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Featured Club

Laura's House HEART School Club Featured Interview

Interview with club president, Taira Ramdhani of Cypress High School

From our interview with club president, Taira Ramdhani of Cypress High School

Thank you for leading the Laura’s House HEART School Club at your high school. Through your leadership, your club is building a base of support for addressing and preventing teen dating abuse, domestic violence and bullying. We want to recognize your efforts by featuring you and your club on our teen website. Please respond to the following questions.

Tell us a little bit about your club. What is your club name? What is your mission?

Our club here at Cypress high is HEART Club (Healthy Emotions and Attitudes in Relationships Today). Our missions is to educate the minds of teens by showing them how to stay in a safe and healthy relationship with educating them on the red flags and dating 101. We also want to show them the reality of an abusive relationship while giving those who are victims, support. We are very much focused on supporting and helping out the Laura’s House shelter in any way that we can.

Why did you want to start a HEART school club at your school?

After hearing Jennifer Ponce’s presentation in my health class, I was immediately touched and felt the immediate need of wanting to help or contribute my time to Laura’s House in any way that I possibly could. I knew that starting a club would be one of the best ways to reach out to those at my school and those at Laura's House.

What are your goals for the HEART school club on your campus?

Our goal for HEART Club has not only been to spread awareness of domestic violence, but has also been to create a safe environment for those affected by it and provide them with the best sources of help provided through Laura’s House. HEART Club also continues to set up fundraisers and drives in support of the Laura’s House shelter.

What are some of your club’s achievements on campus?

Some of the achievements we’ve had on campus this year was our Purple Ribbon week in October when we tied purple ribbon around all the trees in the quad, our clothing drive for the Laura’s House Retail Store, our drive for the Laura's House Wishlist, and having Molly and Jennifer giving their presentations at our meetings are always a pleasure.

What do you hope to do when you graduate from school?

After I graduate I hope to leave HEART Club in good hands while I move on to share the knowledge I have gained through this experience with my peers in college.

Past Featured Clubs

Elizabeth Weeks is the founding member of Laura's House School Club at Santa Margarita Catholic High School

Laura's House School Club at Santa Margarita Catholic High School

Laura's House: Thank you so much for starting a school club! What's the reason you wanted to start a club at your school?

Elizabeth: I started a club at my school in an attempt to raise awareness for the hazards of teen dating violence and to hopefully help teens avoid dangerous situations.

Laura's House: How did you get involved with Laura's House?

Elizabeth: My dad is a member of the Laura's house board and when I was in 7th grade I started volunteering for the organization.

Laura's House: Do you think that teens are exposed to too much violence?

Elizabeth: I think that teens can be exposed to violence in many ways including movies, and video games. These may influence some teens but I do not believe that it is excessive enough to cause teen violence.

Laura's House: Does your school have a teen dating program in place? Where would an abused person go in your school to seek help if they needed support?

Elizabeth: My school does not have a teen dating program in place. However if a teen is ever feeling that they need help or support they could go to a counselor, a member of campus ministry, or a student minster who are there to support other students in times of need.

Laura's House: Why does it matter to you to help people who have been abused?

Elizabeth: Abuse is a terrible situation and those who suffer from it deserve help and support from others in the community. It is a situation no one should be put in and those of us who are able to help should support them.

Laura's House: What do you hope to do when you graduate from school?/strong>

Elizabeth: When I graduate from high school I hope to go to college and then start a job in a computer or math related field.

G.O.L.D. School Club raises awareness on Teen/Adolescent Dating Abuse

Laura's House School Club at San Clemente High School

From left to right: Genesis Escobar (Freshman Rep), Jocelyn Martinez (Senior Rep), Sabrina Beltran (Sophomore Rep), Kassandra Valencia (Vice-President), Ms. Carissa Sanchez (Advisor), Jessica Guerrero (President), Maria Serratos (Treasurer), Elizabeth Sanchez (Junior Rep), and Diana Vargas (Secretary)

Laura's House: Jessica, please tell us the name that was chosen for your club and a little about it.

Jessica: G.O.L.D., Guiding Our Ladies with Dignity, is an organization designed to promote academic excellence and personal growth of the female population at Anaheim High School. The ladies involved have promoted values of leadership, self-respect, integrity, mentorship, altruism and acceptance in both their school and community involvement.

Laura's House: What is the clubs mission and what do you hope to promote with this club?

Jessica: G.O.L.D. was created on the principal of guiding ladies with dignity as they pursue higher education and become positive female models in society. G.O.L.D. has provided many opportunities for females to raise their voices. Some opportunities include: community service (OC Food Bank, Giving Children Hope, and School/Community Beautification Projects), awareness events (Breast Cancer Awareness, Teen Dating Violence Awareness, and Women's History Awareness), college exploration (San Diego, San Francisco, and Monterey Bay), and career exploration (Women Empowering Young Ladies Conference and female guest speakers with professional degrees).

