Seaford JDG chapter donates survivor packs for domestic violence survivors

By Rachel Farris

Seaford High Schools Delaware Career Association chapter initiated its members during a ceremony last Thursday. These students are a part of the Jobs for Delaware Graduates (JDG) class, and then are automatically part of DCA. Mayor David Genshaw spoke to the students, offering three pieces of advice that he believes would help them achieve success in their futures. The first was to work hard.

Its not really so much about getting As and Bs as it is getting a great education- getting out of this what you want while youre here, he said.

The second part, he continued, is to surround yourself with good people, and in addition, find a mentor: A mentor can be a family member, it can be a coach, it can be a pastor, it could be someone that you look at and admire, and somebody you wish to be like. He told the high schoolers that anyone they looked up to this way would likely be honored to mentor them if they asked.

His third focus was attitude. People like to be around people with a positive attitude and that have a sense of purpose, a sense of vision for their life, Genshaw said.

The students also used the opportunity to present the project theyve been working on this year- survivor packs in support of an initiative to help survivors of domestic violence. Grace Wickerson, at 17 years old, came up with the concept of survivor packs for women who escape domestic violence situations, containing feminine products, including essentials like shampoo, a toothbrush, etc. She became the 2016 LEAD360 Jefferson Award winner for her region and is now one of three finalists; her goal is to use 100,000 packs to impact 100,000 lives of domestic abuse survivors.

The Seaford chapter of DCA voted on several projects to work on, and decided to collect items for and create survivor packs. Katelynn Skipper, president of DCA Seaford chapter, said that many women in these situations leave during the night and do not have essentials with them.

These packs contain items that will help survivors adjust to their new environment, she said. They also included letters written by the students to the survivors, offering words of comfort and encouragement during this incredibly difficult time in their lives.

Skipper had spoken with the staff at Seaford High School to get them on board, Principal Teresa Carson added.

Teachers were so inspired by the announcement that they promoted the packs to their student clubs, said Dina Alderucci, Seafords JDG specialist.

We had a meeting, which involved the school, and gave everyone directions to collect items.

This led to items donated from various teachers, students, and administrators, and the Spanish classes wrote messages of hope in Spanish in addition to the letters in English.

The project was so successful, Carson said, because this was something that the kids believed in. Skipper said that she knows a lot of people who have been in those situations, and it made her want to help. In addition, this project was very unique; many people do food drives, for example, but this is a project that not many have heard of.

The DCA chapter ended up with 68 packs to donate.

These were presented to Kim Rigby, of Peoples Place, an organization based out of Milford that has domestic violence shelters in both Kent and Sussex Counties. The shelter serves all of Sussex County from an undisclosed location for its residents safety. The chapter contacted Rigby about six months ago, she said.

I am so impressed, Rigby told the assembled students. I didnt know anything about the DCA before I started speaking with Dina Alderucci I am just amazed at what a wonderful group of students that you are, and how much youve done. You should be all so proud of yourselves. One in four women are going to be involved in a domestic violence relationship at some time in their life. I just hope that none of them are in this room, and I think that if you continue with DCA and apply everything that youve learned, youre all on the path to success for the rest of your life. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of domestic violence survivors.

Eric Hastings of the Western Sussex Boys and Girls Club was also in attendance for the initiation. The B&G Club is on a parallel path according to Hastings, as they also began a survivor pack drive back in July. Their Keystone Group, made up of teens, is the driving force behind this project for them. The club has well over 200 teenagers involved, and the Keystone is comprised of 15 of them. Some of the teens in the group are also in the Seaford DCA chapter, Hastings added. He, like the students, found the project to be a unique way to give back. Alderucci added that Seafords JDG chapter is donating more items to the B&G Clubs drive, as they are also contributing to Wilkersons cause.

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