A different kind of health

Most of the time, we talk about physical health on this blog. Another type of health is our financial health.

I’m sure you already know that our financial health impacts our physical health. How much money we make impacts the quality of food we are able to buy. Having a stable job makes it possible for us to pay our rent or mortgage on time each month, keeping a roof over our heads and our bodies protected from the outdoors. And it goes on…

At the YWCA, some of the work we do is around building economic resilience. Here are a couple programs to check out:

  • Hope and Power for Your Personal Finances: This is a 10-session financial education class/support group for survivors of domestic violence. We provide childcare, transportation assistance (either gas cards or bus tickets), and food as a way to help reduce the barriers for survivors to attend. This year, we are partnering with other domestic violence agencies to teach them how to offer the classes. We don’t have our schedule quite set for the rest of the year, but clients can call Hannah Haag at any time to get put on our waiting list.  Then we’ll contact them directly when we have a class scheduled. Hannah can be reached at hhaag@ywcaworks.org  or 425-264-1406.
  • Money Mechanics: These are our newer 4-session financial education classes that are open to anyone. They are designed for people who are low-income, unemployed, or currently or recently homeless, but there are no eligibility requirements and anyone can attend. The next classes will be in Seattle and starting in May. For more information about the Money Mechanics classes please contact Constance Francis: cfrancis@ywcaworks.org or 425-264-1416.

There are also other resources available in the community outside of the YWCA. Some of our favorites are the Financial Empowerment Centers in Seattle and BankOn Seattle.

Fec logo recolored higher res8_2014(1)The Financial Empowerment Centers (FECs) provide FREE financial counseling. They can assist you with banking, credit, debt management and reduction and preparing for short and long term financial goals. Scheduling an appointment is easy! Counselors are located at agencies throughout the city of Seattle, including at YWCA Opportunity Place.  You or your client can access the online appointment scheduler by clicking here. Also – counselors speak many languages! When you open the online appointment scheduler you can clearly see when and where each language is available.

bank-on-logoBankOn Seattle is a partnership of banks, credit unions, and community organizations that can help you open free or low-cost checking and savings accounts. The program is especially focused on those who don’t have a banking relationship, including 2nd chance accounts for those who have had trouble with banks in the past. On their website you can find a list of financial institutions that participate, comparison charts of their accounts (in multiple languages!), a list of financial education providers and a calendar of classes. Want to learn more about what bank, credit union or community organization could be a good fit for you, click here and select your preferred language.

What is the ONE THING you can do to take a step towards financial health?

Let us know if we can help.

Thank you to YWCA Economic Resilience Initiative for providing the content for this blog post.

Ride for less with ORCA LIFT

What do you know about ORCA LIFT? My hope is that you’ve already heard of this program, and if you’re eligible, you already have your LIFT card! But – in case not – the ORCA LIFT program is a new reduced fare initiative, created by King County Metro. This means, that if your income falls within the 200% of the federal poverty level you are likely eligible for this card.

ORCA LIFT’s reduced fare of $1.50 per ride (or $54 for the PugetPass which provides you with monthly unlimited rides) works on all Metro buses, the light rail, Kitsap Transit, the water taxi to West Seattle, and the Seattle Streetcar. Sound Transit and Community Transit buses are not participating in LIFT – so the reduced fare does not apply on these bus lines and you have to pay full bus fare. But you can tap the LIFT card and apply the $1.50 LIFT fare towards the full bus fare, and then pay the additional $1.25 to pay the full fare to ride.


If you already have a senior card or a disabled card – don’t worry! The card you already have is a better deal – only $1.00 and less than what you’d pay with the ORCA LIFT card.

Not sure if you’re eligible? Here is the income breakdown, by household size:

  • For one person (with no dependents), you’re income eligible if you make $23,540 or less;
  • For a household of two, the maximum income to qualify is $31,860;
  • For a household of three, the maximum income to qualify is $40,180;
  • For a household of four, the maximum income to qualify is $48,500; and so on.

OrcaLiftCardStill not sure if you qualify? Give us a call. Here’s my phone number: 206.461.4494 and here is ORCA LIFT Project Coordinator Natalia Arredondo’s phone number: 206.461.4482.

Prefer to do a little research online? Read about ORCA LIFT on Metro’s website here.

Want to sign up for a LIFT card?

We have community drop-in hours in downtown Seattle, White Center and Redmond. Please bring your government-issued ID and proof of income (30 days of paystubs, award letter from DSHS or the unemployment office, or your ProviderOne card). If you have questions about what to bring, please call Natalia at 206.461.4482.

