Monday, February 29, 2016

Happily Taking the Leap

It's February 29th and I've had a great day inspired by the vision of Chamber President Todd Shimkus. He's the genius behind Leap of Kindness Day. The Saratogian quotes Todd explaining the concept, “We thought the best way to use this extra day was to encourage our members and our community to do something kind for someone else,” he explained in a press release. “Rather than simply asking people to do random acts of kindness, we launched this effort 30 days in advance and have worked diligently to connect organizations looking to make a big impact with others in the community who could benefit from a simple thank you or a donation of some kind.”

So today I asked Wellspring staff to think about people or organizations they work with every day that go above and beyond. Those chosen for recognition today varied from individual employees, to organizations that partner with us in innovative collaborations, to businesses whose bottom line is their community. Here's just a few examples:
Wellspring advocate Christie and Chief Veitch

  • the  Saratoga Springs Police Department which partners with Wellspring to offer support to domestic violence survivors not only in the crisis, but  in the days or weeks that follow.
  • the sexual assault nurse examiners at Saratoga Hospital, Ellis Medicine and Glens Falls Hospital. The compassionate response of these nurses is often the first step in healing for a traumatized survivor of a sexual assault. It's tough work, and intensive training, but these nurses show such  passion and dedication to helping survivors.
  • Adirondack Trust Co. and Stewarts Shops, two local businesses that not only are in our community- they're unquestionably for our community, supporting projects and agencies that help address community needs.
  • The Downtown Business Association in Saratoga Springs. These primarily small businesses demonstrate caring and compassion for those less fortunate. Every day these businesses support local causes and help people in need, through donations, fundraisers, and simply human concern.
  •  Leadership Saratoga- for almost 3 decades, LS has trained community members to be volunteers and leaders. Their members serve on the boards of local nonprofits (my personal thanks to all the LS grads who have guided Wellspring over the years) and donate their time to hundreds of local organizations.
    Leadership Saratoga's Kathleen Fyfe and me
It's been gratifying to recognize all the great things that happen just here in our community. What I love about Leap of Kindness Day is that one man's idea has spread so quickly, not just here in Saratoga County, but across the country. Listen to the news-- we focus so much on the negative; yet each day there are so many people doing such inspirational good works. It's gratifying to make the time to recognize them; thanks for giving us the opportunity Todd. But I do think 4 years is too long to wait for another opportunity... let's figure out how to make this an annual event.

" I think the world is going to be saved by millions of small things."
Pete Seeger 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

One in Three is Too Many!

When we think of holidays and February our first thoughts might be of candy hearts or perhaps presidents, but I'd like to wish you a Happy TDVAM.
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

According to the Family and Youth Services Bureau, "Each year, nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner. At a rate far higher than other forms of youth violence, teen dating violence impacts 1 in 3 adolescents in the United States through physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse."

1 in 3. The statistic alone sounds significant, but if you've ever picked your teenager up at the end of the school  day or after a school basketball game you've got an image in your mind of how many youth stream out of those doors. Now mentally calculate that 1 in 3 number as you're envisioning all those teens walking past you. This is a serious problem.

Wellspring staff work with local youth to raise awareness about relationship and sexual abuse. We have conversations about issues like consent, creating social change, how to intervene if you see a situation, and the connection between alcohol and sexual victimization. We want to give teens the knowledge, skills and confidence to speak up for themselves or for someone in need. So this February talk to a teen about dating violence.

 What Is Consent? Here's a quick video about consent to start the conversation... because 1 in 3 is too many.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Help local kids and a positive message go viral by February 12th

At Wellspring we spend a lot of time talking to youth. Why? Our vision is to end relationship and sexual abuse in our community. Crisis and support services and prevention programs are strategies to work toward that goal, but they're not enough. We also need to create social change. We need to address the underlying factors that are woven into our society, beliefs, and our policies and practices which contribute to abuse enduring. Sometimes these are so much a part of the fabric of our  lives that we don't even notice them.

Some students at the Myers Center  are helping to create that social change. They just made a video to raise awareness about Dating Violence Awareness Month... and they need your help to make the video go viral. Here's their story:

Help Myers SADD Video Go Viral by February 12

Help the Myers SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) students make their video go viral by February 12. The winner will be announced in mid-February. Students who belong to the Myers SADD organization created an original video on domestic violence prevention and entered it in the #ICanDoSomething video challenge. They created a one-minute-long video that features 15 students from the F. Donald Myers Education Center.
The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence challenged New York State teens, who are between 14 and 18 years old, to create a positive video message about healthy teen dating relationships and make it go viral. 
Click here to view the video and share with everyone you know.