#helpthehomeless#

Homelessness is a rampant problem. In the United States alone, half a million people are homeless. Of that, one quarter of them are children. Veterans make up much of the homeless population on any given night, and 90 percent of homeless women are simply without a home, due to fleeing domestic violence.

Often, homeless people are thought of as:

  • dirty
  • uneducated
  • addicted to drugs and/or alcohol
  • irresponsible with money
  • lazy

The stereotypes that homeless people are put in do not fit the category of all homeless people:  Often, they feel ashamed or embarrassed to be labeled “homeless” as it is not what they want for themselves or their families, and there is the fear of judgment on why they have become homeless, when there are many circumstances beyond their control that led them to this situation. There are valid causes for homelessness that include:

  • poverty
  • lack of employment opportunities
  • decrease in public assistance for individuals and/or families struggling to make ends meet
  • mental illness
  • individuals escaping domestic violence and abuse
  • lack of financial means to obtain housing if a person’s job doesn’t provide the wages

Poverty is a major factor that contributes to the homelessness epidemic. A lack of employment opportunities, combined with a decline in public assistance leaves low-income families just an illness or accident away from being put out on the streets.-

Being homeless carries heightened risk of being raped or robbed.  The statistics are frightening:

  • 70% of homeless youth report experiencing some form of violence, 32% of which includes sexual assault
  • Lifetime risk for violent victimization for homeless women with mental illness is 97%, making sexual violence a normative experience for this population
Unique, the founder of LovenMe, is seeking support to help her as she is currently experiencing homelessness.  She wants people to hear her story – and understand – that anyone can become homeless – and it is heart-wrenching and devastating to have to go through that. Please see the links below and help Unique through her GoFundMe Page.  She was featured in the news on KTVU.  See the links below:
 

References:

http://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/NSAC11_Handouts/NSAC11_Handout_With_Statistics.pdf, moveforhunger.org, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-quigley/ten-facts-about-homelessn_b_5977946.html

Accepting Your Identity

In this day and age, it seems that society is growing more and more comfortable with people coming out as members of the LGBT+ community. This is fantastic news for everyone, and shows that we as a people are progressing.

However, if you live in a household that is less than tolerant, coming out can be a very stressful and scary process to go through. Homophobia – though it’s slowly receding – still affects countless people, and is incredibly hurtful. I figured out that I wasn’t heterosexual in 8th grade, but since LGBT+ issues weren’t spoken about at school or home, I had a very hard time figuring out how to accept who I was. When I came out to my mom, it was during a fight, and she was not very accepting of who I was. This only increased the stress I faced from people judging me based on my sexual orientation, and forced me to feel bad about who I did and did not feel attracted to. Now, thanks to amazing friends, I was able to accept who I am and love myself and my orientation.

If you are currently working through or know someone who is having a hard time accepting their identity, Love n Me is a wonderful organization that provides a variety of services to LGBT+ youth, including:

  • One-on-one support
  • Coming out support groups
  • Family/individual counseling
  • Discussion groups
  • Crisis intervention
  • Youth community resources

To get in contact with the organization and request help, call 1-510-265-0583, or visit lovenme.org

 

Shelly Pevchin

She’s Not Asking For It

When I opened Facebook a few months ago, I saw a link being furiously shared by a few of my friends on their newsfeeds. I was curious as to what the letter was about, but never really took the time to open it up and read. Fast forward to the next day, ABC news dedicates a segment to the Stanford rape victim’s moving and powerful statement to her aggressor. After watching the clip, I went back and opened up the letter, only to feel an utter sense of digust, anger,  fear, and sadness, and questioning why people are inclined to commit such horrid crime in the first place. I wanted to do something, but never had I felt so powerless in a situation before. I wanted to get the victim justice but did not know the avenues of the solution. Ever since that news telecast and the viral letter, the infamous Brock Turner and his elementary sentence served as a representation of the growing issue of campus rape.

Judge Persky only sentenced Turner to 6 months in prison for a crime that traditionally deserves 14 years on account that Turner, an aspiring Olympic swimmer, would be “severely impacted” by an excessive sentence. In addition to our justice system’s misconduct in providing a consistent sentence, comments like “you shouldn’t have been drinking in the first place” and “what were you wearing” and “ Were you asking for it” scoured the internet in a whirlwind of misogeny and victim blaming and shaming.

This is what’s wrong with our justice system and how we as individuals regard sexual assault. What’s worse is that our tendencies are aligning to a steady statistic that one in five women are likely to be raped or sexually assaulted during their college years.

The problem undoubtedly exists, but solutions to loopholes in our justice system and a shift in rape culture advanced by our own responses to tragedies like these need to be in place. We are on the right track with legislation like President Obama’s and VP Biden’s “It’s on Us” campaign and the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, as well as better education of Title IX rights, but the fight doesn’t stop there.

