The One Love Foundation

year 2, week 42:  this week i'm gonna... end relationship abuse

Yeardley Love

Yeardley Love

On May 3rd, 2010, just three weeks before her graduation from the University of Virginia, Yeardley Love was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend. Sharon, Yeardley's mother, recalls, "To hear that someone she had cared for had hurt her – let alone killed her – was and still is beyond my comprehension."

After her death, Yeardley's family learned that relationship abuse is an unspoken health epidemic in the U.S. and young women in Yeardley’s age group (ages 16 - 24) are at a 3X greater risk for being in an abusive relationship than any other demographic. While many of Yeardley's friends and family knew of “drama” in her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, no one had any idea that she was at real risk. 

"I just can’t help but think, if I knew then what I know now, could things have ended differently?" states Andee Olson, a friend of Yeardley's. "Looking back, the warning signs were there, but it wasn’t until after Yeardley’s death when I started talking about it with friends that the whole situation became more obvious."

Sharon and her daughter, Lexie, started the One Love Foundation to honor Yeardley’s memory and to ensure that no other families have to suffer the same heartbreak. "We did not want the bookend on (Yeardley's) life to be the horrible way it ended," says Sharon. "We are determined to help others avoid the devastating loss that we endured."

 
Yeardley and her mother

Yeardley and her mother

 

 
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The mission of One Love is to educate, empower, and activate young people in a movement to end relationship abuse. Their vision is to become a global leader in educating people about healthy relationships by giving young people information that empowers them to help themselves and their friends avoid abuse. Over 145,000 students have participated in 3,000 unique One Love workshops.

To learn more about One Love, please check out the video below:


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One Love has three main vehicles for educating, empowering, and activating young people in the One Love movement for change: their Escalation Workshop, Team One Love, and the #ThatsNotLove Campaign.

The Escalation Workshop is a 90-minute film-based workshop that teaches about healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors and has been described as a “game-changer” by experts. The film follows a relatable college-aged couple as viewers see their relationship slowly evolve into abuse and watch as their friends struggle to recognize the unhealthy behaviors and how they should intervene.

“(The film) makes you very aware that this issue isn’t happening to someone somewhere else," states Katie Hood, CEO of One Love. "You have seen this behavior before, you just didn’t know what you were seeing - but this could happen to you."

One Love student facilitators are trained to lead conversations with their peers focused on identifying the warning signs, actions that could have been taken, and how the film relates to their own lives. 

After participating in a workshop, students are prompted to join Team One Love, a community of people nationwide excited to carry the torch around this issue in their communities. Whether a student joins Team One Love individually or starts an official club or group on campus, One Love provides them with access to One Love staff mentors, continuous messaging about healthy and unhealthy relationships, and ideas on how they can continue to educate and empower others in their community around relationship abuse.

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Another tool that One Love uses to educate students about relationship abuse is the #ThatsNotLove campaign. Recognizing that young people live in the digital world, #ThatsNotLove was developed to surround young people with content that communicates the difference between love and control in short, shareable ads that have been viewed nearly 65+ million times on YouTube and Facebook. With an increase in demand, One Love created discussion guides to foster more conversations.

"While there is no magic bullet that can bring Yeardley back or somehow change the pain we feel from her loss," says Sharon, "One Love and the energy of so many amazing young people who are driving this movement keeps Yeardley alive in such a positive way."


Notes for this week:

  • October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
  • Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor One Love’s work in communities and schools across the country.
  • For more information on The One Love Foundation, please check out their website.
 

this week i'm gonna donate to The One Love Foundation.

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Last Mile Health

year 2, week 41: this week i'm gonna... provide healthcare to everyone, everywhere

Providers in Liberia overcome many obstacles to deliver care where it is needed (photo credit: Last Mile Health)

Providers in Liberia overcome many obstacles to deliver care where it is needed (photo credit: Last Mile Health)

In 2003, Liberia emerged from more than a decade of civil war. After years of violence, the country’s health infrastructure was devastated. Only 50 doctors remained to treat a population of more than four million people. If you got sick in the city, you stood a chance. But if you got sick in a remote community – many of which are hours or even days away from the nearest clinic – you could die anonymously of a treatable condition like malaria, a complicated childbirth, or simple infection.

