SAVE is Changing Lives

Since 1989, SAVE has been making a difference in the lives of both students and advisors. These inspiring stories show the importance of what SAVE chapters across the country are doing. Share your own story or help SAVE change the lives of youth in more schools and communities.

Brandon Boxler Washington, DC

Brandon Boxler
Washington, DC

 

 

“He then walked past me, went to his locker and grabbed a gun.”

Read Brandon's Story

“I joined SAVE as a high school freshman in 1997. I joined because I was scared and looking for a support group.  It seemed like every day at school I saw a fight, bullying, or other act of violence.

“The tipping point came after school one day when I saw two students yelling at each other in the courtyard.  Instead of pulling the students away from the fight, those watching the confrontation were yelling, “Fight, fight, fight,” and encouraging the two students to come to blows.  Eventually, one of the two students said to the other one: “I’ll see you in the parking lot.”  He then walked past me, went to his locker and grabbed a gun. For some reason, I confronted the student with the gun, said that violence was not the answer and told him to give me the gun. He complied and walked away from the parking lot. After this incident, I decided to join SAVE to collaborate with a group of peers who were trying to end the senseless violence I was seeing – and experiencing – each day at school.

“Among other things, our high school chapter started a peer mediation program, did public awareness campaigns about date rape and held “Stop the Violence” dances. We also hosted a program whereby our school would receive a prize for each week we went without a fight, with the prizes being donations from local businesses. If the school went one week without a fight, the school received free pizza at lunch. If we went two weeks, the teachers all wore funny costumes for a day. If we went three weeks, class let out 15 minutes early. And so on. After a few weeks of these incentives, I saw two students start yelling at each other in the cafeteria.  Instead of encouraging the students to fight, other students actually pulled them apart and told them to stop. I can’t say for sure that our incentive program led to that outcome, but I suspect it played a role.

“I could list a range of benefits of SAVE, such as improving my confidence, enhancing my public speaking skills and teaching me how to use conflict resolution skills in my everyday life.  But the main benefit of SAVE is that it plugged me into a network of other people (students, parents, police officers, guidance counselors, etc.) who care deeply about making our schools and communities safer.  These relationships have encouraged and inspired me to believe that we can have a more peaceful tomorrow if we just empower our youth to be leaders in the fight against violence.  I was able to experience firsthand that students can make a difference if adults support them along the way.”

Kit Evans Rock Island, IL

Kit Evans
Rock Island, IL

 

 

“I got involved because I saw a lot of domestic violence growing up.”

Read Kit's Story

“I got involved with SAVE at the age of 14 years old.  My high school counselor Mr. Jim Wise told me about SAVE and gave me the opportunity to join the organization as a member and also as a peer mediator in a program called PALS (Peer Action Leadership Success).  I got involved because I saw a lot of domestic violence growing up. I did not want to repeat that same story in my own personal life. SAVE gave me an alternative to see that violence did not have to be the reality.

“SAVE gave my school the content, language and curriculum needed to organize violence prevention initiatives on my high school and college campus. SAVE improved young people’s lives by giving them a positive outlet for service, advocating for violence and also leadership. The life skills learned through SAVE like leadership, standing up against injustice (crime and violence) and advocacy stay with young people for the rest of their lives.

“SAVE makes peace, not bullying, and not being involved in crime cool! SAVE changes the perspective for young people. Instead of falling under the peer pressure of a more violent school and community related to peer pressure, bullying, gun violence, and other issues related to violence it shifts the culture to speak about things like crime prevention, conflict management, and service projects. This is healthier for the school community and also for the young person’s personal life outside of school.”

Ariel Kantor
Chapel Hill, NC

 

“From fear of going to crowded shopping centers to bomb threats at my school and the constant ringing of sirens at home, violence has tremendously impacted my life.”

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“It is said that in our past lies our future. For me, my past resides in a small town in Israel known as Maale-Adumim, a town better recognized by its unsettled history in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than by its cultural antiquity. Growing up, I witnessed many of the expressions of violence that make up this conflict. From fear of going to crowded shopping centers to bomb threats at my school and the constant ringing of sirens at home, violence has tremendously impacted my life. Therefore, when my family emigrated from Israel and I found myself in the United States, a part of me wanted to leave the turbulence of my past behind, as well. However, I quickly found that no country is completely immune to violence and that this problem was no stranger to my new home, either. Similar to other immigrants beginning to make their way in their new countries, my first years in the United States were spent living in an underprivileged neighborhood. It was shocking to me to witness the new manifestations of violence surrounding my community, from alienation and abuse of foreigners at school to the incidents of drug abuse and gun violence at my apartment complex.

