Supporters in the Spotlight: Tim Markison

In this new feature series by Safe At Home, you’ll get to meet some of our strongest supporters – and hear why they believe in our work.

When Tim Markison, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Athalonz, heard Joe Torre’s story, it felt so familiar to him.

Tim grew up wanting to be a professional baseball player. It was his greatest passion in life – and it was his safe refuge from the abuse he experienced as a child. Though his baseball skills got him to college, injuries ended his aspiration and left him wondering what came next.

As the years passed, despite being successful as an engineer and lawyer – as well as having a loving family – he still struggled with the emotional scars of his childhood experience. “I know firsthand the ill effects that carry over into adult life,” Tim shares. “For me, the emotional scarring and spiritual scarring festered causing me to feel worse about myself.”

Tim’s challenges with his self-esteem and self-worth are common among those who have experienced trauma – including violence and abuse – as children. Without early support, the long-term impacts of these experiences can be devastating.

Tim finally decided to seek out counseling to address his feelings. Over time, he came to realize that his struggles were directly connected to his experience – and that he had been living much of his life, even as an adult, in fear. “The thing that I’m working on most now is just letting go of fear. I lived my childhood in fear, there was no safe place for me. And that carried on into my adult life. And that over the last several years… is really starting to diminish. It’s an ongoing project.”

The journey to healing, hope, and empowerment can be lifelong. And as Tim has traveled this path, he realized he needed to speak up about his experience: “In my early days, I had no intentions of ever talking about what happened to me. I kept it very close and private because of the stigma. But I realized I can’t be silent anymore. As long as abuse stays in the dark, it will continue. I can’t accept that.”

His passion to draw attention to the issue and to make a safer world for children inspired him to seek out an organization that provided a safe place for children – and that’s how he connected to Safe At Home. “What struck me about the work is that it’s being in-school, working with kids to open up and creating a safety zone,” Tim shares. “I also appreciate how efficiently Safe At Home is run, so much of the funds raised go directly to support kids. That’s what a charity is supposed to be about.”

Charity and helping others are important parts of Tim’s life. Just over a decade ago, Tim founded Athalonz – a company that engineers performance optimization gear for athletes. Known for their performance enhancing golf shoes, Athalonz’s approach was to combine the strengths of its core team to help athletes achieve at their highest levels.

“I always kept my passion for baseball. 10 years ago, I went to a pro ball camp for adults and met Rick Adair – a former pitching coach for the Orioles. He shared this drill that he used after studying Hall of Fame pitchers to keep the lower half of the body positioned more effectively – and that made me think of how equipment, such as a shoe, might help someone naturally position that way as they pitch.”

From that conversation with Adair, Markison paired his engineering and legal background with the expertise of an orthopedic surgeon and a sports scientist to create the perfect shoe. Their products now not only enhance athletic performance, but have also have helped numerous customers with their health and posture.

Athalonz’s mission is to make the world a better place. Tim feels that purpose is twofold. “We do that with the products we make – we help athletes play their sport better and to feel better. Better play equals a better day. But we also do that with the humanitarian efforts we support.”

For Tim and Athalonz, that approach of doing good and making a better world means that they need to give back. A portion of all sales of Athalonz gear is donated to Safe At Home’s programs, not to mention the generous support their employees – including Tim – have provided over the last three years of partnership. Safe At Home is grateful to Tim and the Athalonz team for supporting our mission.

To learn more about Athalonz, visit their website. You can also read their blog, where Tim shares his insight and stories, and tune into their podcast.

Safe At Home Doubles Program Reach in LA

JOE TORRE SAFE AT HOME FOUNDATION DOUBLES PROGRAMMING REACH IN LOS ANGELES WITH HELP OF THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH AND LOS ANGELES COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION

Expanded Virtual Programming and Services Help Children Impacted by Violence and Abuse in Homes, Schools and Communities

LOS ANGELES, CA, March 4, 2021 – The Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation today announced that it has expanded its programming in Los Angeles, doubling its reach to students in Los Angeles County schools. This expansion is part of a growing partnership with the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s (LACOE) community schools initiative, with support provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH).

