Programs: Social Services
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.
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.