Why We Love The YWCA O‘ahu

Why We Love The YWCA O‘ahu

Written by Kailanianna Ablog 

If you’ve been with us for a while, then you know that we love working with the YWCA O‘ahu. Committed to “eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity of all,” YWCA O‘ahu continuously works to uplift and support those in our communities. We at Valia Honolulu stand with them in their goal to create positive, empowering spaces and cultivate confidence among community members.

We cannot fully explain the magnitude of positive change this organization is creating for women in a single Instagram post, so we wanted to dedicate a blog to mention special collaborative events that are happening with the YWCA O‘ahu, highlight the good work they do and why we love supporting this organization.

A Curated Collection & Event Comeback


This special tee was from a fundraiser in 2019 and was designed by @thesimpleflourish! 

In the past, we've hosted Instagram fundraisers and had a special tee for purchase with a portion of proceeds donated to YWCA O‘ahu. While we plan to have another Instagram fundraiser in the future, we wanted to do something meaningful as the holidays start to roll in.

We’ve curated a collection of ten products from four women-owned businesses: Elly Rose Jewelry, Kakou Collective, Malia Designs and Twiggy Hawaii. Throughout the month of October, 20 percent of the sales from this collection will go to YWCA O’ahu. We hope to raise $1K for the organization.

 We have organizers, pouches and denim totes from Twiggy Hawaii and Malia Designs, who support organizations that fight human trafficking in Southeast Asia. For our stationery lovers, we have Kakou Collective washi tape featuring kalo hearts on a persimmon-colored background, similar to YWCA O‘ahu’s color. Last but not least, we have custommade “Mana Wahine'' necklaces by Elly Rose Jewelry; you cannot get them anywhere else! Check out the full collection here!

Along with our curated collection, we will be serving as a donation site for Dress For Success during the week of November 16 through 20th, which we’ve done for the last two years on our anniversary. We love celebrating our special occasion by giving back. As a thank you to those who donate at least 5 items to the drive (or a $25 donation to YWCA O‘ahu for those who cannot make it in-store), donors will receive an early access code to shop Black Friday Sale 24 hours before everyone else! More details to come as the holidays approach! Now is a great time to start cleaning out your closet so you’ll be ready to go!

The Foundations of YWCA O‘ahu

While our relationship  with the YWCA O‘ahu began two years ago, the organization itself has been a figure for change since 1900. A small cottage is where YWCA O‘ahu had its beginnings. According to the organization’s “History” page, Mrs. B.F. Dillingham opened her cottage to Honolulu’s working women as a space to “build friendships, develop shared values, and learn skills that promote community engagement.” YWCA O‘ahu became an official charter of YWCA USA in 1906 and opened “The Homestead” in 1908, which was the first residence for young, working women; the Homestead sought to help “address community concerns on safe and affordable housing accommodations.”

As the years passed, more opportunities and safe spaces were developed for women to thrive. This included starting various recreational and athletic programs, hosting the first group of women to participate in organized swimming lessons (1912), starting the International Institute to aid immigrant women and their families during their shift from plantation to city life (1919), opening their Laniākea  HQ in downtown Honolulu (1927), and serving breakfast and opening a camp to support the military and their families (1941 and 1944). A fun fact: Queen Lili‘uokalani became a member of the YWCA O‘ahu in 1914!

A Mission Continued: YWCA Programs & Our Relationship

Supporting and uplifting women is at the core of what YWCA O‘ahu does for our communities, and this is evident in the variety of programs they currently offer. Here at Valia Honolulu, we stand with YWCA O‘ahu and their mission. Here are a few of their programs that we love (and personally participate in)!

Dress For Success Honolulu

As many of you may know, one program that we have had the privilege of participating in is Dress For Success Honolulu, whose mission “is to empower women to achieve economic independence;” the YWCA seeks to do this by “providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.”

According to the Dress For Success section on YWCA O‘ahu website, they offer onsite Dress For Success services and are accepting career-appropriate apparel and accessory donations during their usual Monday through Friday hours. YWCA O‘ahu asks that you call the front desk (808-695-2625 or 808-695-2626)  before dropping off items you’d like to give. For those who are unable to make it, we will be accepting donations for Dress For Success from November 16 to 20th and drop everything off for you.

