Portland YWCA Programs & Outreach

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Programs: Social Services

Research by Veronica Preston

Senior Citizens' Lunch
St. John's YWCA, 1980s

"Week Without Violence"


      Aid to traveling women was a primary service provided by the YWCA through the 1960s. The Travelers' Aid society, a national organization, made its Portland headquarters in the YWCA's Taylor street building. Any woman seeking directions, bus fare, a room for the night, or general advice could find assistance through Travelers' Aid. Before the gains of the Civil Rights movement, the YWCA was known among African-American women as one of the few places in U.S. cities, including Portland, that would not turn them away for a room or a meal. The Portland YWCA also operated a Rooms Registry, a file of local residents who would take in borders on a short-term basis. The Rooms Registry was especially important in wartime, and offered respectable housing to women traveling to new jobs in Oregon.

Familias Jovenes, 1998

       After World War II, new constituencies pressed their interests upon the YWCA, especially women in need of employment, counseling, and legal advice. By the 1970s, the YWCA offered an array of programs to meet these needs, including a Women's Resource Center, a Job Bank, support for teen emancipation, classes for Young Families/Familias Jovenes, and a "Transitional Opportunities Program" or TOPS, for women leaving the criminal justice system. In addition, since the 1980s, the YWCA of Greater Portland has been a major supplier of health care and related services for senior citizens in Multnomah County.



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