May 2022

May 2022


If you are like me, you love seeing the underdog win. Rich Strike, the winner of the 2022 Kentucky Derby, was an underdog. Less than 36 hours before the start of the race, Ethereal Road was scratched, opening the door for Rich Strike to take his chance in the big race. Having been sold for only $30,000 a few months prior, Rich Strike ran the Kentucky Derby with horses that cost over twenty times more than him. Even with 80:1 odds, referred to as the longest shot, Rich Strike won the Derby.

YWCA Northeast Indiana helps many individuals throughout our community that could be defined as the underdog. These individuals are as mighty as Rich Strike, but their circumstances have caused them to feel less than mighty. The clients we serve may feel trapped by domestic violence or sexual assault or overwhelmed by addiction. It can be hard to have hope for healing and recovery.

May is mental health awareness month. Did you know that one in five individuals will experience a mental health concern in any given year? Domestic and sexual violence, as well as substance use disorder, certainly can create havoc on person’s mental health. Realizing this, YWCA Northeast Indiana provides a variety of services to help. Learn more about these in our program spotlight.

Have you seen who we have been featuring in our Women’s Empowerment Campaign? Click here, or view below, to see who our participants have been, including a heart-filled Mother’s Day tribute.

Learn how Leslie Friedel, CEO of Stillwater Hospice, and her team, address mental health and what people need to know about caretaker burnout in this month’s Dash of Persimmon.

Julia Stambaugh, CFO of the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne, is this month’s Power of Persimmon rock star! Find out why she says empowered women are contagious!

Please join us in celebrating the work anniversary of Bethany, one of our advocate coordinators, and learn more about why she has Persimmon Pride. Happy 1st Anniversary Bethany!!

We have some exciting events coming up! Our second Diversity Dialogue is scheduled for May 26th from noon through 1:30 p.m. at Indiana Tech. Join this discussion about the generational wealth gap by registering for free today! Also, we have our 2nd annual Dress for Success Fashion Week June 6th-10th! You can help women become financially self-sufficient by voting for your favorite model/outfit. Learn more about these events below.

We also want to give a special shoutout to corporate sponsors, community partners, volunteers, and participants for making our inaugural Race Against Racism 5K walk/run event a success! Money raised goes to help fund our racial justice work. Thank you!!

Want to get involved? Please consider giving to our Annual Fund campaign. Read a story about how $25 dollars in the hands of an abuser caused life-altering torment for a local woman and her young child. This annual fund campaign is asking our supporters to consider donating $25. From January through April, we experienced a 24% increase in crisis calls, 32% increase in community client services, and a 20% increase in shelter services. Levels of service in 2022 are on pace to exceed 2021.

We would not be able to provide our life-saving services without people like you. We sincerely thank you for your ongoing support!!


Health & Wellness

Supporting health and wellness, including mental health, is a priority at YWCA Northeast Indiana. Did you know that our caring team offers health and wellness support for the adults and children participating in our programs?

Our therapists provide individual and family therapy to support individuals and families through the emotional challenges of homelessness, domestic and sexual violence, and substance use disorder. They also provide adults with weekly group sessions focused on building healthy relationships and self-care.

Our Healthy Relationships group promotes emotional wellness by teaching clients skills and tools they can use to identify, develop, and nurture healthy relationships. Learning how to establish and maintain healthy relationships can increase self-esteem.

In the Self-Esteem group, clients are educated on strategies for improving their overall sense of self. This group allows clients to explore negative core beliefs they might have and teaches them how to engage in helpful behavior, such as approaching challenges with an open mind, treating themselves well, and actively engaging in life. Having positive self-esteem contributes to overall wellness and increases motivation to address physical and other health concerns.

