Teen describes how United Way helped her develop confidence

UMass Medical School Communications

November 16, 2015

The impact of charitable pledges from employees at UMass Medical School reaches near and far as the 2015 Commonwealth of Massachusetts Employees Charitable Campaign (COMECC) strives to achieve the ambitious goal of raising $400,000 this year.

When employees support COMECC, they can help young girls like Daishaneise use their voices confidently. Her story comes from the United Way of Central Massachusetts.

Fourteen-year old Daishaneise comes from a single parent home. Her father was, in her words, “not the best father.” Adding to that stress, she said she was being bullied at school and did not have anywhere to go where she felt safe. The Dear World Program at Girls Inc. has given her that safe place, a place that helps her develop the tools she needs to deal with bullies at school, a place that has taught her how to have healthy relationships. The Dear World Program is just one of the many programs supported through donations to the Women’s Initiative of the United Way of Central Massachusetts.

Through the Dear World Program, Daishaneise has learned that the bully is not the bigger person and to “brush off” anyone who tried to bully her.

Daishaniese learned to use her voice confidently. She learned that “no” is just as easy to say as “yes” and now believes in the power of having a “no” boundary. When she says “no,” she means it. Daishaneise said she has also learned that she has a lot to say and that what she has to say is not only important, but that the world wants to hear it.

Daishaneise is celebrating being her own person, with her own way of expressing herself. She said she now believes that, even though she is one of many people, she does not need to be like everyone else. She realizes that a woman’s journey is not an easy one and that she must be able to stand up for herself and stand out from the crowd.

When asked why she felt it was important to make sure that the United Way and the Women’s Initiative fund programs like Dear World, Daishanese said, “There are girls getting into trouble and there are girls out there who don’t feel safe. This is a place for them to find a safety place.”

Funding for Girls Inc.’s Dear World Program is made possible by donations to the Women’s Initiative of the United Way of Central Massachusetts. Dear World is a unique expressive arts program where girls can explore a variety of arts modalities. Girls use dance, theatre, voice, visual arts and graphic arts as a platform to let their voices be heard and to educate their peers, younger girls and the greater community on what it’s like to be a girl growing up in today’s world. They focus on issues including peer pressure, bullying, body image, healthy relationships and personal values.

This year, for the first time, the UMMS COMECC is fully online. Employees can view a complete list of COMECC charities and pledge or donate at https://www.umassmed.edu/COMECCDonate. With more than 1,000 pre-screened non-profits to choose from, COMECC gives employees the opportunity to direct their contributions to a charity doing impactful work on the causes they care most about.

The statewide campaign, which runs through Nov. 25. UMMS has traditionally been among the leading sources of donations to COMECC. Last year, contributions from UMMS employees comprised nearly 25 percent of the total amount raised.

For more information, visit the UMMS COMECC web page.

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