Many people made New Year’s resolutions as 2017 started, but Guillaume Stewart may have made a few more than usual as he started the year with a new job.
When he went to work on January 3rd, he did so as the new Executive Director of YWCA Bucks County.
“I am excited to join an agency with an amazing mission and rich history of service to the community,” he says, adding that his new position is a great fit with his personal commitment to civic engagement and social responsibility.
It also allowed him to stay in the Philadelphia area. A graduate of Northeast High School and West Chester University, Guillaume currently is a doctoral student at Saint Joseph’s University. “I’ve lived in Philadelphia my whole life, so I’m happy to be serving the region,” he says. “And I am particularly excited about the outstanding work that is performed by the YWCA Bucks County.”
The organization, formed in 1954 and based in Trevose, is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity.
In addition to a program outreach center at the Trevose location, YWCA Bucks County also operates four family centers in Warminster and Bensalem and community rooms in Croydon and Levittown.
“We are different from most perceptions of Y facilities,” says Guillaume. “We don’t have a gym or a pool. Instead, we are a social service and family center offering programs that are impactful to the community.”
Services for adults include job information and referral, translations, food pantries and classes in computers, English as a second language, parenting and nutrition.
Programs for youth include academic and social support outside of school, such as after-school care, learning interventions and summer camps.
Another misperception is that people living in a place like Bucks County, outside of an inner-city location, don’t need help. “That’s not true,” says Guillaume. “There are many here that need social services, family support and job training. What has really jumped out to me are needs for youth, women and immigrant populations.”
In addition to his extensive education, Guillaume also brings strong professional experience to his new position. After working with the Red Cross, he became director of homeless services at the Lutheran Settlement House, a Philadelphia shelter for women and children.
Later he served as interim director of the entire agency, gaining valuable experience in fundraising, program development and building partnerships and volunteers.
Those skills will resonate at YWCA Bucks County, which recently completed a new strategic plan that hopes to expand programs, services, funding, visibility and efficiency over the next three to five years. Program goals include expanded employment support, drug prevention and immigration assistance along with cultural competency programs to help decrease discrimination and bias.
“We’re putting a lot of attention on our social justice program to encourage diversity and inclusion,” Guillaume describes. “We’re working to celebrate diversity.”
Two upcoming events that will support these goals include the “Reading to End Racism” program in April, which uses literature and storytelling to help start conversations about race and how to end racism, and the “Salute to Women” in May, which will acknowledge women leaders across Bucks County.
“There’s an exciting energy around here, especially in connecting to the community,” says Guillaume. “It’s been super-empowering for me. It’s one thing to read about the needs of families and young people, but the process of actually meeting them has helped me connect.”
In trying to meet the objectives of the new strategic plan and help YWCA grow, Guillaume is actively seeking volunteers, support and donors.
He hopes they will help him expand services to the Bucks County community and elevate visibility for the YWCA facilities and programs within it. He says his sleeves are rolled up and his goals are focused.
“I want to work with this agency to empower women and children and to eradicate racism,” he says. “Many partners are making a commitment to serve Bucks, and I want to be a part of that.”
For more information about YWCA Bucks County, visit www.ywcabucks.org.
PHOTO CAP: Guillaume Stewart, new Executive Director of YWCA Bucks County