YWCA Opportunity Place (2024 Third Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121)

  • Mondays 10am-noon
  • Tuesdays 11:30am-1:30pm
  • Thursdays 10am-noon

YWCA Greenbridge (9720 8th Avenue SW, Seattle, WA 98106)

  • Tuesdays 1pm-4pm
  • Thursdays 1pm-4pm

YWCA Family Village Redmond (16601 NE 80th Street, Redmond, WA 98052)

  • Mondays 9:30am-4pm (closed for lunch noon-1pm)
  • Wednesdays 9:30am-4pm (closed for lunch noon-1pm)
  • Thursdays 1pm-4pm
  • Fridays 9:30am-4pm (closed for lunch noon-1pm)

Maybe none of our locations work for you. If that’s the case – check out drop-in locations at other organizations.

Youth leading to achieve an AIDS-free generation

In a recent Lifelong AIDS Alliance press release, a group of advocates wrote:

The CDC found that in 2010, youth ages 13-24 accounted for over a quarter of the new HIV infections in the US whereas in Seattle, only one in every eight people are diagnosed with HIV between the ages of 13-24 years old.

In fact, the CDC reports that approximately “60% of all youth with HIV do not know they are infected, are not getting treated, and can unknowingly pass the virus on to others.”

Last year, Ed Murray, mayor of the city of Seattle, proclaimed April to be Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Month. In the proclamation, he encouraged “all within Seattle to educate themselves and others of the very real threat HIV/AIDS continues to pose to young people and to contribute their talents to our ongoing fight on behalf of everyone impacted by this disease.”


In truth, it’s the young people who are responding to this health issue that is still impacting youth and young adults. In Seattle, the youth HIV activists who urged for the city proclamation last year are continuing the awareness with hosting an educational community forum in celebration of National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) held yearly on April 10th. The forum will be held on April 18th Saturday 1PM-3PM inside the Auditorium at the Downtown Central Library which includes an honest dialogue about HIV and AIDS stigma affecting youth communities in 2015 as well as prevention efforts.

This is a great chance to hear from 4 positive youth in Seattle area and PrEP Advocate Panelists. “This event is so important because it’s youth developed, youth led, and youth run,” Manuel Vengas, Seattle NYHAAD Youth Ambassador from Advocates for Youth, recently said.

Everyone can do something. Engage with your community and family at home. Most importantly, we need to have these discussions with our youth – otherwise we are neglecting them valuable information. Even though Seattle recognizes April as Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Month, there’s still much to be done here and throughout the US as we strive to build an AIDS-free Generation. If folks can’t attend the community forum that’s understandable but there’s plenty of other ways to get educated and involved. There’s a list below of youth resources to get you started. Also consider joining Seattle area youth HIV activists, and regional community partners in a live twitter chat TODAY from 3-5PM. Join the Twitter chat by following @HEYOYouth and #PNWYouthHIV.

Let’s talk about this!

The forum is presented in partnership with the #MyHIVMoment campaign, a collaborative effort of Lifelong, BABES-Network YWCA, the Center for Multicultural Health, Entre Hermanos, Gay City Men’s Health, Seattle Counseling Services, and We Are 1.


Youth Resources

Youth can drop-in for free, confidential HIV testing at Lifelong weekdays from 8:30a.m. to 5:30p.m. For a full list of testing locations, click here.

The Seattle Young People’s Project is a youth-led, adult supported social justice organization that empowers youth (ages 13-18) to express themselves and to take action on the issues that affect their lives. For more information, click here.

Health Education Youth Outreach (HEYO) is Lifelong’s youth education program for youth age 16-24. Through peer-to-peer outreach and education, HEYO reduces stigma around queer issues, promotes healthy sexual choices and makes HIV testing and other resources readily available. For more information, click here.

The Inspire Youth Project (formerly Rise n’ Shine) provides emotional support programs, stability, advocacy and AIDS education for children and teens affected by HIV/AIDS. For more information, click here.

Safe Schools Coalition offers support for LGBTQ youth. For more information, click here.

BABES Network-YWCA offers peer support to women & heterosexual men living with HIV and their families as well as HIV education and resources. For more information, click here.

For information about PrEP and PEP, click here or see the information below.

Harborview Medical Center
M-F regular business hours: (206) 744-4377
M-F outside normal business hours: (206) 726-2619
Or visit the Harborview Emergency Room at 325 9th Ave., Seattle, WA.

For Needle Exchange locations, click here.

For drug and alcohol resources in Seattle & King County, click here.

