KAA Student One of Fairfax County Student Peace Award Recipients
Junior Sereen Haddad is one of 25 recipients of a 2021 Student Peace Award of Fairfax County. Sereen works to combat domestic violence, saying, “I believe that peace on earth begins at home.”
Starting at age 11, Sereen has volunteered for the Fairfax County Police Department’s annual K-9 Krawl program. She explains that K-9 Krawl was started to draw attention to the problem of domestic violence in local communities and to raise awareness of the link between domestic violence and animal abuse. A 5K walk for people and their dogs is held annually to support programs to end domestic abuse and to assist its victims. Each year, Sereen sets up a coffee stand at the event to raise money for domestic-violence victims and for homeless and domestic-violence shelters. Sarai Rivera, Sereen’s supervisor at the Victim Services Division of the Police Department, writes, “Sereen has helped raise awareness [of domestic violence] in our community. She is a perfect example that you can have an impact and be a critical part of change at any age.”
Sereen feels her greatest achievement over the past year was a project that she single-handedly conceived and managed at Artemis House, a local shelter for victims of domestic violence. While visiting Artemis House, Sereen says she was struck by the dark, cluttered, and uninviting appearance of the waiting room, and she decided to do a complete overhaul of that space. She consulted with a professional space planner for suggestions. Sereen then raised over $6,000 to fund the project through an online fundraiser and concession stands and bake sales at various venues. These monies enabled the waiting room to be repainted, furnished, reorganized, and transformed from a cold, crowded space to a warm, inviting, comforting room for the victims of domestic violence and their children. Sereen says, “It has been so rewarding to have been able to improve the initial experience of those seeking solace and protection at Artemis House.”
In June 2020, in recognition of her volunteer work, Sereen was awarded the “Creating New Beginnings Award” from Shelter House, Inc., a grassroots organization in Fairfax County which runs three shelters, including Artemis House. Katrina Wayne, director of Artemis House, writes that Sereen “has proven time and time again the passion and commitment that she has for the victims of domestic violence here in Fairfax County. She is a remarkable and empowering young lady.’’ Sereen plans that her next project will be painting pictures for Fairfax County’s Supervised Visitation Center.