Dallas community leaders, including Mayor Mike Rawlings, gathered yesterday morning to celebrate the opening of the new YW Women’s Center at Ebby’s Place, named after the grande dame of Dallas real estate, Ebby Halliday.
Empowering women to improve their lives is the bottom line, which is why the YWCA chose Ebby as its namesake, says Jennifer M. Ware, CEO of YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas.
“Ebby so beautifully represents what we do here and has such a great reputation and philosophy in her company of giving back,” Ware said. “Throughout her career, she has lifted other women up and educated people in her company about the importance of giving back to the community.”
YW Women’s Center at Ebby’s Place will provide programming, services, and resources that serve working poor women looking to make life better for themselves and their families. The center will offer programs that help women become strong mothers, advocates for their own breast health, successful in the workplace, and financially secure.
Ware, Rawlings, and Dallas City Council members Adam Medrano and Jennifer Staubach Gates cut the ribbon for Ebby’s Place around 10 a.m. yesterday at the renovated 20,000-square-foot building, located at 2603 Inwood Rd., between Maple and Denton Drive.
The center is adjacent to the Inwood/Love Field DART Rail Station and one block from a DART bus stop, offering access to all women throughout the community, including more than 286,000 women and girls battling poverty in Dallas County.
“The stats are heartbreaking,” Ware said. “Here in Dallas County, one in three single-female-led households live below the federal poverty line. The mission of Ebby’s Place is to begin changing those stats by helping women to gain financial independence.”
Ebby celebrated 103rd birthday last year with the YWCA, and we wrote about the announcement made that week of the naming of the YW Women’s Center at Ebby’s Place in her honor.
The announcement kicked off a $7.3 million campaign to fund the extensive renovations needed before opening the center, as well as program costs and added staff. A little over $2.5 million has been raised to date through donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations. Many Ebby Halliday associates made donations of $103 in Ebby’s honor on her birthday.
Ware said the connection between Realtors and the YW Women’s Center at Ebby’s Place is symbiotic.
“Their business is helping people find homes and a community that’s right for them, so it’s important to them that we have strong neighborhoods, and we help create those by helping women lift themselves out of poverty,” she said. “When we do that, it makes the family and community around her stronger—we are working in tandem.”
Another benefit of naming the center in honor of Ebby is her team of over 2,000 associates. “We can be a resource for people trying to give back,” Ware said.
Ebby started her famous real estate career from her first job selling hats at the W.A. Green Department Store in Dallas.
A developer came into the store and said to her, “If you can sell my wife those silly hats, maybe you can help me sell some of my houses.” Those houses were cinderblock homes not too far from the location of the YW Women’s Center at Ebby’s Place on Inwood.
When YW leaders were looking for a strong female role model for their program, they looked to Ebby: she was a self-made woman. Selling those cinderblock homes launched her famous real estate career, leading her to found the largest independent brokerage in the U.S.
The YW Women’s Center at Ebby’s Place offers:
- Three training rooms, with total capacity of 120
- A computer lab for 12 with access to training tools and resources
- A resource library, with free Internet access
- Four private coaching rooms
- Child watch room for children while mothers are engaged in services
- A community engagement suite for volunteers
The YW also helps women buy their own homes through a Matched Savings Program: participate in the program, learn the financial skills, save up enough for a down payment, and the YW matches the funds four to one.
The renovated building was designed by Anne Kniffen of lauckgroup to be a beautiful, welcoming space where women would want to come and spend time. All services are provided for free to clients.
“This center is not about us, it’s about the community and the women in our community and what they need,” she said. “We want women to arrive and say ‘Look at this—I’m worth something like this.’”
The YWCA has a long history of empowering women in Dallas. Here are some highlights:
1908 – 1919: The Early Years
Early services included housing, employment placement, vespers, millinery and dressmaking. Women could receive a balanced meal for 15 to 17 cents in the YW cafeteria.
1920s – 1930s: Buildings and Land
During the Great Depression, the YWCA offered training courses and work projects for women. Younger co-ed activities were streamlined into a teenage canteen, with chuck wagons as refreshment bars, a corral for the orchestra and a jukebox.
1940s – 1950s: War Services and Growth
A 1942 brochure touted that the YWCA would ensure “morale to carry on at the war front and at the home front.” Programs included war preparation services, health services and recreation activities.
1960s – 1970s: Social Change and Expansion
By the late 1960s, securing housing for women was no longer the problem it once had been. YWCA programs shifted toward transportation, human/race relations, continuing education, and fitness.
1980s – 1990s: Changing Priorities
In the early ‘80s the YWCA began shifting toward professional development, health and counseling programs for women. By the ‘90s, participation in fitness and teen programs had declined sharply, but the demand for childcare and health screenings flourished.
2002 – 2010: An Era of Change
In early 2002, the YWCA took a bold step and redirected its resources to focus solely on four core program areas: childcare, parenting skills, financial literacy, and health services. YW celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2008 just ahead of the global financial crisis. In response to the crisis and subsequent drop in funding, YW closed its last childcare center in 2010, in an effort to maintain those programs where YW was the best or only provider.
2010 – 2015: Delivering Life-changing Programs
In 2010, the YW Board of Directors approved a strategic plan with growing YW’s impact on women at the core. The ultimate goal is to open a Center for Women. Asset-building programs grow, with YW recognized across the community as a leader in the field. The YW Women’s Center at Ebby’s Place opens.
Learn more at ywca.org.