SPRINGFIELD — In a typical year, prior to and up to the Christmas holiday, Greater Springfield residents bring toys, books, puzzles, games, and new clothing for children, as well as clothes and personal-care items for adults, who are residents of one of the YWCA of Western Massachusetts’ four residential and 20 community-based programs. This past year, the organization experienced an unprecedented wave of donations. The third floor of the YWCA’s administrative building on Clough Street is filled to the rafters with donations.
The YWCA campus on Clough Street hosts an emergency domestic-violence shelter, transitional housing apartments, a teen residential program, as well as programming to support adult and child survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and stalking. The YWCA made no formal request for donations during the holiday season, yet thousands of donations were dropped off and continue to stream into the organization. The overwhelming amount of generous donations will be given to survivors throughout the next year. The vast array of donated items will be put to use in support of survivors, many of whom escape violence with only the clothes on their back.
“There’s really no rhyme or reason for this outpouring of donations other than the incredible generosity and goodwill of people who live in our region,” said Elizabeth Dineen, CEO of the YWCA of Western Massachusetts. “Area churches, colleges, clubs, sports teams, women’s organizations, businesses, hospitals, fraternities, sororities, high schools, day-care organizations, libraries, book clubs, and extended families are responsible for this remarkable uptick of donations.
“There are likely many factors influencing the public to support survivors,” she went on, noting in particular an awareness of the increase in domestic violence and displacement of survivors that spiked during and since the pandemic. “Additionally, there is an increased awareness that human trafficking exists in our region and survivors of human trafficking deal with its traumatic aftermath for years after they escape their trafficker. The more information that the public has about these types of abuse, the more people want to help.
“I am so grateful for the outpouring of support from our community and want to thank every individual, organization, and group who made donations,” Dineen added. “Those who we serve deeply appreciate the community’s generosity, kindness, and support more than words can adequately express. The YWCA is so grateful for the ongoing support from this amazing community in which we do this vital work every day.”
Headquartered in Springfield, the YWCA also provides services and offers programming to children and women in crisis in Northampton, Westfield, Belchertown, and Holyoke.