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All Women are Women’s History

The YWCA has been at the forefront of the most critical social movements for more than 160 years. From empowering women and advocating for civil rights to affordable housing and work compensation equity to violence prevention and health care, we are writing women’s history. Women and the people who love women have been at the heart of our work since our beginning. In Monterey County, this work began at the turn of the 20th century!
women's history
Early YWCA art donated by a member.
1913 National Board of Young Women’s Christian Association establishes the YWCA Leadership Camp at Asilomar Western Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove. This was the first site of what is proudly now YWCA Monterey County. Also in 1913, the YWCA holds a contest to name their property. Stanford University student, Helen Salisbury, makes up the word “Asilomar”, meaning refuge-by-the-sea. As a result, this becomes one of the first of fifty Hostess Houses operated by the YWCA during and after WWI.
These institutions sometimes designed by female architects helped bridge the gap between private and public life on the homefront impacted by the war. Additionally, they employed more than 1,000 women across the US. YWCA reached a milestone in post-colonial women’s history by establishing mass employment for women, by women.
womens history
YWCA Asilomar Leadership Camp Entrance
womens history
Early 20th-century YWCA housing at Asilomar Leadership Camp
Women traveling to find low-paying factory jobs found education and vocational classrooms at the Asilomar Leadership Camp. At the YWCA’s Asilomar young women could take classes in practical
subjects such as money management, sewing, cooking, and typing. Staff, students, and supporters began meeting periodically to discuss women’s issues. As an eventual result, the organization founded the YWCA Regional Leadership Conferences.
1919 Near Cannery Row at the location that is now the Sardine Factory, the YWCA opens and operates the YWCA Canteen. The establishment provides a space for rest, shelter and hot soup for women working in the canneries. Also in 1919, the local provisional YWCA moves to Sunlite-Carmel Convalescent Hospital.
1943 The National YWCA Board opens rooms for rent at Asilomar for WWII military families.
1956 YWCA sells Asilomar to the State of California.
1972 YWCA Monterey Peninsula is established, sharing offices with the Monterey County Child Abuse Prevention Council. Both groups focus programs on the needs of young women.
1976 The chapter creates a new career counseling program.
1976 Local YWCA president Mildred Lawson, a retired insurance executive, helps the YWCA become a major nonprofit organization on the Monterey Peninsula.
1978 The Domestic Violence Crisis Line is established. The direct phone line service offers counseling and service referrals 25 hours a day, 365 days a year. YWCA recognizes that a major obstacle facing women and children is lack of transportation to the Salinas shelter. Thus begins the effort to open a shelter in the Monterey Peninsula.
1980 YWCA launches the Domestic Violence Program for women and children who are victims of family violence.
1981 First year of Lover’s Point Walk-Run fundraiser for permanent shelter; matching grant from Maurine Colburn Church Trust.
1981 YWCA Monterey Peninsula Gala Ball is held at a local hotel.
1981 YWCA 12th Annual meeting takes place at Carmel Holiday Inn.
1982 The chapter purchases a seven-bedroom house, the first confidentially located comprehensive family violence shelter in Monterey County. Hires shelter director in April, staff in June, and admits clients in July. The shelter is named Lawson House in honor of former YWCA President Mildred Lawson.
1995 Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) Clinic is established to help victims of domestic violence prepare against their abusers. The goal is to protect clients from physical abuse or intimidation, stalking or threats to harm.
1995 The Mental Health Counseling and Educational Outreach programs are established.
1997 YWCA Monterey Peninsula amends articles of incorporation to rename the organization YWCA Monterey County. This results in the local chapter having a much greater reach in the population it serves.
1998 The Sticks and Stones program is developed and introduced to its first school. The program provides group therapy for children in grades K-5 who come from violent households.
2001 YWCA moves from Monterey to 1976 Fremont Boulevard, Seaside.
2002 The YWCA chapter expands services to provide a Legal Advocacy department specifically for immigrants and youth in Sticks and Stones, children participating in YMCA programs and the Family Ties program.
2005 YWCA receives a 7-year grant from the State of California’s Department of Health Services Maternal, Child, Adolescent, and Health department.
2007 YWCA moves from its Seaside location to 457 Webster street in Monterey.
2007 YWCA establishes a Mental Health Counseling Services department.
2007 The toll-free crisis line is provided to fill the service gap created by closing the Women’s Crisis Center in South County.
2008 In Collaboration with Shelter Outreach Plus and the Community Action Partnership the YWCA opens a counseling center in Salinas. This center provides bi-lingual services to residents of Salinas and South County.
2011 In order to accommodate growing programs, the YWCA opens a new larger Salinas office at 236 Monterey Street in Oldtown Salinas.
2015 YWCA sells the Lawson House and purchases a new property for the Domestic Violence Shelter serving Monterey County.
2017 YWCA receives a grant from Cal OES to open a Human Trafficking Safehouse, the first program of its kind on the Central Coast.
2017 The Domestic Violence Shelter moves to a house five times the size of the previous one. As a result, the chapter increases capacity to serve families in Monterey County.
2018 YWCA receives a grant from Cal OES to offer completely free legal services for two years and case management for all clients seeking legal services.
2018 The Resource Center for family survivors of domestic violence begins its operation to aid in family rehabilitation
2019 Christine Duncan became YWCA’s CEO
2020 Introduced a new Step-Down Housing Program utilizing the Domestic Violence Housing First (DVHF) Model and began renovations for the new Transitional House.
2020 Received a grant to begin our DPAP Program.  The DPAP provides undocumented clients with food every two weeks.
2020  YWCA of Monterey County moved to a new location at 11 Quail Run Circle
2021 The Y began expanding its current HT Program and also presented at the HT Symposium in March.
2021  Georgina Mendoza McDowell is elected as Board Chair.