“Although I will always look back at those first few years in the United States as among the most challenging of my life, I also believe that these experiences have shaped my character and influenced the person I have become. I used my unique experiences and background to grow into a leader in my community and an advocate for violence prevention and social acceptance. Since my freshman year of high school, I have become closely involved in SAVE. Through my involvement in SAVE at the local and national levels, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to help coordinate interactive projects in schools, organize school-based projects, and contribute to movements that bring awareness to bullying, substance abuse, and dating violence. I am very grateful for these experiences; they have allowed me to form meaningful relationships and connections with students across the country who share similar passions and aspirations. My past has shaped my identity; it has defined the person I have become. I hope to use my past to grow as a person and leader and to impact the lives of others.”
 

Jaclyn Morton
Dallas, NC

 

“Being involved with SAVE has truly helped to concrete my purpose in life, which is to help people.” 

Read Jaclyn's Story

“When I entered High School in 2009, I desperately wanted to make a difference not only in my life and community, but in the lives of others around the country. I found this opportunity through SAVE, Students Against Violence Everywhere. I immediately began attending my schools bi-monthly SAVE meetings and became Secretary of my schools SAVE chapter. The following year, I became the President of the SAVE chapter of my school. Even with all of this involvement, I still wanted to do more for the violence and bullying epidemic so my advisor encouraged me to apply to the Youth Advisory Board and I was accepted onto the board. During my two years involved with the Youth Advisory Board, I held two positions, secretary and Chair. Those two years were the most powerful, meaningful and beneficial years of my life.

“Being involved with SAVE has truly helped to concrete my purpose in life, which is to help people. One of the greatest memories I have with my SAVE duties was getting the opportunity to speak with Dawn Orange, Mother of Alex Orange, the student who SAVE was started after. She told me that her sons memory and legacy would not still be alive if it were not for SAVE and all of the work that the organization does. She expressed her immense gratitude for all who are involved with Students Against Violence Everywhere. SAVE has opened so many doors for me, others around me and my community. It also has made a huge impact on the epidemic of bullying and has lowered the devastating statistics tremendously. Also, it has provided positive outlets for kids and adults of all ages to be themselves and to feel safe and comfortable. This organization will continue to shape my life and will always have an impact on the decisions I make. SAVE is one of a kind and for the organization, I am very grateful.”

Gerard WheelerAtlanta, GA</center.

Gerard Wheeler
Atlanta, GA

 

 

“He was a brother, a friend and someone’s child and he was taken from us.”

Read Gerard's Story

“I got involved with SAVE in high school at Highland School of Technology. I originally got in SAVE because I loved how SAVE made it cool to be nonviolent. I experienced a lot of situations where I witnessed a lot of violence and seeing a group of people who promoted nonviolence and wanted to change my environment made me join.

“I think that recently the biggest thing that has kept me involved with SAVE would have to be the death of my friend Dennis Hayle. Dennis was someone that everyone loved at our university. There was not one person that could say anything bad about this man. He was a brother, a friend and someone’s child and he was taken from us. It will be 5 years in January of 2014 that we lost him and it hurts to know that no one knows who killed him or the motive behind it. The fact that his family has to deal with the stress of never knowing what happened that night or who did it or even why they did it, is a pain that no one should have to bear. I think SAVE is a message that needs to be spread on every university, every high school, middle school, elementary school.”

 

Heather Hernandez
Poway, CA

 

 

“The tragedy that happened to Alex Orange will never be forgotten, but the impact his story has made has inspired so many to always do what’s right no matter the situation.”

Read Heather's Story

“I was introduced to SAVE when I was in my freshman year of high school at Poway High in San Diego, CA. I loved the story behind SAVE and what is stood for. I immediately started to get involved by attending the weekly meetings and joining the chapter’s efforts with giving to the community. My SAVE advisor informed me of an open position on the Youth Advisory Board and said I should apply. I had the opportunity to serve on the board for two years and in that time was able to meet students from around the world who also had been impacted by SAVE. SAVE is a wonderful organization that teaches students to have a voice and stand up for what is right. The tragedy that happened to Alex Orange will never be forgotten, but the impact his story has made has inspired so many to always do what’s right no matter the situation. SAVE is a great organization and I look forward to seeing its expansion in the future.”

