Waterford’s Natalie Anderson, 15, wasn’t abused as a child. She has two loving parents, two siblings and probably never came close to needing an emergency women's shelter like
And yet, there is probably not another youth around who has raised as much money - more than $18,000 - and volunteered as much time for the Women’s Center of Southeastern Connecticut. Why?
“Personally, I had people really close to me go through abusive relationships and I know how much it hurt them,” Anderson said. “And I think about what would happen if I was in the situation the children are in and how lucky I am that I am not in that situation. And I think that I wanted to make a difference because of that.
“It is really sad that children have to go home and be afraid of being abused,” she continued. “And I think of how privileged my parents made me, and growing up where I did and going to school where I did, I just wanted children to go through that without worrying about being abused.”
Anderson’s next fundraiser for the shelter is the to “stomp out domestic violence”, a dancing event on Saturday, June 16th at the Port ‘N Starboard at Ocean Beach Park. Anderson’s mother Elizabeth said the event is a lot of work on top of Natalie’s impossible schedule already, but how could you stop that?
“I think inside of every child is somebody who wants to help another child,” Elizabeth Anderson said. “So yeah, sometimes I worry because she does so much, but who would want to stop what she is doing?”
When Natalie Anderson was 7 years old, she overheard her parents reading a magazine article about a girl who donated all of her birthday presents to charity. She was inspired.
“I thought that would be cool,” Anderson said. “I’d want to do that.”
Still, her mother was skeptical. This was in the summer, and her birthday is in the winter, Elizabeth Anderson said.
“We thought she wouldn’t remember,” she said. “And then December rolled around, and I asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday. And she was like ‘I told you', she didn’t forget.”
So Natalie Anderson had an eighth-birthday party, but instead of her friends showing up with gifts, they showed up with toiletries and other items to donate to children at the shelter. They also raised about $400 from the event, Elizabeth Anderson said.
“I like it better because it makes me more satisfied knowing it helps someone else,” said Natalie Anderson, who still does the same thing ever year for her birthday.
When she turned 10, Natalie’s ambition intensified. She made a goal of raising $10,000 for the shelter to put in an endowment fund, and she knew birthdays would not be enough.
So she and her mother organized a community yard sale to benefit the shelter, with all items at the sale donated from the community. This fall was Anderson’s fifth one, and still the outpouring of donations is “incredible.”
“The community support has been fantastic,” said Anderson, who just finished her freshman year at . “I still can’t believe we get so much every year.”
Anderson has done other events as well, such as pajama drives and a Mother’s Day brunch, along with volunteering her time at the shelter. Overall she has raised more than $18,000 in her endowment fund, along with countless items like clothes and stuffed animals.
As like any endowment fund, only the interest on the principal is used so it lasts forever. However, interest rates are so low right now that $18,000 isn’t making much money, Elizabeth Anderson said.
Yet Natalie Anderson remains determined. Her eventual goal is to raise $100,000, as the interest off of that could give basic necessities and a teddy bear to 100 children a year, for the rest of time.
“It is awful that they have to go through this and we have to do it, we would love to end domestic violence,” Natalie Anderson said. “But unfortunately it will not go away, at least completely. But it does make me feel good that this money will be there, even after I’m gone, to help the children who shouldn’t have to go through this.”
invites guests to either wear a black tie or blue jeans, whatever they feel comfortable in. The event on Saturday, June 16th at the Port ‘N Starboard at Ocean Beach Park, with all proceeds going to the Natalie Anderson Children’s Fund at the Women’s Center of Southeastern Connecticut.
The band “Waiting for Jay” will be rocking all night. To buy tickets, call 860-447-0366 x 203 or 860-447-3566.