University City

Volunteer group targets young

The YWCA has launched an organization to promote volunteerism, encourage philanthropy, increase civic engagement, focus on women's issues and fight racism.

The organization, called the 1902 Society, was founded earlier this year.

"The 1902 Society allows young people to network with one another through social events, volunteer activities and via social media," said Kirsten Sikkelee, YWCA CEO.

Selwyn Farms neighborhood resident Tameka Green is a charter member of the 1902 Society and recently joined its planning committee.

"I was looking for a nonprofit organization to get plugged into," Green said. "We are the next generation to shape what philanthropy will look like in our community. It is important for the perception to shift and people to recognize that giving comes from a diverse set of backgrounds and takes on many forms."

Green said the group raises funds to support YWCA programs such as Families Together, which provides transitional housing and support services for homeless families.

"I was immediately impressed with how clear and purposeful the mission of the YWCA is and how as an affiliate I have the opportunity to directly impact the lives of people in our community who need our support," said Green.

Leslee Bertsch, a member of the YWCA's Board of Directors and a 1902 Society founding member, said, "Our programs reach so many people in our community. Whether through our after-school children's programs or Women in Transition, a program that provides life-skill training such as financial planning, we are making a difference."

The group meets regularly and provides an outlet for women with diverse backgrounds to exchange ideas. A recent event was held in concert with Meetup Tweetup, a popular social media tool that uses the power of social media to plan meetings and social events. The spring Tweetup was held at Loft 1523 on Elizabeth Avenue.

The 1902 Society also is planning a volunteer landscaping day at the YWCA in which society members will help spruce up the south Charlotte campus.

"While great strides have been made with more women in significant positions within the workforce, a gap still exists where women don't have the same type of access to networks as men traditionally have had," said Green. "Groups like the 1902 Society help close that gap and serve as tremendous means for women to expand their networks."