YWCA Princeton Commemorates 100 Years of Supporting Women, Serving the Community
By Donald Gilpin
Celebrating 100 years of service, YWCA Princeton will be hosting a free block party at the YMCA field on Paul Robeson Place on Saturday, September 17, from noon to 5 p.m.
Activities and entertainment will include a DJ and live performances, face painting, balloon art, glitter tattoos, hula hooping, yard games, and more, with such giveaways as tote bags, pop-sockets, pins, stickers, colored pencils, and other YWCA merchandise. There will also be raffle baskets donated by local businesses and nonprofit partners, free snacks, and a variety of food items for sale.
Princeton Mayor Mark Freda will be speaking, along with YWCA Princeton CEO Tay Walker and Board President Leslie Straut Ward.
Walker commented on the upcoming Centennial Block Party, which will be the first in-person public event hosted by YWCA Princeton since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are beyond excited to celebrate 100 years of impact with our community,’ she said. “This milestone is a culmination of all we’ve accomplished together thus far, and the future we can pave for our children and the next generation.”
Walker went on to emphasize the YWCA’s legacy as a result of “the efforts of women and men who knew they had something to offer, and often offered it freely for the betterment of our community.”
Citing the example of one of the many YWCA programs that has changed the lives of thousands of people in the Princeton area and beyond, Walker told the story of Helen Kohut, a dance instructor and breast cancer survivor who in 1972 started an aquatics class for women who had undergone mastectomies.
The program, which benefited the women’s recovery process, became increasingly popular and was adopted as a national program by YWCA USA and also YWCA Australia. At YWCA Princeton, the program was expanded and has become known as the Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC).
“That sentiment of supporting women and creating community has touched thousands of lives over 50 years and it all started with Helen,” said Walker. The BCRC provides guidance through difficult decisions and supports clients through mentoring, fitness and wellness activities, transportation, and more.
“Whether you are newly diagnosed, a longtime survivor, coping with metastatic disease, a support person, or anyone in between, the compassionate professionals of the BCRC are here to guide you through the toughest challenges,” states the YWCA Princeton website.
Walker emphasized the importance of the YWCA’s volunteers over the years. “Some of our volunteers have been with us for decades, and they’ve even recruited their children to work or volunteer with us, too,” she said. “It’s so special to have multiple generations of families contributing to our organization.”
Vendors and community organizations sharing resources and participating in the September 17 event include Thai Cha Chak, Mexi Boys, Minnie’s Weenies, the bent spoon, The Gingered Peach, Mercer County Community College Culinary Group, Sound Choice Disc Jockeys, Color Me Hoopy, Princeton Events Co., Cornerstone Kitchen, The Raya Foundation, Sustainable Princeton, HiTOPS, Princeton Girl Scouts, New York Life Insurance Company, Arm In Arm, Jazzercise Pennington, Princeton Police Department, Elements Handcrafted Jewelry, McCarter Theatre Center, UrbanPromise Trenton, Penn Medicine Princeton Health, and Princeton Public Library.
“YW has always been a space for people to give what they can and get what they need, which is why we’re so excited to celebrate with the people and organizations who make what we do possible,” said Walker.
Registration is encouraged for community organizations and vendors who would like to participate, and volunteer opportunities are also available. Visit ywcaprinceton.org/blockparty/ to learn more and get involved.