Laura's House: Jessica Guerrero, as G.O.L.D. President, what is your role?

Jessica: My role as G.O.L.D. President is to help the organization promote academic excellence and personal growth to the G.O.L.D. ladies. The most important thing about our organization is that we understand all of our significant values, and so together we will become a powerful and inspiring female group on and off campus.

Laura's House: The ladies have invited Laura's House to speak at Anaheim High School about Teen/Adolescent Dating Abuse. Why is this important to the ladies?

One of our important values is raising awareness for teen dating violence, attending Laura's House 4th Annual Candlelight Vigil in honor of Jacque Villagomez and having the opportunity of having Prevention Education Specialist, Marissa Presley, as a guest speaker at our school, has provided our organization with the knowledge and tools to not only stand by our values and beliefs, but to help other ladies understand and stand by their values and beliefs. Along with the help of the outstanding G.O.L.D. cabinet, Kassandra Valencia, Diana Vargas, Maria Serratos, Jocelyn Martinez, Elizabeth Sanchez, Sabrina Beltran, and Genesis Escobar, and our dedicated G.O.L.D. Advisor, Ms. Sanchez, we have provided many opportunities to show the ladies of our organization the importance of staying G.O.L.D. on campus and in their community.

Laura's House: What does the future hold for the ladies?

G.O.L.D. will continue to grow, as it is today through S.I.L.V.E.R. at Sycamore Junior High School and B.R.O.N.Z.E. at Horace Mann Elementary School, and continue changing the future generations of females.

Laura's House School Club Raises Awareness

Laura's House School Club at San Clemente High School

Laura's House: Tell us about your club. How did the name come about? What is your mission?

Emily: My club is called the Laura's House Club. I named it after the organization because I wanted people to quickly understand what my club was about. The mission of this club is to raise awareness about all kinds of violence and to help students understand how to help prevent abuse and what to do when it occurs.

Laura's House: Why was this club stated at your school?

Emily: I started the club because I felt my school did not have a club directly addressing this issue and after my summer internship at Laura's House I wanted to share my knowledge with my peers.

Laura's House: What sort of community outreach does your club do? Are you involved in charity work?

Emily: I just started the club this year, so our volunteering has not been extensive but we participated in the candlelight vigil by bringing baked goods. The girls who are taking over next year want to incorporate more volunteering, such as a clothing drive or a run to raise money and awareness.

Laura's House: What is your position? What role do you play?

Emily: I am the Co-President of this club with my friend. We plan and lead the meetings.

Laura's House: Why do you think it's important to have school clubs that raise awareness on abuse?

Emily: I think it is important to have clubs at schools that talk about touchy subjects and help students have a better understanding of topics like abuse. If people know what is out there they will be more likely to help or want to make a difference.

Laura's House: How often do you meet? What do you do in your meetings? Do you have guest speakers? Survivors?

Emily: Prior to the candlelight vigil we were meeting about once or twice a month. During the meetings we had guest speakers come and share their experience and thoughts about abuse.

Laura's House: Can you tell us what you would like to do when you get older career wise?

Emily: I want to go into International Relations; I want to help create peaceful communication between countries.

Laura's House: What do you like the most about your club?

Emily: I like the interest people who are in the club show. They are interested in the topic and want to hear and learn from survivors and they want to know what they can do to help.

Laura's House: What will you be doing next?

Emily: I will be passing the club onto some girls next year, because I am graduating this year and moving onto UC Davis next year.

D.A.S.H (Domestic Abuse Stops Here)

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Laura’s House met with Ashley Litwin, founder of D.A.S.H., an acronym for Domestic Abuse Stops Here, an anti-violence school club at Orange Coast College. Here is what Ashley had to say about her new club. 

Laura’s House:  What high school did you attend?  

Ashley: I attended Aliso Niguel High School.

Laura’s House: When did you first have the idea for DASH?

Ashley:  I first had the idea for DASH after becoming a certified domestic violence advocate through Laura's House during the summer of 2012. 

Laura’s House:  How did you come up with the name of your club?

Ashley: We knew we wanted to use an acronym that people could remember; after some brainstorming, an executive board member pitched "DASH" and it stuck. We think it is effective because it places emphasis on abuse, as opposed to violence. The term "violence" tends to turn people off, as well as gives the impression that domestic issues only involve physical aggression. 

Laura’s House: What was the motivating factor that led you to create a non-violence club at your school?

