For 40 years, YWCA Metro St. Louis – a nonprofit dating back to 1904 whose services remove barriers and build lives for women – has hosted a lunch to honor leaders of distinction within the community. This year, to celebrate such a momentous milestone, members of the YWCA Academy of Leaders have written a book: HERStory.
“For years, I have written letters to my younger self, and I keep them in a journal,” says Leslie Holloway, chief development officer of YWCA. “When we were brainstorming ideas for something special to do for the 40th anniversary, the team latched onto this concept and ran with it … All we asked was that the letter be true to her.”
The book, which is just shy of 200 pages, is composed of one- to two-page letters from nearly 90 contributors.
“Some are funny, some are sad, but all are inspirational,” says Adrian Bracy, YWCA CEO. “We’re proud to share this compilation of wit, wisdom and whimsy written by 89 members of the YWCA Metro St. Louis Academy of Leaders. We hope readers enjoy each page as much as we have. We’re proud to highlight the contributions of women, including women of color, in our community.”
According to Holloway, the book bears special significance for the organization’s lovely leader.
“Adrian has led YWCA for 11 years and is retiring at the end of June,” Holloway says. “She is a member of the Academy of Leaders and has a letter included in the book. The book is a concrete way for us to express our gratitude for her leadership.”
It’s also a concrete way, according to Academy of Leaders class of 2010 Molly Cline, to inspire a woman in your life.
“Every woman should read this book,” Cline says. “Reading HERStory is like looking into a mirror and catching a glimpse of our shared soul and humanity. We have so many hopes, dreams, aspirations and challenges in common as womankind. The fact that the authors of these letters are from our region makes me feel even more connected to my community.”
And although YWCA is still looking for community partners to carry HERStory, whetherin their bookstores or retail space, for now, it’s available for purchase through the YWCA website.
“It’s inspirational, uplifting and empowering,” says Ann Tretter, Academy of Leaders class of 1985. “These leaders have overcome obstacles and forged their paths. Through words, they provide avenues to success – however defined – for others.”
YWCA Metro St. Louis, 1155 Olivette Executive Parkway, St. Louis, 314-531-1115, ywcastl.org