The first meeting of YWCA Wausau on September 15, 1920, drew more than 400 women, dedicated to improving the lives of women, children and families in Marathon County. The first activities included calisthenics, clubs for young business girls, household employees, vocational school students and normal school students. The YW also started the first program for industrial workers.
Over the next 10 years, the YWCA partnered with other non-profits to form the Community Chest, now known as the United Way of Marathon County. Late in the 30’s, the YW became the first home of the Wausau Community Theater, and initiated the Wausau Women’s Club, the League of Women Voters, and Teen Town.
During WWII, YW Wausau was utilized as a Red Cross first aid station and location for nutrition classes, as well as recreational programs for ‘industrial girls’. Programming continued to evolve to meet the needs of Wausau residents, adding many special interest clubs over the years.
In the late 60’s, more women entered the workforce, but they lacked structured care for their children. Once again, the YWCA stepped to the plate by opening the county’s first organized childcare center.
Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s, the YW continued its needs-driven programming by creating the area’s first Breast Cancer Support Group, a Hmong-American Sewing Group, and youth curriculum such as “Home Alone” for latch-key kids and P.A.C.T. (Peer Awareness & Communication Training), to help teens make responsible life decisions.
Through a wide array of programs in health and wellness, financial literacy, diversity/inclusiveness, childcare and special interests, the YWCA Wausau serves the ever-evolving needs and interests of all women, with the tools they need to transform their lives. YWCA programs increase personal confidence and empower women to make greater contributions to their workplace, family and community.
Throughout our history, YWCA Wausau helped start many of the programs in Marathon County today: