In 1975, eight local women decided to create a center where women could meet in a supportive environment and discuss common interests. Beginning with a budget of $275 dollars, they opened a drop-in center in the basement of a local church, and women of the surrounding area were invited to bring their children for seminars, readings, and other group projects.
By 1976, the group had incorporated as the Women’s Center Coalition and obtained non-profit status. The original efforts of the group emphasized workforce development for low-income women. Early in the agency’s history, violence against women was a primary focus point. By the early 1980’s, the Women’s Center had become the county’s resource for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The Women’s Center remains the sole certified provider of domestic violence and sexual assault services for victims in San Joaquin County today. The history of the Women’s Center is as extensive and diverse as the constituency it continues to serve.
For more than three decades the staff and volunteers of the Women's Center have worked to to see an end to violence for all women, children and men in our community. Here are some of the milestones achieved by the Women’s Center of San Joaquin County:
February 1976 - The group files Article of Incorporation with the State of California as the Women’s Center Coalition.
May 1976 - The Women’s Center opens its offices in the First Congregational Church. The Center receives funding to begin a job-preparation program for low-income women, Project Step.
June 1976 - Women Against Rape joins the Center and becomes known as the Rape Crisis Center. Services developed include: crisis intervention, follow-up counseling, advocacy, and community education programs.
October 1976 - The Women’s Center launches Project Step Up, a job preparation program for low-income women.
July 1979 - The Women’s Center Coalition changes its name to the Women's Center of San Joaquin County to reflect the countywide scope of its services.
January 1980 - The Women’s Center purchases a 4,400 square foot building to house its rapidly expanding programs and begins a capital campaign.
March 1980 - The Center establishes the Domestic Violence Project to assist battered women. The program is launched by a start-up grant from the San Joaquin County Commission on the Status of Women.
November 1981 - The Women’s Center purchases a building intended as a shelter for battered women and their children. The $50,000 down payment was funded by a grant from San Joaquin County.
February 1982 - DAWN House (Directions for Abused Women in Need), a temporary emergency shelter, opens its doors to battered women and their children.
September 1982 - DAWN House establishes the “Just for Kids” program that includes preschool and after-school programs for children residents of the shelter.
April 1982 - The Rape Crisis Center changes its name to Sexual Assault Center to reflect the broadened scope of its services.
April 1983 - The Rape Crisis Center is selected by the National Center for the
Prevention and Control of Rape as one of nine nationwide examples of state of the art programs in the field on sexual assault services.
April 1984 - The Women’s Center receives a Victims Services Award from Governor Deukmejian in recognition of outstanding contributions in the area of victim’s services.
March 1986 - The Women’s Center celebrates “A Decade of Commitment”.
March 1986 - The State of California honors the Women’s Center for exemplary service to women.
April 1988 - The Center publishes an informational handbook on domestic violence,” Why Does She Stay?”
January 1989 - The Women’s Center opens its doors at its new home, the former St. Agnes Convent, 620 N. San Joaquin Street in Stockton.
March 1989 - The Women’s Center begins providing services to inmates at the
Northern California Women’s Facility.
March 1990 - Lodi Satellite Office opens to serve clients in the northern part of San Joaquin County, staffed entirely by volunteers.
February 1991 - The Women’s Center starts a program of counseling for high-risk
children and parenting skills classes for their parents.
December 1992 - The Center joins other Centers around the nation in a visible memorial to survivors of abuse when it begins The Clothesline Project.
April 1993 - The Lodi Office is awarded the J.C. Penny Golden Rule Award for
outstanding service as a volunteer agency.
May 1994 - The Women’s Center purchases a house at 29 S. Washington Street, Lodi to operate the Women’s Center Lodi Satellite Office.
February 1994 - Lois Borchardt, Doris McCaughan and Patricia Robison, the founders of the Lodi Branch of the Women’s Center, are awarded the Susan B. Anthony Award as Women of Achievement in San Joaquin County.
June 1995 - The Women’s Center produces a video and educational curriculum on understanding family violence for the Faith Community in English and Spanish.
April 1995 - The Women’s Center’s domestic violence counselor, Frieda Behrman and Board Member, Martha Shaver are awarded the Susan B. Anthony Award as Women of Achievement in San Joaquin County.
June 1995 - The Center publishes an insightful booklet on domestic violence,
“Truth Behind the Mask: Understanding Domestic Violence”.
July 1995 - The Women’s Center is awarded a three-year grant form the Office
of Criminal Justice Planning for the development of a violence in
the workplace model. Local businesses and organizations benefit by learning how to address violence in the workplace.
July 1995 - Services are extended to the South East Asian, Hispanic, and youth
communities. Appropriate literature is developed. TEAM: Team
Educational Awareness Model.
September 1997 - After DAWN Transitional Housing is established for women and
children successfully completing the DAWN House program for up to one year.
