WESTMINSTER -- The new YWCA Women's Center will be a place for women to stretch their imaginations and take care of business.
Talks on leadership and parenting will be featured there, along with information about legal services and day care centers.
"The YW is about empowerment of women," center director M. Loretta Burnham said.
The YWCA of the Greater Baltimore Area Inc. opened the center at 1 Locust St. in July and will host an open house for the public from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The 700-square-foot center is tucked away near the fountain in a row of Locust Lane shops. Invitations were sent to local officials and representatives of the county library, social service agencies and churches.
Ms. Burnham, 47, of Eldersburg, hopes the community will make suggestions at the open house about the kinds of programs the center should offer.
She plans a series of free brown-bag lunches after Jan. 1 on topics including parenting skills, advocating for your children, finding legal help and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The YWCA sees the Women's Center as a place where women from different socioeconomic backgrounds can meet for lectures, support groups and other activities, said Barbara Gleason, the Baltimore YWCA's director of program development.
The Women's Center will act as a resource center for area programs, Ms. Burnham said.
Ms. Burnham, an Idaho native, brings a varied background to the job. She has taught high-school equivalency and English-as-a-second-language classes. She has worked with senior citizens and developmentally disadvantaged children, and has been an office manager, secretary and bookkeeper.
For the last four years, Ms. Burnham has worked with the Options Workshop, which helps prepare women on welfare for career training. The YWCA has had a contract with the county's job training office since 1988 to provide the workshop, which has been held at the Women's Center since last month.
The five-day-a-week, four-week workshop is given eight times a year. About 170 women have completed it.
Ms. Burnham said she hopes the Women's Center will boost the YWCA's profile in the county. In June, the organization closed its day-care center at 95 Carroll St. after 11 years because of budget cuts, she said.
The day care center and Options Workshop were the YWCA's main services in Carroll.
People often confuse the YWCA, which works to end sexism and racism, with the YMCA, which offers family and recreational programs.