History – HERStory

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The YWCA Houston has been the go-to organization for women and girls in the city of Houston for more than 103 years. The YWCA Houston was founded in 1907 and has continued to build upon its legacy of empowering women and girls. To uphold the integrity of our legacy, the YWCA Houston has adopted a very intentional approach to creating programs and services that align directly with our mission.  Through our programs, we aid women and girls by empowering them to make positive changes in their lives and their communities. By providing programs that benefit women and girls, and by honoring women who make major contributions in our community, YWCA Houston improves the status of women and girls.

YWCA: Our Story

image 110 years logo

YWCA Houston has a 103-year legacy in the Houston community serving women and girls. It’s true that both men and women live in poverty, face discrimination, and must overcome obstacles. But throughout history—in every country in the world—women and girls face additional obstacles and discrimination solely because of their gender.  Throughout each year and with each social change, we have expanded our programs and services to meet the growing needs of women and girls. This is our HERStory:

Year Event
1907 YWCA Houston begins its first Activities Center at 805 Main. Six rooms and a barn become tea room, lunch room, rest room
1908 YWCA Houston starts first Residence by taking over the Francis Willard Boarding House
1909 YWCA Houston opens night school MCA Houston Activities Center moves to 1014 1/2 Prairie (Sweeney Loan 1909 office) 2nd floor-cafeteria & rest room 3rd floor-gym

YWCA Houston secures the closing of department stores at 1:00 pm in the summer months for the welfare of the mostly female sales staff

1909 YWCA Houston Traveler’s Aid at Union Station

YWCA Cafeteria Catered to working women, keeping prices as was profitable to match women’s lower wages. Average price per meal: 18 cents. Now serving 4500 patrons a month, men as well as women (Willet Pamela Faith, B.A., M.A… “More Than Classes in Swimming and Making Hats” – the YWCA and Social Reform in Houston, Texas, 1907-1977 PhD Dissertation, Texas Tech 1912 University 2004).

YWCA Employment Bureau ” until that time (1992) the YWCA’s employment bureau was the only one serving women in the city . . . Not only included interviewing prospective female employees, but also going out to the businesses in Houston to determine the availability of jobs . . . prospective employer w\could call the YWCA or the association could call the potential employer if it deemed it had an acceptable applicant for an available position (Wille, Pamela Faith, B.A., M.A… “More Than Classes in Swimming and Making Hats” – the YWCA and Social Reform in Houston, Texas, 1907-1977 PhD Dissertation. Texas Tech University 2004).

1914 YWCA Houston Industrial Department
1915 YWCA Houston opens cafeteria and rest room at 1018 112 Preston

YWCA Houston moved Residence to Taliaferro Home McKinney & Crawford

YWCA Patriotic Leagues in partnership with other organizations including YMCA designed to keep young women busy and contributing to the war effort and cut down on the spread of sexually transmitted disease. ‘Girls and women affiliated with the Patriotic leagues promised to remain chaste as they participated in YWCA programs« (Wille, Pamela Faith, B.A., M.A… *More Than Classes in Swimming and Making Hats* – the YWCA and Social Reform in Houston, Texas, 1907-1977 PhD Dissertation, Texas Tech University 2004).



YWCA Houston was incorporated into 501c3 organization.

YWCA Houston Hostess House at Camp Logan

YWCA Houston moves Residence to Franklin Apartments 810 Walker
1918 YWCA Houston Girls Reserves

Blue Triangle Branch for Negro women and girls. Sponsored by the National YWCA, it was started by Mrs. B. J. Covington, Mrs. Ruby Craig, Miss Josephine Pinyon – representative from the New York City YWCA. First located in the Old 191B Masonic Building at 806 Clay Avenue.


1920 Blue Triangle Branch becomes branch of YWCA Houston

YWCA Blue Triangle Branch secures Summer recreation for Negro girls on the bay at La Porte “Wholesome recreation and outing grounds for picnics, fishing, crabbing and a summer home with the necessary conveniences…”

(taken from “History of the Blue Triangle Branch Formal dedication and Open House Program Book, 1952).

