African-American Women and the Portland YWCA

Document 1

Document 2

Mallory Avenue Christian Church

Williams Avenue Branch

Program at Williams, 1940s

Young Women at Williams

African-American Women: Biographies

Based on Interviews in the Portland YWCA Archives

Rose Ann Dean

       Rose Ann Dean is a successful business woman in northeast Portland, the founder and owner of Doris's Café. A native of California, Dean moved to Portland in the 1970s and raised a family of three sons and a daughter. The YWCA was one of several Christian institutions that supported her work and her family over the years. Her children attended Holy Deacon Catholic School and participated in programs at the Salvation Army. At the YWCA, Dean took classes and found support that guided her on her life's journey. "I met a group of people who were really nice, from all walks of life...and really struggling to

raise their kids just like I was." She took YWCA classes ranging from calligraphy, to electrical work, home repair, and cooking and canning. "I took a lot of different classes," she remembers. "Needless to say I didn't know I was going to have a restaurant, though. But it came in handy!" She opened Doris's Café in 1987 and moved it to its present location in 1993--in addition to keeping a job at Nabisco for 27 years. Reflecting on her life's success, Dean noted: "People always ask my why don't I move the restaurant some place else. I love it here. I wouldn't want to go anyplace else. I love Northeast Portland."


Audrey Sanders

       Audrey Sanders came to Portland, Oregon, in 1974. She moved with her husband, who served in the Air Force, from Tacoma, Washington. Raised in a strong church in her home state of Mississippi, Sanders credits her upbringing with her gift for public service. "Most of my life I've been doing volunteer work and working with people. It's very special to me. Growing up I used to do things with my grandmother, and the church, and the community," she explained, "So this is something I grew up with." Once in Portland, Sanders connected with the Mallory Avenue Christian Church and quickly moved into key leadership and service positions. In concert with a number of other dynamic women in the congregation, church programming reached out into the community with a highly successful program directed by Sanders called "People are Beautiful" and a satellite YWCA to serve the neighborhood. Activities included after

school and summer activities for children and teens, visiting the elderly, potlucks, cooking classes, art, parenting classes, and group outings. Sanders notes with affection that many young people whose lives she touched "call me mom." She worked to help people realize their full potential, learn important life skills, and resist discrimination and racism. "I think the main things that the YWCA did was to teach some of the parents and the kids the importance of self love, self dignity, and self worth." Sanders was instrumental in mobilizing support to re-open a YWCA building in Northeast Portland in 1978. In recognition of her service and accomplishments, Audrey Sanders was the first recipient of the YWCA of Greater Portland's "Founders Award" in 1990.


| YWCA Today | Programs | Asian-American Women |
| World War II | Religion, Race, & Reform | Buildings | Camping |


back to top