August 2022

August 2022

The countless “first day of school” photos on social media are a clear indication that the school year has begun. The kids are excited and so are the parents (maybe for differing reasons) but nonetheless excitement fills the air. Educators are eager to fill these young minds with valuable information, including the Community Educators at YWCA Northeast Indiana!

Our featured program this month is our Community Education program. Cristina Jiménez, Education Coordinator, shares how the educators in this program bring awareness to youth and adults throughout our six-county community. Also, please join me in welcoming Ella Keen, our newest educator.


“I am thrilled to be a part of the wonderful team here at YWCA NEIN! The YWCA’s mission and my own passions align beautifully: Empower women. For years I had a little illustration on my desk with the quote, “Empowered women empower the world.” This is also why I think the curriculum we focus on is so critically important: education empowers. Learning about healthy relationships, understanding consent, defining personal boundaries, and learning to advocate for yourself. I’m so excited to continue to share this knowledge with others!”

In this edition, we also spotlight Heather Miller, CEO and Founder of The School Care Team. The School Care Team works alongside schools to nurture cultures of care by encouraging teachers and supporting student well-being through responsive training and strategic coaching. We are proud to be a collaborative partner with Heather and her team. Last year, they served about 16,000 students in almost 50 schools. Learn more about their important work in our Dash of Persimmon video below.

In our women’s empowerment section below, we share with you some remarkable individuals who have come together in unity to support women. Stay tuned all year as we feature additional community advocates!

Also, please take a moment to read about our Power of Persimmon (POP) star, Mary Jo Hardiman. Mary Jo is the COO of the Embassy Theatre and has a long history of supporting YWCA Northeast Indiana. You will be amazed with her dedication to our community!

Please join us in celebrating the work anniversaries of a few of our YWCA staff. To Emma, Thom, Patty, Ollie, and Katelyn — thank you for your service at YWCA Northeast Indiana and your dedication to our community. Your efforts are crucial in helping deliver life-saving services!

We also need to thank a few organizations for their acts of kindness: First Assembly Fort Wayne, The Rescue Mission, Parkview, and General Motors. Groups of volunteers from these organizations have worked tirelessly to prepare our new building, The Hefner Center, for upcoming renovations. Stay tuned for updates about this project in the months to come!

Attending our events is an easy way to learn more about domestic violence, racial justice, and more. We have a Diversity Dialogue scheduled for September 15th (see below for more information) and our Circle event on October 20th. New to Circle? Circle is our signature fundraising event, raising life-saving dollars for our domestic violence programming. Included below are some throwback photos from 2013. If you would like to register to attend the event, I would be happy to have you sit at my table. See below to register. Not only will your registration fee be a donation, but you will learn more about domestic violence while networking with over 400 other attendees. We hope to see you there!

Being informed is only one piece of the puzzle. To have impact, we also must take action. What can you do today to help spread awareness? Some ideas: sharing this newsletter with others is taking action, volunteering is taking action, arranging for one of our educators to visit your school or work place is taking action. Awareness + Action = Impact.

Thank you for supporting YWCA Northeast Indiana. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. We are thankful!

Community Education


Meet Cristina Jiménez (M.S.Ed), our Education Coordinator. Cristina has been with YWCA Northeast Indiana for almost three years and served as one of our Community Educators prior to taking on the coordinator position. Read below as she shares about the impact our Community Education program has on youth and adults in the northeast Indiana community.

“The Education Department at YWCA has a mission of awareness, empowerment, and prevention that we incorporate into every piece of curriculum we develop. We believe that lasting change is possible through educating our youth and adults, especially those in a position to help others. Our youth curriculum is targeted toward awareness and prevention. For example, Eyes Wide Open discusses the characteristics and dynamics of a healthy and unhealthy relationship. During my time as an educator, I have seen multiple students connect the dots to unhealthy behaviors in themselves or in their relationships. I remember one teenage boy that came up to me after Eyes Wide Open and happily declared that he finally had the courage to end an unhealthy “on again off again” relationship he had been in. He reflected on the characteristics of verbal and emotional abuse, relating them to some of the behaviors his significant other had engaged in. He shared that what tied it together for him had been the cycle of violence explanation and the video we shared, depicting a young couple struggling through their own unhealthy relationship.

We don’t always hear how students are impacted by the curriculum presented to them, but when we do, it motivates us to keep going. Every time I’ve had the chance to engage with a student one-on-one or read their comments at the bottom of our post-tests, my belief in the importance of what we are doing is affirmed. Even with adults, I’ve seen the impact. There is power in giving things a name or validating the experiences of people who have survived domestic violence, abuse, or trafficking. I’ve seen adults connect the dots to their own experiences or the experiences of their loved ones while gaining an understanding of the barriers that people face when trying to leave a violent situation. It’s also rewarding to be able to offer tools and suggestions on what they can do to address circumstances that otherwise leave them feeling helpless or jaded. That’s the empowerment piece that works both ways. We empower others through the education we offer, and they empower us.”