Building campaign for YWCA Residence and Activity Center
1921 YWCA Blue Triangle Branch opens Residence at 406 Saulner. Accommodations for 12-15 girls. Completely furnished by gifts from Churches, clubs, friends and membership donators. *Where our young women and girls might find Christian environment, wholesome companionship and comfortable quarters at reasonable pricesR (taken from RH story of the Blue Triangle Branch

11. Formal dedication and Open House Program Book, 1952).

1922 Girl Reserves grown to 444 girls In 18 clubs
YWCA Central Assn. opens Activity Center 1320 Rusk
1924 YWCA Houston Central Assn. Residence completed 1118 Crawford
YWCA Casa del Mar Summer fun for school age and working girls
1925 New cafeteria Construction 506 San Jacinto YWCA Houston Blue Triangle Branch Residence moves to 2104 Hutchins St.

Girls Reserves Week Membership drive 1000-member goal “l will try to face 1926 Life Squarely”

Houston YWCA proposition to local School board; hire visiting teachers to tutor delinquent girls. This resulted from findings that delinquency occurred among girls that did not stay in school. They came to the YWCA in search of employment assistance, where they were encouraged to go back to school.

1927 YWCA Houston held its first “Mother’s Day event. Beginning of Children Services Dept.
1928 Girl Reserves Now number more than 1300
YWCA cafeteria expands service for Democratic National Convention
Houston YWCA recommends a city ordinance encouraging cessation of employment of young girls In night street work (root beer, Ice cream stand) for girls under 20 years of age.
1930 YWCA Houston BOD asks Blue Triangle to adjust Residence fees to accommodate lower salaried girls.
YWCA Houston offers “remedial” rather than “preventative” service due to economic hardship of Depression.
YWCA acknowledged as agency looking after welfare of single women 1930 during Depression.
1931 Blue Triangle Branch purchases site for Camp Reposo to follow inactive 1931 camp in La Porte.
YWCA Central Assn. move to greater Racial Inclusiveness.
1936 YWCA Central Board of Directors Constitutional change: Include Blue 1936 Triangle Branch Committee on Management Member to sit on board.

Blue Triangle Branch forced to close cafeteria, but activities continue. “…the number of girls served was high and the Activities were planned for persons lacking employment or with little income . . . 904 Girt Reserves and 207 adults in clubs and classes. . .the same type of recreation activities was carried on. More people were volunteering their services and the paid membership increased to 140. (taken from *History of the Blue Triangle Branch Formal dedication and Open House Program Book, 1952).

1938 YWCA Southwestern Region Interracial Conference for Business and Professional Girls
1939 Houston YWCA hosts Business & Professional Midwinter Conference YWCA Southwestern Region Interracial Conference for Business and Professional Girls
1940 YWCA Houston – Casa del Mar YWCA camp on the bay has a capacity for 50 girls… large two story house… three cabins where the girls sleep. dining hall and kitchen in separate building. . .a recreation hall and craft shack. . . Lawn, tennis courts and a sports field surround the house. Girls 9-12 attend the first week. 13-18 eligible for the second week” (Casa del Mar opens June 16′ Houston Press, May 1. 1940, Houston YWCA Collection HMRC, Houston Public 1940 Library).
1941 Blue Triangle Committee of Admin. Chairwoman becomes voting member.
Houston YWCA Acknowledges Institutional racism
Blue Triangle Branch Reopens Activities Center 1419 Live Oak St. Lease enough space for programs with girls 9-12, teens and young employed women.
1942 World Fellowship Committee
1946 YWCA adopts Interracial Charter at National Convention
YWCA offers Houston city-wide course on race relations.
Girl Reserves become Y-Teens
1948 Capital Campaign for new branch Building
1949 Houston YWCA begins work on Latin American Branch              Magnolia Park
1950 Houston YWCA and Y-Teens *During 1950, a total of 24,834 persons used the facilities of the YWCA. Y-Teen program, active in all junior and senior high schools in Houston had more than 2000 girls engaged in club work” (YWCA Completes Beautiful Playground” Houston Chronicle, January 29, 1952 Houston YWCA Collection, HMRC, Houston Public Library”)
YWCA Houston Blue Triangle Branch raises earnest money for new branch. Ten founding women contribute $1000 each.
1951 YWCA Central Assn. elects first black woman to Executive Board, Mrs. Charles “Hattie Mae” White.
YWCA Houston Blue Triangle Branch lays cornerstone for new branch headquarter building at 3005 McGowen.
All YWCA employees receive social security benefits
Houston YWCA participates in National YWCA Defense Fund
Houston YWCA Assn. becomes “Metropolitan” with three branches; Downtown, Blue Triangle, Magnolia Park
YWCA letters to Congress in support of actions to relieve famine in India
Texas Y-Teen Conference “Give up this day-understanding
YWCA letters to Governor’s Commission supporting State school for delinquent Negro girls
Regional YWCA Conference in Houston
1952 YWCA Houston Blue Triangle Branch new facility completed 3005 McGowen
1953 YWCA opens Magnolia Branch Facility
Blue Triangle Branch receives donation from John Bigger- mural entitled “Contribution of Negro Women to American Life and Education”
1954 YWCA Houston cafeteria downtown was the first establishment to open its 1954 doors to all citizens


