25 Years of BABES

Last Friday, BABES Network-YWCA celebrated our 25th anniversary at Stella Steps Out, our annual fundraising event. Many thanks to all who made this event a success!

To honor those we have lost over the years and to honor those who have worked and continue supporting women living with HIV, we share this video with you.

Congratulations, BABES Network, for 25 years of incredible dedication to positive women and their families!

BABES Network is a sisterhood of women facing HIV together. We reduce isolation, promote self-empowerment, enhance quality of life, and serve the needs of women facing HIV and their families through outreach, peer support, advocacy, and education.

Racism and the Future of the Unborn

Imagine you are a Caucasian young woman, at the doctor’s office and you have just learned you are expecting your first child! A myriad of thoughts and emotions flood your mind. What will the sex of my baby be? Will it be healthy and who will it resemble – me or the father, who is African American?

While you sit in the laboratory waiting room to have your prenatal testing, a news anchor shares this information,

In a 2001 study, participants were shown a picture of a white face or a black face followed immediately by a picture of a weapon or a tool. They were asked to identify the object as quickly as possible. Study participants more often identified weapons correctly after they saw a black face, and more accurately identified tools after seeing an image of a white face. What’s more, “they falsely claimed to see a gun more often when the face was black than when it was white.”

Next, you reach for your phone and search the web for details surrounding the recent news relating to the killing of the unarmed African American young man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, MO.

Fear, instead of joy, now encompasses your mind as you compassionately cradle your abdomen with anxiety for the future life of your unborn child if the child does in fact more closely resemble the father!

Continuing this quest for answers in a means to prepare for raising and protecting a black child in America you read:

2005 study by University of Colorado neuroscientists bolsters these findings. The scientists measured threat perception and response in the brains of 40 students to targets in a video game, some of whom were carrying pistols while others carried wallets or cellphones. The study authors predicted that because there is a cultural perception that African-Americans are “more threatening,” participants’ “shoot response” would come more naturally. Indeed that’s how it panned out. The study found that the students shot black targets with guns more quickly than white targets with guns, and took longer to decide not to shoot unarmed blacks than unarmed whites.


www.generalhealthproblems.comLeaving the doctor’s visit, you immediately head home to share the news with the father! As you stick the key in the door, you think: What do I tell him first? Should I share with him the saddening news of the study – or should I ask him how are we going to continue living in America in hopes of protecting our biracial child, who will hopefully one day grow up and  be able to walk the neighborhood safely with friends!

We know that the stress we experience in our lives impacts the quality of our health. While pregnancy can be one of the happiest times in a woman’s life, it can also be a stressful time. And, if a woman has experienced chronic stress at unhealthy levels before her pregnancy, that stress may impact her health throughout the pregnancy and in the long term, as well as the health of her child.

Research shows that chronic stress – like the experience of racism – impacts birth outcomes and the health of an individual over the course of their lives:

The body’s response to chronic stress, it seems, can also harm a fetus by subjecting it to the same negative biological conditions of chronic stress, which are different than responses to individual stressing events. The ongoing exposure to large quantities of stress hormones is thought to be a leading cause in disparate pregnancy outcomes, as stress is known to be a complicating factor for pregnancy.

We do our best to take care of ourselves and our loved ones. And often, outside forces continue to impact our health – whether those outside forces be the quality of the air we breathe, the affordability of health care services, or racism embedded in systems and institutions throughout our American society.

While we cannot fix racism, at the YWCA, we have some services that can be helpful. If you are expecting a baby and could use support accessing services and resources, call Pat Hampton in the YWCA Healthy Birth Outcomes program at 206.436.8667. If you’d find it helpful to talk to someone about the stress or anxiety you’re feeling, call 425.922.6192 to talk to a counselor in our Community Mental Health program. We’re here for you.

Medicare: Preparing for 65

At YWCA Health Access, we believe that access to health care is a right, and that an important component of health care access is having coverage.

Across the country and in Washington state, the number of people 65 and over is growing. The 65+ population in Washington is expected to be 13.9 next year, and is expected to rise to 18.1 by 2030. As our population ages, it becomes more and more important that seniors understand the services available to them and know how to access them. Most people 65 and older have at least one medical health condition – like diabetes or high blood pressure – so it becomes especially important to receive regular health care to stay on top of these chronic conditions.

