YWCA's Faye Washington Helps Children
by Michael Ventre
When Faye Washington came out of retirement 10 years ago to head up the YWCA Greater Los Angeles (GLA), she planned to stay a few years—five, tops—and then return to the restful land of Mediterranean cruises, Las Vegas shows and spa visits. Today, she’s still on the job and has no current plans to retire. “I got bitten by the bug,” she says.
As CEO of LA’s YWCA, Washington channels her passion for helping young people into overseeing a broad effort to provide kids with guidance, stability and job training. While she is involved in the development of multiple properties, her primary focus as of late—and the main reason she remains devoted to work rather than leisure— is a Downtown seven-story building three blocks from L.A. Live that will serve as headquarters for the YWCA GLA’s Job Corps. “It’s my proudest achievement, mostly because of the number of lives we’ll be able to change daily,” she says.
Washington envisions the building—which has a target opening date of January 2012—as part of an entire empowerment village, where someday young people ages 16 to 24 can live, train, work, shop, eat and recreate, all within walking distance.
The bug she mentioned earlier, the one that left her with an insatiable appetite for improving the lives of others? “It’s the God in me that keeps me doing what I’m doing,” she says. “I constantly remind myself this is not my work, not what I planned to do, but this was given to me. I did enjoy retirement, but I was given so much in such a short professional career—I had an obligation to give back.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY JSQUARED PHOTOGRAPHY