-Written by Tranisha Arzah, BABES Network Peer Advocate

Is Sitting Ruining Your Health?

Have you ever stopped to consider just how much time you spend sitting in a day?  Did you know that sitting has been connected to diabetes and heart disease?

In a 2014 Harvard Health Blog post, Harvard Women’s Health Watch‘s Executive Editor Stephanie Watson quotes several medical professionals and explains how excessive sitting is linked to chronic disease:

When you sit, you expend fewer calories than you would while standing, and you demand little effort from your muscles. Sitting too much can also lead to other behaviors that contribute to obesity and heart disease. “Many times when people are sitting, what are they doing? They’re often watching TV and snacking,” says Dr. Manson.

Many fitness professionals, sports medicine professionals and physical therapists suggest individuals spend 5 to 10 minutes of each hour standing while they work.

Stephanie Watson writes:

When it comes to exercise, “Any activity is good,” says Dr. Lee. “Some is better than none, and more is better than less.” Ideally, work in a full half-hour or hour of exercise each day, while trying to be active—even in short spurts—the rest of the time. But if you can only squeeze in 10 minutes of dedicated exercise at a time, aim for that.

What will you do to change the amount of time you sit each day? Think about taking a standing stretch break at the top of the hour.  Or, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a walk around the office with a coworker rather than meeting at your desk. There are endless new ways to incorporate a little more activity and a little less standing in your day. What ideas do you have?

Co-Pays, Deductibles, and Essential Services – Oh My!!

Are you new to the health insurance system?

Did you recently change plans and are a little apprehensive about using your coverage?

Does the phrase “essential services” mean anything to you?

If you answered yes to the first two questions and are a little fuzzy on the third one, this post is for you! Don’t be embarrassed to admit that the health insurance is a bit confusing.  You are not alone! Think of it as learning a new language and remember the more you use it, the more familiar you will become with it!

On the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) site, learn about the benefits to health insurance:

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies and group health plans are required to provide you with an easy-to-understand summary about a health plan’s benefits and coverage…. The Summary of Benefits and Coverage is designed to help you better understand and evaluate your health insurance options.

Also on this site, you can learn about co-pays and deductibles! If your insurance provider offers education on the ins and out of using your insurance coverage, try to attend their workshop or read their materials. These are usually effective ways to help you get the most out of your health benefits.

Now let’s get started using your health insurance plan. Here are some helpful actions you can take:

  • Find a doctor who accepts your plan.
  • Figure out which health screenings, immunizations or essential services you are in need of. To do this, search the complete list provided on the website of HHS’s Office of Women’s Health.
  • Make the appointment! Ask if you will need to fast or not eat prior to the visit.
  • Inquire about your co-pay or deductible.
  • Write down your questions for your provider before showing up to the waiting room at the doctor’s office. The newness and nervousness may cause you to forget.
  • If this is a provider you’ve never seen before, be sure you take any prescriptions with you that you currently take.
  • Remember to take your new insurance cards!
  • Don’t be a “no show.” Visiting the doctor for the first time in a long time can be scary, but it is a vital step to take on the road to good health. Set the alarm on your cell phone to help remind you!
  • Arrive early, first visits generally require the completion of paperwork.
  • Remember you are your best advocate. If you are confused by something that came up during your visit or in the statement you received in the mail following the visit, contact your provider or insurance provider.

If you haven’t signed up yet, click this link to see if you qualify to enroll during a Special Enrollment Period.

And remember insurance coverage is not a privilege, it is a right! Take care of yourself. The world needs you!!

The Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen

Is that fruit you’re buying at the grocery store the healthiest it could possibly be? Did you know that lots of fruits and veggies have been exposed to pesticides and may still carry a residue with them? According to Environmental Working Group (EWG), nearly two-thirds of the fresh produce tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and analyzed by EWG contained pesticide residues.

Why should we be careful about pesticides in our food?

EWG writes:

Pesticides are toxic by design. They are created expressly to kill living organisms — insects, plants and fungi that are considered “pests.” Many pesticides pose health dangers to people. These risks have been confirmed by independent research scientists and physicians across the world.

As acknowledged by U.S. and international government agencies, different pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems, including: brain and nervous system toxicity; cancer; hormone disruption; and skin, eye and lung irritation.

Sometimes we can’t avoid it, but sometimes we are able to make a choice. Some produce is more likely to carry pesticide residue with them – and some are less likely! EWG puts out information every year about what produce is more pesticide-contaminated so that we can do our best to avoid them. Read more here.