Jim WiseHillsborough, NC

Jim Wise
Hillsborough, NC

 

“…I had students who were looking for a positive way to address some of the violence related issues at school and had wanted to start a club.”

Read Jim's Story

“I got involved in SAVE in 1997. I was working at Eastern Alamance HS as the school social worker and I had students who were looking for a positive way to address some of the violence related issues at school and had wanted to start a club. I had heard about SAVE from some other folks at a social work training I had attended and so sent for the information. We started our chapter that year and my involvement has grown since then to involvement at the national level.

“SAVE has given me an avenue to be in touch with hundreds of students over the years who want to make a positive impact on their schools and communities. By working with them I have been privileged to see some of the great ideas and positive energy they have translate into changes in climate and attitude in schools.  I’ve also seen SAVE be an incredible avenue for empowering students as leaders in their schools and on a national level. Getting to see SAVE students lead presentations and workshops in everything from elementary school classrooms and faculty meetings to national conferences and testifying in front of congress. It has been really gratifying for me to see several members of our original Youth Advisory Board who have moved on past college and into their professional lives and who continue to be involved with SAVE and in leadership positions on our Board of Directors and in some many of our events when we need volunteers. Once in SAVE always in SAVE.”

Haley Abernathy
Gastonia, NC

 

 

“I have definitely improved my leadership skills and I have also gotten better at handling certain situations.” 

Read Haley's Story

“I got involved during my freshman year because I wanted to do more community service and help stop bullying. My school has a soft spot for bullying because of the advertisement by SAVE/Rachael’s Challenge Club. Highland basically has a zero percent tolerance for violence due to our staff, students and SAVE chapter.

“The benefit of SAVE is the way you get to connect with people and make friends for life. SAVE allows you to help the community while gaining personal skills such as leadership. I have definitely improved my leadership skills and I have also gotten better at handling certain situations. SAVE is a very important organization and I believe every school should have a SAVE chapter.”

Katrina Reynolds
Ira, TX

 

 

“SAVE became a reason for me to get involved in the fight against violence and I have never regretted taking that stand.”

Read Katrina's Story

SAVE changed my life in 2007. I was serving as the school nurse and the National SAVE group was making their way through Texas. Our superintendent found out they were going to be in Lubbock, Texas and asked if I would take three of the juniors and just go and see what this was all about.

“We arrived at Lubbock bright and early and we found more than we expected.  That day SAVE changed my life. SAVE became a reason for me to get involved in the fight against violence and I have never regretted taking that stand. Our school at Ira is so proud of the SAVE program we have built. During the past six, nearly seven, years we have gone from three members to 24 in a high school group and 20 in a junior high group.  Our group has helped the homeless, raised money for children of abused homes, and walked in rallies for those who can’t speak for themselves due to violence. We have raised money to buy Christmas for children and families that were victims of violence. As well as participated in the National Rock-A-Thon, we have also had two of our members be on the National Youth Advisory Board and we were named the SAVE Chapter of the Year.

“But the biggest thing this group at Ira has done above all of this is they have grown to make a difference in their own school, in their own hallways, with their own students, and within their own lives! These students, as they graduate, send me a text or give me a call from college or a job, just to check on me. They say, ‘Katrina, you know I think had I not had a part in SAVE my life would have been different, but now I treat people differently. I know that everyone deserves the right to be heard and understood.’”

 

Gary WeartJohns Island, SC</center

Gary Weart
Johns Island, SC

 

 

“I have lost 14 students during my career to senseless violence.” 

Read Gary's Story

Alex Freeman Orange was one of my students.  He was in my home room, world history class, and also one of my athletes (football). I am one of the co-founders along with Angie Bynum. SAVE literally began on my kitchen table as a formulated plan that was the offspring of an idea by Angie voiced at a meeting in the West Charlotte cafeteria in early May of 1989.

