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Women of Excellence Breakfast raises more than $110,000 for Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus programs

October 16, 2014

Learn about some of our success stories in the Women of Excellence Breakfast program video.

Our 13th annual Women of Excellence Breakfast raised more than $110,000 to support the work the Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus is doing to help adolescent girls. More than $23,000 of the event’s proceeds was pledged to support our campus’ beyond-the-classroom programming, which helps girls build confidence, develop new skills and find joy in learning.

Click on the photo to see a gallery from the event.

Click on the photo to see a gallery from the event.

Three hundred guests joined Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley at the Sheraton Boston Hotel Oct. 9, 2014, to help Youth Villages recognize four inspirational women who make a difference in the lives of girls through their professional, volunteer or advocacy efforts.

We’re grateful to Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley for helping us recognize the 2014 Youth Villages Women of Excellence honorees for their important work advancing the lives of girls across Massachusetts: Linda M. Driscoll, Jacquelyn Lamont, Queenette Santos and Stephanie Guirand.

We’d also like to say a special thanks to Krysta, age 18, who so eloquently shared her story with us and how the Germaine Lawrence Campus helped her on her path to success.

If you weren’t able to attend, please take a few moments to read Krysta’s story below and view event photos in this online gallery.


It’s not too late to contribute and make a difference for the girls receiving help at the Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus.

WOE2014-donate


Learn more about our event’s honorees:

Linda-Driscoll
shim10x10
shim10x10 Linda M. Driscoll
Founder, President and CEO, Dream Big!
Dream Big! works to empower girls from low income situations by providing them with the basic items and program fees needed to participate in sports and physical activities that contribute to their health, education and overall well-being. More
Jacquelyn-Lamont
shim10x10
shim10x10 Jacquelyn Lamont
Director of Youth Safety, Forensic Interviewer, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
Through the “Now You See: A Celebration of Courageous Kids” photo exhibit, Lamont found a genuinely moving way to highlight the strength and bravery it takes for a child or adult survivor to disclose sexual and/or physical abuse. More.
Queenette-Santos
shim10x10
shim10x10 Queenette Santos
Director of Programming, Boys and Girls Club Of Dorchester, Walter Denney Youth Center
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester strive to inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential by providing them with opportunities for personal growth. More.
Stephanie-Guirand shim10x10 RISING STAR
Stephanie Guirand

Co-Founder, Daughters of Yemaya Collective
Daughters of Yemaya Collective is a supportive network of black women under 30 who pool their resources for the sake of helping one another succeed, foster sisterhood and community, and pursue ambitious goals. More.

Krysta’s Story

My family never had much. There’s always been some kind of issue or another. I have 10 older siblings. Most of them got into trouble somehow over the years.

My family became involved with the department of children and families years before I was born. I became DCF involved the moment my mom gave birth to me.

Krysta, Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus Alumna

Krysta, Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus Alumna

DCF became involved because of negligence. I was always coming into school with bruises and dirty clothes. Out of concern for my safety, my school called DCF.

It wasn’t just DCF that came in and out of our lives and our house. There were many other state-run organizations. Their goal was to keep my family together and guide us kids in the right direction.

When I was 8 years old, some things happened in my life that are very painful to talk about. These things changed me, my life, how I looked at the world and what I perceived the world to be like.

Emotional and physical pain always hurt. But they hurt even more when you are young. They leave deep, open wounds. Wounds that don’t heal on their own and that ooze pain constantly, contaminating everything.

To deal with the pain and prevent myself from getting hurt more, I decided to become a tough girl. A rebel nobody would dare to mess with.

I know now that DCF tried to help me then. But at the time, I didn’t see it that way. As I saw it, life had messed with me enough. Now it was time for me to fight back.

I partied. I fought. I fought with anyone who threatened my reputation. I skipped school and did just about everything parents hope their children will steer away from.

While I thought I was building a reputation with my peers, I was building a case file that today stands as tall as my knee caps. A case file that contained every kind of report, from truancy to substance abuse.

By the age of 16, I had been through and seen things that the average person should never see. But I didn’t know that then.

The story of my teenage life was an unpredictable one. Multiple times, DCF place me out of my home. In programs, DYS detention, and other state-run facilities. I was placed mostly because of skipping school and substance use but also because of occasional fights.

My most recent, and last placement with DCF was at the Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus.

I am proud to say this was my most successful placement – and my last one. But when I first arrived, it was the last place on earth I wanted to be.

When I first arrived at Germaine Lawrence, I had a severe case of “happy feet”, like the animated movie. I ran away on a daily basis.

My counselors soon found out I always ran to be home with my family, nowhere else. I know things weren’t perfect in my family. But there was always love.

I stayed at Germaine Lawrence for a while. Initially I thought treatment had nothing to offer me. I thought I knew better and I was smarter.

But after I’d been there a while, I decided to finally give treatment a chance.

If I was going to be stuck there anyway, why not? When I did, it taught me things I thought I would never come to realize.

Once I began participating in treatment and began writing my trauma narrative, I opened up about things I thought I never would tell anyone.

All the pain I had kept hidden under a shell I’d built for years, had finally spilled out.

Once that shell cracked, it fell off me. To my surprise, it didn’t feel as awful as I had thought it would. In fact, it was the opposite. Letting go was a feeling I will never forget. I felt lighter, freer, happier. Like I had rid myself of some demons that had taken over my life and my chance to experience joy and happiness.

Germaine Lawrence gave me the chance to live a different life and to love myself again.

But getting there wasn’t easy. I had bounced from therapist to therapist like a game of ping pong I never asked to play. At Germaine Lawrence, I finally met someone I felt I could trust, and open up to.

