The YWCA operates housing programs at five facilities to assist homeless in Stark County.

This week: The YWCA Emergency Shelter for Women and Children

The YWCA operates housing programs at five facilities to assist homeless in Stark County:

• Emergency Shelter. Provides temporary housing for single women and children, including boys up to age 6, for up to 90 days.

• Family Shelter. Provides shelter to families with older males, for up to 90 days.

• New Beginnings Transitional Housing. Assists participants in furthering their education and skills necessary for permanent housing.

• New Beginnings Permanent Housing. Helps homeless individuals and families gain permanent housing.

• Gateway Estates Permanent Housing. Provides permanent housing to homeless individuals with disabilities in a single occupancy room setting.

How did you get started?

The YWs Emergency Shelter for Women opened its doors at the YWCA in the late 1980s — catering to those who needed transitional housing.

Until 1986, the building was used as a educational and exercise facility for women. After closing the pool in 1986, Michael Lawson, marketing director for the YW, converted it into an emergency homeless shelter, keeping with the facility's mission statement, "Eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all." The Ralston-Farrell Family shelter opened in 1989. An Infant-Toddler Center opened in 1993 above the old pool area, and in 1994, the New Beginnings Transitional Housing facility opened.

In 2001, the YWCA opened Gateway Estates, to provide permanent supportive housing for the hard-to-house homeless.

How can others help?

The public can help through donations, volunteering at one or more of the facilities and by supporting YWCA events.

Monetary donations can be made online at or sent to the YWCA, 231 Sixth St. NE, Canton, OH 44702. To volunteer, call 330-453-7644.

What do you need most?

To help keep the shelters open and give a hand up to residents, Lawson said the YWCA needs any number of donated items, including toiletries, baby items, small appliances, furniture, paper products, clothing and food vouchers, and cleaning supplies.

Items can be dropped off at the YWCA building at 231 Sixth St. NE. If donors need help, call 330-453-7644.

Board members:

Nicole Thorn, president; Dawn Spriggs, vice president; Lindsay Hackenberg, treasurer; Kaliope Kalogeropoulos, secretary; and board members Jessica Ailing, Amanda Anderson, Monique Cox Moore, Dianne Febel, Pat Fehlman, Melissa Hackenberg, Maria Liosis, Hattie Newman, Gloria Pope, Melissa Pitinii, Wendy Rockenfelder, Tracy Schlemmer and Suzie Thomas.

Editor's note: Travel to any part of the world and you will be hard pressed to find a more giving community than Stark County. This feature — dubbed "Nonprofit Spotlight" — will showcase one each Friday. We hope to give readers an opportunity to know them and learn how they can help.