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Staff Who Live the Values of the YWCA – from a Practicum Student’s Experience



Hi, my name is Kerri Sperling, and I am a Social Work Practicum Student working at the YWCA Crisis Shelter and Residence.

The YWCA mission statement is to “nurture the well-being of women, girls, and their families through inclusive services and supports.” The YWCA also has five core values of diversity, respect, integrity, communication, and teamwork.

In my experience here, I’ve seen how the staff of the Crisis Shelter and Residence implement these five core values every day in their roles.

Diversity: This means honouring differences in ethnicity, religion, sexuality, socio-economic status, abilities, and ideas. This means being flexible in the creation and implementation of programs and procedures for staff and clients. This means recognizing the value of differences.

  • The shelter is open to any woman who calls on a first come first serve basis.
  • There is a place for girls, women, and children in the shelter.
  • There are spaces for women to take part in their cultural practices (example: room for smudging).
  • A wide range of programming is available to the women (example: beading sessions, FASD Network, Community Kitchen, Financial Literacy, Moms and Kids Group, etc.).

Respect: This means upholding the dignity of others through our actions and words. This means embracing differences, and appreciating the ideas and opinions of everyone.

  • The staff meet women where they are at and try to help women find their strengths so that they may become empowered and succeed at achieving their goals.
  • The staff does not judge the women for the circumstances of crisis that they are in.

Integrity: This means that the shelter staff conducts their work with honesty and transparency. This means following through on promises and commitments, living purposefully to create trust, and creating a welcoming environment for everyone.

  • The staff are honest about the rules of the shelter and consequences for breaking the rules when the women check-in.
  • The staff meet with clients and follow through on helping them problem solve issues of finding housing, overcoming addictions, managing mental health, etc.
  • The staff are consistent in the way they treat the women in the shelter as well as coworkers. They are also consistent in abiding by protocols, enforcing shelter rules, and working towards achieving the shelter’s mission statement.

Communication: This means being honest and open. This means being consistent in the standards of sharing information and encouraging two-way communication.

  • Crisis counsellors are available 24-7 to talk to individuals.
  • Co-workers consistently share about each individual staying in the shelter during shift exchange, in order maintain communication and better assist the shelter residents.
  • Confidentiality is maintained by staff so that trust can develop between staff and individuals staying in the shelter.

Teamwork: this means collaborating and cooperating between individuals and departments. This means valuing the strengths of each person on the team. This means building a culture of camaraderie.

  • Each staff member supports each other and works as a team.
  • At staff meetings coworkers are asked to problems solve and develop solutions to issues at the shelter and every co-worker’s opinion is valued.
  • The shelter staff work hard to collaborate with other organizations and utilize services efficiently and effectively.

By: Kerri Sperling, Social Work Practicum Student