MyLocalHealthGuide.com recently published information on Medicare and what is important to know as you approach age 65. Below are some key pieces of information about Medicare. Read the full, original article here, and pass on the information to others in your life who may benefit.

Remembering the difference among Medicare plans can be difficult. Here are the different options available.

  • Original Medicare (Parts A and B) is a federal insurance program that offers basic coverage for hospital care and medical expenses and no coverage for prescriptions. Beneficiaries typically must pay a premium for Part B coverage. Many find they need additional coverage for services not covered by Original Medicare.
  • Medicare Supplement plans pay some of the costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, including deductibles and coinsurance. Beneficiaries must pay an additional premium.
  • A Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (PDP), or Medicare Part D, provides prescription drug coverage, helps lower prescription drug expenses and protects against higher costs in the future. Beneficiaries must pay an additional premium.
  • Medicare Advantage (Part C) typically provides extra benefits, services and often prescription drug coverage. Beneficiaries may or may not pay an additional premium.

Did you know there are certain times when you can enroll in Medicare plans? To get coverage starting in 2015, seniors must review plan options and enroll during the window October 15-December 7, 2014. But if you are turning 65 before October, you’re able to enroll earlier in the year. There’s a special Initial Enrollment Period when you can enroll: this window includes the three months before your 65th birthday, the month of your birthday, and the three months following.

For more information about Medicare, how to enroll and other considerations, check out these resources:

Uncomfortably Predictable: Race, Community and the Cycle of Violence

The focus of this blog has always been on access to and information on health, wellness, and health care. However, at this time, it feels more right to use this space to speak to the actively and publicly violent situation continuing in Ferguson, Missouri. There is much community dialogue around what’s going on, much press coverage, and much social media attention.

YWCAs across the country are fighting against racism. I see YWCA USA exercising leadership in the conversation around Ferguson and the death of Michael Brown. And for that reason, I share this blog post with you from YWCA USA, written by Donte Hilliard, the YWCA USA Director of Mission Impact.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
- U. S. Declaration of Independence 1776

YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
- Adopted by the General Assembly, 2009

If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.
- Zora Neal Hurston

Donte Hilliard

Once again, an unarmed Black person is dead at the hands of local law enforcement agents. How many spectacles of bullet-riddled, broken Black bodies must we endure? How many cablecast reports and tweeted acts of grief and rage must we consume before we declare it is too much? How much evidence do we need before we admit that the United States of America has a problem?

Unfortunately, we at the YWCA USA know all too well that racialized community violence is neither novel nor rare for people of color in the U.S. Even as we join the hundreds of thousands of people who demonstrate their solidarity with the Brown Family (on the ground and online) as they grieve the loss of Michael Brown and seek justice, we know there are innumerable victims and survivors of this type of systemic violence who will never be acknowledged on a national platform.

We also know, that despite what continues to be revealed about the specifics of this incident in Ferguson, Mo., the script is uncomfortably predictable:

  • A person of color is racially profiled, surveilled and killed;
  • Despite being unarmed, he/she is accused of being a threat or threatening;
  • Peaceful, organized community action is ignored — framed as a riot rather than a protest or civic engagement, or rendered moot because of other acts (such as looting);
  • The local community is admonished for “rushing to judgment” and not waiting on the facts;
  • Images of the dead person of color surface that portray him or her as a scary, menacing, or gang-affiliated;
  • Local and national law enforcement agents and agencies will seek to frame the death in a race-neutral context, denying the reality of institutional and systemic racism; we will be asked to see victims, survivors and perpetrators only as individuals and not as members of social groups of varying institutional and structural power, while simultaneously being bombarded with racially-coded words and images;
  • Taxpayers will be treated as “enemy combatants,” rather than citizens who are guaranteed the right to gather, speak, and protest per our founding and governing documents.

What do we say and do in the face of this gut-wrenching, all-too-familiar cycle of violence against the psyche and soma of people of color?

We at the YWCA USA dare not desecrate the lives and memories of the victims and survivors of racialized community violence with hollow platitudes. Rather, we seek to transform our anger, confusion, and despair into action.