Our trauma-informed staff work closely with the children staying in our residential programs. Tameka Johnson, our Child Advocate, meets with families to assess the needs of the children. She connects parents with the homeless liaison at their school and makes sure the children are enrolled and have the transportation they need to be at school daily. Upon request, Tameka attends IEP meetings to help parents navigate those, and provides support for the family and school in developing plans to meet the needs of the children. She also provides referrals to First Steps, Healthy Families, and other programs that provide early intervention to ensure parents and children receive the early interventions and supports they need to be successful and overcome barriers. Additionally, Tameka also provides reading and game times for families and children to support positive attachment and build social skills for encouraging and supporting each other through stressful times.

Tameka and a team of seven YWCA staff co-facilitate the Strengthening Families program, an evidence-based program for promoting positive interaction and reducing negative outcomes such as drug and alcohol abuse. These classes help families build attachment, responsibility, accountability, and support positive mental health outcomes for parents and children.

Through a partnership with PFW, music therapy students provide music therapy for children in the shelter, supporting them in using the outlet of music to reduce stress, increase creativity and problem-solving, and manage big emotions. Music therapy is an evidence-based treatment that helps with a variety of disorders, including substance abuse and depression as well as physical health disorders. Music therapy can help increase memory, lower blood pressure, improve the ability to cope, reduce stress, and increase self-esteem.

Huntington University’s occupational therapy students also come into the shelter each semester and provide group sessions to help children and adults build skills for goal setting and emotional regulation.

YWCA Northeast Indiana staff also provide a listening ear to clients who just need to talk through a problem. This high level of compassion helps people to feel supported during a very stressful time. Feeling supported helps clients to think through their decisions and make choices that are healthy for them.

In this year-long awareness campaign, local men and woman join together in solidarity to tell stories of how they help empower women. Stay up to date with our weekly featured community members here and learn more about YWCA Northeast Indiana here.

Denise Mills, Tamyra Kelly, Emma Golden, Andie Hines-Lagemann, & Kelli Packnett


“Be the woman that straightens another woman’s crown.”

“Success is a journey, not a destination. We need to help each other along the way, and it all starts with kindness and a smile.”
Denise Mills (Managing Branch Director, Creative Financial Staffing)

“Empowering women is one of my life’s missions. Personally and professionally I’ve been blessed and graced by women who have led and guided me through some of my most vulnerable situations. They have been there to help me out of some dark moments and I trusted their wisdom, encouragement, and their hand up. Those women, I could never repay but I will always honor and respect them. One of those women is my mother, Mary E. Starks. I call her ‘grace in high-heels’. She’s firm but fair, loving, kind and always on the side of right! She is the epitome of an ’empowering woman’. That said, what I know and share with others is what I have learned – I learned from the best!”
Tamyra Kelly (Public Information Officer, East Allen County Schools

“A favorite quote of mine reads, ‘if not you, then who?’ If you don’t support our sisters, then who? It’s important to me that women support women especially in a world ruled by men. But now people are drawing the line of feminism outside of our transgender sisters. What we need to understand is that feminism isn’t a clique. It isn’t about supporting some women and not others. Everyone is invited. All women, no matter their history, no matter what they’ve been through, deserve to be supported by their community no matter what. My mom has been an inspiration to me since the day I knew what the word meant. My mom is my best friend and, besides the fact that she feeds me and does my laundry, I don’t know what I would do without her. My mom has always been my number one fan, just like I will always be hers. I’m so proud of her and grateful to have such a great bond with her. Happy Mother’s Day, momma.”
Emma Golden (Student, Concordia Lutheran High School Class of 2022, Daughter to Andie Hines-Lagemann)

“For Emma’s entire life, I’ve done my best to support and encourage her. Through the recorder, violin, flute, drums, and finally finding that her best instrument was her own gorgeous voice. Through thick and thin with friends, family, school, and the pandemic, I’ve always tried to show Emma what a unique gift she is to the world, and to find strength within herself. She is a kind, talented, loving, and fiercely loyal person. I’m so proud to be her mom!”
Andie Hines-Lagemann (Founder and Emotional Intelligence Practitioner, Tidewater Coaching, Mom to Emma Golden)

