Volunteer Success

 

Quabbin Regional High School student Lauren Beauregard first learned of the YWCA’s domestic violence shelters when her mother suggested she donate some of her toys to the BWR Shelter in North Central Massachusetts. As a Girl Scout, the importance of community service was a quality Lauren grew to recognize.

“I’ve been a Girl Scout since kindergarten,” Lauren explained. “There has always been a community service component, and it has built from small to large projects.”

As part of her scouting, Lauren was determined to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts. For the project she was asked to identify a need in the community, and develop a project to address that need. For Lauren, the project was an excellent opportunity to help the many children who came to the YWCA’s shelter every year as part of a family escaping domestic violence.

At the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, Lauren began collecting school supplies and backpacks to donate to the YWCA’s Domestic Violence Shelters. She hosted drives in her community, solicited from friends and family, and was able to collect 75 backpacks full of school supplies, for students from elementary school to high school.

As part of her outreach Lauren estimates that she connected with about 1,000 people of all ages. “People were very receptive,” she said. “The Girl Scout Council was also very supportive, and believed it was a worthwhile cause.”

After this initial experience Lauren wanted to gain more of an understanding on intimate partner violence, and developed a Teen Dating Violence Workshop to present at her high school. The program included posters and other methods of generating awareness on the issues related to dating violence and healthy relationships.

Lauren made the workshop interactive, using props, videos, and discussing the issue with students on a peer to peer level. She explained how behavior can escalate in an unhealthy relationship, and what red flags to look out for. She also gave the students options if they found themselves or someone they know in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship. These options included contacting the YWCA’s 24-hour hotline, as well as speaking to teachers, parents, and guidance counselors.

The project was well-received by the students, with many giving positive feedback on the peer-led workshop. “They felt like they learned a lot,” Lauren explained. “The retained a lot of the information, and many of them were not aware of what constitutes an unhealthy relationship.”

This fall Lauren plans on attending nursing school, where she can continue helping people. “I believe that you can make a difference in this world just by helping,” she said.

 

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