Community Council holds service event at Jenesse Center


Printed with permission of Sandra Pattison

Students partake in an outdoor trauma-informed yoga class, arranged by the Jenesse Center.

Kriste An

Community Council hosted its first event of the school year at the Jenesse Center, a domestic violence shelter, on Saturday.

Established in 1980, the Jenesse Center is the oldest non-profit domestic violence intervention and prevention program in South Los Angeles. It is dedicated to ending domestic violence and restoring self-love through education, community awareness, community policy, advocacy strategies and innovative partnerships.

Students at the event participated in a trauma-informed yoga class and herbal honey-making workshop aimed at providing youth with helpful tips against stress, anxiety and trauma.

Savannah Walske ’22 said she enjoyed the event because it introduced her to new ways of coping with trauma and emotional hardships.

“The event [was] a good opportunity to think about coping with trauma and stress,” Walske said. “At the beginning of the program, [we were told that] while not every one of our activities was directly linked to finding coping mechanisms, the end goal was to provide each and every one of us with an outlet for our emotional hardships. I think this was accomplished through the activities planned throughout the day, including the yoga class and honey-making workshop. The event gave me a tool to deal with trauma both in my life and in those around me.”

Zoe Roth ’24 said the event was an emotional experience that allowed her to connect with members of the community and listen to their stories of domestic and sexual violence.

“Being back in-person for community service was great,” Roth said. “It had been a long time since I got to engage with my community, and the event allowed me to talk to new people and make face-to-face connections. In particular, there was one woman at the event, a survivor of sexual abuse. Though I initially felt empathy for her struggles, I [soon] realized she did not need it, for her experiences had made her a stronger person. Her story was deeply moving.”

Community Council has frequently partnered with the Jenesse Center in support of domestic violence intervention and prevention in the past. However, due to the impacts of the pandemic, in-person community service activities were limited, and the council was not able to continue their partnership as usual. As a result of COVID-19 cases diminishing in the Studio City area, the Community Council restored their partnership with the Jenesse Center this school year.

Community Council member Isabella Welsh ’22 said she is glad to be able to continue the council’s partnership with the Jenesse Center, and she looks forward to more in-person community service activities given the school’s return to normalcy.

“Preventing domestic and sexual violence is important, not just to Harvard-Westlake, but to the broader world,” Welsh said. “Harvard-Westlake has volunteered for the Jenesse Center in the past, and it only made sense for us to volunteer again when their coordinator called. We were excited to be able to coordinate an event in support of domestic violence prevention, and it is definitely something Community Council looks forward to continuing. Now that we are in-person, we expect students to engage in hands-on community service opportunities, something that was not possible last year. With cases dropping and the world slowly returning to normalcy, we look forward to collaborating with many of the wonderful organizations that we have volunteered for in the past.”