Since 1948, the YWCA has provided programs and services aimed towards enriching lives.
On July 15, 1946, Mrs. Howard Gorst was appointed chairperson of a provisional board to make a study of Kitsap County to determine if there was a need for a YWCA. She appointed committees and formed advisory groups to help her in this survey. The original membership drive brought in 1,200 members.
The Articles of Incorporation were signed on November 24, 1947. The officers and trustees were: President, Mrs. Howard Gorst, Vice-President, Mrs. Herbert Bodley, Mrs. Richard Decker, Mrs. Buel Gossett, Mrs. Vaun Allen, and Trustees: Mrs. Lewis Harris, Miss Nellie Harmen, Mrs. A.H. Marry, Mrs. William Miles, Mrs. Howard Thompson, Mrs. J. T. Walker, Mrs. Charles W. Ross Jr., Mrs. C.R. Smith, Mrs. Francis Black, Mrs. Mark Barr, Mary Carolyn Hyer, Mrs. Dorothy Samson, Mrs. Harold Baker, Mrs. Harold G. Lillehei, and Mrs. W.E. Marshall. The YWCA of Kitsap County received its National Charter on June 2, 1948. The first director of the YWCA of Kitsap County was Gladys M. Halloway.
Our first programs included a “store front” office which provided supportive services for military and civilian women. This facility was located on 2nd Street in downtown Bremerton and was staffed completely by volunteers. Another program was the Tri-Y Club for teens, which was held at Bremerton High School.
In 1978, the YWCA of Kitsap County opened the doors of the YWCA Emergency Shelter Program in response to the needs of domestic violence victims and their children. The founders of that program were Carolyn Hershberger and Jean Kruse.
Currently, YWCA Kitsap County serves over 10,000 people annually, providing supportive services for domestic violence survivors and their children as well as prevention education and outreach to the community. Our continuum of programs is designed to meet the emerging needs of our community, and effectively supports today’s women, children, and families.