Springtown middle schooler donates $1,600 raised through club to Freedom House

From left, Parker County District Attorney Jeff Swain, SMS Principal Mark Wilson, SMS teacher Natalie Hill, Freedom House Domestic Violence Coordinator Mary Lou Curry, Rose Poe, Freedom House Executive Director Patti Wilson and Parker County Sheriff Russ Authier.

With a theme of "Stop the Cycle," an eighth grade Springtown Middle School student and her classmates raised $1,600 for Freedom House during an eight-week period this spring.

Rose Poe and her Family, Career and Community Leaders of America chapter set out in March with a goal of raising $1,000 for Freedom House, a domestic violence and sexual abuse non-profit serving Parker County. She sought to raise awareness about family violence as well as funds at her school by hosting a Hat Day once a week during which SMS students could wear a hat or hoodie in class if they donated $1.

The project was a part of a competition Poe was participating in for FCCLA. It was such a success that she won at the local and regional level and will be competing at the FCCLA National Competition this summer.

"I'm so proud of the work Rose did on her project," said Natalie Hill, an SMS teacher and the FCCLA advisor. "She raised both awareness and money for her cause, learned valuable organizational skills, and demonstrated poise in making presentations to the school board and other local elected officials."

Poe's decision to select Freedom House was not by chance. When she was younger, she actually received counseling services at the organization's Weatherford location. While Freedom House does not disclose the names of the recipients of its services, both Poe and her mother wanted to let others know about her experience to raise awareness of the counseling available to people who have been affected by domestic violence or sexual abuse.

"When I started my project, there was not a Freedom House location in Springtown," Poe said. "I'm so glad that they're on the square now so that kids and others who need counseling like I did can get the help they need even closer to home. The counseling I got at Freedom House really helped me, so I wanted to let other kids know it was there for them too. Hopefully, I have helped raise awareness that domestic violence is not okay so that we can stop the cycle of violence, one person at a time."

The funds Poe raised will be used for community awareness and educational programs, some of which will be provided to students at Springtown ISD schools, said Patti Wilson, Executive Director of Freedom House.

"In my time with Freedom House, this level of donation from a student-led organization is unprecedented," Wilson said. "When young people take up the banner for your cause, that's an incredibly positive sign that you're making headway. Like Rose, we want to end the cycle of violence."

"She is a very impressive young lady," said District Attorney Jeff Swain, vice president of the Freedom House board of directors. "When she was presenting the check to Sheriff Russ Authier and me, she engaged us with poise and was very well spoken. A lot of young people, especially middle school students, would not be willing or able to do that."

Authier, who serves as president on the Freedom House board of directors, said Poe is a testament to the upbringing of her parents as well as excellent teachers in Springtown ISD.

"Freedom House really appreciates all of her hard work and wishes her the best of luck in the national competition," he said.

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