To schedule your free presentation or training with a YWCA Community Educator, please click here.

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.
Julie Hess, Beverly Henry, Lydia M. Runge-Quinn, Judy Roy, & Carrie Minnich
“Be the woman that straightens another woman’s crown.”

“When I think of straightening the crown of another it means having the courage and trust to know that you can be real with them. It’s important to ask ourselves, “How do I improve and grow if everyone around me is simply telling me I am doing great when I’m not?” I want to hear from those that care enough about my success to tell me what I really need to hear to improve! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” I strive to be the kind of woman that will straighten the crown of another. Not because I have succeeded and I can rest knowing that my crown is on straight, but because I know there are going to be times when my crown will need to be straightened as well.”
Julie Hess (Vice President of Human Resources, Master Spas)

“I am always looking for opportunities to encourage, empower and lift up women near and far. The General Motors’ Women’s Committee enjoys supporting YWCA Northeast Indiana, and looks forward to helping with the organization’s future endeavors in raising awareness and support in our community!”
Beverly Henry (Fort Wayne Assembly, General Motors; Chairperson, UAW Local 2209 Women’s Committee; Director, LegalShield)

“In this competitive world, women can be downright cruel to each other! How refreshing instead to surround yourself with women who truly care for other women – who encourage, compliment, pray for and mentor others to be the best they can be. Being a domestic violence survivor, and having been beaten down both emotionally and physically, I am passionate about advocating for not only domestic violence victims, but all women. We all need uplifting! The look – the smile – on someone’s face when you genuinely compliment them is priceless. We all need to strive daily to straighten each other’s crowns. The reward of compassion and the “feel good” aura, comes back to you tenfold! Just do it. And continue to pay it forward, as you never know what someone else might be experiencing.”
Lydia M. Runge-Quinn (Design Consultant, Ethan Allen)

“I am a joiner. Being invited to, and inviting women to, social gatherings, charity events, a concert, or simply dinner or a drink brings joy to my life. Discovering and connecting with new women is a passion of mine and connecting women to each other is magic. As women, we need other supportive women in our lives. I recently became a grandmother for the ninth time – five of them are girls. My hope is that they all invite and get invited to the table. I want my granddaughters to find friendship, wisdom, knowledge, or simply a listening ear. Women helping women, that’s the power we must use to support each other!”
Judy Roy (EVP for Finance & Administration, Indiana Tech)

“I straighten crowns by developing relationships and inspiring others. One of the keys to success is looking at what others have done in their journey and learning about their successes and failures. I try to look for people that inspire me and hope that I can be an example to inspire others. Networking and sharing experiences with others, and building meaningful relationships with those people, is so valuable, both personally and professionally. The more people see themselves represented as leaders, the more they are encouraged to pursue their own career paths.”
Carrie Minnich (Partner, DWD)

Bill Rieth, Richard D. Waterfield, Kibwe Cooper, Bill Townsend, & Jerry Vandeveer
“Men of quality support women’s equality.”

“I believe that women’s equality is a fundamental human right. We should strive to ensure that every woman has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents. Equality creates better homes, businesses, communities, and nations. I believe I would not be the person I am today if it were not for the many women who invested in my life. I am forever grateful to them.”
Bill Rieth (President/CEO, Crossroads United Way)
“I have been very fortunate to have interacted with many strong women throughout my life. And I have been blessed with a daughter and four granddaughters for whom I only want the best. I would never want these women to be held back or denied the same rights and opportunities as men. All men should do their best to facilitate equal outcomes.”
Richard D. Waterfield (Managing Member, Waterfield Capital, LLC)
“Throughout history, women have been the strong and silent cornerstones of society. They have birthed Kings, Queens, Presidents, and CEOs, in fact, many of the world’s most groundbreaking discoveries and breakthroughs have come from the minds and hearts of women. I may be personally biased having been raised by a Mother whose gifts and intellect knew no limits, but it seems to be in our future best interest to equip and empower women in all capacities to successfully thrive and continue to improve our world through their labor of love, wisdom & endless innovation. I believe in empowered women, and I support the holistic well-being of women and girls. I will continue to use my platform and influence to hold space, and uplift current and future empowered women.”
Kibwe Cooper (Host, EmpowerYou Podcast)

“I have been married to a wonderful, strong woman for 46 years. I also have two equally strong, successful daughters. In the business world, it is very important that women, like my spouse and daughters, have equal opportunities to lead. In addition, I have a vested interest in advocating for an equal playing field for my three granddaughters. The world is a much better place to live and work when everyone can contribute their talents.”
Bill Townsend (President and Co-Owner, CVC Communications)

“I lived with and loved a woman, my dear wife Linda, who taught me that, if given a chance, there was nothing a woman couldn’t accomplish. She was a mom, housewife, business partner, banker, mentor to women and, most of all, a loving wife to me. I love women so much because I know God gave them all the qualities of men but added an extra dose of compassion, love, and determination. When we emit a good dose of empathy from our hearts, we can help women soar like the eagles God intended.”
Jerry Vandeveer (Community Advocate, 2021 Individual of Integrity Award Recipient)

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!
Heather Miller

In this Dash of Persimmon Video Series, we are featuring Heather Miller, CEO and Founder at The School Care Team. Learn more about the importance of focusing on mental health for our youth here.