Here’s what we can do:

  • Locally, those near Ferguson can contact the YWCA of Metro St. Louis. This YWCA has a long history of working on racial justice and to end discrimination in St. Louis, through workplace seminars, hosting speakers, guided dialogues, and more. Amy Hunter, Director of Racial Justice, leads these groups to “increase understanding of the institutionalized and systemic impact of racism, work towards peace and healing and positively impact the community we all live in.” Earlier this week, she joined other community leaders at Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant for a forum with Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson.
  • No matter where you live, please take action today and tell Congress the time is now to end racial profiling—a United States problem that destroys American values of fairness and justice. Congress must take action and pass the End Racial Profiling Act this year. This bill requires that local law enforcement agencies receiving federal funds maintain adequate cultural competency policies and procedures for eliminating racial profiling. In addition, this bill allows victims to obtain declaratory or injunctive relief.
  • If you are or aspire to be a White racial justice ally, you MUST show up. Racism is a problem for all of us. People of color cannot be the only ones putting their bodies on the line.

Do not let this movement end here. Racialized community violence must not be allowed to remain a normal part of our daily lives. We must come together and continue to fight for the fair and equitable treatment of all.

The YWCA is a social justice organization and movement with over 150 years of experience providing direct service to, building with, and advocating on behalf of the most vulnerable people in our society: low wage workers, the unemployed, women and girls, people of color, non-native English speakers, members of the military, abuse survivors, etc. As a social justice organization, we have a deep and abiding commitment to working on issues of economic, gender, and racial justice — particularly in the places where these systems of oppression overlap each other.

As an organization dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women, we will not allow issues of racial profiling, hate crimes and/or community violence be placed on the back burner.

Donte brings more than 10 years of administrative leadership in the areas of: Diversity, Inclusion & Social Justice; education/training in African American, Gender, and Religious Studies; knowledge and application of various social change models; history of advocacy for historically underrepresented groups; and coalition building within and across various communities. Donte has notable experience as faculty, trainer, community volunteer and activist, researcher and author, and has received many awards and honors. He is the co-founder and Chair of the Institute for Justice Education & Transformation (IJET), an initiative of the UW Madison Multicultural Student Center, that provides and supports opportunities for deep reflection and action around issues of Social Justice for underrepresented communities and their allies. Donte has a B.A. in Psychology from The University of Arkansas, a M.A. in African American studies from Ohio State University, and a M.A. in Religious Studies from Chicago Theological Seminary.

Can I sign up for health coverage before Open Enrollment starts?

In Washington, Open Enrollment for people to sign up for health insurance in 2015 is scheduled for November 15, 2014 – February 15, 2015. This means that most people in Washington state aren’t able to sign up for health insurance until mid-November, and coverage won’t begin until January 1, 2015.

However, if you are eligible, you are able to enroll in Medicaid at any time. Medicaid is health coverage for individuals and families with low incomes. For example, if your income is $16,105 or less for a household of one person or if the household income for a family of four is $32,913 or less – you are likely eligible for Medicaid. Visit this page to learn more about Medicaid, how to apply, and how to renew coverage.

If you think you might be eligible for Medicaid, visit the Washington HealthPlanFinder page to check your eligibility and to apply. You’ll need your household monthly income, you and all household members’ Social Security numbers, and your immigration information, if that applies to you.

During this time that Open Enrollment is closed, it may still be possible to enroll in health coverage through Washington HealthPlanFinder – if you have a qualifying life event or a complex situation related to applying in the Marketplace. A qualifying life event includes if you’ve recently moved to Washington, if you have had certain changes in your income, if your household size changes – like if you marry, divorce, or have a baby – or if your citizenship status changed.

You may also be able to apply for insurance through the Marketplace due to a complex situation. For a list of qualifying complex situations, click here. Examples include if a serious medical condition kept you from enrolling during Open Enrollment in 2013-2014, if there were a system error related to immigration status when you were trying to enroll online, or if you’re a victim of domestic abuse and weren’t previously allowed to enroll and receive advance payments of the premium tax credit separately from your spouse.

