The Young Women’s Christian Association was organized in Erie in 1895. Starting without a headquarters of their own, the members met in the YMCA until they opened their own rooms at 918 French Street. Membership during the first year was 266 young women. The work of the organization was conducted exclusively by volunteers except for a single staff person-the matron of the Home for Girls. The French Street home included a reading room, library with piano, restaurant and sleeping rooms. It could accommodate 20 women. An early YW report listed room rates as “$2.50 to $3.50 according to the location of the room.” Dinners were 20 cents and reduced meal tickets were issued to self supporting women.
The building at 133 West 7th Street was purchased for the Erie Club. A small gymnasium was built in the basement, office and club rooms were located on the main floor; sleeping rooms were situated on the second and third floors. Services included the Women’s Industrial Exchange, a salesroom for the handiwork of unemployed ‘gentlewomen’, Bible study, educational classes, clubs, and gymnasium work.
53 young women were admitted as boarders, 188 transients accommodated, employment found for 16 applicants and 30,194 meals served in the dining room that year.
Cooking classes started for prospective housekeepers. Attendance at cooking classes were considered a good way of formally announcing a young girl’s engagement.
The YWCA moved to 130 West 8th Street, built from money left by the late William Trask. Facilities included a gym, swimming pool, bowling alleys, club rooms and offices. Swimming and gymnastics lessons were offered to fit schedules of women working third shift factory jobs.
200 women on average were at the YWCA daily. The YW’s Depression College offered high school graduates who were unable to attain jobs, the opportunity to keep up typing and shorthand skills.
The residence at 133 West 7th Street was closed and building sold due to the decreasing number of women traveling to the city to find work.
Ladies Day Out, was designed especially for Erie housewives, a program of diversified activities so that ‘harried’ homemakers might enjoy an ‘invigorating day out of the house’.
A small pavilion was constructed containing an office and two toilet facilities providing shelter and space for classes and interest groups. This was the YW’s summer base of operations for the west county program. Classes in art, guitar, dog obedience and tennis were offered.
Ground was broken for the new facility. The new YWCA included a swimming pool, and all purpose room, game room, exercise room, craft area, class/club rooms and an office area.
West Ridge Road served women and families with emphasis on fitness and education.
The Children’s Center was opened at St. Paul’s Chapter House on West 7th Street offering a licensed child care and kindergarten for infants and toddlers.
The 8th Street building was sold to the Boys and Girls Club, and the Youth Activities Program began, offering care for school-aged youth.
Little Children’s Center at West Ridge Road offered licensed child care for infants and toddlers.
The Youth Center at the Erie Heights/Pineview Housing Development was opened, providing educational, recreational, and social activities for children and youth. In 1993 The Youth Center at the Franklin Terrace Housing development was started, now John E. Horan Garden Apartments.
Due to non-renewal of its lease, the Children’s Center was moved from West 7th Street to 819 West 8th Street, the former Villa Mother House. Franklin Terrace Childcare Center opened.
YWCA of Erie purchased and renovated the former BlueCross Building at 704 State Street where it now serves more than 150 children, Monday through Friday.
The YWCA of Erie divested itself of fitness programming and sold the West Ridge Road facility in order to focus more directly on mission driven programming. Administration moved to 704 State Street and opened the Child Learning Center at Union Station, offering wrap-around childcare services and preschool for at-risk children taught by graduate students from Mercyhurst College.
Awarded grant from the Erie Community Foundation and the Department of Economic Development for the creation of an early childcare center in Union City, PA. Start of Success By 6 administration for United Way of Erie County. First Annual Success By 6 Symposium with a free Parents’ Night Out and an all day Professional Symposium.
On February 18, the YWCA of Erie disaffiliated from the national YWCA in order to clearly focus on their work with children and their families with an emphasis on children from birth through age eight. Upon disaffiliation, the YWCA of Erie changed the organization’s name to Early Connections. The decision to disaffiliate came after more than one year of in-depth strategic planning which included interviews and group meetings with community leaders and staff. Pre-K Tax credit Scholarship Program began. Opened inclusive classroom in partnership with Achievement Center (subsequent partnerships included not only the Achievement Center but the Intermediate Unit 5, Sarah A. Reed Children’s Center and Erie Homes for Children and Adults).
In connection with the United Way of Erie County, Early Connections purchases the old AAA building on West 6th Street. Start of partnership with Northwest Regional Key. Community Collaboration Award presented by United Way of Erie County. Keystone STARS enrollment.
First Legislative Breakfast De. Gerald Zahorchak, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA) awarded Early Connections the 2006 Community Champion Award.
Start of Pre-K Counts
Opening of Harbor Homes Early Connections Early Care and Education Site. Beginning of the Early Connections Endowment Fund. Began rural work for Erie Free Taxes.
First Early Childhood Economic Summit. ELFF Grant awarded to add extra classroom space at 420 West 6th Street site. Start of Keystone Babies. The Housing Authority of Erie Outstanding Service Award.