headshot of Yvette Myers – Director of Community Development at the empowerment center

A Chat With Yvette Myers – Our Director of Community Development

Have you met Yvette Myers?

If you’re often out and about in Reno, you may have connected with our Director of Community Development. Yvette’s worked for The Empowerment Center for 2 years – and networking is a BIG part of what her world is about. She links our clients and residents with resources and services, partners with other nonprofits, meets with donors, and shares what we do with the greater community.

Ready to get to know her better? We sat down to speak with Yvette about her work, what motivates her, and what she’s working towards in 2024!

headshot of Yvette Myers – Director of Community Development at the empowerment center

Meet Yvette Myers

At The Empowerment Center, working within the community to share TEC’s programs and goals was Yvette’s first step. “Everyone knows somebody who could use our help,” she explains, yet so many people were unfamiliar with our organization. Still, Yvette notes, “in a nonprofit, you do what needs to get done, what’s needed most” and her role can vary a lot from day to day.

With the opening of Marvel Way, Yvette works with tenants who need Supportive Services. By getting to know each resident, she’s figured out how to support them best: through parenting classes, connections to childcare providers, making therapy available on site, and easing access to food resources. For example, when Yvette realized how many residents were food insecure, she began our partnership with The Food Bank of Northern Nevada. We pick up food every Monday for Marvel Way.

Similarly, Yvette realized how important pets were to Marvel Way’s residents. For residents who’ve experienced homelessness, going to a shelter can be challenging, as shelters don’t always allow animals. At Marvel Way, we’re doing things differently: we understand the therapeutic benefits of spending time with our 4-legged friends and support pet ownership, partnering with the SPCA of Northern Nevada to provide vaccinations and trainings on site. Yvette is working with The University of Tennessee on Marvel Way’s pet program, using it as a model for supportive housing organizations in other states. Together, we’re looking at how having a pet can change someone’s life.

Yvette’s Background

Yvette is a 3rd generation Nevadan. She has two kids, Jessica and Josh, and a 12-year-old granddaughter, Emma. She enjoys travel, spending time in Tahoe, reading, and the theater. She’s on the Board of Directors of A.V.A.’s Ballet Theater and The Optimist Club of Reno.

When she arrived at The Empowerment Center, she brought with her 20 years of experience in the social services world. She first found her passion for being of service at Community Services Agency, where she ran weatherization and emergency services programs. From here, she moved to Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada, where she ran much of their programming, including their Crossroads treatment program, Holy Child Daycare, Food Pantry, and Casa de Vida, Resource Center.  Yvette has also worked with homeless youth at Eddy House and pregnant mothers at Casa de Vida.

Today, she brings her knowledge and connections to The Empowerment Center and Marvel Way.

Working to End the Housing Crisis

For much of Yvette’s career, she’s worked on housing and substance use struggles, as well as issues that stem from these. She’s recognized how intertwined so many social services issues can be. While she knows we can’t solve every problem overnight, she’s enthusiastic about doing her part to create better opportunities in our community.

One of her favorite things is “watching when a woman’s ready to graduate from The Empowerment Center and then actually being reunited with her family and moving into housing,” Yvette explains. She loves “seeing them out in the community, leading productive, sober lives.” At Marvel Way, what stands out the most is “seeing how residents grow where they’ve never had that opportunity before.” We are family to most of the tenants. We have gotten to know most of them, and they now feel comfortable asking is they need assistance.

For Permanent Supportive Housing to work, it’s essential to provide Supportive Services.

Yvette is aware that, while finding housing these days can be challenging for many Reno-ites, the problems are amplified for individuals with histories of incarceration and eviction. She’s worked from a list of “felon-friendly housing,” meeting with landlords and property managers. She’s determined which are, in fact, felon-friendly – and has helped make the case for Empowerment Center graduates looking for permanent homes. One thing that often helps, is that most of the Property Managers Yvette meets with are familiar with The Empowerment Center. They have family and friends who’ve completed our programs!

Expanding Services

Bringing everything together, she’s excited to see the completion of Marvel Way Phase II and TEC2, the new Empowerment Center Treatment Center. With these expansions, we’ll double the capacity of each program. What’s more, by running the two facilities across the street from each other, we’ll be able to unite the programs and share services and resources on a greater scale – continuing to work on the overlapping issues of addiction, homelessness, and mental health as one.

“Being able to service twice as many women is amazing, because The Empowerment Center is the only program in our region taking women coming out of prison. We work with the Prison System, along with Specialty courts and of course women coming in on their own Yvette notes.

Looking to the future, Yvette is excited for even more space to house women from outlying areas, supporting nearby rural and mountain-town communities in bigger ways.