In 2007, a group of Liberian civil war survivors and American health workers came together and co-founded an organization committed to seeking justice for Liberia’s rural poor. Starting with only $6,000 in seed money, they were Liberia’s first rural, public HIV program, and they treated patients in a war-torn building in the village of Zwedru.

Almost immediately, the team realized that the greatest needs were at Liberia’s last mile, where people in remote communities lacked access to healthcare due to distance and poverty.

“Our team was working in Konobo in southeastern Liberia, and the average distance to a health facility was a 14-hour walk,” says Siobhan Kelley, Communications Manager. “Only in emergency cases would patients seek access to care. It was an eye-opening moment for our team and really guided our direction as an organization.”

 
Community health worker Soko Sirleaf shares a hand-drawn map of his community. Over 400 workers like Soko are trained in community mapping, household registration, disease surveillance, prevention, and control (photo credit: Last Mile Health)

Community health worker Soko Sirleaf shares a hand-drawn map of his community. Over 400 workers like Soko are trained in community mapping, household registration, disease surveillance, prevention, and control (photo credit: Last Mile Health)

 

Their solution was to recruit, train, equip, manage, and pay community members to provide lifesaving health services to their neighbors. In so doing, they were also able to create a strong link between remote communities and the government’s public sector health system.

Since those early days, they have grown from a small team working out of a supply closet to a growing organization that serves as a dedicated partner to the Liberia Ministry of Health. 


 
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Last Mile Health partners with the Liberian government to deploy, support, and manage networks of community health workers. These workers deliver quality healthcare to remote communities and are trained in maternal and child health, family planning, treatment adherence, and surveillance of epidemics, among other things.

In the Liberian communities that Last Mile Health serves, newborn mortality has decreased and the percentage of children treated for diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia has increased. On the strength of this success, Last Mile Health is now supporting the Liberian Ministry of Health to implement the National Community Health Assistant Program, which will deploy 4,000 health workers to serve the 1.2 million Liberians living in rural and remote
communities nationwide.

To learn more about Last Mile Health, please watch the video below:


On December 26th, 2013, an 18-month-old boy from a remote community in the Guinean rainforest fell ill and died of cholera-like symptoms. Within weeks, several of his family members had succumbed to the same fate. By the time local authorities were first notified on January 24th, 2014, it was too late to stop the spread of what would soon become the worst outbreak of the Ebola Virus in recorded history. More than 11,300 people died of Ebola across Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and the outbreak closed schools and brought local economies to a standstill.

Community health workers are trained in disease surveillance at the community level (photo credit: Last Mile Health)

Community health workers are trained in disease surveillance at the community level (photo credit: Last Mile Health)

Last Mile Health supported the Government of Liberia to train more than 1,300 health workers and community members to prevent and contain the spread of Ebola. In 38 clinics across Southeastern Liberia, they supported health workers to “keep safe, keep serving” in the midst of the outbreak through distribution of personal protective equipment. At the community level, Last Mile Health trained community health workers and other community “mobilizers” to educate their communities about the cause of Ebola, how to prevent its spread, and how to manage and report suspected cases.

The Ebola outbreak, which was finally brought to a halt in 2016, was a tragedy of unfathomable scope. It highlighted the need for stronger, more resilient health systems that reach even the world’s most remote communities.

The Ebola tragedy also highlighted the key role that community health workers can play in transforming health outcomes by bringing lifesaving healthcare services – including infectious disease surveillance – to their neighbors.

“Our vision," states Kelley, "is health workers for everyone, everywhere, every day.” 

 
photo credit: Last Mile Health

photo credit: Last Mile Health

 

Notes for this week:

  • October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Diabetes Awareness Month
  • Our collective givetwig donation will fully equip ten community health workers with the essential medication and diagnostic tools they need to provide life-saving care to fellow members of their communities for a month.
  • For more information on Last Mile Health, please check out their website.
 

this week i'm gonna donate to Last Mile Health.