If you are ever a victim to any unwanted sexual aggression, assault, or rape, remaining silent may be one of your biggest enemies. Please reach out for emotional and physical help, as you have an entire community that will listen to your story and care for you. Never feel any less because of your circumstances. You may not know who I am behind this screen typing, but I want you to know that I, and countless others, will stand with you in your times of struggles. Love N’ Me provides Support Groups and One-On-One Counseling – If you have suffered through a traumatic event, you need a safe place to be able to share your private thoughts without worrying about judgment, criticism, or endangerment. Love n Me offers a protected and encouraging environment for women to open up and begin the healing process. Private counseling is also available – a perfect option for those of us who are more comfortable talking one-on-one instead of in a group setting and many other chances for you to share your experiences. In addition to these counseling sessions, become an advocate for change through Love N’ Me’s advocacy group. Let’s be a part of a larger effort to instill change in our communities and let us not stay silent.

Contact us or call 1-510-265-0583 to learn more about our Love n Me Support Groups and Counseling.

Nickita Gupta

Treat Yo’ Self

We cook, we clean, we take care of children: our traditional sentiment of a domesticated female gender role. However today, we not only do the former, but we work, we delegate, we conduct, and we innovate. The women in my life — my teachers, my sister, my mom, and my fellow peers always go the extra mile in everything they do, but often at the cost of sacrificing a lot of themselves to care for others. It’s easy for us to get so caught up in the monotonous rush of high school, work, and the like, that we often forget to take care of ourselves, both emotionally and physically. Though we may not noticed it, we are guilty of sometimes taking the powerful individuals in our life for granted.

Love N’ Me provides the services to help rejuvenate and empower women in a multitude of ways. The website has information about Activities and Retreats for Taking Care of You, as a  chance to get away for some quality me time. Love n Me offers a variety of fun activities to accomplish exactly that. Enjoy a luncheon or dinner with other interesting and empowered women, be inspired by a seminar featuring strong, smart women who’ve created amazing lives for themselves, treat yourself to some pampering at the spa, take a workshop to help you tap into your inner strength. The key is to put the focus back on yourself and recharge.

Interested? Give Love N’ Me a call at l 1-510-265-0583 for more information!

Nickita Gupta

PS. The title is inspired by female icon Donna Meagle’s empowering mantra from the NBC television show Parks and Recreation

Still I Rise

 

Since when did identifying as a feminist become a bad thing? The term feminism has existed as a broad umbrella term for many decades now, and the idea of female empowerment has been reinvigorated in recent years. From the He for She UN campaign to Malala Yousafzai’s international literacy movement to the national Women’s Marches in our own backyard, our gender is taking a stand. But a stand for what, some may ask?

Generally, I’ve seen that women have their own connection to why feminism holds a large part in their life, stemming from an unfair, unjust experience where women felt they were not being treated equally. I feel that I have been cultured to embody the values of a feminist largely in part to seeing strong, ambitious, and independent women in my family and community.

This brings me to what being a feminist is really about for many women. Contrary to the skeptics, feminism is not about putting the male gender down or advancing an almighty pro-woman agenda through hyper-agression, but is a struggle for equality. Equality in treatment, equality in pay, equality in literacy, equality in healthcare to name a few. As a 17-year-old feminist myself, all I want is to be treated fairly and equally and to not feel pressured by my surroundings for being a woman. I want to be treated as a human before I am stereotyped as a gender.

If you are looking to embrace the feminist cause, I highly urge you to explore this website and look for amazing opportunities for the advancement of equal opportunities for women. Whether you not you need some of the comprehensive services provided, or simply want to get involved in the fight, we could use all the help we can get to advancing equality.

Love N’ Me provides services like Youth Development Workshops – Love ‘n Me Youth Development Workshops help girls achieve a sense of empowerment through the active pursuit of their personal goals. By making positive changes in their lives, these girls build up their confidence, ambitions, and leadership skills.

It is important that the workshops take place in a nurturing environment (schools, community centers, shelters, foster group homes) so that the girls feel comfortable talking about difficult topics. Discussions can range from family and school life to personal relationships and sex education. The workshops can be enhanced with an additional service such as big sister mentoring, court advocacy, or community transitioning. Sessions last an hour and have the option of a group or one-on-one setting.

Contact us or call 1-510-265-0583 to learn more about Love n Me’s Youth Development Workshops and schedules.

Nickita Gupta

The Struggle With Self Esteem

With the expansion of social media over the past several years teenagers everywhere spend large portions of their day engaged in online interactions. The advent of Snapchat, Instagram, and other social media outlets in addition to Facebook, have created a means for students to interact without being watched over carefully by parent figures. As a result teenagers can adopt personas online which they are unable to in reality. Often, feelings of inferiority and anger in person can be taken out on others online. This kind of interaction may result in cyber bullying – a dangerous and personally damaging attack online.

