Jul 28, 2014

Women's Personal Safety Session News Spreading 'Like Lightning'

Westborough resident was inspired by being mugged, and Lizzi Marriott tragedy, to bring the program here.

Women's Personal Safety Session News Spreading 'Like Lightning'

Alisa Stone has never forgotten being mugged about 15 years ago.

“I was lucky, because my mugging was solely around my purse. Others aren’t so lucky. So, while I was hoping I wouldn’t be in any physical harm,  and that was the case, you never stop reliving those moments,” Stone, now of Westborough, says.

“I always felt fortunate coming out of that.”

An “Empower The Girls We Love: Personal Safety Training 101” program will be offered to Westborough-area women by SAM Training LLC at Westborough’s Tatnuck Bookseller on Jan. 4 and Jan. 5. There is a $35 fee. "Proceeds above the costs to produce the event will be donated to the Marriott Family Fund," according to SAM Training's website.

Stone arranged for it. She says being mugged, a desire to train her family in safety techniques, and the murder of Westborough teenager Lizzi Marriott inspired her to do so.

“Lizzi’s everyone’s daughter. She’s everyone’s sister. Granddaughter. You name it. There’s not one member of the community that doesn’t think this couldn’t happen to them and their family,” Stone says.

“That’s just a real harsh reality. So, empowering the girls we love, what can we do more than that is give people tools, the education, make it part of our conversation.”

The program is open to all women, but “there’s a special focus on the high school to college-age community,” Stone says.

“Because when you look at the statistics, they are really extremely vulnerable. And they don’t have the life skills. Who really does? But they in particular don’t have the benefit of some of life’s experiences.”

The SAM Training website describes the session as "a dynamic and interactive program designed for all women, with a particular focus on high school teenagers and college-aged girls. This three-hour program is an excellent way to build confidence, raise awareness and provide practical skills to protect personal safety. The program is fast-paced and easy to follow, no matter your age, size and ability."

Stone says she had looked for training for her family to no avail before hearing  about SAM’s program at an event that her employer attended. The event was held “around the time of Lizzi’s disappearance, well before we knew about her death,” Stone says.

“So, what resurfaced was, I really do want to get my kids involved in some education, and myself for that matter,” Stone says.

Stone says she called Ellen van Olden, one of SAM’s founding principals, and discussed the possibility of bringing the program here.

“All I got out of her was, ‘What can my company, what can I do to make this happen in Westborough?” Stone says.

Van Olden read about Marriott and wanted to do more, Stone says. SAM reduced the program’s usual $95 fee to $35, Stone says.

“She said, ‘There has to be some value back to the community in addition to the training,’” Stone says. Van Olden discussed getting sponsors and donors to cover program cost, “and we can benefit the family” through the Marriott Family Fund, Stone says.

In Your Shoes will make financial assistance available for Westborough residents and Westborough businesses, Stone says.

Word of the program has generated a positive response so far, Stone says.

“It’s been like lightning. There are lightning strikes all over,” she says.

“Sometimes, I don’t even know what a person has done who received the e-mail, but I’ll hear another day or so, ‘Alisa, I got this e-mail from five different sources.’ The light that is Lizzi. Just passing the torch.”

According to New Hampshire authorities, Westborough High School 2011 graduate Lizzi Marriott, 19, attended a night class at the University of New Hampshire on Oct. 9 before she went to visit a friend in Dover, N.H.

Although the circumstances of her death have not been made public, authorities say that Seth Mazzaglia, 29, of Dover strangled and/or suffocated her inside of his Sawyer Mill apartment. Based on information they received, the Coast Guard and New Hampshire Marine Patrol have been searching the waters around Peirce Island in Portsmouth to recover her body.

Mazzaglia was charged with second degree murder and is being held at the Strafford County Jail in Dover without bail. He is awaiting indictment.

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