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YWCA working to make Cleveland a place where everyone can thrive

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Posted at 6:41 PM, Jan 07, 2022

CLEVELAND — A lofty New Year's resolution to make our community a place where everyone can thrive.

YWCA Greater Cleveland is continuing to intensify its efforts in 2022 to help residents following a CityLab report that ranked Cleveland the worst metropolitan area in the country for Black women.

Cierra Hunter, a single mother of four, is among the faces and stories behind the statistics showing life for Black women and girls in Cleveland is challenging.

"It's difficult. The struggle is very hard. You just want to break down and give up," said Hunter.

Hunter, along with her children, ages 9, 8, 7 and 3, are currently homeless.

"Staying one night here another night there, that's stressful," said Hunter.

A lack of a support system, and difficulty accessing resources in the city, are just a few of the thing Hunter said are holding her down.

"Our goal is to continue to lift them up in Cleveland," said Taylor Barnes.

Barnes is with the YWCA Greater Cleveland.

"The intersection of race and gender is really prevalent in just about everything we do," said Barnes.

Barnes said right now there are countless Black women facing the same struggles Hunter does every day.

"A midsize nonprofit like YWCA Greater Cleveland can only do so much," said Barnes.

That's why the organization is using the start of a new year to raise awareness.

"When women of color succeed, everyone else succeeds," said Barnes.

The nonprofit is also encouraging new partners to come on board to give more Black women access to education, healthcare and career opportunities.

"Now we see other people joining in this kind of fight and on our journey," said Deb Matese, YWCA Greater Cleveland.

Among them are government agencies, corporations and community foundations.

"When you get the funders and donors on board, you really can't lose," said Matese.

Breaking down the dollars and cents of finding solutions also includes closing the wage gap.

"$15 an hour, as great as it sounds, is not enough to live if you have a kid," said Matese.

With four children, Hunter hopes to soon have enough income to secure permanent housing for her family.

"To just have my own, not to bounce from house to house," said Hunter.

She's hopeful this renewed push by the YWCA Greater Cleveland will lead to better outcomes for Black women and girls in the City of Cleveland.

“To get the help and support, I feel like that can go a long way. Having someone that's in your corner, it feels good,” said Hunter.

Until that happens, Hunter has a message for women facing the same hardships.

"Don't give up, stay positive, remain strong," said Hunter.