The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 29, 2014

Local YWCA leaders author advice column letter

By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — One local woman is speaking her mind and sending a national message today after writing a letter to the syndicated advice column, Annie’s Mailbox.

Former Clinton city councilwoman and long-time Clinton resident Jennifer Graf sent the letter in March 2013, with no expectation of the columnists ever reading it, let alone publishing it; but in late December 2013, Graf received a call that her letter would be featured in the daily column.

It is printed on page 8A of today’s Clinton Herald.

“To tell you the truth I forgot about the letter because it was last March. I was vacuuming when I got a call, and I thought it was Annie’s Attic in Davenport,” Graf said with a laugh. “It was so far off my radar but here it’s one of the co-authors, listed on the byline and she went on and said, “We would like to put that in our publication.’”

Although she’s not an avid Annie’s Mailbox reader, Graf did happen upon the column several times in the weeks prior to her March letter, a time when she noticed the authors were suggesting local YMCA shelters to victims of domestic violence.

In the letter, Graf and YWCA co-chairwoman Heather Farwell offered a reminder to Annie’s Mailbox authors Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar that not only does the YMCA offer resources to its members but the YWCA also plays a vital role in offering options for victims of domestic abuse.

“There were two or maybe three letters to Annie about domestic violence and their response was to contact a local YMCA or church,” Graf said. “It was just a gentle reminder to please include the YWCA for those people in need because we are here to stay. So many people think they’re the same organization but they’re not so it was important to include the YWCA for those people as well.”

Writing the letter also prompted Graf to reach out to YWCA national president and CEO Dara Richardson-Heron with the hope that national advertising and promotion could raise awareness of the organization to the publicity level of the YMCA.

Although she doesn’t know if either effort will generate a resurgence for the YWCA, she just hopes that at least reaching out to someone can gain a little recognition, if not nationally, at least for the Clinton YWCA.

“I was happy for the opportunity of the YWCA, not only nationally but, more importantly, locally for the recognition that they should be receiving,” Graf said. “If it’s good for the YWCA then it’s good in my book. That’s all that matters to me, as long as the YWCA is recognized as a leader in this field.”