Local History

A Proud History of the YWCA Lower Cape Fear 




The Wilmington YWCA's charter was granted on April 13th.
Wilmington women recognized the need to offer educational classes to help women become employable.
They purchased a house at 114 N. Front St. and opened the Wilmington YWCA.
Free classes in Bookkeeping, English and Mathematics were offered.
For a nominal fee women could enroll in Millinery, Stenography, Basketry and China Painting classes.
Plans were underway to create an African American center and to offer assistance to Native American students in transition from reservation life to school life.
The YWCA proposed to city council that a woman probation officer be employed and pressed the matter stating that the juvenile court could not give satisfactory supervision to the many girls passing thought its doors. A few months later a Policewoman was hired and would report to the chief of police and receive the same salary as a Patrolman and would observe the same hours as male officers of equal grade.
A new building was constructed on a lot at 206 North 2nd Street, which served Wilmington until 1935. The lot was donated by W.H. Sprunt.  
A lecture was given on the fundamentals of North Carolina legislation affecting women. The lecturer stated that every woman should acquaint herself with the property rights and guardianship rights of women and discussed statutes pertaining to the private and public rights of married and single women.
The highest need for help in YWCA Wilmington's history was recorded.
The YWCA created a campaign to raise $5,000, which if not raised, would force the YWCA to close their doors.
After several unsuccessful public fund-raising campaigns the Wilmington YWCA closed. And so the YWCA slept for 10 years after serving the community for over 20 years.  
Wilmington YWCA reopened in the USO-YWCA building under the leadership of Mrs. J.D. Freeman.
Attempts to become affiliated with the local YWCA by the Phyllis Wheatley Girls Club- a club for African Americans- was unsuccessful.
YWCA Constitution and by-laws were adopted.
The YWCA Wilmington purchased the Jennie Gilchrist House at 708 Market Street.
The Phyllis Wheatley Girls Club at 515 South 8th Street officially became the Phyllis Wheatley Center.  
The Phyllis Wheatley Center purchased a house at 119 South 7th Street.
The Phyllis Wheatley Center became a branch of the Wilmington YWCA.  
The Phyllis Wheatley Branch celebrated their "Burning of the Mortgage" on December 11th.
The YWCA Wilmington adopted a new mission statement to include "the elimination of racism."
Community dialogue groups were formed to flesh out local situations and feelings to decide what could and should be done to solve problems in race relations. These talks continued for 18 months with between approximately 400 community members participating. Local High Schools developed "Speak Outs" along the same lines as the dialogues.
A new site of 10.54 acres on South College Road was purchased.
The Mayor set March 17th as Y Day,
Ground was broken for the new YWCA facility on South College Road in keeping with the YWCA's imperative to eliminate racism.
The YWCA opened the new building on South College Road where all programs took place in one facility for the first time.
Caronell Chestnut organized the "Young in Heart" group to help merge the YWCA branches.
In December, an anonymous gift of an outdoor swimming pool was given to the YWCA with the stipulation that all debt must be paid off on the new building before construction could start on the pool. The donor was later revealed to be Polly Mebane.
The YWCA paid its final debt payment in August, which allowed construction on the pool facility to begin in 1978.
The pool opening took place on June 1st.
The pool dedication was held in October.
The YWCA board urged community groups to appoint more minorities and women to serve on their boards and completed a letter campaign to business partners urging them to adopt Affirmative Action plans.
The YWCA opened an outdoor pool to provide health and wellness programs and services to the community.
Services expanded to include Brunswick, Columbus and Pender Counties.
The YWCA Women's Resource Center opened and the Displaced Homemaker Program helped 60 women prepare to re-enter the labor force.
Tot Spot Preschool opened   
The YWCA sponsored Dr. Maya Angelou, poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director to speak at UNCW.
The Yates Webb Lineberger Endowment Fund was established.  
Women of Achievement was launched, providing an opportunity for individuals and organizations in the Cape Fear region to recognize outstanding women in our community for their contributions and achievements.
Ground was broken for the President's Building.
The YWCA honored Pickett Taylor with the Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding service to the community and for her tireless support of the YWCA. Room three of the Assembly Area was also dedicated in honor of Pickett Henderson Taylor.
The YWCA opened a child care center in the Houston Moore Terrace Housing Community.
The Teen Leader Category and Scholarship was added to the Women of Achievement Awards.
The YWCA played a key role in the kick-off event for Wilmington's 1898 Reconciliation and Remembrance Event.
YWCA of Wilmington officially changed its name to YWCA of the Lower Cape Fear. The name change signifies the wide area of counties served including: Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender.
The YWCA continued Interracial Dialogue Study Circles formed from the 1898 Reconciliation and Remembrance Event.
With generous support from the Cape Fear Memorial Foundation, First Citizens Bank, Cooperative Bank, Wilmington Health Associates, Corning Incorporated, the Cape Fear Community Foundation, the Wilmington Woman's Club and organizations and individual donations, the YWCA installed a bubble over the pool to make aquatic programs and services accessible year round.
The YWCA unveiled a new logo along with a new regional philosophy.
She Pages®, a guide to locally owned women's businesses was launched.
 YWCA Lower Cape Fear became the first YWCA in the nation to earn accreditation under a new enhanced accountability peer review process.
The YWCA partnered with the New Hanover County School System to become a 21st Century Community Learning Center which helps Title I students improve end-of-grade test scores.
The YWCA began hosting Evenings to Promote Racial Justice. Panel discussions were held to give insight on racial issues that effect our community.  
