“The need is there. It has always been there.”

So says Karen Singer, president and CEO of the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, about helping survivors of of domestic violence.

And now that the YWCA has doubled its domestic violence shelter capacity (going from 32 to 66 women and children), Singer says “we are basically trying to fill our new shoes” by adding more staff.

There are currently a dozen job openings at the Y. Some are replacements. Others are brand new. About half of the openings are connected to domestic violence services, one of the YWCA’s key missions.

As with many other employers these days, it’s not easy filling some of the positions.

“Uneven” is how Singer describes the job market, which has seen many workers change jobs, retire, or hold out for higher pay.

Karen Singer, YWCA President & CEO

“We get five qualified applicants” for some of the vacancies, Singer notes, “but for others, we don’t even get any resumes.”

But there’s no question, Singer says, that the jobs are important. For example, whoever becomes the new outreach coordinator will help immigrant survivors of domestic abuse.

The YWCA doubled the size of its building last year, which made it possible to add services, which in turn made it necesary to add people.

Before expansion, Singer says, “We were turning away 400 women and children a year” from the domestic violence shelter “because we were at capacity.”

The expanded shelter is also full, because the need is still significant, and made worse due to the fallout from COVID-19.

A dining area in the new shelter.

Singer says women and children of color were disproportionately impacted by pandemic-related economic dislocation. Add layoffs or housing insecurity to a potentially difficult relationship, and you have a recipe for domestic violence.

“It’s been enormously stressful for the children,” Singer adds.

One different job opening might not seem connected to domestic violence prevention, workforce development, financial literacy, or any of the YWCA’s programs which help an estimated 10,000 people per year.

But Singer says a swimming instructor position fits right in with the YWCA’s purpose of “eliminating racism” and “empowering women.”

Decades ago, Singer notes, YWCA’s around the nation built swimming pools, “to address the disparities of learning to swim.” Many other pools restricted what was taught to women, and did not even allow Black swimmers in the water.

So swimming instruction, Singer says, “is very much mission-based.”

Plus, she adds, swimming is a survival skill, because “children of color die at 3.2 times the rate that white children die from drowning.”

More information on all the YWCA’s job openings is available on the group’s website.

By the way, there will be one more job opening sometime in the relatively near future.

Karen Singer is retiring after 18 years leading the local YWCA. She plans to stay on until her replacement is chosen, to allow for a smooth transition.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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1 Comment

  1. The YWCA is a fine organization; they do needed and essential work. But the reason they are having trouble filling some of these front – line roles is the low pay (examples below). True, these are “liberal arts” degrees, not STEM, but who can live in Evanston on this money? Also, “front – line” positions in the homeless services are quite stressful as a result of emotional “wear – and – tear”, and on even the best days you are left drained and exhausted (I’ve worked in the field), leading to burn – out and high turnover. Their managerial positions pay a bit better, but not that great – even with the minimum posted job requirements, one can do better elsewhere. It’s always puzzled me why “poverty alleviation” non – profits don’t pay more in order to “alleviate” the “poverty” of their employees who receive these low wages:


    • Housing Case Manager/ Bachelor’s Degree in social work: $38,000 – $42,000 / Yearly
    • Domestic Violence Outreach Counselor/LCSW (Master’s) required: $43,251.00 – $48,633.00 / yearly
    • Legal Outreach Advocate/Bachelor of Arts in Counseling, Social Work, Legal Studies: $18.73 – $20.55 / hourly

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