SAVE empowers our youth to take a proactive leadership role in assuring that their schools and communities remain safe. These students are our first line of defense. They learn crime prevention techniques, conflict management skills, and participate in community service activities. These students become more vested in their schools and communities.  All of my own children have been active in the program. Personally, SAVE has been the most rewarding part of my 38+ years of teaching, coaching, and administrating. SAVE is my passion. I have lost 14 students during my career to senseless violence. Alex Orange was my eighth student murdered during the fifteenth year of my career. Needless to say, I was more than willing to support the efforts of these wonderful students.”

 

Amanda ElksGastonia, NC

Amanda Elks
Gastonia, NC

 

 

“I thought that I was only one person, how could I possibly make a difference?”

Read Amanda's Story

“As a young person, you don’t really think that your opinion or voice really matters, but I learned through SAVE that it most certainly does. SAVE being a student ran organization, and actually listening to student concerns and helping solve those problems, was amazing to me. I thought that I was only one person, how could I possibly make a difference? My question was answered in a big way when I went to my first SAVE Summit. I was in a room filled with close to 1,500 kids there for the same reason I was, to help end violence. I learned that I was not alone, and that together, we could all make a difference.

“I got involved in SAVE my freshman year of high school, honestly just to have an extracurricular activity for a college resume. Little did I know it was going to be much more than that! By my sophomore year I was the chapter president at my high school. My junior and senior year I served on the Youth Advisory Board and what an incredible experience that was. I participated in so many things that I will never forget. Being a YABer, I really saw what an impact I could have, and how many other people my age had the same passion I did. I helped contribute to the SAVE manual that still helps educate advisors and students all over the country. I helped plan and run two SAVE Summits. I was not a real shy person, but having to get up in front of a group of my peers and speak, really made me come out of my box and boosted my self-confidence. Traveling to Washington, D.C. and marching with thousands of people from all over the country, and knowing that they were there to help end violence was one of the best feelings in the world. I had opportunities, and participated in events, that had it not been for SAVE, I would have never done.”

Ami Parker
Bessemer City, NC

 

 

“As a school counselor, it is important for me to promote positive student decisions.”

Read Ami's Story

“We started a SAVE chapter when our school opened in August 2000.  Our county started a safe schools initiative for all high schools. SAVE has been a great way to cultivate a positive school climate and we have been actively involved for 13 years.

“As a school counselor, it is important for me to promote positive student decisions. I also like that the SAVE group is student-centered so that students are promoting the safety, conflict resolution, and other positive messages. We have a yearly rally to promote non-violence and positive decisions (including a strong emphasis on driving safety). We have a yearly talent show.  We participate in Mix It Up Day. We collect funds to sponsor families at the holidays. We help with special events at the Boys and Girls club. We have done clothing drives. Each year, students decide what fundraisers and activities we will pursue. SAVE helps me to have a cohesive message for all students to promote a positive school climate.”

Jenny Story

Jenny Suwanmanee
Chapel Hill, NC

“Over the past three years, SAVE has changed my life in a way I couldn’t even imagine.”

Read Jenny's Story

It seems just yesterday that I was walking around my school during the first few weeks of my freshman year looking around to see what clubs I should join when I came across the SAVE club booth. After talking to Ms. Coveney, the club advisor, I became very intrigued and excited about joining SAVE. Over the past three years, SAVE has changed my life in a way I couldn’t even imagine. Not only have I became friends with so many people all across the United States, but I also learned so much about what I’m capable of in preventing violence. Participating in different club events such as reading Twenty Twinkling Stars to kindergarten kids, incorporating SAVE into the school pep rallies, and organizing games and fun activities for the student body to participate in has helped me realize the importance of standing up for what you believe in and that nobody is alone in this world for everyone is able to find help especially through SAVE.

After two years of being a SAVE club member, I was given the privilege to be apart of the National SAVE Youth Advisory Board (YAB) the summer before my junior year and continuing into the 2015-2016 school year. Being a YAB, I have had so much fun helping organize the National SAVE Summit and by making friends with nine other YAB members this year, I’ve been able to educate my SAVE club with all the different violence prevention activities other SAVE Chapters and my other YAB members participate in. It has been an awesome three years being apart of SAVE at my school and learning how prevent violence locally and also extending my voice nationally through National SAVE. I plan on continuing to be apart of SAVE for the rest of my high school career and hope that I can contribute as much as possible to SAVE when I grow older.

 


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