February 1998 - Vine House (Violence Is Not Excusable), a 24-hour safe house opens in Lodi to serve Northern San Joaquin County residents.
April 1998 - The Women’s Center is recognized by the State of California Attorney General’s Office for exemplary service to survivors of domestic violence.
June 1998 - The Women’s Center and the Stockton Police Department collaborate on developing a Law Enforcement Outreach program.
July 1998 - The Women’s Center leases a building at 1005 A Street in Tracy to establish a Tracy Satellite Office and provide services to Southern residents of San Joaquin County.
October 1998 - Children’s Sexual Assault Program is the Recipient of the ABC
Award for our Children’s Program: Personal Safety and Decision
Making presented to kindergarten through sixth grade classes.
June 1999 - Women’s Center staff begin working at Behavior Wellness/Mental Health, providing services to Calworks recipients who are survivors of domestic violence.
June 1999 - The Women’s Center received “Outstanding Agency Award” from United Way.
January 2000 - The Women’s Center joins San Joaquin County Mental Health and the office of Substance Abuse to start an Allies program, serving women with duel issues.
March 2000 - Lodi Women’s Center celebrates its 10 year anniversary and debuts “The Silent Witness Exhibit” with 17 life size silhouettes representing women who were murdered as a result of domestic violence.
March 2000 - The T.E.A.M. (Team Educational Awareness Model) receives The Special Achievement Award for Innovations in Maternal and Child Health for its unique outreach efforts with the Southeast Asian Community.
April 2003 - The Women’s Center’s Sexual Assault Children’s Program is awarded Agency Program of the Year by the Child Abuse Prevention & Intervention hosted by the San Joaquin County Children’s Commission.
June 2003 - The Women’s Center’s Sexual Assault staff becomes a member of the University of the Pacific’s Crisis Response Team.
February 2004 - Blue Shield of California awards the Women’s Center $20,000 to establish a Memorial Fund for Lisa Gunder, a domestic violence victim killed in November, along with her mother, in Galt. The Memorial Fund enables the Center to provide legal services to survivors of domestic violence who reside at VINE (Violence Is Not Excusable) House
May 2004 - A dedication ceremony was held in May, 2004 for the naming of the Lois E. Borchardt Elementary School. Lois, founder of the Lodi Women’s Center, was a dedicated educator, humanitarian and lifelong learner.
May 2004 - The Women’s Center celebrates the opening of a third shelter located in Tracy. TREE (Tracy Refuge for Empowerment and Education) House holds up to eight battered women and their children and provides a safe haven for south county residents.
May 2004 - The Women’s Center is 1 of 12 non-profits in the State of California to be awarded a “Grants for Giving” Award of $25,000 in support of TREE House, an emergency shelter for battered women and their children in South County.
July 2004 - The Women’s Center developed the FAST (Family Advocate Support Team) offering a 13-week parenting class and in-home visitation through differential response accompanying a CPS social worker.
December 2004 - The Women’s Center’s Executive Director, Joelle Gomez, is invited to participate on Attorney General’s Criminal Justice Response to Domestic Violence Task Force.
May 2006 - The Women’s Center joins Sutter Tracy Community Hospital’s Healthy Connections at a new location 35 E. 10th Street, Suite A. This family resource center becomes the new home for the Women’s Center Tracy Satellite Office.
March 2006 - Judith Buethe Public Relations works with the Women’s Center board of directors, staff and volunteers to develop and present a new logo which best reflects the diverse clientele of the Women’s Center. The new logo is unveiled at the 26th annual luncheon.
March 2006 - The Women’s Center kick’s off its 30 anniversary celebration with the most successful annual luncheon in the history of the Center with more than 730 in attendance and over $50,000 raised.
July 2006 - The Women’s Center is chosen as one of thirty agencies statewide to receive the Starbucks California Giving Program Grant award in the amount of $50,000 to enhance the Sexual Assault Program.
September 2006 - A bequest of $80,000 was given to the Women’s Center from the estate of Phoebe Watt to assist in the development of self sufficiency for women utilizing services through the Lodi Satellite Office.
February 2007 - Melinda Sparks, a Lodi volunteer, receives the Susan B. Anthony Award as a Woman of Achievement. Joelle Gomez, the Women’s Center’s Executive Director also receives an honorary Susan B. Anthony Award.
April 2007 - DAWN House’s “Just for Kids” program is honored as the Agency Program of the Year by the San Joaquin County Children’s Services Coordinating Commission.
March 2008 - Joelle Gomez, Executive Director was awarded “Woman of the Year” by Assembly Member Greg Aghazarian, District 26.
April 2008 - Children’s Counselor, Sarah Spurlock was selected as Service Employee of the Year as part of the Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention Awards sponsored by the San Joaquin County Children’s Services Coordinating Commission.
