YW KW rebrands to ensure community awareness

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Founded in 1905, The YWCA is Kitchener-Waterloo’s oldest and largest organization serving women and children. The organization works to combat homelessness and provide children with youth development programs.

Many YWCAs in Canada have changed their name to YW and the YW Kitchener-Waterloo has followed suit. YW KW has recently launched a new logo and has undergone rebranding in order to ensure community awareness.

Elizabeth Clarke, CEO of YWCA Kitchener Waterloo, explained that the organization has struggled to differentiate itself from the YMCA.

“There’s such confusion in the community about the YWCA and the YMCA. Either people think that we are the same organization or they think that we are a part of the YMCA, and that has [got] in the way of doing a lot of things that we want to do,” Clarke said.

During a presentation for the new logo, Clarke explains that there are continuous phone calls regarding membership rates for a non-existent gym.

“In our Girls program, we have a program called community SheRoes and it’s a mentoring program where we match girls age 11-14 with women in the community who have an interest in social justice and community development.”

“One of the factors is that there are far more YMCAs that exist around the world, which have a different kind of role in the community because we are an organization that exists with members in the community, people in poverty and people that have barriers to employment,” Clarke said.

As said in the presentation, the YWCA and the YMCA are separate and distinct organizations and that were founded a couple years apart more than 100 years ago. Their similar names and the way they look in print ultimately enhance confusion as Clarke explained.

“The YMCA seems to work with more people in the community using their facilities,” Clarke said.

“Also there are a number of communities in Canada where the YMCAs and YWCAs do work together in Guelph for instance, which increase[s] people’s confusion; the majority of YWCA’s are separate.”

The various departments which interact with the community on a daily basis are overlooked because many people assume that they are just a gym. This rebranding will shed light on the various departments YW KW has to offer.

“YWCA divides our programs up in [various] categories,” Clarke explained.

“Our main areas are homelessness so we provide street outreach and we provide supportive housing for women and children [in need], we have a lot of programs in our children[‘s] services department such as full day child care.”

“Our smallest department [is] our Girls program, where we provide mentorship for girls about body image and self-esteem, violence prevention and community involvement and volunteerism for teenage girls,” Clarke said.

The YW offers unique volunteer opportunities to women in the community and has extended them to the Laurier community in hopes of gaining student volunteers.

“In our Girls program, we have a program called community SheRoes and it’s a mentoring program where we match girls age 11-14 with women in the community who have an interest in social justice and community development,” Clarke said.

“The launch was meant to given attention to how we differ to the YMCA about our advertisements that are going to be popping up in our community.”

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