As detailed on their Donation Guidelines, Dress For Success accepts apparel such as suits, cardigans, blazers, as well as seasonal boots, peep-toe and closed toe sling-back pumps and handbags. Jewelry, belts and scarves are also accepted. Their areas of greatest need include women’s clothing in sizes 0 to 2, business appropriate shoes in all sizes especially 9 and above, and new, unused and unexpired toiletries.

Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership

Established by YWCA O‘ahu, the U.S. Small Business Administration and a community of partners,  the Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership (MCBL) is the only Women’s Business Center (WBC) in the state. The center is named after Patsy T. Mink, “the first Japanese American woman and the first woman of color...elected to the United States Congress.” During her time serving, Patsy Mink advocated for civil rights and women’s rights in various areas including healthcare, politics, employment and conservations; she was one of the writers behind Title IX and  “helped thousands...participate in activities and professions that were once male dominated.”

According to the Patsy T. Mink Center’s Mission tab, they explain that WBCs are created “to assist women in starting and growing small businesses,” as well as “‘seek to level the playing field’ for women entrepreneurs.” MCBL offers training and courses that cover various business topics such as excelling and growing one’s current career. They also host a Girls’ Summit, an annual conference meant to support young women in high school by offering opportunities to network and receive mentorship from professional women.

For small businessesMBLC offers various training sessions and workshops. For example, HORIZONS, a revamp of their signature programs, “is designed to help business owners to achieve greater business success through strong branding, financial management and profitability.” HORIZONS is split into two parts “Fundamentals” and “Growth and Resilience;” participants are welcome to sign up for one or both sessions. 

MBDA Enterprising Women of Color Business Center

Like MCBL, the MBDA Enterprising Women of Color Business Center “provides diverse and dynamic women entrepreneurs with resources, training, counseling,” as well as hosts “events aimed at facilitating access to contracts and funding for medium-sized minority businesses.”

Services and programs offered include business certification training and financial counselling. To access resources, the center asks that all interested participants complete their Intake Form so they are aware of the ways in which they can better understand and support you.

Camille was a part of MBDA’s second cohort to assist small businesses to apply for business certification, specifically certification as a women-owned business, minority-owned business and/or a disadvantaged enterprise. According to Camille, certifications “are local and national and can provide opportunities to take on contracts with the government or corporations.”

According to the Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) website, some past events and training included “Legal Traps Business Owners Should (and Can) Avoid” and “Doing Business with MBDA: Advancing AAPI Business Leaders,” which were both held online.

Shop Small Hawaii

A program from MCBL, Shop Small Hawaii works to uplift and support local entrepreneurs and small businesses. Through providing business resources like educational workshops and hosting events “in collaboration with community partners,” Shop Small Hawaii aims to bring “attention to the importance of...small business owners,” who are often members of our family, friends and/or neighbors. Membership is free, and gives access to free social media marketing workshops, networking opportunities and personal invitations to partner education programs.

Valia Honolulu helped with a social media workshop for Shop Small Hawaii, and we even sold their special Shop Small Hawaii x Wrappily collaboration items!

Shop Small Hawaii also seeks to “identify Neighborhood Champions in all districts of the State of Hawaii and help them rally their small business neighbors in celebration of Shop Small Saturday Hawaii,” which occurs annually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Current Neighborhood Champions include Liberty Peralta of Popoki & Tea, Niki Libarios of Hawaii Doggie Bakery, and our very own Camille Heung (our owner and founder)!  They also have a Shop Small Hawaii Guide that can help people find Hawaii-based businesses to support.

Cultivating a Future Where Women Can Thrive

The YWCA O‘ahu is such an amazing organization, and it is an honor to work with them as change makers in our communities! This blog post cannot fully encompass the scope of the good they do for all women and their loved ones, but we wanted to highlight some of what they do. Whether you know about YWCA O‘ahu before you came across us or learned about them through our relationship, we hope this blog shares some new information! To see how else you can support the organization, please visit their website.


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