YWCA Houston opened facilities to support the African American and Hispanic communities
1955 Houston YWCA opens all facilities to all members
1957 White Citizens Council challenges Houston YWCA Policy of Inclusiveness particular San Jacinto cafeteria through major funder, United Way.
Houston YWCA opens branch in southwest Houston
1958 YWCA gets Involved in local anti-poverty Initiatives
YWCA complete purchase of 21 lots at 7300 Navigation
United Fund Service Center in Pasadena
YWCA Spring Branch Center opened
YWCA Interfaith Workshop
1959 Houston YWCA co-sponsors Town Han meeting: “Financial Assistance for Employable in Need”
YWCA Forum Program first titled: “Does Federal Aid mean Federal Control?”
Houston YWCA and Welfare Reform Y goes on record supporting legislation at removing “un-employability” clause from public welfare ordinances
YWCA Interfaith Workshop “Improving Understanding: Neighbor to Neighbor
1960 Houston YWCA hold public forums throughout the 60’s strictly to educate Houston Community on welfare issues
1962 YWCA Houston trend toward work of a social agency “The Houston Neighborhood Centers invited the Houston YWCA to take a part in a training program for foreign social workers during the early 1960’s* (Willie, Pamela Faith, B.A., M.A. *More than classes in swimming and making hats” the YWCA and Social Reform in Houston, Texas: 1907-1977. PhD Dissertation, Texas Tech 1962 University, 2004).
YWCA Houston accepts University of Houston’s request to study issues presented in Community Council of Harris County Child Welfare Study “These are your children”
1963 YWCA Tour of Europe
Houston YWCA conducts educational series on Space Program
1964 YWCA answers call from Houston Action for Youth – (HAY) supervisory participation beginning on the Northside
YWCA branches hold new classes in fashion and charm for high school girls 10, 11, 12 grades
1966 YWCA answers call. Women in Community Service asks for residence facilities for War on Poverty program: “Job Corps”
Houston YWCA participates in HAY “JOY Program – Job Opportunity for Youth. The goal is to help young people 16-21 year of age, out of school and unemployed develop useful patterns and skills to aid them in securing and holding a job” (taken from BOD minutes, March 22, 1966, Houston 1966 YWCA Collection, HMRC, Houston Public Library)
YWCA Houston now operates: 1118 Crawford Residence, 1320 Rusk

Activity Center, MD Anderson/Magnolia Park Branch, Spring

Branch/Memorial Branch, Cora Root Peden Branch, Blue Triangle Branch, 1966 Mid City Center Ben Milam Hotel)

