Wellspring - Ending relationship and sexual abuse in Saratoga County

Shine a Light Blog

Shine a Light Blog

Your Vote Showed How Important Our Veterans Are

Collectively we hold image of a soldier returning from serving our country- a young man physically injured rebuilding his life in the civilian world. Here's two facts to consider:

  • that soldier may be a young woman, and 
  • her war wounds may not be physical but psychological.
And that's where Guardian House comes in... 

Saratoga County Rural Preservation Company – VETHELP provides Guardian House, a transitional home for homeless, female veterans, who are striving to regain independence. Because you voted to say this is important to our community, they were chosen as the winner in Home depot's Aprons in Action contest to win $25,000 for renovations to Guardian House. They plan to use the $25,000 to provide additional living space in the home by demolishing unusable space and rebuilding to promote healthy living for the female veterans. Partnering with Team Depot and volunteers from Rebuilding Together Saratoga County to complete the project, the new addition to their facility would include a study/office for veterans actively seeking employment and completing school work. They also plan to incorporate an exercise room that will promote overall wellness for the mind, body, and soul as well as an outdoor gardening area to promote a positive and creative outlet. The additional space will be converted into a storage area which will be utilized as veterans accumulate household belongings in preparation of their transition back into the community and independent living. They will also paint, install Sheetrock and insulation, and provide landscaping.

Thanks for voting to help our veterans!

Leadership Lessons from the Playground

Robert Fulgham summed it up quite nicely, “All I really need to know l earned in kindergarten. Play fair… don’t hit other people … clean up your own mess… learn some and think some…hold hands and stick together.”  Wise words to guide children...and adults.
Think of all the daily problems that could be avoided if we just applied that sandbox wisdom.  A brief glance at today’s local news stories: college students cheating on assignments, a hit and run accident and a brutal domestic homicide, clearly demonstrates that at least some adults have lost sight of those basic fundamentals of living honestly and compassionately. I certainly don’t mean to trivialize such serious issues, but I do think that as we grow up our behaviors (both good and bad) can have a greater impact. So the bullying behaviors in the playground can later manifest as relationship or sexual violence.
So that’s why it’s so important, not only to teach kids right from wrong, but also to teach them how to stand up for what’s right. The Ballston Area Community Allies, works with kids to promote healthy relationships and youth leaders for  positive change.

“ Love the answers those kids had.  They really get the message.”   
Benita Zahn from WNYT News
On May 3, 2013 the youth in the Community allies are organizing the 2ndBullying Awareness March beginning at 3:30pm.at the Ballston Area Community Center (BACC) located at 20 Malta Avenue in Ballston Spa. At last year’s march the youth shared their concerns about bullying with District Attorney James A. Murphy -Ballston Spa School District Superintendent, Dr. Joseph Dragone, Mayor John P. Romano. As one 10 year old boy said after last year’s march,  "I think we can at least put our best efforts into it and we tried our best to stop bullying, so hopefully it will work."  

If you, your child, or your organization, would like to join our march, call BACC (518) 885-3261

This Weekend’s #1 Spring Cleaning Task

Why is this important? Because abuse of non-prescribed medications by teens is a rapidly growing trend. Teens often feel these drugs are 'safe' to take because they are medicine. They report it's easier to get prescription and OTC drugs than illegal drugs, and they know they can get a buzz from the drugs they find in the medicine cabinet in their own home or at friends’ or relatives homes . What they don't realize is that using these drugs can have dangerous consequences when not used as intended. While parents talk to their kids about the dangers of marijuana or other illegal drugs, they rarely discuss the risks of taking medications to get high. A quick step you can take to curb teen drug abuse is to safely discard expired or unused medications. That's why the Shenendehowa Community Coalition coordinates mdication disposal days like this one.

Only 2 Days Left to Vote … Help our Local Veterans

Guardian House, located in Ballston Spa is an innovative program run by the Saratoga County Rural Preservation Company that helps our returning female veterans integrate back into the commuity and achieve self-sufficiency. You can help support Guardian House by voting for them in the Home Depot Aprons in Action facebook contest. Vote now to support our local vets!

You Can Change the World Today

Cancer… it’s a scary word. We all hope for the day when we find a cure for cancer. According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) it takes about 8 years to develop a successful new drug for treating the disease. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society supports research, patient services and public awareness. You can help LLS achieve their vision of helping blood cancer patients live better, longer lives, simply by enjoying a night on the town this Wednesday night.   Vapor Night Club, the Refrigerators, silent auction… all for $10 to benefit this great cause. As they say at LLS, You can change the world today (and may I add have a great time doing it!).

Denim Day

Imagine if the clothes you wore to work one day made a political statement about unthinkable injustice that was still resounding 16 years later. 

Imagine if that wardrobe selection on one April morning started a global movement to challenge social attitudes about sexual violence. 

Imagine that women all over the world still continue remember an injustice done to one young girl in 1997, first by a rapist, then even more appallingly by the legal system that was supposed to protect her. Why do they remember? Maybe because even 16 years later victims of rape still can’t be certain that they won’t be victimized by the legal system.  