Safe At Home’s mission is to end the cycle of domestic violence through education. The organization’s Los Angeles programming provides healing, hope, and empowerment to youth who have witnessed or experienced violence and abuse. Due to COVID-19, Safe At Home shifted to virtual programming and counseling through its partnerships with the schools. The LACOE community schools model is a strategy aimed at disrupting poverty and addressing longstanding inequities. The approach highlights areas of need and leverages community resources so students are healthy, prepared for college and ready to succeed in the workplace and in civic life.

“For nearly ten years in Los Angeles, Safe At Home has provided life-changing services to children exposed to violence and abuse,” said Joe Torre, Co-Founder and Chairman, the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation. “Domestic violence exists behind closed doors, and the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us staying at home didn’t always mean being safe at home. We have seen a concerning and dramatic increase in domestic violence during this challenging time. It is critical that we expand our services now and reach children virtually in these situations. We are so grateful for the support of both the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s community schools initiative.”

“DMH continues to expand its support for LACOE’s community schools initiative though funding Margaret’s Place and this important work,” said Dr. Jonathan E. Sherin, Director, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

Through Safe At Home’s previous locations in Los Angeles, it reached more than 5,000 students a year. There are currently three Safe At Home locations currently actively operating in Los Angeles, in addition to the ten Safe At Home locations in New York, New Jersey and Ohio. Beginning December 2020, Safe At Home doubled its programming reach as it expands into six additional schools, many in separate districts across Los Angeles County:

  • Bassett High School, Bassett Unified School District
  • Centennial High School, Compton Unified School District
  • Duarte High School, Duarte Unified School District
  • John H. Glenn High School, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District
  • Santa Monica High School, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District
  • Southeast Academy High School, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District

“Due to everyone being isolated during this pandemic, children facing domestic violence and abuse can go unnoticed since they are not physically attending school or other facilities where mandated reporters can intervene and ensure they get help,” said Debra Duardo, Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools. “Our partnership with Safe At Home supports our Community Schools initiative to attend to the needs of the whole child and ensure that all our young people are emotionally and physically healthy and ready to learn.”

Safe At Home, which helps children impacted by violence and abuse in their homes, schools, and communities, has reached more than 100,000 students since its founding. Safe At Home helps young people cope with their experiences and get on the path to healing, hope, and empowerment. Safe At Home’s signature program is a school-based safe room called Margaret’s Place, named in honor of Joe Torre’s mother. Each Margaret’s Place is staffed by a full-time, master’s-level therapist who provides both individual and group counseling sessions. Additionally, each Margaret’s Place program has a peer leadership program, which supports youth as they foster social, organizational, and leadership skills, and empowers young people to be change agents in their communities. Safe At Home also offers an intern program for alumni of the Margaret’s Place program who have demonstrated responsibility and leadership potential. Alumni staff assist in managing the peer leadership program, create and lead workshops, ensure that youth voice is present in its work, provides professional development opportunities for alumni, and establishes a relatable point of access for students. With the additional funding in Los Angeles, Safe At Home plans to launch its successful alumni program to its schools in California.

“We are incredibly grateful to double our reach in Los Angeles, reaching approximately 5,000 children in the 2019-20 school year to now more than 13,000 children in Los Angeles County alone,” said Ali Torre, President, Safe At Home. “The impact of domestic violence and abuse on children, families and communities can be devastating and the pandemic exacerbates the situation. Bringing our resources and services directly into school programming will help us end the cycle of domestic violence and, ultimately, save lives.”

Take a moment to meet some of our Los Angeles staff by checking out our Facebook page!

Partnering with New York State OPDV

Joe Torre Safe At Home is proud to announce that we are partnering with the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) on their Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month initiative throughout February. OPDV will be running a month-long social media campaign, and will also be meeting with some of Safe At Home’s peer leaders to talk about teen dating violence, and how more resources can be made available to support healthy relationships among youth.

The New York Governor’s Office has prepared a full list of resources and informational guides that can be accessed online now.

A full press release about the initiative is printed below.

