Of all the things Melissa Mauder, a YW permanent supportive housing resident, appreciates about her new apartment, what tops her list is the most nondescript: a plain, white, 60-by-30-inch bathtub.
“What do I love about my apartment? Everything!” said Mauder, who has been a resident since 2016 but just moved into her new space this year following the Renovating Lives: Floor by Floor building transformation. “From the brand-new glass-top stove, to the new Whirlpool refrigerator, to the new leather couch and coffee table, and – this one is my favorite – a new, very spacious bathroom and bathtub! I must have sat in that bubble bath for an hour after I moved in.”
New to Dayton and without a local support network of friends or family, Mauder was referred to YW – but it wasn’t her first experience with the organization.
“I was told about the YW when I was little. My aunt had lived at YWCA of Northwest Ohio in Toledo for years, and she was happy, so when I was told about YWCA Dayton, I thought, well, let’s see where the road takes me. The YWCA has been a good fit because I’m single, my daughters are in their late 20s, I have no family here, and I like my circle of friends small.”
During her first year, the road within YW took Mauder in many directions – to resident meetings, to support and educational groups, to social activities, to Hope’s Closet, to the Holiday Market.
“I was surprised at so much going on, all for women by women,” she said. “One of my favorite things that the YW offers is their annual holiday boutique. Even if you have nothing to give your family at Christmas, the YW makes sure you do. Toys, bedding, books, even specialty lotions; you can hold your head high when you give your family a gift, or gifts for your kids or grandkids, and you feel better on the inside. The YWCA does that: they make you feel so beautiful and thankful.”
Permanent Supportive Housing Case Manager Kim Osborne notes that YWCA Dayton offers four housing programs across Montgomery and Preble counties to help women maintain stability and experience self-sufficiency while moving toward independence by gaining employment and/or increasing income and education, ensuring their long-term safety and quality of life. Programs include: transitional housing (including HomeShare and scattered site options); Permanent Supportive Housing; Rapid Rehousing; and the Homeless Crisis Response Program.
“I am so glad to see Melissa doing so well here. She takes pride in her apartment and always feels grateful,” Osborne said.
For all of its 150 years, YWCA Dayton has housed women, from widows in the 1880s to young professionals in the 1940s to women recovering from homelessness and abuse today. Last year, 177 individuals in 104 households were helped by YW housing programs.
“YWCA is special to me because every woman who comes to live here has a story to tell. They do not judge anyone; every woman who comes here feels special and not so alone. I love knowing that I’m surrounded by people who want to help me in any way they can, and they have,” Mauder explained.
“The YWCA saved me from a life filled with shame, anger, drug addiction, and depression,” she continued. “After four years of being a resident here, I wake up in my new apartment in the mornings smelling my coffee brewing and look up and thank God for every blessing he gives to me, both big and small. I will always be grateful to YWCA and its staff. Thank you again for making me become a better person and giving me a beautiful shelter from the storm.”