The holiday season is a time of year that reminds us of the power of giving to others and the impact our service can have to make our community a better place to live. Just ask Maria Putzi, a longtime victim-witness specialist with the Office of the State’s Attorney for Anne Arundel County who also volunteers with the One Love Foundation.
Following the senseless murder of Yeardley Love, a University of Virginia senior who was killed by her ex-boyfriend just weeks before her graduation, Love’s mother, Sharon, and sister Lexie worked to create something positive to emerge from the tragic crime. They started the nonprofit foundation in 2010 to educate young people on how to recognize and then disrupt the cycle of domestic violence among their peers.
“The goal of the One Love Foundation perfectly incorporates all of my passions,” says Maria. “I’m able to work with people surviving violent relationships, be a role model for my two teenage daughters and make a difference in my community.”
Maria began her journey by receiving training through the One Love Foundation and brought their valuable message to the Severna Park community. Maria’s experience helping victims of domestic violence in the criminal justice system made her an ideal fit for the foundation’s goals to end the silence on unhealthy relationships among young people.
Maria started by coordinating a One Love Night at Woods Memorial Church in Severna Park in February 2018. With the help of local school counselors, members of Woods Memorial Church, area athletic directors, the One Love Club at Severna Park High School and Naval Academy midshipmen spreading the word about the event, the auditorium was packed with young people and their parents eager to learn about the devastating effects that domestic violence has on the community and what they can do to help stop it. A typical event with the One Love Foundation begins with the showing of the specially-produced film “Escalation,” which depicts the start of a college romance that ends in tragedy. It is an eye-opening program that illustrates the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships and then provides strategies for victims, friends and parents to identify and disrupt unhealthy relationships.
Follow-up discussion helps the audience understand ways to support victims in ways big and small. The foundation further provides community support for those trying to escape domestic violence. Knowing that she can have an impact has inspired Maria to continue bringing the message to her community each year that young people have the power to prevent and help others escape domestic violence.
“Our future lies in the youth of today. I’m inspired by them and feel compelled to help give young people the tools to lead them down a healthy path,” adds Maria. “I believe that understanding the red flags of unhealthy relationships is crucial for parents to know. They need to be aware of this epidemic and assist in preventing further tragedies like the death of Yeardley Love.”
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic or dating violence, please speak with a trusted adult and contact a local hotline or the National Domestic Violence hotline. If you’re in danger, please contact 911.
The State’s Attorney’s Office wishes you a happy and safe holiday season. We are grateful for the gift of service we and our staff can bring to the citizens of Anne Arundel County.