Catherine Bourassa, the YWCA’s Director of Programs and Services, has retired after 27 years with the YWCA. YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts staff and Board of Directors thank Catherine for her time and dedication to the YWCA. We will miss Catherine greatly, and we wish her a happy and healthy retirement!
We got the chance to sit down with Catherine and ask her about her experience with the YWCA. Here’s our interview with her:
How did you first become involved with the YWCA?
A friend of mine was doing a part time preschool program and she asked if I wanted to join them, so I agreed, and when Yvonne Drayton was the Executive Director she asked if I wanted to do the afterschool program I agreed! From there I became the Youth Services Director and then the Director of Programs and Services.
Why do you think the YWCA’s work is so important?
There’s so much need in the community. Our biggest program is childcare and almost all of the children were subsidized when I started. With residential, the need is so great. Especially now the racial justice work as well. The YW is always involved with current issues as they appear, like the women’s march, we attended the one in Boston and then organized our own here in New Bedford. The YW is always changing and adapting to needs.
What is your favorite memory at the YWCA?
Years ago at YW kids, the director was leaving, and I brought the video camera to the classrooms and told the kids “we’re going to make a video for the director because she’s leaving” and each and every one of the kids said “goodbye Miss Catherine, we’ll miss you!” so in their minds, I guess the director and I were one and the same, it was just hilarious.
What do you think you’ll miss most at the YWCA?
The kids and the staff. After being here for 27 years, the kids of the kids I had when I started are in the program now. All these years later, we’re still here and providing services and the parents are happy to return. Or a resident who stays with us for a while and does great and moves on and continues to do well. It is rewarding and touches you to see that in the work we do.
What’s your vision for the future of the YWCA?
Continue doing what we’re doing, and expand the services. We cover such a large area and to expand the services beyond New Bedford to serve more people. Also continuing to make our name known. When I first started everyone thought we were the YMCA, every article in the paper called us the YMCA, every time I’d tell someone I work at the YWCA they’d say “oh, I love the pool,” and I’d have to explain it to them. But in the last couple of years I haven’t seen that as much. So I think finally we’re being recognized for what we do and not as the Y.
What words of wisdom do you have for your friends and coworkers?
Keep laughing, keep your sense of humor, keep caring. You’re doing a great job. Things change, people come and go, but programs still stay strong and we have built a fabulous leadership team now that’s going to really continue to grow our programs and our presence in the community.