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YWCA Director Linda Joyce is stepping down

Longtime executive director of the Kitsap YWCA Linda Joyce announced her retirement last week during the 25th annual Women of Achievement luncheon.

Arriving at the event in a wheelchair, just released from the hospital where she was under doctor’s care, Joyce said the decision was a difficult one for her.

“I’ve come to this decision in my life reluctantly,” Joyce said. “This (the YWCA) has been my heart, been my baby, been my soul.”

But because of her health, she said she had to make the decision to retire from her post and would do so “effective immediately.”

The room was filled with well-wishers who gathered to honor ten local women who were chosen as Women of Achievement for 2014 in Kitsap County. The annual event is sponsored by the YWCA as a way to highlight the contributions of women throughout the county.

Joyce’s appearance was a surprise and many of the staff of the YWCA and its ALIVE Shelter gathered around her as she spoke announcing her resignation. There were hugs and tears.

Also on hand were Joyce’s brother, her son and her grandson, who have been caring for her.

Joyce said the YWCA board of directors is putting a plan together to find her successor.

Joyce’s career began in social work. The Indiana native began working with domestic violence survivors in southern California before coming to Kitsap County.

During her tenure that began in 1994, the YWCA has relocated the organization from a rental to its permanent space on Pacific Avenue in Bremerton. They have also renovated the Y’s ALIVE shelter and added other programs that provide services for more than 6,000 people each year.

Following Joyce, the keynote speaker Kathy Donahue, spoke about the need for domestic violence shelters such as the Y’s ALIVE Shelter. Donahue’s daughter, Georgia, was killed on Jan. 22, 2011, in a domestic violence murder.

“Let us make no mistake for those victims and families, that for this community to step into their lives, is to begin to understand the focus of their basic rights and all rights as human beings,” Donahue said. “Empowerment must go hand-in-hand with the topic of domestic violence because in order to ever help anyone, we must first understand what it takes to facilitate this process.”

She described her daughter as compassionate and caring, a young woman who only wanted to make a life for herself and her daughter.

“She always gave more than she took,” Donahue said. “Her smile was infectious.”

She went on the explain that her daughter’s history included the 2 a.m. phone calls asking for help, the “No Contact” orders and the denied “No Contact” orders.

“Some believed her. Some did not,” her mother said. “She was assaulted more than once and she felt safe when he was incarcerated. He murdered her soon after a lengthy prison sentence. She was only 33.”

Donahue said for many victims, getting away from a perpetrator is an undertaking beyond belief.

“The task of starting over is a difficult one,” she said. “Sometimes it is easier to stay and deal with the abuser. Families don’t always realize the extent of despair or problem. Many families are kept at a distance out of embarrassment for the victim.”

But the key, Donahue said said, is empowerment.

“Whatever empowerment you have to share today, let’s do it together for those in need of help,” she said. “In bringing our knowledge and assistance, we can only enable those who find themselves in these scenarios to have a safe place mentally and physically.”

To find out more about the Y’s ALIVE Shelter, call 360-470-0522. The 24 hour Crisis Line is 1-800-500-5513.

 

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