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YWCA USA 2009 Hallmark Initiative Awards Presented to YWCA Central Massachusetts and YWCA Niagara

WASHINGTON, May 15 /PRNewswire/ -- The YWCA USA presented its prestigious 2009 Hallmark Initiative Awards to YWCA Central Massachusetts for Racial Justice and YWCA Niagara for Women's Economic Advancement at its recent National Conference and Annual General Assembly in Washington, D.C. They were selected among six exemplary initiatives identified by the YWCA as national model Hallmark Initiatives.

YWCA Central Massachusetts was honored for "PASA" (Peso Sano Ahora/Healthy Weight Now) that addresses health disparities in the Worcester, Mass., Latino community. The program aims to reduce the incidence of overweight and obesity that are linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and arthritis by reaching out to individuals and their families, healthcare providers and the community. PASA is an enhancement to the YWCA's Open Access program, in which health center patients exercise independently using the pool, cardiovascular equipment or gym.

YWCA Niagara was recognized for Carolyn's House, its supportive housing program for homeless women and children in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Residents participate in various onsite educational, vocational, and life skills programs designed to help them become self-sufficient. Vocational training options include culinary arts, GED classes, certified nursing assistant and janitorial/maintenance courses. A full-service catering business is also operated by its culinary program students and graduates.

"Our YWCA Hallmarks of Racial Justice and Women's Economic Advancement are the common threads that unite all YWCAs across the country, reflect our strategic purpose and have a measurable impact in each YWCA community," said Lorraine Cole, Ph.D., YWCA USA CEO. "We are delighted to honor these two YWCA initiatives that represented the "best in class" from among highly exemplary model programs conducted by YWCAs across the country."

Members of the 2008-09 YWCA Hallmark Committee were: Cathy Breidenthal, Jeanette Castellanos Butt, Linda Cavaioli (chair), Melanie Fitzgerald, Sharon Jackson, Linda Kanney, Ginny Marino, Mary McRae, Azuri L. Ruiz, and Avery Slyker.

Judges for the 2009 Hallmark Initiative Awards included: Byllye Avery, Avery Institute of Social Change; Alice Cohan, Feminist Majority Foundation; Lisalyn Jacobs, Legal Momentum; Wilhelmina Leigh, Ph.D., Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies; Luisa Lopez, National Association of Social Workers; Lisa Maatz, American Association of University Women; Joia Jefferson Nuri, In the Public Eye Communications; and Olga Vives, National Organization for Women.

The YWCA USA is a national not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to social service, advocacy, education, leadership development, and racial justice. Its mission is the elimination of racism and empowerment of women. Established in the United States in 1858, the YWCA is the oldest and largest national women's organization, and celebrating its 150th anniversary. Through its nearly 300 affiliated local YWCAs and its headquarters in Washington, D.C., the YWCA serves 2.5 million women and girls each year. Globally, the YWCA USA is a member of World YWCA, which has affiliates in 122 countries that serve 25 million women and girls worldwide. Visit

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