition to the Sara McKnight Transitional Living Center. Began Credit Counseling services in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
         Completed construction of 12 apartments in the Lower Valley adjacent to the Dorothy Woodly Hunt Branch for low income senior citizens. 
         Bid farewell to Cindy Nance as CEO and welcomed new CEO Dr. Sandra Braham, UTEP Associate Vice Provost and current President-elect of the YWCA Board of Directors, to become our fourth executive director.
2009  YWCA El Paso Del Norte Region celebrates 100 years. Myrna Deckert, Flo Buchmeller and Sharon Carr Leamon served as co-chairs, under the leadership of Jane Snow who was Board President.

         Celebrated our Centennial with a four-month exhibit at El Paso’s Museum of History, published weekly profiles 100 women who were instrumental in the leadership and development of the El Paso YWCA in the El Paso Times. These profiles and other YWCA Stories which ran in the El Paso, Inc. were published in a commemorative Centennial book. The staff celebrations were under the leadership of Barbara Alspaugh who was instrumental in leading a team to build a 100-year float, pulled by a three-layer cake complete with candles. The float was entered into the Thanksgiving Day Parade and won the “Governor’s Award”.
Upgraded playgrounds around the agency.
2010  Launched the Be-Y Miracles Happen Capital Campaign

         Dedicated the Lower Valley Branch as the Dorothy Woodley Hunt Branch.
         Instituted new fundraiser, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, the international men’s march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence.
2012  Nationally accredited three after school programs including Horizon Heights Elementary, Nixon Elementary and Lujan Chavez Elementary

         Re-opened Guevara Early Learning center after two years of being closed due to major damage by a 2010 winter freeze which gripped the City.
2013  Dissolved the Community Development Corporation and Independence House and the Senior Apartments are now included in YWCA operations and assets.
         Received funding for the Texas Veteran’s Commission to begin a new program in Economic Empowerment, Emergency Funding for Texas Veterans which provides emergency financial support to veterans and their families who are in need of support to pay bills.
         Received request from The University of Texas at El Paso to temporarily operate its child development center due to the unexpected closure by its operator.
         Celebrated our 20th Anniversary Women’s Luncheon which featured special guest and financial guru, Suze Orman. Almost 2,000 people attended the event which was held at the Judson F. Williams Convention Center.
         Nationally accredited six additional elementary after school sites including:
                   Edgar Park (May 30, 2013)
                   Pebble Hills (February 22, 2013)
                   Dr. Green (February 22, 2013)
                   Robert Ituarte (February 22, 2013)
                   Myrna Deckert (February 14, 2013)
                   Tom Lea (February 14, 2013)
2014   Completed the public phase of the be-Y miracles happen capital campaign, after successfully raising more than $6 million during a very tough five-year economic period.
         Sold the Sarah D. Lea Administration Complex to a new charter school which focuses on college preparatory, the El Paso Leadership Academy.
         Successfully bid on the UTEP RFP for child care operator and received a five-year contract with the option to extend for three years. Opened the new YWCA University Heights Early Learning Center.
         After five years of volunteer service, the YWCA Archives, comprised of more than 100 years of history, were completed under the leadership of Susan Novick and Jeanne Foskett
         Nationally accredited two early learning centers including Mabee, at the Shirley Leavell Branch and Kastrin at the Myrna Deckert Branch.
         We are 105 years old