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Youth Villages’ 14th Annual Women of Excellence Breakfast raises more than $137,000 for Germaine Lawrence Campus

October 26, 2015
Ruby, Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus alumna, speaks at the Oct. 20 event in Boston.

Ruby, Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus alumna, speaks at the Oct. 20 event in Boston.

“I left Germaine Lawrence in December of 2011, and I have been self-harm free ever since. It was a long road to recovery that I am still walking, but with the love of my family and the support I receive through therapy and Youth Villages LifeSet, I know it’s only up from here. I am not weak because of my past. I am wiser, less selfish and more determined to make a change because of it.” – Ruby, Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus alumna

Two hundred and fifty guests showed their support for Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus at our Women of Excellence Event at the Sheraton Boston Hotel on Tuesday, October 20th. The event raised more than $137,000 to support the work the Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus is doing to improve the lives of adolescent girls. Event proceeds will also go to supporting the campus with extra curricular and experiential learning outings, which help the girls build confidence, develop new skills and find joy in learning. Thank you to our event co-chairs, Sabrina Baloun-Kavet and Stephanie Spector and to the Women of Excellence Event Committee for their dedication to Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence and for the time spent making this event a great success.

Thank you to Ruby for sharing her story about how the Germaine Lawrence Campus helped her on her path to success and Tegan for allowing us a view into her journey to stability and independent living.

View a photo gallery from the morning and watch the video below to learn about the positive impact Germaine Lawrence has on young girls.

We’re grateful to former Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley for helping us recognize the 2015 Youth Villages Women of Excellence honorees for their important work advancing the lives of girls across Massachusetts: Nurys Camargo, Bethany Casarjian, Ph.D., Neena McConnico, Ph.D., LMHC, Lily Konowitz. See full bios.

It’s not too late to support this important program!


Together, we are making a difference in the lives of girls at risk.

Thank you to our event sponsors:

Anita and Josh Bekenstein
Sandra and Paul Edgerley
Joanna and Jon Jacobson
Beth and Seth Klarman
Yvette and Peter Mulderry
Stephanie and Brian Spector

Jeffrey and Janet Glidden
Leerink Partners LLC
Martin and Tristin Mannion

Anonymous, Yvonne Hao, Lisa and Michael Josephson, Francine Rosenzweig, Vikram Savkar and Catherine Madden, Kim Syman and J.B. Lyon

AT&T, Anne Benning, The Boston Foundation, Donna Frieze, Julie Girts, Sarah Hancock, Kathleen Krueger, Kris and John Montgomery, Reebok International, Ltd., Sandra Urie and Frank Herron

Helen Chin Schlichte, Kristin and John Howard, Reid and Tara Jordan, Pamela and Tom Lynch

Karen and Roger Andrews, Margaret Hall, Karen and Herb Kavet, Ann L. Keenan, Pat Mahoney, Jenna and Mark O’Donnell, Jane Philippi, Alexis Wintersteen

Women of Excellence Committee
Sabrina Baloun-Kavet and Stephanie Spector, Co-Chairs

Beth Backer, Anne Benning, Julie Girts, Kristin Howard, Pamela Lynch, Catherine Madden, Kris Montgomery, Carrie Murphy

Ruby’s remarks from the event:

Hello. I want to thank the lovely people at Youth Villages for asking me to speak today. It is an amazing opportunity and I appreciate being able to share my story and what I’ve learned from years of treatment. I want to start by saying that I do not consider my story to be a sad one. I choose not to place emphasis on the depression, pain, and suffering I faced as a teenager, but rather on the fact that I am a survivor. My story is one of survival and success. I look back now and smile at how far I have come, and how strong I had to be in order to get where I am today.I am not the same girl I was in high school. In high school, I faced numerous challenges and had not yet grown into a woman who could handle them effectively. I struggled with depression, self-harm, and suicidality, and ultimately required hospitalization. After my first round of hospital level care, I relapsed about a year later. My second time around, I was discharged from Children’s Hospital’s psychiatric ward to the Browning Building at Germaine Lawrence. I lived first at Browning, and then at Merck, and I am eternally grateful for the treatment I received at Germaine Lawrence.

When I first arrived there, I was having a very difficult time. I was suffering from dissociative episodes, in which I would lose touch with reality for a while. The best way to briefly explain that, for people who don’t know, is that my body couldn’t take the strong emotions I dealt with on a day to day basis, and so my mind shut down as a manner of self-defense against those feelings. It was a scary time for me, and most definitely for my loved ones. Germaine Lawrence helped me develop coping skills to combat my dissociative tendencies. For example, as strange as it sounds, I used carry around frozen oranges on days when I was having a rough time. The coldness in my hand helped keep me aware and present. Coping mechanisms like this enabled me to remain in a rational state of mind, and I still use them on days when I feel emotionally overwhelmed. However, I am happy to say that I have not suffered from a dissociative episode for a few years now thanks to the skills I developed at Germaine Lawrence, along with years of practice in identifying my emotions and handling them safely and effectively.

Germaine Lawrence also did a wonderful job at working with my family. I didn’t know how to communicate when I was struggling to my parents. It was painful to talk about, and I can imagine that they didn’t enjoy hearing about it either. The staff helped me come up with a scale, and corresponding coping skills, that made check ins much easier. Instead of asking how I was doing, my mother could simply ask what number I was on my scale. This helped astronomically with our communication, and enabled her to help me help myself.

Towards the end of my stay at Germaine Lawrence, I had made improvements but I was still having a hard time. I had a massive support network, yet each day was a battle. I would get through the day, go to sleep, wake up and fight again. However, after a visit with my younger brother I had what I like to call a treatment epiphany. I didn’t want to spend my life in treatment centers. I wanted to stop surviving, and starting living my life. I knew I had a long way to go, but I found the extra strength I needed to start pushing towards my recovery goals. The ultimate goal? To get discharged, and never have to come back. I left Germaine Lawrence during the December of 2011, and I have been self-harm free ever since. It was a long road to recovery that I am still walking, but with the love of my family and the support I receive through therapy and Youth Villages LifeSet, I know it’s only up from here. I am not weak because of my past. I am wiser, less selfish, and more determined to make a change because of it.

I am a success story, and while it is easy to just look at that fact, the sad thing is that many young women and men are not. I have personally lost friends to depression and suicide. Friends who attended the same treatment programs I did. The issue is not in the residential programs that exist, but rather a lack of support upon discharge from the hospital. Leaving a residential unit does not mean someone is all better. Therapy is not always enough support to continue progressing in treatment. I had an amazing team of people fighting along with me, and I still struggled sometimes. Mentoring programs and organizations like Youth Villages can be the difference between improvement and regression.

Youth Villages has helped me to cultivate who I am as an individual and grow into an independent adult. If you ask my parents, they will tell you I am a much more self-reliant person now than I ever have been. I am happy, healthy, and at a point where I can start using my experience to help others. I personally want to thank the women who are being recognized today for all the hard work they are doing. You are providing a necessary support to numerous children, and helping them make better lives for themselves for the future. Works like these do not get recognized enough, and as someone who has relied on similar programs, thank you.

Thank you.

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