WOBURN – Woburn Public Schools Superintendent Matthew Crowley wishes to recognize the hard work of the Meara Foundation and the educators and students who support it at Woburn High School during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The Meara Foundation was founded by Arlene Meara in memory of her daughter Shannon Lee Meara, a graduate of Woburn High School, who was a victim of dating violence and was killed in 2008 by an ex-boyfriend. The foundation’s mission is to prevent dating and domestic violence crimes by raising awareness through education initiatives at high schools.
For more than 10 years, the Meara Foundation has supported dozens of dating violence awareness and prevention initiatives at the high school. This year alone, proceeds from the foundation have helped educate 319 ninth-graders and 214 tenth-graders about dating violence, warning signs and ways to access resources.
Additionally, in the high school, the M.E.A.R.A. team, which is led by Wellness Department Head Diane Ivester and School Adjustment Counselor Loren Baccari and numerous peer leaders, serves as representatives for the foundation. The M.E.A.R.A. Team stands for Shannon Meara, Empowerment, Awareness, Relationships and Act. Peer leaders support the foundation in many ways throughout the school year, including attending domestic violence trainings, performing public speaking engagements, coordinating mini-awareness campaigns and promoting the school’s anonymous referral forms, which are for anyone who believes they or a peer may be experiencing domestic violence.
“Thank you to Arlene, the Meara Foundation, and our educators and students, for working on a regular basis to educate our high schoolers about the dangers of domestic and dating violence,” Superintendent Crowley said. “This is a critical topic and it is important that we talk about it not only during Domestic Violence Month, but throughout the whole school year. The overwhelming support from the foundation helps us support this goal.”
The foundation has also supported classes taught by experts from Respond Inc, school assemblies, parent trainings, presentations with guest speakers, R.A.D. self-defense training, scholarship opportunities and more.
About 10 students participate in weekly self-care groups facilitated by Baccari with an educator from Respond Inc. During these sessions, students learn about healthy communication, problem solving and coping skills.
“Arlene’s commitment to our district in memory of her daughter has been unwavering,” Baccari said. “Above all, we thank her for all the work she has done for our school community over the years. Because of her, hundreds of past and current students know how to access support should they ever be in a situation where they need help.”
Woburn Public Schools wishes to thank Respond Inc; Arlene Meara; Ivester; Baccari; Health Educators Lori Duran and Michael Carbone; Assistant Principal and Original M.E.A.R.A Co-Advisor Meg Patrissi; the late Jodi Fralick, a former health teacher at the school; and all others who support the foundation.
To learn more about domestic and dating violence and to access resources, please visit Respond Inc’s website here.
About Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is recognized each October, aims to increase awareness of the warning signs of domestic violence and connect those experiencing it with important resources and services.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 10 million people in the United States experience physical abuse by a partner every year. On average, one in three women and one in four men experience some form of physical violence committed by an intimate partner.