by Maria Abenes
Executive Director, YWCA of Central Orange County, Calif.
The main thing that I will take away from this conference as a young woman of the YWCA is the feeling of unity and belonging attached to being part of a national movement. I was one of 400 individuals from across the country congregating in our nation’s capital because we all believe in the same mission of empowering women and eliminating racism…so powerful! Although I come from a very small local organization, this experience has made me feel stronger and connected. I can’t describe the pride I felt seeing persimmon everywhere especially since they were accompanied by warm smiles and welcoming words. I think Vice President Joe Biden said it best when he shared, “I came among you, you took me in and I am so proud to call you my friends.”
Thank you to the YWCA USA for the opportunity to attend, the camaraderie I experienced and valuable knowledge I attained.
Maria Abenes has been with the YWCA Central Orange County for almost seven years and currently serves as the Executive Director. She received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from Loyola Marymount University and Masters in Counseling Psychology from Argosy University and is currently working on her Educational Doctorate in Counseling and Non-Profit management (Dissertation Phase). She has been working in the social service field for almost 11 years, focusing on at-risk youth and the issues associated with this population such as substance abuse, resiliency, self-esteem, eating disorders and domestic violence.