Our Mission

The mission of the YWCA Great Falls is to eliminate racism and empower all women and their families. In support of this mission, the YWCA provides services to meet critical needs, promote self-sufficiency, reduce violence, and achieve equal opportunities for all people.

Our Mission

The mission of the YWCA Great Falls is to eliminate racism and empower all women and their families. In support of this mission, the YWCA provides services to meet critical needs, promote self-sufficiency, reduce violence, and achieve equal opportunities for all people.
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Sandi works every day to fulfill the mission of the YWCA by taking the mission out into the community and overseeing the health of the staff and facilities. Sandi has been a self-described “feminist” since her teen years. She now has a much broader perspective on what that means. As with many other “groups” of classification, “Women’s rights are human rights.” In the first fiscal year of Sandi’s work at the YWCA Great Falls (2016-2017) all of the strategic plan items were achieved. Credit is due to staff, board and community supporters. The wage gap and preventing child abuse and neglect are two of Sandi’s priorities. Sandi holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Oregon State University and has a long history of leading nonprofits.

Sandi Filipowicz

Executive Director

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Chelsea joined the YWCA Mercy Home team as a victim advocate nearly two years ago, and she learned quickly that she was right where she was supposed to be. In June 2018, Chelsea became the shelter’s coordinator/family resource specialist. She is confident and excited to continue working to empower women, eliminate racism, and support the YWCA Mercy Home. She believes in the cohesiveness of the staff and knows she would be greatly limited without the help and support of the outstanding women here at the YWCA Mercy Home. Chelsea is originally from California and has a minor in Child Development and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social and Behavioral Science.

Chelsea Calliham

Mercy Home Shelter Coordinator

About the YWCA Great Falls Veronda Biggart
Veronda works with individuals, couples and families to help navigate their way through any difficulties or concerns they may be having. She has worked at the YWCA for five years to empower her clients in a confidential and nonjudgmental way. Specializing in helping clients recover from trauma, Veronda understands the importance of unconditional positive regard in the healing process. Veronda can help clients develop skills and self-understanding to navigate their journey in life.

Veronda Biggart

Licensed Clinical Practicing Counselor (LCPC)

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Maria is the newest member of the YWCA Team. She organizes the YWCA’s fundraising activities and writes grants to build a sustainable financial structure to support the YWCA community programs. Maria has always been passionate about working for the community and has broad grant experience from running youth programs to managing State grants. Maria is excited to be a part of the YWCA Team and looks forward to helping build the organization’s resources and capacity.

Maria Porter

Community Engagement/Development Officer

About the YWCA Great Falls Donna Butler-Plant
Donna has been part of the YWCA Great Falls since the turn of the century. In 2000, she started volunteering, in 2002 she became a staff member, and is now a vital part of the agency. You might see her keeping the donations sorted in Y’s Buys Thrift Store or setting up refreshments for the Card Club. Donna is a lovely person and a great part of the YWCA team.

Donna Butler-Plant

Y’s Buys Manager and Maintenance/Grounds Person

Board of Directors:

Officers

Jennifer Fritz – President


Jennifer is the Vice President of Client Services at The Wendt Agency, a full service advertising and public relations agency. She works with clients to create on-target public outreach and strategic marketing plans. Born and raised in Great Falls, she is passionate about giving back to the community and the YWCA offers her the chance to do just that. When not working, Jennifer enjoys spending time outdoors, traveling, and making memories with her husband and two beautiful children.

Evie Hudson – President Elect


Evie is an attorney and owner of Hudson Law PLLC. In her practice, she assists clients with business formation, business transactions, estate planning, probate, guardianship/conservatorship, and real estate matters. She joined the YWCA Board because she personally benefited from the YWCA’s services during her childhood and wants to pay it forward to the Y and this great community. Evie enjoys spending time with her husband and three little ones. She is a self-proclaimed rehab addict who loves to refinish and repurpose furniture. When she’s not busy with the law or the YWCA, Evie is fishing or trail riding.

Jordyn Rogers- Vice President

Jordyn is the Deputy Director at Rural Dynamics, a nonprofit that champions coalition building, assistive technology financing, financial literacy, free tax filing, and Montana volunteerism programs. She is passionate about helping women achieve financial security and pursue economic opportunities. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Administration. Jordyn is a history, Pekingese, green tea, and Oxford Comma enthusiast.

Heather Hoyer – Secretary


Heather is the principal of Great Falls High School. She has been in education for 23 years, with 21 of them serving the students and families of Great Falls. Prior to being in administration, she taught science at the middle school and high school levels. Heather lives in Belt with her husband, Keith and has two daughters in college. “Working with students is my oxygen; it keeps you happy and healthy.”

Lori Eckhart – Treasurer


Lori is the Marketing and Fund Development Manager at Family Connections, a child care resource and referral agency serving families and children in north central and north eastern Montana. Lori enjoys helping others in our community and living in the beautiful state of Montana with her family and friends.