For Immediate Release: 2/9/2021

NEW YORK STATE MARKS TEEN DATING ABUSE AWARENESS MONTH, ILLUMINATING ALFRED E. SMITH BUILDING FOR WEAR ORANGE DAY

Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Kicks off Year-Long Social Media Campaign, Partnership with Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation to Prevent Teen Dating Abuse

Governor Cuomo Issues Proclamation to Raise Awareness of Teen Dating Abuse

The Alfred E. Smith Building, home to the state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, will be illuminated orange this evening to mark Teen Dating Abuse Awareness Month and “Wear Orange Day,” a nationally recognized initiative aimed at raising awareness about teen dating violence through prevention education. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued a proclamation designating February Teen Dating Abuse Awareness Month in New York State, while OPDV announced a month-long social media campaign, a year-long outreach effort to raise awareness about teen dating abuse and a forum with the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation to engage teens and help service providers develop best strategies to respond to and prevent dating abuse.

“As we continue our work to be survivor-centered in New York State, listening to voices of every age and experience is essential,” OPDV Executive Director Kelli Owens said. “This February, we are eager to focus on listening to teens’ input on dating abuse and highlight the tactics used even more frequently among this population, such as cyber abuse. We thank Governor Cuomo for his continued commitment to increasing awareness of the many facets of gender-based violence. We look forward to our ongoing collaboration with organizations such as the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation to elevate the voices of young people throughout New York State.”

New York State has been a national leader in advancing the rights of women and girls, and OPDV is reaching out to teens and the adults who they interact with to assist with recognizing the signs of dating abuse, identifying means to prevent it and ensuring that teens find the support they need. OPDV’s forum with the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation, which provides violence prevention and intervention services, will be private so teens can freely explore the signs of dating abuse and their responses to it. The forum will be part of a year-long campaign focused on listening to teens and giving them a voice.

OPDV will also mobilize a teen advisory group, launch a teen Instagram page and release YouTube videos. The social media platforms will host user-generated content, live chats, surveys and educational materials for both teens and the adults who interact with them. Throughout the year, OPDV will provide an array of training materials and fact sheets and host follow-up discussions with partner organizations to improve outreach, education and services for teens.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, “There are sadly many forms of gender-based violence, and that includes teens who experience dating abuse. New York State’s commitment to raising awareness and providing support services is deeply personal to me, as my mother was an advocate for domestic violence victims and survivors. I want to commend the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence for their efforts to stem this ugly scourge. The more we educate, the better our chances of preventing and ending gender-based violence.”

Joe Torre, Chairman and Co-Founder of Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation, said, “The Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation is proud to partner with the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence to engage with more teens and prevent dating abuse. I grew up in a violent home where I felt the abuse was my fault. Too many children live in fear, feeling alone and ashamed. Our forums will address these issues head-on, listening and focusing on the signs and responses to teen abuse.”

New York State’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-942-6906, text: 844-997-2121 or chat: @opdv.ny.gov. For a list of domestic violence hotlines by county, visit the New York State Domestic Violence Directory. The Office of Victim Services also funds a network of more than 200 community-based programs that support victims of crime and their families.

Streaming Workshop Available – Meditation & Mindfulness

Check out this streaming workshop for all audiences – Guided Meditation & Mindfulness Activity, produced through support from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.

This workshop is presented by Saeideh Golgi (LCAT-LP), a Margaret’s Place Counselor in New York City. This workshop is a guided meditation and mindfulness activity to help you ground yourself, de-stress, and focus.

Healthy Communication During Virtual Learning

Safe At Home is excited to share this brief video with tips about healthy family communication during virtual learning.

Many of us have a family member who is currently engaged in virtual or hybrid learning. That experience can add new stress and challenges to our families. Our Clinical Program Supervisor Rachel Quiles has prepared a short video with tips on how to improve communication during this time:

You can also view and/or print our one page worksheet with these tips!

Streaming Workshop Available – Trauma-Informed Resilient Schools

Check out this condensed version of one of our workshops for educators – Trauma-Informed Resilient Schools, produced through support from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.

This workshop is presented by Bushra Shaheen (LMSW), a Margaret’s Place Counselor in New York City. This workshop provides insight into how trauma can impact youth (particularly in the classroom), and how educators can adapt their strategies to better support youth.