“I am blessed to be part of an incredible village of women who encourage, challenge, and love me. My mom, sister, and friends inspire me to keep my head up, shoulders back, and to embody the strength and courage that keeps my crown straight. I strive to do that for other women in our community because together we can raise our voices to support women today but also to  set the tone for future generations. There has been a mass exodus of women from the workforce, women who may have to give up their dreams, or be unable to provide for their families because of the lack of affordable, quality child care. Moms need to be supported, and to feel reassured that their children are in quality child care. Through this unified work, children will have the opportunity to see their moms with their heads held high, shoulders back, and crowns straight, and our daughters won’t have to worry about their crowns tilting tomorrow.”
Kelli Packnett (Early Childhood Development Director, Bridge of Grace Compassionate Ministries Center)

Mitch McKinney, Gary Duff, Jere Johnson, & Dr. Matthew Sutter


“Men of quality support women’s equality.”

“I have had so many mentors in my life and many of them women. I am sure that I fall in line with many when I mention first and foremost my mother. What a great lady!! I am a strong Christian man because of the path of faith that she put me on and has led me on throughout my life. At 89 years old, she is still my guiding light. As a young boy I grew up attending the Franke Park Day Camp and followed in the footsteps of one lady in particular, Janel Cain. She was the director during my teen years and was such a kind soul, yet a force to be reckoned with. I grew closer to her as the years went by and she hired me as a staff member right after I graduated from high school. I excelled to eventually become the assistant supervisor before leaving to join the police department. Her investment of time and talent into me will never be forgotten. We are great friends to this day! When I became a police officer in 1999, I met a woman who struck me with her presence and then came to me a few years later to ask me to become a certified instructor and to join the academy staff. Dottie Davis has been a beacon of hope for me throughout my career in law enforcement and has been there whenever I needed her. We trained hundreds and hundreds of officers and I have had the privilege to mentor some of those same officers and watch them develop into leaders. I serve as a Deputy Chief, the same rank that Dottie retired from. I am proud to carry the torch. I celebrate the women around me every day! I am a better leader and commander because of the special women in my life, especially my wife, Cindy. What a saint of a woman she is. She knows the passion I have for others and she gives me the blessing to assist others every day. I love her very much and though I am in the election process as a candidate for Allen County Sheriff, I cannot wait until the day I retire to spend more time with her. All my best to women everywhere!”
Mitch McKinney (Deputy Chief, Fort Wayne Police Department)

“Many people believe women’s equality is a matter of equal pay and job opportunities, but it is more than that. It is about inclusion, respect, and promoting an environment where women know their thoughts, ideas and feelings are valued at home, at work and in our government. Everyone must strive to create a culture of inclusivity that allows individuals to be their authentic selves, celebrate differences and leverage unique perspectives that bring new insights to increase success at work and in society.”
Gary Duff (Plant Executive Director, GM Fort Wayne Assembly)

“When I think about the empowerment of women and their leadership, I do not have to look further than my family. My mom was a fearless leader by raising six talented children while supporting her husband as he shepherded churches for 66 years, and she did it with humility and grace. My sister taught future leaders in the classroom for 30 years and raised 3 incredible sons who have served their country around the world. My beautiful wife is the strongest woman I know. She chose to raise our children before she entered the workforce. She advocated for our special needs son throughout his short life and completed her master’s degree after she started teaching again. She battles Parkinson’s disease daily now with patience and poise. And, my daughter leads her 2nd grade classroom with compassion and care. She is changing hearts each day.
All these amazing women have made me the man I am today. It is my duty to enthusiastically encourage women who I have the opportunity to work with. When my brother and I started First Fridays Fort Wayne, we made the decision to create a women-only event to show our support for the tremendous leaders in the northeast Indiana area. This event has blossomed under the leadership of Jan Diaz. As our leadership forum has grown, we feature female leaders each season. I am so grateful for what I have learned from powerful, insightful, creative, and dynamic women in northeast Indiana. I am a better person because of each of these relationships”
Jere Johnson (Corporate Representative, Adult Enrollment Services, Indiana Wesleyan University)

While many agree with the concept of women’s equality, significant gaps still exist. It’s important that leaders be aware of the reality of these gaps and look for opportunities to close them. Passively agreeing will not move us closer to an equitable world.”
Matthew Sutter, MD MBA FACEP (Health Commissioner, Allen County)

Check out our website to see who else has been featured so far this year!


