Sisterly care at heart
of Young Ladies Institute
The Young Ladies Institute was formed in 1877 by three young women in San Francisco who teamed up to help a sick friend. Love and charity are standards that the women live by. This "sisterly" care is at the heart of the organization. Although the main goal is to support seminarian education, YLI members also reach out to the greater community and support worthy charities. Over the years YLI has raised more than a million dollars, said Pacita Dishong, who serves as the organization's grand secretary.
YLI welcomes members from all stages of life, whether she is just out of high school or she is retired and drawing Social Security. Today there are more than 8,000 members of YLI located primarily in California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. The biggest challenge facing the group has been the shrinking number of members. There were more than 10,000 members when Dishong joined the group in 1970.
Many of the charter members are passing away; and it has been proving difficult to bring in new members, Dishong said. Much of that is due to the changing roles of women in society. "When the group began, it served as a social outlet for members," she said. Many women were predominately stay-at-home moms. Today many women work outside the home and for those who have children time is scarce enough.
The current membership of YLI is older and they face different challenges. Many have transportation issues which make it difficult for them to attend meetings at night, Dishong said.
Members between 16 and 56 years of age pay dues for $27 a year. Those who are older pay $30 monthly beneficiary dues, which includes an insurance policy.
In the Oakland Diocese, dwindling numbers of members have led some local groups in places like Oakland and Alameda to merge or disband. However there are YLI chapters at parishes in Antioch, Concord, Danville, El Cerrito, Martinez and Pittsburg.
back to top