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Inside TFP

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Inside The Family Place

Mary Kay Nature Explore Classrooms: Mary Kay offers children of domestic violence victims to rise above their circumstances

by Emily Roberts | Oct 08, 2012

View excerpts from the article below as well as the link to the full article.

Mary Kay: Learn-Play-Heal
October 3, 2012
by Karyn Reagan

From the beginning, Mary Kay Ash’s heart was to positively impact the lives of women, removing barriers to their success. She wanted to provide an opportunity for them to have a thriving career without compromising their family time and their faith. On Sept. 13, 1963, Mary Kay Ash launched a cosmetics company exactly one month after her husband lost his battle with cancer. She had $5,000, nine friends and a son committed to helping her start her new endeavor. Mary Kay Inc. is now a $3 billion-per-year company, operating in more than 35 countries with a salesforce of more than 2.4 million women who have their own Mary Kay businesses.

In the past 49 years, Mary Kay Inc. has given millions of dollars to various organizations and causes to help those in need, according to Crayton Webb, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility. In 1996, the Mary Kay Foundation was established as a conduit of funds in support of researching cancers that affected women. In 2000, the Foundation expanded its mission to provide funding for programs that prevented violence against women and raised awareness about domestic violence. While the Foundation draws attention to two causes, Mary Kay Inc. focuses solely on ending domestic violence against women. The motivation for making this cause their focus was the fact that disturbing stories of domestic abuse against consultants and customers started to make their way to the leadership at Mary Kay.

Making an Impact on the Hearts of Children

In 2009, Webb and his team were approached by the Arbor Day Foundation with an idea—would Mary Kay Inc. and The Mary Kay Foundation be interested in partnering with them to provide Nature Explore Classrooms at domestic abuse shelters? “They had discovered science that proved that children who have witnessed or been victims of domestic abuse respond positively to learning and playing in nature,” Webb says. “When we realized these classrooms were not mere playgrounds, but outdoor centers created where the power of nature can help children learn, play and heal from abuse—and there was nothing else like them in the world—we were thrilled to partner with Arbor Day as sponsors of the classrooms.”

Webb and his team responded by opening not one but five Nature Explore Classrooms in the first year. “The second year we opened four, the third year we opened another four, for a current total of 17 classrooms, and we are looking at completing four more in 2013,” Webb says. “Right now we are reviewing over 100 applications from shelters all over the country desiring a Nature Explore Classroom on their property.” That is quite a change from the response the first year, when most shelter directors seemed unsure of giving up precious space for an outdoor classroom. But the results have spoken for themselves and shelters are clamoring for an effective way to help the children of the parents using their services.

The Power of a Safe Place

The Family Place in Dallas was the first beneficiary of Mary Kay’s partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation. Executive Director Paige Flink explains that through its funding of the Nature Classroom at The Family Place, the Mary Kay Foundation has created an environment both for learning and for healing. Children who have witnessed violence often see the world as a terrible place, a place where harm will come to them. Exploring nature and learning about the beauty of the environment will help children understand that living things have value and that there is much to be gained in taking care of the earth.

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