Valentine Series: 40 Little Valentines

If you’ve been reading sally cooks,  you know that I love North Carolina, specifically the Durham and Chapel Hill areas.  Five years ago, I was living in Chapel Hill, a typical first-year law student, questioning why I had decided to put myself through the long Socratic classes and unreasonable amounts of reading when I came across The Women’s Center‘s (TWC) website.

I was searching for a local place to volunteer because I needed to get out of the law school bubble.  I was interested in women’s advocacy and TWC sounded like a great place with legal services, financial coaching, referrals, career and adolescent programs.  I filled out the online form and a few weeks later I attended a volunteer training.  Before I knew it,  I was answering phones and greeting walk-in clients as a First Response Volunteer.

I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed volunteering at TWC.   I made wonderful friends, learned a ton when I ran the legal programs one summer and eventually served as a board member.  TWC merged with the Family Violence Prevention Center of Orange County last year to become the Compass Center for Women and Families to help individuals and families prevent and end domestic violence and become self-sufficient.

Today, one of my dear friends from TWC, Madison, is sharing her Valentine’s. Madison is a beautiful person who has dedicated the past few years to working with the Teen’s Climb High (TCH) program at The Compass Center.  TCH is an empowerment program for middle school girls from low-income families in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. TCH provides participants with comprehensive support to make positive life choices and avoid teen pregnancy.


my beautiful friends, madison and laura, from twc

Madison leads weekly group sessions focusing on health and comprehensive sexuality education, healthy relationships, communication, decision-making skills, and goal-setting.  She also works with families and school personnel to help parents and students connect with community resources and to increase communication among parents and their children.  How cool and important is that?!  She has endless patience and a great sense of humor, essential qualities in her line of work.  Thanks Madison for sharing your Valentine’s and for everything you do!

M: Valentine’s Day is my absolute favorite holiday, it always has been. The idea of an entire day dedicated to celebrating love is so fantastic.  Each year I try to squeeze as much valentine day cheer into my life as possible. From red and pink Krispy Kreme’s, to heart shaped pizza, to sending everyone I love valentines, I cannot get enough of this holiday. 

Since I began working with middle school girls, I have increased my valentine list plus 40. This Valentine’s Day landed right around our lessons on self-esteem and embracing our differences. We began to talk about what love is and that the definition is unique to each person. We each shared our own definitions of love. I was amazed at the responses.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Love is special feelings for special people.
Love is positive feelings for someone, it all starts by caring.
Love is…I think friendship.
Love is when you care about people or something A LOT!!
Love is family
Hearing from each girl about what love meant to her was overwhelmingly touching. This Valentine’s Day, as excited as I am about the doughnuts and cards I am reminded these 40 little Valentines are what love is all about.