Empower Yolo welcomed the community into its home at its main office the Dowling Center at 175 Walnut Street in Woodland on Friday, June 3, 2022 from 4-7 p.m. for its 45th anniversary open house celebration.  Guests enjoyed food and music, toured offices at the old Maxwell School, learned more about agency programs and services, and met with staff and board members.

“Throughout the past two years our staff has responded to the pandemic by adapting our services to the county’s needs, the anniversary celebration gave us the opportunity to highlight some of their work and thank them for stepping up when they were most needed,” says Lynnette Irlmeier, Empower Yolo executive director.

We would like to thank the elected officials who attended and made proclamations to honor Empower Yolo’s work in the community for 45 years. On behalf of Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor, Tara Thronson, Supervisor’s Deputy, made a proclamation. Gloria Partida, City of Davis Mayor attended the event. On behalf of the Davis City Council, Lucas Frerichs, Vice Mayor presented a proclamation. Vicky Fernandez, City of Woodland, Council Member also supported the event. To mark the occasion, a commemorative picture was taken of current and former board members.

This year, in honor of Empower Yolo’s 45th anniversary, our housing department set a goal of permanently housing 45 survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault or human trafficking. To date, our housing department has housed 41 survivors and their families helping them find safety and stability in their new homes. Donors who donated $45 or more wrote personal messages of encouragement to survivors moving into permanent housing. The notes will be presented to clients on special key chains when they receive the keys to their new homes.

Donors that donated $450 or more pulled the rope to ring the old school bell! Monique and Angelina Sotelo on behalf of Cache Creek were the first supporters to ring the bell. Empower Yolo’s sponsors and donors have been very supportive to us and we are grateful to them. “We want to thank the donors and local foundations who have supported us over the years and continue to do so,” says Irlmeier.  Thank you to our event sponsors, Hanlees Toyota and Lyon Real Estate, in Davis. We appreciate their support.

As Empower Yolo board and staff members celebrated their hard work and accomplishments over the years with the community they also remembered the survivors and families in need that have come to the agency during the most difficult times in their lives.  Many were able to start over and begin new lives with their children, but we continue to persevere and work harder in honor of the many that were not able to start over. We know the important work we do for victims of violence, marginalized groups and the underserved population must continue together with the help of our community.

“The 45th anniversary open house allowed us, if only for the briefest moment, to celebrate our achievements and honor the survivors who have used our services.  Unfortunately the work to end violence continues, recent events in Uvalde and Buffalo remind us that there is much more work to do,” says Irlmeier.

Thank you to all the community members who attended our special anniversary event.  For those who were not able to attend, but would still like to support the important work Empower Yolo is doing in the community, please donate any time at: empoweryolo.org. Any donations made through the end of our fiscal year, June 30 Empower Yolo’s board of directors will match up to $10,000.  Your support truly makes a difference, and helps Empower Yolo continue in its mission of promoting safe, healthy and resilient communities.

Supporting youths in our community through Empower Yolo’s summer camps:

As we close the chapter of our milestone anniversary celebration, we begin anew by supporting the youths in our community. As we enter the summer months Empower Yolo is planning two summer camp programs for the children residing in Empower Yolo’s safe house for the summer and for other children in the community.

Kids Camp at Empower Yolo’s safe house-

Kids Day Camp at the safe house is an 8-week program packed with fun activities for the children staying there during the summer. Campers will have the opportunity to play, create, and explore while in a safe and supervised setting by Empower Yolo’s trained staff. “We have the opportunity this year to go on fun and educational field trips to colleges, tours of wildlife refuges and stem-based facilities. We will have sports, arts and crafts all while incorporating social life skills,” says Natalia Villagomez, lead child advocate, Empower Yolo.

Camp counselors assisting the child advocates will be members of Empower Youth, a local teen service group with clubs at Davis High School and Emerson Junior High School that support Empower Yolo and organize monthly community service projects for the kids at the shelter and the community; they also provide a tutoring program throughout the year to support the children at the safe house. Empower Youth teens will strengthen their leadership skills and continue to serve their community.

Summer activities at the safe house are so important to provide for the children. “Camp allows children to experience activities that they may not have access to outside of the safe house. It allows positive social interactions and allows the children to develop strategies to navigate social situations and empower them to make decisions,” says Villagomez.

The community can support Empower Yolo’s Kids Days Camp at the shelter by donating snacks, water, outdoor toys and activities, gift cards for lunch, or sponsor a fun Friday for the kids like movie tickets and tickets to local community pools.  Donations can be made at Empower Yolo’s Davis or Woodland offices during office hours. For questions about donations contact Natalia at [email protected].

After School Safety and Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) Kids Day Camp-

During the summer ASSETs will host its annual three-week Kids Day Camp from July 20-August 5. This year, the program will be held at Woodland High School for children in the community ages seven through twelve years old. During the camp, students will engage in two arts and crafts activities and two physical activities each day led by high school students who are volunteering their time during the summer to mentor young kids.

“The Kids Day Camp is an opportunity for young children in Yolo County to connect with older mentors and gain new social and creative skills through engaging with leaders in their community of various ages and backgrounds,” says Tony Morales, Empower Yolo ASSETs site coordinator, Woodland High School.

Participants will also have the opportunity to go to the community swim center for three days out of the nine-day camp. This program is completely free to the community and is funded by Empower Yolo.

“We provide leadership skills for our high school volunteers through training that helps them take on responsibilities, develop soft and hard skills, and helps foster a passion for giving back to the community,” says Morales.

For young participants the camp is an opportunity to combat summer learning loss and helps keep them engaged with peers while staying active and maintaining healthy habits. “Many of the participants in the camp come from families who utilize Empower Yolo’s services and also those who are already connected to the ASSETs program. Nevertheless, we are open and happy to serve any families interested in participating,” Morales said.

The community can support the program by sharing information about the camp. Registration for the Kids Day Camp is currently open and families can sign their children up by either filling out a registration form at Empower Yolo’s main office at 175 Walnut Street in Woodland or through the online Google form. To register online go to: https://forms.gle/ZyrUdR8ec5axDD9D6.  If you have any questions about the ASSETs Kids Day Camp contact Tony Morales at [email protected].

The great thing about both the Kids Day Camp at the safe house and the ASSETs Kids Day Camp is that they invest in the youths of our community from the young participants learning social-emotional skills and developing creative skills to the teen volunteers fostering leadership skills and giving back to their community.

To learn more about Empower Yolo, or to support our summer programming any time visit: empoweryolo.org.

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