Board Members

Sabrina Coleman

Antoinette Collins


Antoinette is the owner and operator of The Gate of Beauty Salon and has been in business for over 16 years. During this time, she has had the opportunity to meet women from all walks of life. She loves empowering and encouraging women to be the best they can be. Antoinette wears many hats, but none is more important than being the wife of Pastor Marcus Collins of Alexander Temple Church of God in Christ and the mother of three wonderful adult children. Proverbs 31:10 asks, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” It is Antoinette’s desire to help every woman be the answer to that question.

Brianne Laurin

Olivia Martin

Kim McKeehan


Kim is a tribal council member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana. She works as a mental health counselor at Alluvion Health. Kim serves on the board of the YWCA because more than 4 in 5 Native American women will experience domestic violence during their lifetime. 48% of the women and children the Y assists are Native American. Providing shelter service to our indigenous population is just one of the many ways we are dedicated to reducing those numbers.

Tracy Williams

We are members of the following:

• YWCA USA
• Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
• Montana Nonprofit Association
• Sexual Assault Response Team (Great Falls)
• Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Coalition (Great Falls)
• National Network to End Domestic Violence

From July 2018 to June 2019, the YWCA has provided 156 women and children with more than 4,071 shelter nights and served more than 12,213 meals.

Some of the highlights from 2018-2019 include:

• No More Violence Week Conference
• Oula Exercise Classes
• Self-Defense Classes
• Dismantling Hate Workshop
• Racial Justice Book Club
• Legislative Brown Bag Lunch Series
• White Fragility Book Review
• Revival of Rankin Run
• Belly Dance Classes
• Computer Coding Class for High School Girls
• Troop 110 (all girls) Chartered by the YWCA GF
• Empowerment Training

We have provided 1,251 people services in our Y’s Buys store from July 2018 to June 2019.

In FY19, the community has benefited by having more than 1,791 individuals trained in healthy relationships, empowerment, and agency services.

From July 2018 to June 2019, the Y answered over 5,367 crisis calls with more than 1,640 individuals receiving crisis counseling.

The YWCA began as a movement; its name came later. The pulse of the movement was felt first in England in 1855 and in the United States in 1858.

In each country, a small group of caring and perceptive women began the task of making life better for other women. This group sensed the anxiety of young women who came from rural cities with supportive home bases to cities in search of work to become self-supporting. Factories were replacing at-home occupations such as weaving, sewing, and laundry.

 

First Associations

  • Boston was the first to use YWCA as the name for its association in 1859, even though it opened a year later than what is now the YWCA of the City of New York.
  • After Boston and New York, associations appeared in Hartford, Connecticut; Pittsburgh; Cleveland; and Cincinnati in 1867; St. Louis followed in 1868; and Dayton, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Buffalo, New York; and Philadelphia in 1870.
  • By 1875, there were 28 Young Women’s Christian Associations in U.S. cities.

 

The first student association began its work in 1873 at Illinois State Normal University (now known as Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois); e by 1890, there was a total of 106 student associations.

  • As the number of associations increased in the U.S., there was a need to centralize information and programs. As a result, in 1907, the National Board of the YWCA of the USA was incorporated in New York. The first president of the National Board was Grace Dodge, daughter of a wealthy New York financier. With a talent for drawing people together for a common cause, Ms. Dodge united more than 600 small groups into one national organization. J.P. Morgan paid tribute to her great organizational skill by declaring, “She had the finest business brain in the United States, not excepting that of any man.”
  • 1911, the national office was headquartered in New York City in a facility built as a result of the generosity and foresight of six YWCA women. The Victorian building provided for training, national offices, and a research center for girls and women.

 

In 1911 in Great Falls, Montana, a group of local church women met and formed a committee to establish a YWCA in Great Falls.

The group decided there was a need to help women and girls who were seeking work and those who came from rural areas to find a place to live.

  • During the first year, the group worked with more than 500 women through Traveler’s Aid, Vesper Services, Business Girls Club, public lounges, and high school girls clubs.
  • During the next two years, records show that the women met 2,229 trains, served 35,779 meals, and assisted more than 5,000 individuals.
  • They outgrew their building, and in 1918 moved to 1st Avenue North and 3rd Street, where they opened a dormitory for girls.
  • When the Great Depression hit, financing became a problem. The group was forced to close its doors for eight years.
  • However, the officers never disbanded, and when they received a gift of $25,000 from the James Long Estate, they bought the building at 315 1st Ave. North and continued their services.
  • In 1954, more than 2,000 people in the Great Falls community came together with money and/or time to build the current YWCA at 220 2nd St. North.

 

The YWCA Great Falls has a rich and colorful history. It has offered services that range from Techgirls to Card Club to the Great Falls community and surrounding areas.

  • In 1990, the Mercy Home shelter became a YWCA program. The Mercy Home was born in 1977 as a result of the community coming together, conducting a needs assessment of transient and abused women and children, and developing a systematic approach to create the first shelter for domestic violence victims and their children in Montana. It was one of only 30 shelters of its type in the United States of America.

 

In 2018 – 65 years later, asbestos floor tiles were abated and new flooring laid thanks to the city of Great Falls, the Great Falls Development Authority, and many individual supporters. The 1953 Neon Sign was restored thanks to many individual donors

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