The YWCA of Genesee County is celebrating its 110-year anniversary with a Gala Celebration on April 17, 2021.
As we look back, we see the courage of our ‘founding mothers’ who were the driving force in establishing the YWCA. This was a time when women did not enjoy many of the rights we now take for granted. Women could not own property, they couldn’t vote, and they could not easily pursue an education or career.
These pioneering women envisioned a different life for women, one that empowered them to reach their highest potential and achieve their greatest ambitions.
In 1909, meetings were first held in the Batavia homes of women who decided an organization was needed to provide services for women. Among these early leaders were Mrs. Corwin Jacks, Miss Ora Seward, Mrs. W. M Gardner, Mrs. Frances G. Francis, and Miss Alice M. Atwater.
By the end of July 1909, the membership roll stood at 350, and over $1,250 had been pledged. In September, over 200 women and girls attended a meeting where a board of managers was elected along with the following officers: Mrs. Francis G. Francis as president, Mrs. W. W. Ware as vice president, Miss Alice Atwater as secretary, and Mrs. Ernest Judd as treasurer.
Space was secured in the Walker Building at 100 Main Street and the YWCA was underway.
The collective persistence and grit of these women helped them face seemingly insurmountable challenges. Their determination paid off, and on Feb. 2, 1910, the “Batavia YWCA” was signed on as a Charter Member of the National YWCA. Francis G. Francis served as president for the first 10 years and then her older daughter, Alice Judd, followed in her mother’s footsteps as a major figure in the YWCA’s early history.
We are forever indebted to these pioneer comrades for having the courage to rise up in the face of adversity and fight for women’s rights. Their legacy lives on as we celebrate the YWCA of Genesee County’s 110th Year Anniversary and Women’s History Month.
Lucille DiSanto is a member of the YWCA of Genesee County Board of Directors and chair of the fundraising committee. This letter is submitted on behalf of the board.