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Griffith up to challenge of heading YWCA

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Griffith up to challenge of heading YWCA

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TAMITA GRIFFITH has spent the last five years working with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA).

She has served as a floor member and also as first vice-president of the non-profit organisation.

Today, Griffith is at the helm of the YWCA.

In January, she was thrust into the position as president after the resignation of Tamara Brathwaite.

While it was not a position she was eyeing, she has taken the proverbial bull by the horns and settled down to business with the rest of her team to forge ahead with plans as the local ‘Y’ celebrates its 66th year.

For the first time in its history, the YWCA was met with a number of resignations at one time, but Griffith, 35, said the recent separations have brought the existing team closer together.

“It actually made us realise all the resources we never thought we had. We all get more involved in the everyday running of the organisation and we give assistance in the day-to-day operations of the office and the feeding programme,” she said.

“While we would have been saddened by the onslaught of negative comments aimed at the association, which has given 66 years of sterling service to this country, we remain steadfast in upholding the Ys integrity,” she added.

Griffith admitted that while she wasn’t prepared for the new position, she was always ready for a challenge.

“I love a challenge and I have already envisioned where I want to see the YWCA going,” she said during an interview with the SUNDAY SUN.

The interim leader also said while the biennial general meeting of the organisation was coming up in June when elections will also be held, she had not yet decided whether or not she would be throwing her hat into the ring to continue as president.

That has not stopped this diminutive woman from setting out her short-term goals for the organisation.

Her priorities, she said, included the reactivation of the Y-Teens Programme, through which they try to address challenges facing young girls in Barbados.

In addition, she wants to increase the membership of the organisation, as well as refurbish its headquarters at Deacons Road, St Michael.

This, she explained, would help the Y to offer more programmes and host activities which could generate revenue.

Griffith noted that in January when she took over the reins, she established a special projects committee, spearheaded by past president Marilyn Rice-Bowen, who still serves as a floor member, to secure funding, oversee the refurbishment and continue maintenance of the facilities.

“Our objective is to provide programmes and services through which members of the community can develop their potential spiritually, intellectually and socially. From inception, our focus has been on education and empowerment not only of our members, young girls and women, but also on children in our communities,” she added.

She said they also received computers which up to now they have been unable to use because the building was in need of rewiring. She said they would be looking to correct this soon.

Griffith also underscored the importance of the YWCA’s Breakfast Feeding Programme which she said now caters to the needs of about 1 300 children.

The programme, spearheaded by Rice-Bowen, started back in January 2007, feeding just about 30 children.

Today, the YWCA has satellite centres set up in St Michael, Christ Church, St Lucy, St Thomas and St George where children are provided with full breakfasts.

This programme, she said, is kept afloat by the donations from corporate Barbados and some individuals who give cash and products to the programme.

“Breakfast is the most important meal and you can’t function without it,” she said, explaining that the YWCA works closely with principals to identify children who can benefit from the initiative.

She said while the donations are satisfactory, there was always the need for more to expand the programme.

Griffith said Chefette Restaurants, for example, had recently increased its donation to the programme. The company is a long-standing partner with the Y.

“We always need more support from corporate Barbados and individuals so we can expand the programme,” she said.

The president said they were hoping to set up a centre in the north, in the not too distant future, to cater to the needs of children there.

“We are saving today’s children for tomorrow’s future,” she said of the organisation’s signature programme which is now spearheaded by National Breakfast Club coordinator Andrea Taylor.

Griffith said while she has a full plate of responsibilities, she credited her first vice president Nailah Michael, as well as Taylor and Rice-Bowen for their supportive role.

In its 66th year, she said the YWCA would be focusing on its Back to School Drive, ‘Y’ teen workshops, self-defence classes, as well as the Walk A Mile initiative which will form part of the 16 Days of Activism in December.

She noted that back in the 1970s, the YWCA played a fundamental role in empowering women and preparing them for the world of work.

She also called to mind the hostel service which they provided to women who worked in the City but lived in the country.

In addition, she said the Traffic Warder programme was an initiative of the ‘Y’, and was later turned over to Government.

Griffith also said that towards the end of the year, the YWCA will be honouring 50 women who made significant contributions to the organisation. Included in this group, she said, would be past presidents. (CM)