Learn more about Washington state-specific information on special enrollment. And to get help enrolling in health coverage through the Marketplace, learn more about certified in-person assisters and contact an organization with in-person assisters in your area, ready to support you. You’re even welcome to reach out to the YWCA’s Outreach & Enrollment Specialist, Hodo Hussein. She may be enrolling community members at a site near you! Email Hodo at hhussein@ywcaworks.org or call at 206.436.8674.

Friends help friends be healthy


Photo by Ben Earwicker, Garrison Photography

The friendships in our lives are important. The people we surround ourselves with become our support system, and we become theirs. Our friends become a part of how we live our lives. We can choose to support each other be healthy and safe.

What is one new way you and your friends can support each other be healthy?

The CDC shares some tips in celebration of last week’s National Girlfriends Day:

Be Active and Eat Healthy
Make healthy choices when you get together with your friends. Find fun ways to get physical activity like walking, dancing, gardening, or swimming. When eating out or cooking at home, be sure to include fruits and vegetables and other foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Avoid foods and beverages high in calories, saturated fat, or added sugars and salt.

Prevent Violence
Intimate partner violence has significant adverse health consequences. Nearly 1 in 4 women (24%) and 1 in 7 men (14%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. This violence and its heavy toll can be prevented. Promoting respectful, nonviolent relationships is key.

If you are, or know someone who is, the victim of intimate partner violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) or contact your local emergency services at 9-1-1.

Give Up Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco
Friends can be important sources of support. Resources are available for people who are trying to quit or cut down on drinking or give up smoking.

  • Binge drinking (defined for women as consuming four or more drinks on an occasion) increases the chances of breast cancer, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, and other health problems.
  • Call 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357) — to get information about drug and alcohol treatment in your local community.
  • Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits. You lower your risk for different types of cancer, and don’t expose others to secondhand smoke—which causes health problems in infants, children, and adults.
  • Call the state tobacco quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669); TTY 1-855-855-7081; relay service 1-800-833-6384 or visit smokefree women.

Summer Snacks Galore

It’s definitely summer in Seattle, and temperatures are forecasted to stay in the 80s for the next week. It’s hot out there, y’all!

Whether you have children home for the summer, are running from errand to errand in the heat of the late afternoon, or are just looking for a refreshing way to relax and enjoy the summer – here are some exciting new snack ideas to keep you and your family happy, healthy and hydrated!


Greek Yogurt Blood Orange “Creamsicle” Smoothie
Serves 2

1 cup of Stonyfield Organic Nonfat Greek Yogurt
2 whole, peeled blood oranges
Zest of 1 blood orange (optional)
1 Tbsp organic raw honey
½ cup frozen mango chunks
4 ice cubes

Directions: Combine all ingredients and blend on high.


Frozen Fruit Kabobs
Wooden Skewers
Melted chocolate
Directions: Skewer the fruit and drizzle with chocolate. Freeze on a baking sheet for 1-2 hours or until frozen.


Fruit-Infused Waters
Benefits: Hydration. Hydration. Hydration. With a less-than-reliable thirst mechanism in later years, it’s common for water reserve to drop too low.

Directions: Clean and slice up to 1 cup of any of your favorite seasonal fruits or veggies and add them, along with a few sprigs of fresh herbs, to a 1-quart pitcher. Fill with water and let steep in the refrigerator for two hours or longer. Serve as is, or strain out fruit mixture. Try, say, a strawberry-lime-cucumber water:  Slice 12 large strawberries, one lime and one-fourth of a cucumber; add a few fresh crushed mint leaves along with ice and water and let steep. Note: For stronger flavors, muddle or crush fruits and herbs.

Fiftysomething Diet 5 Healthy Summer Treats 2


Join us at Stella Steps Out!

This year marks BABES Network-YWCA’s 25th anniversary! And we are celebrating this incredible milestone at Stella Steps Out – our annual gala fundraiser to benefit BABES.

BABES Network-YWCA is a peer education and support program for women living with HIV; a sisterhood of women facing HIV together. BABES was started by a group of HIV positive women in Seattle, Washington who came together to share information, experiences and support.