Georgeann Lewis, my counselor at Germaine Lawrence, made the world’s difference.

Georgeann’s way of talking to me and getting me to talk was different from other therapists.

She didn’t apply pressure. She didn’t tell me to talk. She told me I could take my time. She joked with me and my dad when he’d come up for therapy sessions. It was her non-pressure way of doing treatment that made me want to give it a try. I think she knew that. She is very smart that way!

Still, there were days I hated her, mostly for being right. The truth doesn’t always feel good because it’s not always pleasant or what you want to hear. But I learned to work through those hard moments thanks to Georgeanne’s patience with me.

She also helped me get into Arlington high school. And with her support, my life began to change.

I began to meet my treatment goals, allowing myself to earn more privileges – privileges like spending more time in the community, which is how I got a job in Arlington, at Andrina’s Pizzeria. I began making the honor roll at Arlington High. The hurt, angry, girl I was before was disappearing into thin air, like smoke.

Feeling free to feel happy was a great feeling. I discovered it was so much easier to be happy.

And I discovered I really enjoyed helping others. At Germaine Lawrence, I began talking to the other girls in my dorm about their ways and that there was a different way that could lead to greater happiness.

I know how hard it is to get to that point where you begin to see that things can be different. It takes time. It takes a special connection with a counselor or person you trust.

Recovering from such deep pain is difficult. Mostly because when you’re in it, you simply don’t see a way out.

I completed my treatment at Germaine Lawrence on July 29th. But before I left, Germaine Lawrence referred me to Youth Villages’ transitional living program.

I never thought I would willingly enter another program. But I did. And I am grateful I said yes.

Transitional living matched me with Jessica, my transitional living specialist. She is wonderful and meets with me weekly to help me accomplish my goals. That’s what transitional living is all about – to help young adults aging out of state care or treatment programs make a successful transition into adulthood.

My immediate goals were to stay out of trouble, which I’m doing a pretty good job at, and to find a job closer to home.

I now work at Babies R Us, and I like it. I’m back in school and on the way to graduate at the top of my class this spring.

I celebrated my 18th birthday a month and a half ago with no issues or trouble, and now Jessica and I are working toward college. She is also helping me with budgeting and problem solving in the workplace.

I’m not sure where I’d be without Jessica right now. I’m sure I’d do well because Germaine Lawrence taught me what it takes. But I don’t think I’d have come as far as I have already since leaving campus. Jessica’s support in helping me transition home and taking the next steps is invaluable.

I am deeply grateful for the help and support I have received from Germaine Lawrence, Youth Villages, Georgeann and Jessica.

You taught me that I can rely on the right people. I know that there are people who care about me. I know that happiness is a real possibility. And I know that I have the skills, talent, smarts and willpower to make the best choices about my future.

I don’t know yet in detail what my future holds. But I am certain it will be bright. My story feels like a Cinderella story. I came from the bottom and I’m climbing higher and higher. I’m excited for my next steps in my personal journey.

Through my journey, I have discovered that I want to dedicate my life and career to helping others who have experienced hardship of some sort. I feel especially drawn to helping girls who have gone through things similar to what I have, as well as many others at Germaine Lawrence – girls who were abused, neglected, raped, beaten, starved or who have come to starve, hurt or cut themselves to deal with the pain they have experienced.

My transitional living specialist and my Germaine Lawrence staff, as well as Attorney General Martha Coakley are a huge inspiration to me for the work they do.

I would like to thank all the volunteers and volunteer groups who came out to spend time with the girls at Germaine Lawrence while I was there. Volunteers brought us a needed break. They were kind, caring people who just wanted to spend some time with us without asking us tough questions. They did jewelry parties with us and pizza parties. And there is a volunteer group that gives every girl who completes treatment a quilt that matches their personality. I keep the quilt on my bed. It’s my favorite gift ever.

It’s all those little and big things that help make a difference for girls in treatment. That includes all of you who are here this morning.

Thank you for your support of the girls at Germaine Lawrence. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for all of you. Thank you!


Event Committee
Chair: Sabrina Baloun-Kavet

Anne Benning, Doe Coover, Julie Girts, Janet Glidden, Amy Kingman, Pamela Lynch, Catherine Madden, Kris Montgomery, Carrie Murphy, Tracy Nelson, Amanda Northrop, Jane Shurtleff, Jeanne Simard, Kim Syman


Platinum Sponsors

Sabrina Baloun-Kavet/Boston America Corp.

Joanna and Jon Jacobson

Yvette Lowenthal-Mulderry

The Wagner Family Foundation

Silver Sponsors

Julie Girts | Jeffrey and Janet Glidden | Lisa and Michael Josephson | Kris and John Montgomery | Reebok International, Ltd.

Bronze Sponsors

Rita and Charlie Alesi | Anonymous | The Boston Foundation | Castles, Cottages & Flats Ltd and Seamans Capital Management | Donna Frieze | Kathleen Krueger Goshgarian | Sarah Hancock | Sandra Urie and Frank Herron | Pat Carucci and Debbie Johnston | Lisa and Stephen Lebovitz | Francine Rosenzweig | Alexis Wintersteen

Supporter Sponsors

Karen and Roger Andrews | Anne Benning | The Donahue Family | State Street Corporation | Watertown Savings Bank

Friend Sponsors
Anonymous | BNY Mellon | Caroline Baumal, MD | East Cambridge Savings Bank | Eve Horwitz and Steve Emmerich | Margaret Hall | Piper Hawes | Carol and Joseph Jankowski | Karen and Herb Kavet | Ann L. Keenan | Pamela and Tom Lynch | Rich May, P.C. | Helen Chin Schlichte | Jane and David Shurtleff

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