Ashley: Aside from my previous training at Laura's House, I found that when I attempted to advocate on behalf of victims most people, including close friends and family, had no idea what I was talking about. It is an epidemic that effects 1 in 4 teens and no one is talking about it. I felt a college campus would be the most suitable place for a cause like this, because college students tend to be more progressive in their thinking and willing to make a difference. 

Laura’s House: As founder of DASH what do you hope members, students, faculty and the community gain from such an endeavor?

Ashley: I think the most crucial way you can fix a social epidemic like domestic violence is through education; you cannot fix a problem if people do not know it exists. I want people to know that domestic violence happens in every corner of the world, regardless of the socioeconomic status of a particular region. I also aim to provide resources to those who would otherwise not know where to turn. 

Laura’s House: From the initial idea to your first club meeting, how would you describe the entire process of starting a new club at your school?

Ashley: The feedback among professors and peers was at first overwhelming. So many people agreed that we needed a resource like DASH on campus, which motivated me to make it happen. Even those who were unable to be involved offered me time to go on class visits and talk to their students. Situations like that make you realize that there really are good, honest people in the world. I was able to compile an executive board of dedicated and talented students, as well as gain faculty support in the form of a club advisor, almost instantaneously. At our first event, we had almost 40 people sign up to be a part of DASH. The process has been wildly successful thus far. 

Laura’s House: Your club was a feature story on the Coast Report Online, how did that make you and the members feel to get ink about your club?

Ashley: It made it real. That first article really symbolized the results of creating an idea and being able to gather the resources to turn it into a reality. 

Laura's House School Club at San Clemente High School

Laura's House School Club at San Clemente High School

What school do you attend? What grade are you in and what do you like the best about your school? What are your hobbies?

I am currently in the 11th grade attending San Clemente High School. What I like best about my school is the rigorous academic classes offered and the diverse student body. I run cross country and have also done track&field, water polo and wrestling my freshman and sophomore year. I enjoy photography and doing any active activity outdoors.

How did you first get involved with Laura's House?

I first got involved with Laura's house my freshman year when my mom first decided to see what the organization was all about and how to volunteer. After my mom completed her training to become a Laura's House advocate , I would work weekends to enter data, volunteer at the consignment store, or help setup with any Laura's House events I could.

What was it about Laura's House that motivated you to start a school club?

I decided to start a club at my high school to bring awareness to teenagers about domestic violence. I know from volunteering at Laura's House that people want to keep this sensitive issue a secret if it is happening to them, or they have no idea how to get out of their situation.

What was the process in starting a brand new club at your school?

I had to complete a form for my school explaining why I wanted to create a club and what it would do for the school or community. After the club was approved, I showcased our club to the school at Club Rush. This is where all clubs setup tables and booths for the student body to walk around during lunch and see what clubs they were interested in and decided to join.

What do you hope your club will accomplish?

My desire is to inform the student body about help available to them or any of their loved ones, and to provide volunteer opportunities for any students willing to give their time to volunteer for Laura's House.

What would you say to a teen that wants to start a club at school? What advice would you offer?

I would advise them to be very driven by the cause and willing to answer all the questions people have about it. also, be prepared to get people who brush away the topic. Be passionate about this organization and make sure to advocate all the benefits that students can gain from being apart of the club.

Not Just Another Bad Day

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Shannon Mcnicholas created a club called Not Just Another Bad Day at Mission Viejo High School to raise awareness on domestic violence, teen dating violence and Laura's House.

Laura's House: Shannon, what motivated you to create a non-violence club at your high school?

Shannon: I was motivated to start a violence prevention club at my school because I knew it had the potential to save lives; if we spread the word about domestic violence, then more people will have resources and options to help them avoid or escape a dangerous situation.

Laura's House: What was the process of starting a new club?

Shannon: All I had to do was talk to my school's ASB to start the club and get a teacher sponsor. Throughout the year, I also brought in a few public speakers that we hosted at the club. I have to admit that it was a little intimidating talking to so many adults and telling them what my club was about and how big of an impact they could make in the liver of us teenagers, but it was worth the effort. It was pretty easy to get the club started, because every administration jumps at the opportunity to reduce violence within the school.

Laura's House: What do you like the most about your club?

Shannon: I love my club because so many people support the ideas behind it but are scared or have no opportunity to talk about the issue in their every day lives, so this club gives them time to discuss violence related issues. My members love the club because everyone involved obviously cares about the welfare of others, so they look out for each other beyond just the club meetings and service opportunities. My club has 60+ members after one year and is still growing

Get involved now! Create awareness by starting a club at your school. Contact Prevention Education Specialist, Marissa C. Presley, mpresley@laurashouse.org.

Changing social beliefs, attitudes and the behaviors that perpetuate domestic violence while creating a safe space in which to empower individuals and families affected by abuse.

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