From Combating Sexual Abuse to Granting Last Wishes, These Women Are Showing Their Worth
When Lauren Book was 11, her nanny – a woman who had built Book’s trust – began to sexually abuse her. It lasted six years.
When she was in her early 20s, in 2007, Book began Lauren’s Kids, to teach children as young as 5 how to recognize signs of abuse and what to do. The Aventura, Fla.-based organization developed Safer, Smarter Kids, a statewide sexual abuse prevention curriculum for kindergarteners. Book’s nonprofit also provides support to abuse victims and works to strengthen laws that prevent abuse and protect victims.
Last night at a ceremony in New York celebrating the 10 Women of Worth honorees of 2013, Book was announced as the National Honoree. Thousands of people from across the country voted online throughout November to pick the national favorite. For the distinction, Book will get $25,000 to support her work – on top of the $10,000 each of the 10 honorees receives.
L’Oréal Paris launched the Women of Worth program eight years ago to recognize women who, through selfless commitment to their communities, make a difference. Points of Light has been a part of the Women of Worth program since its inception. Throughout the year, Points of Light honors and supports women who use their time and experience to find solutions to tough social problems.
Book says the Women of Worth recognition validates her work and motivates her to do more: “Abuse changed me, but it did not break me. I consider myself a thriving survivor and will continue to advocate for sexual abuse victims and work to protect children from experiencing the same horror I did.”
Book’s fellow 2013 Women of Worth honorees are tackling a number of critical issues, including domestic violence, foster parenting and end-of-life wishes. Read about these inspiring women below. (For more about Women of Worth and the honorees, visit WomenofWorth.com.)
Meet the Honorees
Somy Ali - Miami Beach, Fla.
Throughout childhood, Somy witnessed severe domestic violence in her home. In 2006, she founded No More Tears to provide individualized assistance to domestic abuse victims and their children. The group offers a range of support services, including rent assistance, legal aid, counseling, language and driving instruction, and pediatric and dental care.
Tricia Baker - Plainsboro, N.J.
Tricia’s son, stricken with severe depression, committed suicide three weeks before his high school graduation. The stigma surrounding his death was so strong that his sister, who attended the same school, was socially ostracized. Tricia founded Attitudes In Reverse in 2010 to combat negative perceptions of mental illness and teach young people – through presentations at schools and colleges – about depression and suicide prevention.
Patricia Boles - San Marcos, Calif.
Patricia learned firsthand the unique difficulties of being a foster parent. She founded Straight From The Heart in 1998 to provide support and resources to foster families. Straight From The Heart volunteers distribute must-have items such as pajamas, blankets and clothing to foster children and provide mentoring to foster parents.
Maria D’Angelo - Santa Monica, Calif.
As an immigrant growing up in a low-income urban neighborhood, Maria knew poverty. As an adult, in 1993 she started the Children’s Lifesaving Foundation, which serves homeless and at-risk youths through various programs, including a summer camp and an after-school tutoring program designed to help kids get into college. The foundation also serves low-income and homeless families by providing housing and emergency financial assistance.
Kimberly Iverson - Scottsdale, Ariz.
As a hospice nurse, Kimberly heard from many terminally ill seniors about what they longed to do before they died. In 2011 she created Bucket List Foundation, which grants end-of-life or “bucket list” wishes to the terminally ill, including swimming with dolphins, riding in helicopters, meeting pro athletes and even reunions with estranged family members.
Lori Lee - Smithfield, N.C.
Having lost her 2-year-old son to leukemia, Lori knew the devastating lifestyle changes families experience while their children are in treatment. In 2004, Lori started the Me Fine Foundation to provide emotional and financial support – including mortgage payments and travel expenses – to families with children receiving treatment at two local hospitals.
Estella Pyfrom - West Palm Beach, Fla.
Estella’s Brilliant Bus is a state-of-the-art mobile learning center where children without home access to computers or the Internet can learn vital computer skills. After retiring from a 50-year career in education, Estella used her own savings to buy the bus. Since 2009, Estella has brought the bus regularly to local low-income neighborhoods. (Estella also won a Daily Point of Light Award from Points of Light this year. Read her profile here.)
Kaitlin Roig - Greenwich, Conn.
A first grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School at the time of the 2012 shootings, Kaitlin felt moved to develop a curriculum for K-5 school classrooms that fosters community building, friendship and conflict resolution. In 2013 she founded Classes 4 Classes, through which classmates create gift projects for kids in other classrooms. In return, the receiving students must design gift projects for other students – a chain reaction of goodwill.
Susan Garcia Trieschmann - Evanston, Ill.
A longtime volunteer and entrepreneur, Susan created Curt’s Café in 2012. At the nonprofit restaurant, at-risk youths – many of them ex-offenders considered to be unemployable – learn job and life skills through hands-on training. Employees receive personal and professional support and ongoing mentoring once they take new jobs or return to school.