In high school I have witnessed many attacks of cyber bullying, luckily none of which were directed at me. Such attacks included rants against others written and shared publicly on social media sites. Others included the sharing of conversations between individuals to those whom they were not intended. The results of such attacks have been broken friendships as well feuds between friend groups. If the cyber bullying was directed at a single individual as opposed to a group, the individual may feel targeted and fall into depression if they lack a proper support group.

This is one area where Love n Me can help students. If a teenager is in need of support against such cyber bullying or in person bullying, counselors at Love n Me can help combat such struggles and ensure that students come out stronger than ever. Love n Me focuses on teenage empowerment and this is a meaningful way of doing so.

Appreciating Yourself

All of the seniors in high school know that college decisions are coming out right now, and emotions are running high. It’s very common for people to be competitive when it comes to how many and which universities students are accepted to, but it can be very hurtful at times.

We aren’t all the same person. We have different backgrounds, strengths, and weaknesses, and it’s important to remember that the insignia on a person’s diploma does not define them for the rest of their life. Every high school senior is stressed right now. After all, they’re turning 18 and have to make very important and difficult choices that will help determine how their lives will play out for at least the next 4 years. A lot of this stress turns into competitive energy because students want to prove that they’re good enough, and college acceptances are one way of showing off a person’s intelligence level. But this kind of energy can become very toxic and hurtful to those who haven’t been accepted to elite universities, those who plan to attend community college, and those who don’t have the option of higher education at all.

No matter where you end up going or what you plan on majoring, remember that you are more than a few letter grades. Mental health is key to living a happy and healthy life, so beating yourself up because your friends got into a fancy college that you didn’t make the cut for will just make things worse.

Love n Me has a variety of services that we are able to provide for girls in need of guidance, including counseling for self-esteem issues, academic guidance, career planning, and tutoring services.

If you are interested in any of the above or just need someone to talk to, call:

1-510-265-0583

or visit: www.lovenme.org/services-girls.html

 

Shelly Pevchin

Competing With Oneself

Within the competitive atmospheres of most high schools, comparing oneself to one’s peers can often lead to a drop in self esteem. As a result, many students minimize their accomplishments by stacking their own successes next to those of another. As is clearly apparent, this kind of judgement is hurtful to the student’s self esteem and may prevent them from reaching towards their full potential either academically or personally.

Sadly, most schools do very little when it comes to combating this kind of mental stress in student populations, thus leading to high stress levels and even higher rates of depression amongst teenagers. As someone who has compared their accomplishments to those of others and felt worse for it, I can vouch that doing so hurt my self esteem.

As a result services like those which Love n Me provide can truly help students build confidence and pride in their own skill set. Such confidence is key for highschoolers to develop and as a result individuals can grow mentally. Students must believe in themselves and their potential to reach their goals. Doing so is impossible without support groups and a positive attitude both of which Love n Me help develop in individuals who attend their programs. For all these reasons each of these programs is a powerful tool for students to excel not only in school but in their life overall.

-Shivali Baveja

The Power of Labels

As a female high school student who holds leadership positions in my student government, I often face a challenge that many leaders may face. As the ASB President of my school, I lead a group of 36 other individuals in school student events and help coordinate the events from different commissions. Often when I am doing my job (i.e. delegating, asking others to follow up on deadlines etc.) I am perceived as a bossy, nagging “mom-like” figure who only talks about work. Now don’t get me wrong, these negative labels may be self-perceived from my tendency to over analyze my own actions and how others will take them, but it got me wondering how other women felt. We don’t often think about it, but terms like “bossy” are greatly used as negative attributes for women, whereas for men, their delegation tactics are praised for the great control he is exercising over his team. This tendency for society to naturally attach defining labels to women more often than not, makes me realize the power these words hold. Removing these labels, reversing these stigmas, and changing our perceptions are the foundation upon empowering women.

Empowerment. Courage. Support. Services provided by this organization operate on providing women the emotional and physical support they need to be empowered. Love N’ Me provides peer resource groups, teen talk programs, and counseling programs as a chance for women to bond over their shared struggles and triumphs. It’s important that young women, including myself, start a conversation about the differences we see in our lives based solely on gender and what steps we can take to instill positive change.

-Nickita Gupta

Affirmative Consent

Whether in the near or distant future, many people will make the decision to engage in sexual activities. But to do so, you first need to understand consent and how to make sure that everyone involved is okay with what’s going on.

Consent can be complicated, and many people, especially college students, are often confused about where to draw the line. One of the problems is that there isn’t a single definition established anywhere that specifies what consent is and is not. This ambiguity leaves many confused, and creates a dangerous loophole for possible sexual assaults to occur.

In elementary school, most of us learn about how to “just say no” when we are put in uncomfortable situations, and this lesson usually carries over into discerning whether or not someone is consenting to engaging in sexual activities. But the issue with the “no means no” model is that it