Thank you to Heather Miller 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!
Mary Jo Hardiman


Meet Mary Jo Hardiman, Chief Operating Officer of Embassy Theatre. A piece of advice Mary gives is that “A community is only as strong as those that have the most need. Go out and help the women in your community that are the most isolated and most in need.”

Learn more about Mary Jo Hardiman 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 for YWCA Northeast Indiana because of our holistic approach to helping those experiencing all forms of interpersonal violence. Every day that I come to work I know I am contributing to an issue much larger than myself and making a difference.”
Emma (Sexual Violence Coordinator)

“I choose to work at YWCA because I’m mission driven, and even on a rough day I know we are making a difference in people’s lives. I’m humbled by my peers and the appreciation I receive for my skills and knowledge in the Facilities field!”
Thom (Facilities Manager)

“I am grateful that I am surrounded by people who believe in the power of compassion and community to raise others up. Being a part of YWCA Northeast Indiana is fulfilling because the mission aligns with my values. The talented and caring people I work with are such a source of motivation, and I hope they know how much they inspire me each and every day!”
Patty (Engagement Coordinator)

“I choose to work at YWCA Northeast Indiana because I get to make a difference in the lives of my clients and in my community.”
Ollie (Therapist)

“I choose to work for YWCA Northeast Indiana because I believe in our values and mission.”
Katelyn (Therapist)

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!

Join us as YWCA staff lead a dialogue about racial and other disparities related to domestic violence, sexual assault, and addiction. The dialogue will focus on how we can ensure community supports for people from historically disenfranchised racial groups are accessible to all. Attendance will go towards one CEU credit.

Circle 2022

We are preparing for our 26th annual Circle fundraising event! This event is a fun way to learn more about domestic violence while networking with over 400 other attendees. Your registration fee is a donation to our life-saving domestic violence programming, and we need your help! The demand for our domestic violence services has drastically grown this year. We are seeing a 24% increase in our crisis calls, 32% increase in our community-based advocacy services, and 20% increase in demand for our crisis shelter. Please plan to attend and register today!

Circle Throwback

Through a Child’s Eyes: Circle of Women 2013
The 17th Annual Circle event took place at the Grand Wayne Convention Center and focused on the affect that domestic violence has on children. The event featured a panel of childhood survivors of abuse who grew up to become successful adults. Pictured below from left to right, these survivors included Terry Ratliff (an acclaimed local artist), Dan Nigro (a police officer in Fort Wayne), and Patrick Ayelle (a medical technology executive who stayed at YWCA Northeast Indiana’s Crisis Shelter as a child). Also pictured on the right is Steering Committee Member Marilyn Moran-Townsend* of CVC Communications.

The music before and after the event was provided by local musician, Jessica Crew. Also, take a closer look at “Let it Rain”, donated by Terry Ratliff. He shared how this piece contains symbolism of hope and protection.

Each table at the event was decorated with artwork done by grade school and middle school students with the prompt, “What does it mean to have a happy childhood?” A winner in each grade level was selected by local artist, Vicki Junk-Wright.

*Fun fact: Marilyn is still serving on our Circle Steering Committee and has helped prepare an impactful and heartfelt program for our 2022 event on October 20th. You won’t want to miss it!


We’ve had a lot of volunteers recently that have helped us make huge progress preparing for the renovations in our new building, The Hefner Center. We are so grateful for this outpouring of community support. Thank you!


First Assembly Fort Wayne helped us wash linens and move furniture on one of their volunteer days.

(July 16th)


The Rescue Mission came and helped on multiple occasions. They picked up large amounts of furniture that they can recycle and sell back to the community through their many programs.

(July 19th)


Parkview sent a group that helped us move furniture throughout our building.

(July 20th)


General Motors has been a constant help moving furniture to and from our past and current locations since acquiring The Hefner Center.

(July 28th)


Parkview sent another group that helped us with multiple projects around the building!

(August 4th)

Do you have group that would like to help our efforts? Connect with us at to arrange a service day or visit our website here to learn about other opportunities to get involved with our mission!

Goldstein Family Scholarship Program

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 the link: