Did you have your own experiences with dating violence?
Yes, unfortunately at the age of 17 & 22 I experienced dating violence.
How did you come up with the concept for Brighter Within
I came up with the concept of Brighter Within in graduate school. I knew what I went through and after doing tons of research, turning in my thesis and consulting with other students. I knew there was a true need for the program in my community.
People begin or support organizations that they are passionate about. Why are you passionate about the services that your organization provides?
I’m passionate about the services BW provides is due to the need in the community. I remember growing up and the same programs today being offered. I wish there was a program when I was growing up like BW. Due to the violence in my community, I could not take full advantage of some of the programs. I take boys and girls from five different towns/cities in a non-judgmental, non-bullying event and provide them with the tools they need to be successful in life.
Brighter Within supports both females and males. Is your male participation where you would like it to be?
Actually, our boys program has exceeded my expectations. The boys are really committed to the program and love coming.
Are the young people responsive to the techniques that they learn in workshops? Can you give some success examples?
Almost a lot of the services we provide for our youth. Our main goal is to provide them with the tools they need to be successful in life. Our youth have been very responsive. For instance we had a youth who who’s friend showed signs of being aggressive in a relationship. His friend was very controlling and verbally abusive to his girlfriend. The friend was in college and the girl friend was still in high school. That day we went over teen dating violence and after our group. I was approached by the young man and I was able to arrange an intervention with the parents. Once the young man saw what path he was going down he changed his ways. I actually received a Thank You card from the girl friend and the family. They had no idea what was going on.
Why do you personally think that dating violence is a reality? How is society responsible for the actions of young people?
Unfortunately we hear too often about dating violence. From the news to the celebrities below:
Jovan Belcher victim: Kasandra Perkins
Ray Rice victim: Mrs. Rice
Chris Terry victim: Wife
Ray McDonald victim: Fiancé
Society is responsible when they see a need and does nothing resolve the problem.
What kinds of things need to happen or change in society to make a difference for young people today?
A lot of our youth follow everything that see, from in movies, videos, and in the music industry. Our youth need more people that would like to step up to the plate as role models.
How can young people learn to be different when they are bombarded with sex and violence through a variety of media?
A strong foundation at home will assist youth with the peer pressure today. Teaching our youth early to not be a follower, and to carry themselves as a positive role model as well, because our younger children are looking up to them.
How long has your Brighter Within been running?
Brighter Within was founded in 2012. However, the concept was created in 2010.
How many young people has the organization been able to help?
Brighter Within has been able to assist over 200 people with our various services.
Why kinds of things do you need to, first, keep the organization running and second, to be able to grow to accommodate more young people?
Without funding, the support from our community, and a larger space it’s would be impossible to keep BW growing and running smoothly to accommodate the need in the community.
Where do the adult volunteers come from and how do they find out about you?
Most of our volunteers find us through social media and word of mouth. Our volunteers are mostly in college and/or recently graduated.
Tell us about the Women’s Circle. How did that get started, who is invited and what is the goal?
The Women’s Circle started as a club for Women entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs. This group was started as a support system for female entrepreneurs. One of the biggest reasons businesses fail during the first five years of starting is due to the lack of support and education. The goal of the services is to be a support system for women who are entrepreneurs and provide them with the tools they need to keep their business open.
What plans or aspirations do you have for the future for Brighter Within?
The possibilities of BW are endless. I would love to have our programs/services fully funded and free to youth in NY/CT and MA.
For more information or to find ways that you can help, please contact:
Tasheena N. Womack
Chief Executive Director
Brighter Within, Inc.