1902Mrs. W.S. Liddell, Mrs. W.O. Nisbett and Mrs. F.C. Abbott established the Charlotte YWCA in 1902. Liddell, who was one of the leaders of the women's suffrage movement, served as YWCA president from 1902-1903. In 1913, she helped organize the NC Equal Suffrage League. By 1914, the group had many more chapters and was gaining public support for the women's suffrage movement from state and county leaders.
Nisbett took the helm as YWCA president in 1904 and served until 1907, paving the way for the YWCA's future expansion. Abbott was president from 1907-1920. By the end of her 13-year tenure, the organization had delved into the needs of working women, including childcare.
The YWCA's focus during the first decade was to meet the needs of women who moved into the city to work in textile mills. In 1909, the facility on West Fifth Street provided housing for 12 women, as well as recreational and educational programs. Noon and evening classes were offered in factories, and by 1911 the classes had developed into a night school in North Charlotte. Other outreach programs were created to assist women, such as Traveler's Aid, a program that placed cribs in railroad stations to help ease the burden of mothers traveling with infants and children.
The YWCA moved into a new brick building on East Trade Street. Women had access to a gymnasium and a directory of boarding houses, as well as limited boarding at the YWCA. Women had the opportunity to learn about law, city government, banking, nursing and sales. An employment bureau for women was later established.
World War I brought many changes and an increase in the number of women arriving in Charlotte seeking war work. The YWCA created the Business Women's Employment Council to assist the women in their efforts. During the same year, to meet the needs of working women, the YWCA opened Charlotte 's first childcare center at Highland Park Mill.
Also in 1917, the Phyllis Wheatly branch of the YWCA was established for African American women and girls, with Mrs. M.J. McCrorey, Sr. serving as the first president. Phyllis Wheatly was one of the first YWCA branches in the United States that was opened for African American women. African American and Caucasian women worked together to keep the branch strong until it merged with the general YWCA in 1964.
A swimming pool, which is widely associated with the YWCA, was built at the East Trade Street facility.
During the Great Depression, the YWCA continued to strengthen the community by offering unemployment counseling, a job bank and areas where women could practice typing.
After World War II, the YWCA arranged for vocational counseling and employment fairs for women who might become unemployed.
After school and summer enrichment programs were established for children whose families received public assistance. Working mothers reaped the benefits when efforts were made to include additional federally funded childcare. The Phyllis Wheatly component of the YWCA merged with the general YWCA.
A new facility was opened at 3420 Park Road. The facility included housing for 66 women, a kitchen, chapel, indoor pool, exercise and meeting areas, lighted tennis courts and corporate offices.
A full-size gymnasium was added to the YWCA's exercise facility.
Starting in 1996, the Women In Transition (WIT) program was transformed, with the addition of assessment, supportive services, workshops and a computer resource center. Steadily until 2000, this 66-unit residential facility continued to receive infusions of structure and supportive services such that it is presently regarded as a hallmark program of YWCA's in the southeastern region and serves as the primary transitional housing for homeless women in the greater Charlotte area.
Fitness center and administrative offices at Park Road were renovated and updated for a new era.
Legally changed its name to Young Women's Christian Association of the Central Carolinas, Inc.
YWCA completed the renovation of its Women In Transition program.
YWCA started construction on its Families Together program, a transitional housing program for homeless families with minor children. (pictured is Jane L. McIntyre, CEO of YWCA Central Carolinas during the construction of Families Together).
Youth, ages 5-12, in their Youth Learning Program can separate themselves from drugs, guns, gangs and violence, and in 2007, 84 percent of participants increased their grades in reading or math.
The YWCA's Women in Transition program provides safe and affordable transitional housing and supportive services to homeless or troubled women helping them rebuild and reclaim their lives.
The newly renovated Sarah Belk Gambrell Fitness
The YWCA exceeds a $7.5 million dollar comprehensive campaign. A portion of the monies raised will provide funding for Families Together.
The YWCA's Families Together program opened its doors and began providing transitional housing and support services for homeless families (pictured at the ribbon cutting: Anne Pipkin, 2008-09 board president and Sarah Belk Gambrell, board member emeritus).
In 2012, YWCA Central Carolinas celebrates its 110th anniversary! Also in 2012, we moved one center to West Charlotte and opened our 11th center at Billingsville Elementary.