Benjamin Engel joins Safe At Home as CEO

The Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation today announced that Benjamin Engel will join as its new Chief Executive Officer effective today. Engel brings a wealth of expertise in NPO development and development operations to the Foundation. He most recently served as the Chief Development Officer for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Safe At Home, which helps children impacted by violence and abuse in their homes, schools, and communities, has reached more than 100,000 students since its founding. Safe At Home helps young people cope with their experiences and get on the path to healing, hope, and empowerment. Safe At Home’s signature program is a school-based safe room called Margaret’s Place, named in honor of Joe Torre’s mother. Each Margaret’s Place is staffed by a full-time, master’s-level therapist who provides both individual and group counseling sessions. Due to COVID-19, Safe At Home has shifted to virtual programming and counseling through its partnerships with the schools. Additionally, each Margaret’s Place program has a peer leadership program, which supports youth as they foster social, organizational, and leadership skills, and empowers young people to be change agents in their communities. Safe At Home also offers an intern program for alumni of the Margaret’s Place program who have demonstrated responsibility and leadership potential. Alumni staff assist in managing the peer leadership program, create and lead workshops, ensure that youth voice is present in its work, provides professional development opportunities for alumni, and establishes a relatable point of access for students.

“Unfortunately for many, staying at home doesn’t always mean being safe at home. Domestic violence exists behind closed doors, and during the pandemic, our mission of ending the cycle of domestic violence has become more important than ever,” said Joe Torre, baseball Hall of Famer and Chairman of Safe At Home. “We are grateful for Ben’s expertise to help us maintain and grow our programming so more children feel safe at home.”

“We are so pleased to welcome Ben to Safe At Home. He has a proven track record as a strategic development leader in the field,” said Ali Torre, President, Safe At Home. “Now more than ever, children need to understand that they’re not alone and it’s not their fault. Ben’s experience in non-profit development and relationship cultivation will help us reach more children at a critical time.”

Prior to serving as the Chief Development Officer for the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Engel was Vice President, Development and Development Operations for the organization. He oversaw all foundation stewardship efforts and revenue activities that helped drive the Prostate Cancer Foundation’ mission to fund cutting-edge cancer research at academic medical institutions around the globe. Previously, Engel also served at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and prior to that with Autism Speaks.

“I’m excited and proud to join the Safe At Home team to help end the cycle of domestic violence,” said Engel. “I’m ready to put my experience to work so we can broaden the reach of the Foundation and help save lives.”

Introducing the Safe At Home Peer Yearbook

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges for our participants – and for how Safe At Home works with them. It also presented a new opportunity for us to work creatively as a team to continue supporting our participants at this difficult time

One of the core components of our Margaret’s Place model is peer leadership, where a group of youth gather every week to learn more about advocacy, activism, conflict resolution, leadership, and violence prevention. Our goal is for our peer leaders to become the next generation of advocates against violence and abuse. A few of these peer leaders in New York City also have the opportunity to join our team as a part-time member of our program staff when they graduate; known as alumni interns, these young adults are critical to ensuring youth voice is present in our work, and provide valuable mentorship and insight to our peer leaders.

This year, Safe At Home’s alumni team had planned to hold our first-ever Peer Leadership Summit through support provided by the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. The summit would have been an in-person gathering of our peer leaders in New York – with an opportunity for those in Cincinnati and Los Angeles to submit videos or written pieces to be presented from afar. We envisioned an opportunity for each group of peer leaders to showcase what they’ve learned in a creative format. Unfortunately because of the pandemic, we had to re-envision the summit and the final capstone for our peer leaders.

Our amazing alumni team suggested a peer yearbook – a culminating document with highlights, advice, and photographs to commemorate the peer leader’s accomplishments. With content provided by our peer leaders and counselors, the alumni worked together to create the 2019-2020 Peer Yearbookcheck it out now!

We’re also excited to share with you some reflections from the year by our alumni team to commemorate their hard work as well. You don’t want to miss their thoughtful reflections on this challenging year.

Cyberbullying & Online Safety 101

Our Margaret’s Place counselor Ms. Fenten has created a great resource for online safety and cyberbullying awareness.