The 21st CCLC (Century Community Learning Centers) ASPIRE Academy partnered New Hanover County Schools and the YWCA to begin the ASPIRE Academy After School Program at College Park Elementary School. ASPIRE (After School Program Improving Relationships English Academy) is free to children whose parents attend meetings and classes to improve their English.
The YWCA began TechGYRLS® - a national initiative and hallmark program developed in response to the widening gender gap in exposure to and interest in technology.
The YWCA Race Relations Film Series began. The Race Relations Film Series was an ongoing project of the YWCA's Racial Justice Programming. Films and a brief discussion concerning race relations were held monthly at the Independent Art Company.
YWCA Cultural Competency Training as a Critical Leadership Skill began to provide increased knowledge and leadership skills for businesses, organizations and individuals in the Cape Fear Area.
The YWCA began hosting monthly Y The W Makes the Difference tours. These tours gave community members a brief overview of the YWCA and the programs and services provided.
The YWCA renovated its playground area with funding provided by the Landfall Foundation and the Bruce Cavenaugh Charity Raffle.
The YWCA donated the archives of over 90 years of memories through pictures, letters and newspaper clippings, to the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science.
A YWCA staff member was certified as a Leave No Trace Master Teacher.
The YWCA with the help of volunteers with Hands on Wilmington laid a nature trail through 7 undeveloped acres behind its College Road facility. The land has three diverse ecosystems to be discovered and explored. Leave No Trace Workshops and Trainer courses were offered.
In conjunction with The Learning Network (New Hanover County Schools Television) the YWCA produced a video: ENOUGH! NEITHER A BULLY NOR A BYSTANDER BE.
Strong Girls Club, an empowerment program and a collaborative effort with Domestic Violence Shelter & Services and the EVOLVE grant, met for 12 weeks with 15 third through sixth grade girls from the YWise Kids After School Program.
The YWCA hosted a Watch Party and was the exclusive promotional partner for the first episode of HBO’s, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. The Watch Party provided a forum to discuss issues depicted in the show that are of concern to all YWCAs: leadership development, economic empowerment, gender bias and domestic violence, among others.
Board and staff members participated in Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build, a project home funded and built by women.
The YWCA hosted its first annual Stand Against Racism.
Our organization completed the YWCA USA Peer Review in 2010. We welcomed three colleagues into our association to interview board members, staff, clients and volunteers. The reviewers identified standards and the strengths and weaknesses of our organization.
The YWCA initiated it's first Volunteer Program in January 2010. 220 volunteers completed over 3,000 hours of service for YWCA programs including Child Care, Bridge, Outback, Women of Achievement, Aquatics, Jolly Jubilee, clerical and more.
We were honored to receive funding once again from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation for the History of Wilmington in Black and White course. Thank you to Dr. Timothy Tyson and Mary D. Williams for their instructional support and weekly inspiration.
The Cape Fear Memorial Foundation helped renovate part of the pool deck, repair cracks in the pool shell and alleviate flooding at the facility and the USAT, USA Triathlon, provided funding for the Y Dub Tri-Club.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill hosted the 2nd Annual YWCA Save the Bubble Benefit, an event to raise funds for replacement of the pool bubble. The pool was also grateful to have the support of lane sponsors: Wilmington Orthopedic, Wilmington Plastic Surgery and Lisa Galer (in honor of Adopt an Angel).
Five women from the Foster Grandparents Program of New Hanover County and eight middle school students volunteered over 3,000 hours during summer camp where they individually tutored children, helped within the classrooms and prepared meals for camp participants. 
The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation provided $42,000 in funding for the fourth year in a row to the History of Wilmington in Black and White course.
The Cape Fear Memorial Foundation challenged the YWCA with a matching grant that, along with member and community donations, brought in over $91,000 to replace the bubble’s interior liner and heating/inflation unit.
The Cape Fear Garden Club funded a YWCA landscape project with $9,980.11 to completely renovate the front of our main building and the area along College Road.
Wilmington Downtown, Inc. helped the YWCA raise $850 through the Downtown Sundown Concert Series. 
First Books of New Hanover County provided the YWCA with a grant to purchase a book for each child participating in the YWCA summer camp program.
The YWCA was grateful to receive continued funding through Corning, Inc. in the amount of $5,000 to continue our National YWCA Hallmark Program, “What’s Wrong With Different.” Two dedicated volunteers, Lynn Heritage and Martha Fulda, have facilitated this program since 2010. They reached 587 third-grade students in New Hanover County Schools during the 2011-2012 school year.
In partnership with the Cucalorus Film Festival in November 2012, the YWCA screened the film It’s a Girl Thing an audience of 20 young girls and their mothers. A lively and thought-provoking group discussion followed.


In June of 2013, the YWCA, in partnership with the Pretty in Pink Foundation, began the Fluid Recovery Program, a 12 week water fitness program for those in any stage of breast cancer recovery, created by Fluid Recovery Instructor, Lori Manship. The program was covered by the Today Show in October and approximately 50 women have participated thus far. Funds are provided by the Cape Fear Memorial Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation.

YWCA Lower Cape Fear celebrates 100 years of service to this community and hosted a Centennial Gala, in honor of our Centennial Celebration.
The YWCA established the Louise Oriole Burevitch Endowment Fund to help secure the future of the YWCA.
The centennial brick pathway was named the "Wilma Daniels Pathway" in honor of Wilma Daniels, a beloved friend and donor of the YWCA Lower Cape Fear.
The YWCA hosted its first Voter Registration Drive.
 The YWCA Barracudas Swim Team had an undefeated regular season and became the Wilmington Swim League Champions.



  YWCA Lower Cape Fear held the 30th annual Women of Achievement Awards, which honored twelve local women and young leaders from our community.