Stella Steps Out
Friday, September 5 at 6:00 p.m.
Lake Union Cafe
3119 Eastlake Ave E | Seattle, WA 98102

2014 Honoree: Jesse Chipps
Co-founder and founding director of BABES Network


Purchase tickets now for special early bird pricing, available through August 11!

This lively evening event, hosted by Sister Glo Euro’N Wei, will include a silent auction, dinner, wine and the always popular dessert dash.

Event proceeds will support BABES Network-YWCA, which ensures that women living with HIV and their families are empowered and connected to a supportive community.

For questions about this event, please contact Caroline Brown: 206.461.4481, cabrown@ywcaworks.org.

Thank you for your support!



Build your Financial Health @ the Financial Empowerment Center

YWCA Health Access tends to focus on serving the physical, mental and emotional health of women and families in Seattle and King County. But we also recognize the importance of and advocate for financial health in our communities. No matter what we have going on with our physical health, our finances play a role. It can be hard to move forward with our lives if we are struggling with old hospital bills that we can’t ever seem to pay down. It can be challenging to make to the doctor for our annual check-up when we’re working two or three jobs.

The YWCA and Neighborhood House collaborate to put on the Financial Empowerment Center, where community members can meet one-on-one with a Financial Counselor – for free! Working with a Financial Counselor can help you get your finances in order, make solid financial decisions, and start building a strong financial foundation that will serve the long-term success of your family. When we have healthy finances, it’s easier to care for the other aspects of our lives. And when we’re physically, mentally and emotionally healthy, it’s easier for us to thrive and care for our loved ones.

Call for an appointment with a Financial Counselor or to learn more about what services are available: 206.923.6555

FEC Flyer 0614


Summer’s Here! Outdoor Cooking Tips

With the holiday weekend fast approaching, I’m sure families all over the Puget Sound Region and across America are preparing to BBQ. Summer is here!

Earlier this week, Health Power for Minorities sent out some outdoor cooking tips in their July newsletter – to keep us all healthy and safe. Below is information directly from HPM’s newsletter. To sign up for their newsletter, click here.


Outdoor cooking can be great fun when one considers everything that goes into:

  • The Cooking, especially different styles of grilling, barbecuing, and adding other seasonings, and
  • The Eating, including adding the sides, dressings, trimmings, and social activity.

These tips will help you in Cooking Good and Eating Healthy!


Physical Safety First:

  • When carrying food to another location use cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40oF or below
  • Be sure the grill is in a well-lit area.
  • Be sure the ventilation is good, and the grill is not near trees, shrubs, or buildings.
  • Keep children and pets away from the fire
  • Have water nearby in a squirt bottle in case the fire flares up

Food Safety Next:

  • Keep all perishable foods, like foods with dairy products meat and poultry cold to limit bacterial growth.
  • If the outdoor temperature is less than 90oF, they should not sit out more than two (2) hours.
  • If the outdoor temperature is higher than that, perishable foods should not sit out for more than one hour.

Preparing the Food:

  • Wash hands before and after preparing foods.
  • Completely thaw meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly.
  • Thaw food in a refrigerator or microwave, but if a microwave is used; cook as soon as thawing is done.
  • Marinate (soak in a savory sauce to enrich the flavor or tenderize) meat in the refrigerator, not at room temperature
  • Don’t use the same plate or utensils  for raw and cooked meat and poultry.  The juices from raw meat can contaminate the cooked food

About the Cooking:

  • Use a thermometer to be sure the food has been cooked to a safe temperature inside (You can’t tell from the outside).
  • Desirable Internal Temperatures (in Fahrenheit Degrees) for poultry, hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks and more are provided in our related blog post.
  • There are also tips about marinating food  including reusing marinade, what kind of containers to use, and how long to marinate different foods;

Grilling Hamburgers

  • Don’t keep uncooked ground beef in the refrigerator in the supermarket wrapping for more than two (2) days. . .
  • Be sure the grill is hot before cooking burgers to avoid their sticking to the grill.
  • Don’t salt burgers before they’re cooked because it draws the juices out, and More.

Enjoy cooking out, while staying safe!

Principal Outdoor Cooking Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
For more Health Power Cooking Good and Eating Healthy Tip Sheets, click here. 


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