Clothesline Project 2009

To honor Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the chapter of the American Medical Women's Association on the campus of the USC Keck School of Medicine invited VIP to join with them in their annual Clothesline Project. Women and children in treatment at VIP who have been victims of or witnesses to domestic violence were invited to turn a plain white t-shirt into an emotional statement with paint, pen and tears. This form of art therapy is a safe medium of self-expression and offers those who have been impacted by violence a chance to make an anonymous but powerful statement to the world.pc030011

The finished products were hung on a clothesline and strung across the quad at the Medical School by AMWA members in early December to serve as a reminder to current and future healthcare practitioners on the USC campus about the importance of domestic violence screenings.

Some of the shirts made very powerful statements considering they were designed by children. "I'm mad because people treat people like animals."

pc030017The Clothesline Project was started in 1990 by a coalition of women’s organizations in Cape Cod, MA, to give context to the statistics of domestic violence in the United States. Today, institutions and organizations throughout the country conduct Clothesline Projects all year long as a way to keep attention on the epidemic of domestic violence in the U.S. For many years, AMWA and VIP have partnered in this unique event.

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Fashion with HEART

H.E.A.R.T. supporters Elizabeth Wiatt and Jamie Tisch have opened a wonderful new store, Fashionology, for young girls with a penchant for design. The retail boutique turns the design process over to the child and allows them to test the limits of their imaginations and bring their dreams to life. Recently, Elizabeth, Jamie and H.E.A.R.T. Board member Alison Petrocelli put that passion for making dreams come true to work for H.E.A.R.T., and hosted an in-store fundraiser on November 19.

Dozens of enthusiastic mothers and daughters filled the boutique to make their own one-of-a-kind clothing. The store donated a portion of the afternoon’s proceeds to H.E.A.R.T. as well as put together special gift bags with clothes and stuffed animals that guests could buy and have given to a girl in need during the holiday season. H.E.A.R.T. Board member and actress Shiva Rose and her daughter Collette McDermott were on hand as were other H.E.A.R.T. board members, supporters and friends like Linda Rubin, Gillian Wynn, Gelila Puck, Jamie, and Elizabeth and her daughter.

"Fashionology is proud to support H.E.A.R.T. and the incredible work they do with young victims in our community," said Elizabeth. "One of our missions is to empower young girls and our commitment to H.E.A.R.T. allows us to be a small part of their work in healing."

The color and energy inside Fashionology was the perfect backdrop for an event intended to build up resources and support for girls who have been so tortured that they stop believing in their own future or their own self-worth.

"Elizabeth and Jamie have been H.E.A.R.T. supporters for many years and when we first discussed having an event at their store we knew it would be especially fitting at this time of year," shared Alison. "The gift bags the store is selling will be so welcome by moms who may have no other gift to give their little girl. And the money we raised will help H.E.A.R.T. provide so many children and families with those little extras that can make it a happy holiday season."

H.E.A.R.T. was founded in 2003 to provide those things that traditional sources of funding will not cover, like clean clothes and underwear for sexual assault victims who have to surrender their torn, tattered garments as evidence. H.E.A.R.T. also makes sure that every child who comes into the VIP clinic to be examined for physical or sexual assault is given a stuffed animal. That’s around 8,000 stuffed animals each year. Doctors and nurses report that this simple item is incredibly powerful. It gives frightened children something to hold onto, a comforting presence with whom to be sad, mad, happy, angry or scared.

VIP and the women of H.E.A.R.T. are incredibly grateful to Alison, Elizabeth and Jamie and the team at Fashionology for opening the store and their hearts to so many children and organizing such a successful event.

H.E.A.R.T. and Fashionology even made an "impact" on the editors at the Huffington Post!

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USC Medical Students Speak Out for VIP

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and VIP would like to take a moment to say thank you to Anna Beavis, Analisa Armstrong and all the other women of the USC Keck School of Medicine who raised their voices and gave their time earlier this year in support of women who have been abused. Once again the women of USC staged a wonderful production of The Vagina Monologues, and donated the proceeds from ticket sales to VIP.  Their gift will help VIP continue to provide 24-hour support services to victims of domestic violence and world class medical care and crisis intervention to women who have been sexually assaulted.

VIP is proud to have had a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the Keck School and its students, many of whom serve as tutors and mentors to our child clients. Check back in the spring to find out the dates of next year's production of The Vagina Monologues and to reserve your tickets.

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VIP Goes Back to School
I met him Tuesday afternoon when he came by my office with his therapist who wanted to pick up some grocery cards for his family. He and his sister had quietly shared that all they had been eating all week was pancakes. Mom admitted that they were out of money and she was trying to make the few staples she had left in the cupboard last as long as she could. Luckily, a recent gift from VIP supporter and acclaimed author Cornelia Funke meant we were able to help his family buy food for the week. 

We let him sign his name when they came to pick up the cards. The shy seven year old seemed to know how important this was so he took his time, pausing between each perfectly formed letter to get it just right. When he was done I handed the cards and the paperwork to his therapist to take to his mom. He gave me a very small but sincere smile as they left.

The next day was our Back to School Giveaway! Hundreds of children and parents came to pick out new backpacks stuffed with everything from scientific calculators for the teens to crayons for the kindergartners. I had been outside checking kids in for over an hour and then there he was at the front of the line. With the crowd and the excitement I almost didn't recognize him, but he lingered  just long enough staring at me out of the corner of his eye for me to make the connection and wish him luck in his quest for a bag. He nodded with purpose and made his way to the table of supplies for elementary school schildren.

When he was leaving he walked past me very slowly, looking up at me, twisting around to show me what he had picked out. I congratulated him and complimented him on his very cool choice, and that's when I finally got it - the big, ear-to-ear, two front teeth missing smile with laughing eyes and a sense of pride.back to school

The Back to School Giveaway on September 2, 2009, produced a lot of smiling faces, a lot of grateful parents, a lot of excited kids. Over 175, actually. That is how many backpacks we gave away. That is how many children – VIP clients, victims of abuse and neglect – you helped prepare for a year of hard work discovering the joys of learning. Some of them took their bags to the Education Center and proceeded to share with the other kids and happily trade green folders for yellow rulers. Others went into to see their therapist and spread out all their new treasures and explained what they could accomplish with each new tool. Every one of them spent the whole afternoon wearing their new backpacks with joy.

Thank you to everyone who purchased backpacks; rallied their neighbors, friends and family to hold drives to collect supplies; volunteered that day here at VIP; and gave their time and resources to send VIP kids back to school in style.

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