What Is Bullying?

Bullying is an act of repeated aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person, physically or mentally. Bullying is characterized by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person.

Why Do Kids Bully?

Bullies don’t need a reason to hurt others. When asked, some replied:

  • Because it makes me feel stronger, smarter, or better than the person I’m bullying
  • Because I’m bullied at school or home
  • Because I see others doing it
  • Because I’m jealous of the other person
  • Because it’s one of the best ways to keep others from bullying me.

What Is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is when a child, tween or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed, stalked, or otherwise targeted by another child, tween or teen through email, texts, Instant Messages, websites, blogs, apps, videos or gaming. It is done deliberately and repeatedly. Cyberbullies might send mean comments, post embarrassing photos, or share private information about someone to humiliate or mock them online. Cyberbullying can happen with any type of technology including but not limited to computers, cell phones, tablets (iPad), or gaming systems (Xbox Live, Playstation Network, etc.).

Cyberbullying vs. Bullying

Cyberbullying:

  • Can be anonymous.
  • Can occur in your own home.
  • Can happen 24/7.
  • May seem inescapable.
  • Difficult for parents and teachers to monitor.
  • Can be viewed by an entire class, friendship group or community instantly.

Examples Of Cyberbullying

  • Starting rumors through instant messaging
  • Name calling in chat rooms (Ex. Video games)
  • Forwarding private messages to others
  • Insults through social media websites
  • Posting demeaning pictures of someone else
  • Making fake profiles on websites such as Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook

Did You Know… Teens spend an average of 26.8 hours a week online and 43% of teens have experienced some form of cyberbullying

The Impact of Bullying & Cyberbullying

Youth who are bullied:

  • Have higher risk of depression and anxiety including these symptoms that may persist into adulthood:
    • Increased feelings of sadness and loneliness.
    • Changes in sleep and eating patterns.
    • Loss of interest in activities.
  • May have increased thoughts about suicide.
  • Are more likely to have health complaints.
  • Are more likely to retaliate through extreme violent measures.

Recognizing the Signs of a Cyberbullying or Bullying Victim

  • Quickly switches screens or closes programs when someone walks by.
  • Uses the computer or phone until all hours of the night.
  • Gets unusually upset if she/he/they cannot use the computer or phone or after using the computer.
  • Suddenly stops and avoids using the internet.
  • Appears nervous, stressed or jumpy when a message appears or after looking at their computer or cell phone.
  • Avoids discussions about what they are doing on the computer.
  • Becomes withdrawn from friends and family.
  • Change in appetite.
  • Increased signs of low self-esteem (depression, anxiety).
  • Resists attending school or social events.

What To Do If Your Child Has Been Cyberbullied

  • Do not respond to cyberbully.
  • Save the evidence (print out or take a screenshot).
  • Block or delete bully.
  • Report it to website or app.
  • Meet with school and administrators to discuss a plan of action.
  • If your child has been threatened online, report to police.

Cyber Safety Tips

  • You need to explain that it’s your job to keep them safe and be clear about your goals and expectations.
  • Set limitations and boundaries upfront.
    • Create a contract! For example, no phones overnight, no downloading apps without approval, etc.
    • What are the consequences if they break the rules? Have them in writing!
  • Talk about cyber-safety and ask questions on what they use the internet for and how.
  • Research apps before allowing a child to download one, and adjust privacy settings within apps accordingly.
  • Password protect phones, tablets, etc.
  • Look into safety apps (OurPact, Bark, Net Nanny).
  • Teach your children what is and is not okay online, and what to do if something happens.
  • Monitoring is mandatory – keep tabs on what they do and have conversations on their activities.
  • Lead by example:
    • Talk to them about how you use the internet/social media.
    • Give your teen your full attention.
    • Designate phone-free times and increase family activities that don’t involve social media (board games, card games, reading together, going for walks, watching a movie, etc.).

Additional Resources

www.Safekids.org

www.commonsensemedia.org www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/parent-guide/parent-guide www.cybercitisenship.org

www.safeteens.com

Here is a downloadable PDF of Ms. Fenten’s tips!

Resources

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