Dash of Persimmon offers you expert information on a variety of topics every month. We hope you will find this information valuable. May a Dash of Persimmon sweeten your cup!

Leslie Friedel


In this Dash of Persimmon Video Series, we are featuring Leslie Friedel, CEO of Stillwater Hospice. In recognition of mental health awareness month, she shares insights, resources, and tips surrounding mental health in our community.

Learn more here.

Thank you to Leslie Friedel for being our featured Dash of Persimmon expert!


YWCA Northeast Indiana’s Power of Persimmon (POP) initiative honors empowered women who diligently seek to help empower other women through mentorship, networking, and education. Kudos to these remarkable women!

Julia Stambaugh


Julia Stambaugh, CFO of the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne, has five years of experience in the nonprofit industry and over eight years of experience in the financial services sector. “Empowerment comes from within. It results from inner strength and confidence. Empowered women are courageous—we know that our voices matter. We make the community stronger.” Learn more about Julia here.

Stay tuned to upcoming newsletters to see who will be featured next in Power of Persimmon! Thank you to our media partner, glo magazine.


YWCA Northeast Indiana Staff Anniversaries

What is Persimmon Pride? Persimmon is the orange Pantone color of our YWCA brand. Internally, #PersimmonPride is more than a hashtag or mantra. It is a belief in the impact the YWCA team is having in our community. It’s more than a saying. It is who we are and what we believe in.


“I choose to work at YWCA because as a woman it is important to me to both empower and be empowered by other women. It is inspiring everyday to work alongside such strong, compassionate professionals.”

-Bethany (Advocate Coordinator)

The passion from our staff, in addition to the unending support from our community, is what makes our work possible. Thank you to our staff and the northeast Indiana community for your support!


Diversity Dialogues

YWCA Northeast Indiana celebrates a community that embraces the inherent dignity of all people. To encourage awareness and acceptance of diversity, our Level Up Council hosts Diversity Dialogues, where we bring in panelists and guest speakers to help lead the community in compelling conversation on interesting topics important to our community.


Join us for a dialogue surrounding the reasons for and impact of the generational wealth gap. Following the discussion, we will have time for attendees to walk around and visit different tables and have conversations about how we can impact the wealth gap in areas such as finances, banking, education, employment, job creation etc. Learn more details about our upcoming Diversity Dialogue and read our speaker/leader bios on our website.

Dress for Success Fashion Week

SAVE THE DATE! Please join us for our 2nd annual virtual fundraiser to benefit Dress for Success Fort Wayne! Help empower women to achieve economic independence to thrive in work and in life by voting for your favorite models!


Race Against Racism 5K Walk/Run

We thank our corporate sponsors, community partners, and volunteers for making our first annual Race Against Racism 5K Walk/Run a successful event! Thanks to everyone’s support, we raised over $10,000 for YWCA’s racial justice efforts. The finish line is just the beginning! View more event photos here.


KaAn’s Designs

We would like to send a huge shoutout to KaAn’s Designs for our Race Against Racism t-shirts! We love supporting our local small businesses! Thank you for your support!


Annual Fund


Twenty-five dollars in the hands of my abuser caused life-altering torment for me and my
young child.

It is true that $25 can make a person’s life miserable, but $25 can also be used to fund life-changing, life-saving, services for someone living with domestic violence. Will you invest $25 or more in our mission? Click here to read her story.

Goldstein Family Scholarship Progra


The goal of the Goldstein Family Scholarship Program is to help female survivors of domestic violence improve their self-sufficiency and quality of life by completing higher education. The scholarship fund provides financial support for tuition, books, rent, utilities, and childcare. Learn more here.


If you would like to financially support YWCA Northeast Indiana, you can access our donation page by following this link.