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Pajama Program

year 2, week 40:  this week i'm gonna... give a child a good night's sleep

photo credit: Genevieve Piturro

photo credit: Genevieve Piturro

“What are pajamas?” asked Maria, a young girl living in a shelter who was holding a pair of pajamas for the first time. 

That was back in 2001, when Genevieve Piturro discovered that the children she read to at a local shelter did not have a pair of warm, comforting pajamas to change into or a storybook to enjoy, or sometimes even a caring adult to tuck them into bed each night.

“When I was reading to the kids and we were finished... the staff would say, ‘Time to go to bed,’” Genevieve told Oprah during a 2007 TV interview. “And they didn’t have anything to change into.”

Genevieve remembered her own bedtime ritual growing up. “...(M)y mom sitting at the edge of my bed, my sister’s bed, my brother’s bed telling us stories, putting on pajamas -- all of a sudden that instant bonding, security, comfort, love rushed back and it was empty in this room for these children,” she says.

Genevieve asked one of the shelter workers if next time she volunteered she could bring in pajamas. The response? "That would be great. Nobody thinks of that; nobody gives pajamas.” 

Genevieve Piturro, Founder of Pajama Program

Genevieve Piturro, Founder of Pajama Program

With bags full with new pajamas and storybooks, Genevieve returned to the shelter to ensure all of the children there would enjoy a cozy bedtime. 

It was clear that Genevieve had found a significant need that had to be filled, and thus the Pajama Program was born. “We try to give them a hug this way… with clean, cozy pajamas and a book to ease their fears before they close their eyes,” Genevieve says. 


 
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To date, Pajama Program has given almost 3 million pajamas and over 2.2 million books to children in need. Pajama Program serves children in every state from their headquarters in New York City, and through 60 chapters across 33 states. In thousands of shelters, group homes, and temporary housing, the new pajamas and books they provide serve as daily - and nightly - symbols of caring, security, and love. 

Pajama Program also works with more than 3,600 receiving organizations (ROs) nationwide to help distribute pajamas and books to children. These organizations include Title I schools, group homes, foster care and social service organizations, shelters, Head Start programs, and other organizations that work with at-risk youth. 

The Pajama Program Good Night Bill of Rights highlights the Pajama Program mission and what they believe is important in a child’s day. The five simple principles help Pajama Program deliver a loving bedtime and a good night’s sleep to children everywhere:

1. Every child has the right to a sense of stability and security.

2. Every child has the right to feel loved and cared for at bedtime.

3. Every child has the right to wear clean pajamas to bed and to enjoy a bedtime story.

4. Every child has the right to feel valued and validated as a human being.

5. Every child has the right to a good night and a good day.

To learn more about Pajama Program, please watch the video below.


Pajamas become especially critical when the weather turns cooler. Not only for their warmth, but for the comfort and security they bring. Fall and winter can be beautiful times of the year, but for children in need, it can come with dread; with shelter uncertain, anxiety builds as the temperatures drop. Not knowing what tomorrow will bring makes it difficult to feel comfortable at bedtime and to to have a restful night of sleep.

October 1st marks the start of "Danger Season", a time of year when temperatures fall and children in shelters are more vulnerable than usual. Many have been abused or abandoned and taken away from their homes and schools. Often, these children have never received an unconditional gift, much less something to call their very own.

photo credit: Genevieve Piturro

photo credit: Genevieve Piturro

“A new pair of pajamas, a pretty book to look through... we hope and pray it just puts their fears aside for a few minutes and lets them dream again,” states Genevieve.


Notes for this week:

  • October marks the beginning of "Danger Season," when the weather gets colder and children need sleepwear to stay warm at night.
  • Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor 75 new pairs of warm, comforting pajamas and 75 storybooks to support every child's right to a good night for a good day.
  • For more information on Pajama Program, please check out their website.
 

this week i'm gonna donate to Pajama Program.

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Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly

year 2, week 39:  this week i'm gonna... befriend the elderly.

