Feb 10, 2015
Imagine a world with no violence. I am not talking about a world without guns but rather a world in which children can go to school every day without the threat of being bullied; A world in which women can live peacefully without being verbally, emotionally or physically battered; and a world in which men are permitted to express their feelings honestly and openly in ways, which build themselves and others. This is the world, which I envision.
For over ten years, I have been imagining a world in which youth of all ages feel empowered knowing that they each have unique gifts and talents that they are able to share with the world. I have been imagining a world in which all emerging adults have the skills and knowledge to take care of themselves ﬁnancially and emotionally. I imagine a world in which people are able to communicate to one another to express their needs and feelings kindly and compassionately in a way that does not put blame or threat upon others.
In 2007, I founded Azalea Blossom as a not for proﬁt 501c3 organization for the purpose of raising awareness, educating and preventing domestic violence and child abuse through the use of the creative and performing Arts. The “Bricks int he Wall” project, which brought awareness and education of domestic violence in its many forms came to fruition in March of that year when we celebrated the release of my “Bricks in the Wall” music video and CD with a series of concerts throughout New York State with my band. Women from nearby shelters and the general public attended the concerts while youth from community service groups made resource information available to all concert attendees.
After two years of working on and tweaking the curriculum, I launched my ﬁrst SAFE through the Arts programs in public middle schools throughout Upstate New York during the spring of 2009. After a weeklong residency of teaching the Arts-based curriculum based upon the three components of the program (Self-Aﬃrmation, Financial literacy and Education of non-violence), the students at each school created their own projects based on the components of the program using one of the Art forms (dance, theater, music, visual arts, ﬁlm etc). In addition, my band joined me for a ﬁnal assembly concert at the end of each SAFE through the Arts program in which chorus students joined the band for our ﬁnal song, “Believe”, a song, which I wrote to remind youth to always believe in themselves and their abilities.
Although Azalea Blossom has basically been on hiatus during the last year and a half, we are ready to rock and roll forward with new ideas and new plans, which includes the re-launching of the SAFE through the Arts program into kindergarten classes. The changes, which we have witnessed in the last two years, has helped us to realize the growing urgent need for all youth to receive empowerment and violence prevention education at an early age. Our Arts based approach is the perfect vehicle for students of all ages to assimilate the skills and tools required for empowering themselves. In addition, our newly revised Bricks in the Wall Shelter Project will bring education, healing, and music into women’s shelters throughout the NorthEast.
In order to do all of this, we need your help. We need volunteers including dedicated Board Members who can devote time, energy and professional expertise to our mission. In addition, ﬁscal contributions of any size are welcome and will be used towards the materials and personnel needed to run our programs. We keep an incredibly low overhead (our only expense right now is our PO box!) so that we can put almost 100% of the money we receive into our programming. There is no better time than Domestic Violence Awareness month to make a contribution- whether it be a gift of time, talent or treasure to Azalea Blossom or not for proﬁt organization helping to make the world a better, more peaceful place through the education, awareness of prevention of violence. And if you or someone you know is undergoing an abusive relationship-whether or not there is any physical violence- please be sure to reach out and contact one of the hotline numbers mentioned on the Azalea Blossom website for help and support.
We hope that you are enjoying a happy, healthy and vibrant New Year! Thank you for doing your part, even in a small way, to help to make the world a peaceful, safer and more equitable place for other