That’s why people in nations across the globe and 20 states in the US recognize Denim Day by wearing jeans to work to bring awareness about sexual violence. Because like those members of the Italian Parliament we’re still working to combat the stigma and social attitudes that perpetuate sexual violence. 

This year April 24th has been designated as Denim Day. Won’t you join me in recognizing Denim Day:
1)      Read the story.   That was 16 years ago… is it possible that this same injustice could happen in a courtroom today? Maybe. Rape victims still sometimes feel like they’re on trial instead of the accused…and many don’t pursue prosecution for this reason. Who wants to risk being victimized yet again in court?

2)      Take a stand on Denim Day… wear jeans, share the story… talk about our social attitudes about sexual assault.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

There are Only Two Ways to Live

At today's Crime Victims' Vigil two articulate young women, both survivors of crimes, spoke eloquently about  how the actions of one person have forever changed their lives. One woman's life  was changed in a millisecond as she was struck by a drunk driver as she stepped out of her car at a gas station. The other endured almost a decade of victimization, as a relative exploited her trust and innocence as he sexually abused her from the time she was four years old until she became a teenager.

As the candles were lit, vigil attendees spoke the names of loved ones whose lives were taken from them far too soon. A child whose life ended after just a few years... because someone drove drunk. A daughter killed by a boyfriend, leaving behind children who would never know their mother. And on...Each year a scroll with crime victims names is displayed at the vigil... there are now 456 names on the scroll. At the vigil it's impossible to think of crime as just statistics. Numerous display boards show photos of love ones lost, but never forgotten.

Despite personal grief, many attendees also offered prayers for families in Newtown, Connecticut and victims of the Boston bombings, where tragedy struck so many at once.  John Kelly,  whom District Attorney Jim Murphy recognized at the vigil for a lifetime of work helping crime victims, offered words to reflect on as we recover from such mass violence, "There are only two ways to live your life... just two. One is in fear; the other is with hope."

Crime Victims’ Vigil: Remembering…Healing … HOPE

Remembering…Healing ... HOPE
This Sunday, April 21st I will once again be attending the annual Crime Victims’ Vigil. It’s certainly not an event I look forward to … but I’m there every year. Why? Because it’s important.

At 4 p.m. the Presbyterian New England Congregational Church will be full of people remembering…grieving…honoring… and healing. There will be many familiar faces from past vigils. Their grief may be less raw…time moves forward; but their losses no less devastating. Other faces are new; this is their first vigil.
Each year District Attorney Jim Murphy honors individuals who have committed their lives to supporting crime victims and protecting their right. These folks always seem humbled by the recognition; they  do this difficult work not for glory, but for justice.
The heart wrenching stories of how crime has taken a son or daughter, has  shattered dreams, or has left a survivor forever scarred, remind me that newspaper accounts about crime can’t possibly convey it’s impact. I think we become desensitized as we read the paper or watch the evening news; the vigil has the opposite effect.
Each year I’m left with one haunting image. There is a scroll with the names of victims written on it. Each year more names are added to the scroll. I recall a decade ago when I first attended the vigil that the unrolled scroll reached to the first few pews of the church. At my first vigil looking at all the names on the scroll I was overcome with sadness. Each year as the scroll unrolls farther down the aisle, almost past the confines of the room, I think, “Is there no end?”
Such sadness--you may question why I go year after year. Because, like Pandora’s box, just when all seems lost the vigil evokes a beaming light radiating throughout the room- Hope. In a room filled with people whose lives have been shattered by crime and whose loved ones have been taken from them, there is support, healing and hope. May we soon see the day when that scroll stops with not one more name added.
Crime Victims’ Vigil
4 p.m. Sunday April 21, 2013
New England Congregational Church
24 Circular Street, Saratoga Springs

"Our Whole Community Needs to Work Together"

Pete Bardunias, president and CEO of the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County, said it best , "These are times our whole community needs to work together to make sure everyone has a good quality of life.” Those are good words of wisdom for building a healthy and vibrant community.   

And that’s what happened at the Women in Business Showcase yesterday. From health screenings to financial health and fitness to fine food provided by Pasta Pane, Chamber women represented their businesses. One business, Cengage Learning, was a prime example of Pete’s strategy of working together to improve everyone’s quality of life.  

DVRC's Kate van Buren  and Erin Coffin
of Cengage Learning helped create the employer awareness kit. 
Cengage, created an employers’ toolkit increase awareness of how relationship abuse can affect the workplace, which they distributed at the Business Showcase. The toolkit, which has an employee awareness poster and a resource guide for managers and supervisors, is designed to give businesses tools to promote workplace safety and to offer resources if an employee experiences relationship abuse. Looking at the resource guide, one business executive remarked, “I’m going to keep this in my files, because I know that someday I’m going to need this. It’s nice to know I’m prepared.”  

To get your employers toolkit, just call DVRC at 518-583-0280… it’s good to be prepared.