Ralph (photo credit: Little Brothers)

Ralph (photo credit: Little Brothers)

Ralph found out about Little Brothers by accident when volunteers stopped in to deliver a Thanksgiving meal to one of his neighbors, who happened to have been taken to the hospital the day before. When the volunteers found out that Ralph was spending the day alone, they asked if he would like the meal and some company. That was two years ago, and Ralph is still grateful that he was in the right place at the right time.

Ralph came to Boston when he was 18 years old and has lived there ever since. He never married or had children, and with the death of his parents a decade ago, he no longer has any family. While he does have a few friends scattered around the city, he frequently found himself alone... until he became involved with Little Brothers.

Over the past two years, Ralph has been attending events, enjoying holiday programs, and participating in the telephone reassurance program. For the past year, he has been matched with PJ, a Little Brothers volunteer and Board member. Ralph appreciates a good mystery novel and listening to jazz, and he shares these interests with PJ during their frequent visits and walks through Boston’s South End neighborhood.

After the annual Little Brothers Father’s Day luncheon at Doyle’s Pub, Ralph said, "One step inside Doyle’s and memories washed over me of times spent surrounded by old friends, all enjoying each others company. What more could anyone possibly ask for – a comfortable place on a beautiful day, good friends, music in the background." 

 
photo credit: Little Brothers

photo credit: Little Brothers

 

 
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The mission of Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly is to advocate for elders who are isolated and at risk by developing long-term companionships to provide greater well-being and stability, promote independent living, and instill a sense of belonging.

At all of their locations, Little Brothers strives to meet the emotional and physical needs of their elderly friends. For some, isolation comes with growing older. This isolation can be compounded by poverty. In these difficult situations, Little Brothers extends a helping hand. They treat their elderly friends as individuals, offering them the gifts of respect and love by visiting, socializing, and providing programs that combat loneliness and promote independent living, helping them remain in their own homes.

To learn more about Little Brothers, please watch the video below:


Imke Heering (far right) visiting friends at Lower Mills (photo credit: Dorchester Reporter)

Imke Heering (far right) visiting friends at Lower Mills (photo credit: Dorchester Reporter)

Little Brothers runs a program at Lower Mills Apartments outside of Boston that is aimed at boosting spirits among elderly residents. Twice a week, student volunteers show up to call bingo and swap stories. Cynthia Wilkerson, the program manager of Lower Mills, says that having the program in the building makes it seamless for residents to participate.

“The residents appreciate the energy,” she states. “For some of them, it’s the one chance in the week to do something social and get together.” Wilkerson also notes how the residents relish the opportunity to meet the younger people who run the program.

“In my apartment, I don’t do anything else but watch TV and read the Bible,” says Josie Bishop, a Lower Mills resident. “I hate to see the Little Brothers leave. And anytime I see them walking through the door, I can’t help but smile.”

And the program isn't only good for the residents. Imke Heering, 18, is a German exchange student living in Jamaica Plain who has volunteered with the program since she moved to the United States last August. 

Imke (2nd from left) and friends playing cards. (photo credit: Little Brothers)

Imke (2nd from left) and friends playing cards. (photo credit: Little Brothers)

In the time Heering has spent in Boston, she’s appreciated the relationships formed with residents when calling bingo every week. “It’s been great hearing about [the senior citizens’] lives during the breaks in the bingo game,” she shares. “Coming from an all-white community in Germany, I’ve appreciated the interracial environment in Dorchester. It has allowed me to learn a lot about different cultures.”

“Programs like this help to create micro-communities,” states Nikki Therrien, executive director of the Little Brothers Program in Boston. “Even as people move into their 70s and 80s, we want to make sure that they have networks in which they know others still care about them, in which others wonder how they’re doing.”

Story sourced from the Dorchester Reporter, "In Lower Mills, volunteers lift spirits with elderly visits," by Ryan Daly


Notes for this week:

  • October 1st is International Day of Older Persons!
  • Our collective givetwig donation will sponsor a year of birthday cards to Little Brothers' elderly friends.
  • For more information on Little Brothers, please check out their website.
 

this week i'm gonna donate to Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly.

please share the givetwig awesomeness!