It’s true – organic food can be expensive. If you are going to buy organic, why not buy organic produce where it really will impact your health? For example, a few items on the Clean Fifteen list – these are ok to eat non-organic – include avocados, sweet corn, pineapples and cabbage. And the Dirty Dozen – produce that is better when organic – includes apples, peaches, nectarines and strawberries.


Honoring Women & Girls at Fred Hutch on March 10th

Join us on Tuesday, March 10th, to honor National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day!

hutch event

Date: Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Time: 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm

Where: Weintraub Building, Pelton Auditorium

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

1100 Fairview Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an annual observance to help raise awareness of the continuing need to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and shed light on the impact that HIV/AIDS has on women and girls. The event will feature a panel discussion with local women who have made a significant difference in the field of HIV. Representing the areas of policy, medicine, research, social services, and faith communities, panelists include:

  • The Reverend Mary Diggs-Hobson from AARTH
  • Dr. Lara Strick from the University of Washington and the Washington Department of Corrections
  • Dr. Connie Celum from the University of Washington
  • Dr. Kathy Brown from Group Health Cooperative
  • Nicole Price from BABES Network-YWCA

We hope to see you there!


Don’t forget to enroll by February 15th!

Since last November, thousands have been enrolling in health coverage for 2015. Don’t miss your chance to sign up for a health plan through Washington HealthPlanFinder. Enrollment ends on February 15th!

Visit Washington HealthPlanFinder to learn more about your options and to enroll in a plan. And if you’d like help signing up for coverage, reach out to a Navigator who can walk you through the steps of signing up.

Know Your Rights

As we begin the new year and consider how we want to live in 2015, it’s a great idea to consider how you want your health to be and any new health care changes coming your way. Maybe you would like to speak with a counselor about stress in your life, are expecting a new baby in the family, or are due for your first mammogram this year.

We meet with medical professionals for help and trust their expertise. But it’s also important to know your rights when it comes to your health care. HealthCare.gov shares information with us about new rights and protections we all have, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

How the health care law protects you

Here some additional rights and benefits, and information on how to protect yourself from fraud when you apply for insurance:

On top of what HealthCare.gov outlines as protections in the Affordable Care Act, there are protections and rights that directly support people who identify as LGBTQ. In 2014, LGBT HealthLink partnered with PROMO Missouri and lawyer Corey Prachniak to create the Healthcare Bill of Rights a short document summarizing LGBTQ rights in the healthcare world now.

The creators of the Healthcare Bill of Rights write:

Your personal life and relationships affect your health more than you realize, so your doctor and other providers need to know your story.

We should all feel safe talking about our sexual partners, sex lives, sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity.

  • Learn how to file a complaint if you’ve faced discrimination.
  • See how you can find a medical provider who will respect your rights and identity.
  • Read how you can plan for your future care with a healthcare power of attorney.

Read the Healthcare Bill of Rights here:



Learn more about the Healthcare Bill of Rights and its history here. And if you want your very own copy of the Healthcare Bill of Rights, check out the different versions available here.

Cervical Cancer is Preventable

This month is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s a great time for us to educate ourselves about cervical cancer and the importance of screening.

Due to the availability of screening, few women get cervical cancer. However, many women are still not getting screened. Most deaths from cervical cancer can be prevented if more women had tests to find cervical cancer early. No woman should die of cervical cancer in our state.

There is good news:

  • Cervical cancer can often be prevented with regular screening tests (called Pap tests) and follow-up care. A Pap test can catch cervical cancer early, when it’s easier to treat.
  • HPV causes most cervical cancers. The HPV vaccine significantly reduces the risk of cervical cancer. Doctors recommend that both girls and boys get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12.
  • Under the Affordable Care Act, nearly all health insurance plans cover cervical cancer screening tests at no cost.
  • Women under 40 can contact one of these family planning clinics to ask about free or low cost screenings.
  • Refer low-income, uninsured or underinsured women ages 40-64 to the Breast, Cervical and Colon Health Program (BCCHP).

Who should get screened for Cervical Cancer?

  • Women ages 21 to 65 should get the Pap test every 3 years.
  • Women 30 to 65 may choose to have the Pap test every 5 years if done with an HPV test. When these tests are performed together, it is called co-testing.
  • Women who have had the HPV vaccination should continue to get screened because the vaccine does not prevent all types of cervical cancer.
  • Women who have had a hysterectomy due to cervical cancer.

Educational materials you can use in your community:


Questions? Contact Kendria Dickson at kendria.dickson@doh.wa.gov or 360-236-3598.

Thanks to Public Health – Seattle & King County for the content of this blog post.

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