August 2008 - Joelle Gomez, Executive Director was inducted into the Mexican American Hall of Fame.
April 2009 - Lori Thompson, Parenting Class Instructor, was awarded Service Employee of Year by San Joaquin County Children’s Services Coordinating Commission as part of the Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention Awards.
April 2009 - Executive Director, Joelle Gomez was named as one of fifty most Powerful and Influential People in San Joaquin County, San Joaquin Magazine, April 2009.
September 2009 - The Women’s Center is granted $238,000 in FY 2009 Federal Appropriations from Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-11) in support of a Sexual Assault Children’s Response Team, resulting in five newly created positions.
January 2010 - The Women’s Center joins San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, San Joaquin General Hospital, San Joaquin County’s Law Enforcement agencies, Victim Witness, San Joaquin County Human Services Agency Child Advocacy Center and Child Protective Services to establish a Sexual Assault Response Team, to conduct forensic examinations for victims of sexual assault.
July 2010 - The Women’s Center’s Lodi Office celebrates its 20th Anniversary.
December 2010 - The California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) honored the Women’s Center as one of the top providers of rape crisis services in the State of California. Cal EMA Secretary Matt Bettenhausen and other state and local representatives attended a press conference at the Women’s Center’s Stockton office highlighting the work of the agency and its 35-year history of providing services to sexual assault victims.
December 2010 - The Women’s Center was awarded $200,000 over 2 years by San Joaquin County Human Services Agency (HSA) to conduct a Child Welfare Services Parenting Program. The parenting program began in December 2010, and now conducts 9 parenting classes in English and Spanish throughout the county.
January 2011 - The Women’s Center launches a two-year, multi-media domestic violence awareness and outreach campaign with a $100,000 grant through the Women’s Foundation of California and the Blue Shield of California Strong Field Project. The Center was one of only 15 agencies in California to be awarded an organizational capacity-building grant through the Strong Field Project.
May 2011 - Joelle Gomez, Executive Director of the Women’s Center, is honored at the California recipient of Visionary Voice Award given by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
April 2011 - The Women’s Center is featured in a CBS 60 Minutes story about sexual assaults on college campuses, including an interview with Joelle Gomez, Executive Director.
July 2012 - The Boards of Directors from the Women's Center and Family & Youth Services (FAYS) merge and become Women's Center-Youth & Family Services. The new organization has a combined budget of $3.6 million and a staff of 75 providing services at 8 program sites throughout San Joaquin County.
November 2012 - The Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce presents the first-ever ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award to the Women’s Center – Youth & Family Services. The ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award recognizes an exceptional organization that is an emerging leader in their business or profession, who gives back to the community in meaningful ways and who clearly serves as a role model for young women both personally and professionally.
February 2013 - Sutter Tracy Community Hospital donates $100,000 to Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services to help the agency purchase a home in the City of Tracy to be used as emergency housing for battered women and their children. Women’s Center-YFS purchases a house in fall 2013, using this gift and funds from the City of Tracy.
May 2013 - Through a partnership between Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services and the Tracy Police Department, Women’s Center-YFS’ Tracy Satellite Office moves into the Tracy Police Department Annex, creating a closer partnership with local law enforcement and enabling the agency to reach more survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in South San Joaquin County.
November 2013 - Women’s Center-YFS purchases Serenity House in Tracy, a house which will become the agency’s new undisclosed emergency shelter for battered women and their children in South San Joaquin County.
February 2014 - Lodi Satellite Office volunteer Linda Hammons receives Susan B. Anthony Women of Achievement Award for Community Service from the San Joaquin County Commission on the Status of Women.
March 2014 - La Piana Consulting, which helped facilitate the merger between Women’s Center of San Joaquin County and Family and Youth Services (FAYS of San Joaquin County, presents a case study on the agency’s successful merger. The case study is disseminated to the California domestic violence field and Blue Shield of CA Foundation.
March 2014 - Women’s Center-YFS brings together numerous community partners to establish San Joaquin County’s Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force, led by Women’s Center-YFS, unites representatives from the Stockton Police Department, San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, Probation, Victim Witness, Human Services Agency/Children’s Services and thirty government and nongovernmental agencies on a monthly basis in an effort to build a seamless system that truly serves human trafficking victims.
November 2014 - Joelle Gomez, CEO of Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services is recognized by the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce with the ATHENA Award. The ATHENA Award honors individuals who strive toward the highest levels of accomplishment, excel in their chosen profession, have demonstrated support for the advancement of business and professional women, have devoted time and energy to their community, and have actively mentored others.
January 2015 - Women’s Center-YFS opens Serenity House, a 12-bed undisclosed emergency shelter for battered women and their children in Tracy.
February 2015 - Lita Wallach, Women’s Center-YFS’ Board President receives the Susan B. Anthony Women of Achievement Award for Community Service from the San Joaquin County Commission of the Status of Women.