Local teen reaches out to center for domestic abuse
In a society where domestic violence is often overlooked, one local teenager is taking a stand against abuse.
Joey Skavroneck, a rising senior at Cuthbertson High School, recently received local and national attention for his work with the organization Students Against Domestic Abuse, and received two awards pertaining to his stance against domestic violence.
After winning the Future Business Leaders of America public speaking competition in North Carolina, Skavroneck, 17, traveled to Orlando, Fla., to compete at the national level. His presentation on Turning Point, Union County’s shelter for victims of domestic violence, and how it benefits its clients won the national award for the Public Speaking 2 category.
In addition to national recognition, Skavroneck was honored with Turning Point’s Compassion Award. The teen has spent the last year working with Turning Point, raising money for the organization and reaching out to domestic abuse survivors. On April 29, Skavroneck, along with the Weddington-Waxhaw Rotary Club, hosted the Annual Town & Country Run, a 5K event that raised more than $5,000 for Turning Point.
Skavroneck first became involved with domestic violence awareness and prevention several years ago, when he and his sister worked with Kids Count, an organization fighting child abuse. Skavroneck put together a group of friends and reached out to the children through arts and crafts, music and games. He continued to work with other shelters over the past few years, prior to his involvement with Turning Point.
Upon learning about Turning Point and its mission, Skavroneck knew he was supposed to connect with the organization.
“I saw what the shelter was doing and knew I wanted to raise money for it,” he said. “They do so much at that shelter. They are 100 percent dedicated to making a difference, and I have the utmost respect for them.”
To honor Skavroneck’s achievements, Turning Point created the Compassion Award. “The award was something we did specifically for him,” Naomi Herndon, executive director of Turning Point, said. “To have that level of compassion at that age is very uncommon. We had to think of some way to acknowledge him, other than a million thank-you’s. We’re thinking about doing this (award) on an annual basis.”
Skavroneck’s passion for working with victims of domestic violence led to new and expanded visions. During his junior year at Cuthbertson, Skavroneck was inspired to start a student organization to get teens involved with domestic abuse prevention and awareness. The result was Students Against Domestic Abuse.
Hoping to expand the group throughout North Carolina and eventually the nation, Skavroneck has worked to promote the club and educate the community by speaking at various events, including a rotary club endeavor in early July.
“People don’t reach out to domestic violence as much as other causes,” Skavroneck noted. “They don’t know much about it. They think, ‘If people see me going up against (domestic violence), they might think I’m having problems at home.’ ”
Skavroneck hopes to help pass a state bill that would make it easier for centers, like Turning Point, to work with schools and supply quality teen dating violence education. Upon learning North Carolina has one of the worst records of teen dating violence prevention education (a near-failing grade), Skavroneck contacted N.C. Rep. Craig Horn. Horn worked with Skavroneck to draft a bill that would eliminate a lot of the red tape required to establish this type of education in schools.
“(The bill) is currently in session right now,” Skavroneck said. “We should be finding something out in the next several weeks. We’re hoping the bill will be passed, and we are taking the right steps to do that now.”
Because of the seriousness and pervasiveness of domestic violence, Skavroneck encourages community members to get involved. “Domestic violence stems from all socio-economic levels,” he said. “People think it only affects low-income families, minorities, etc. But that is not the case. Volunteers should visit shelters. Once you see what these people do for victims of domestic abuse, you want to spread the word about domestic violence.”
For more information on Students Against Domestic Abuse, contact Skavroneck at 704-222-0203.