YWCA supports Parents League move for legislation to raise age for driver’s license Issuance
Houston YWCA recommends Tutoring training/coordination center
1967 Job Corp YW project: Unit of 20 girls to Extend their stay because of need for additional assistance
Houston YWCA goes on record as favoring impending Housing Code
Houston YWCA participates in sending money for Emergency Fund for work with Middle East refugees
Y” Men of the Community honored
1968 Houston YWCA Status of Women Meeting: “Gateways to New Careers”
Houston YWCA gets contract with Texas Youth Council for Job Corp Retirees
1969 YWCA Houston Racial Justice Institute
Houston YWCA and Texas Welfare Reform
YWCA Houston Crockett Street Center established Houston
YWCA co-sponsors with League of Women Voters “The Right to be Fed” meeting
Houston YWCA hosts World Fellowship Event at Mid-City Center (Ben Milam Hotel location)
YWCA Houston expresses concern about lack of services to young teen girls who are pregnant
International Training Committee
1970 YWCA Houston and Black Women’s Conference
1970 YWCA Houston officially represented in Houston Women in Action
1970 YWCA co-sponsors with League of Women Voters bond issuance for new library
1970 YWCA Houston hosts YWCA National Convention
1970 YWCA Houston and Model Cities Program
1970 Houston YWCA requests a woman be appointed to the Manpower Development Training Committee
1970 YWCA Houston and Social Justice Institute
1970 YWCA Houston gets HCAAA Board Representation Harris County Area Agency on Aging
1970 YWCA Magnolia Park branch is site for “Freedom School”
1971 Houston YWCA hosts “La Conferencia para las Mueres por la Raza” 1st Chicana meeting ever held in USA
1971 YWCA Houston Pilot group for Voter Registration Volunteer Services
1971 YWCA Tutoring Plan
1975 YWCA Houston Implements ENCORE: exercise and support for those who have had breast cancer surgery
1976 YWCA begins honoring women through the Outstanding Women’s Luncheon (OWL) – first honoree Sarah Weddington
1977 YWCA Houston Co-founds with UT School of Public Health and Women in Action    Houston Area Women’s Center
1982 YWCA Houston opens Masterson Branch
1985 YWCA Houston conducts first Teen pregnancy prevention program in Houston by Yolanda Alvarado
1985 YWCA Houston hosts women’s forum: “Pathfinders”
1986 YWCA Houston conducts summer “Swimathon” to raise fund for its five branches
1987 YWCA Houston operates five branches and six sites
1987 YWCA MD Anderson/Magnolia Park Branch Receives federal funds from City Council for repairs, renovations
1987 YWCA Houston Conducts phone solicitation campaign of members for operating fund to finish fiscal year
1992 YWCA Houston Blue Triangle Branch fundraiser: reprints of John Bigger’s mural
1994 YWCA Houston first annual “Week without Violence”
1995 YWCA Houston Gateway Project Transitional housing program for 360 at-risk women and children
1995 YWCA matches girls to business and community organizations on “Take our daughters to work Day” (Rltts take our daughters to work day again”, 1995 Houston Chronicle, March 14, 1995).
1995 YWCA Houston PR campaign to remind Houston of the “W” Differentiate from YMCA
1995 YWCA Houston Board cuts budget six branch directors, one personnel 1995 director, 17 employees, temporary close two facilities
1995 YWCA Houston inaugurates Capital Campaign
1996 YWCA Houston Annual Campaign completed $3.5 million raised for urgent 1996 renovations
1998 YWCA and Little Sister Program
1998 YWCA Houston becomes a direct service provider for “Meals on Wheels”
1999 YWCA Houston and “SEED” Self-Employment for Economic Development 1.8MM from Texas Workforce Commission
2004 YWCA Houston and Mary Lou Retton kick off summer camp
2004 YWCA Houston launches new national brand Eliminate Racism, Empower 2004 Women, ywca
2005 YWCA Houston launches “HIP HOP” Healthy Initiative Project – Healthy 2005 Options for People
2005 YWCA Houston “Challenge Day” supports Mayor White’s initiative to get Houstonians to exercise for at least 15 minutes on 5/25/2005
2005 YWCA Houston Reopens Gateway Center at 6309 Martin Luther King Boulevard
2005 YWCA Houston closes Masterson Branch
2007 YWCA Houston celebrates 100 years’ service
2007 YWCA Houston begins Project Confidence
2008 YWCA Houston begins “WILD” program: Women Independently Living and Developing (post foster care program for girls aging out of foster care). History wall shows 2007, program opened 2008
2012 YWCA Hold Friendraiser “Cinderella”
2013 YWCA Houston new fundraiser “Shoe Soiree”
2013 YWCA partners with the Valero Energy Corporation
2018 YWCA launches Youth Programs in schools