FIGHTING BACK: In March 2011, Newton teen Lily Konowitz joined her mother, Diane, in participating in the Rape Aggression Defense System program taught by a Newton police officer, Sergeant William Spalding. Neither dreamed the self-defense tactics and techniques would need to be put into practice.
Then a senior at Newton South High School, Konowitz traveled to Aruba just three weeks later for April vacation with two friends and one of their families. Near the end of their trip, Konowitz entered a restaurant bathroom with one of her friends, who then opted to wait outside the stuffy room.
Suddenly, a man who had been hiding nearby burst into her stall. Screaming and fighting back as instructed, Konowitz sustained repeated facial blows but escaped, and alerted authorities who apprehended her attacker.
Last July, she and her family established the Lily Konowitz Foundation for Women’s Safety as a way to provide equipment to organizations teaching self-defense and rape-prevention classes, offer the classes at public schools, and provide grants to cover the fees for low-income women.
“It was a terrible time following the attack,” Diane Konowitz said. “Lily wanted something good to come out of the situation. We all did.”
The younger Konowitz, who just finished her freshman year of college, said establishing the foundation has been an important part of her healing process. Just as the self-defense class empowered her, she hopes the foundation will help equip other women for what could be the fight of their lives.
“What happened to me could happen to anyone, anywhere,” Konowitz said. “The skills I learned saved me from further injuries, and maybe my life.”
On June 12, the foundation will hold a fund-raising event, “Stand Up! for Women’s Safety,” from 7 to 10 p.m. at BOKX 109 American Prime at Hotel Indigo, 399 Grove St. in Newton. The event will feature Kiss 108 morning DJ Matt Siegel as celebrity auctioneer, as well as raffles, and hors d’oeuvres.
Tickets cost $50. For more information, call 781-489-1069 or visit www.lilykonowitzfoundation.org.
PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE: Artist Marguerite McDonald of Newton and poet Marylou DiPietro, a Newton native who now lives in Harrisville, N.H., collaborated to create “Snow on the Brain: Living with Multiple Sclerosis,” on exhibit at the VSA Massachusetts Open Door Gallery, 89 South St. in Boston, through Saturday.
McDonald provided the show’s acrylic paintings, which reflect the impact of the disease over the past 13 years on her life, including her art, and her enduring ability to find beauty throughout life’s journey. DiPietro’s poetry complements and interprets the images, symbols, and emotions expressed in the paintings.
The show features 17 paintings and poems, and is accompanied by a full-color catalog.
For more information, visit www.opendoorgallery.org.
AZERBAIJAN-BOUND: James Yan, a junior at Weston High School, was recently selected as one of 10 winners of the World Affairs Councils of America’s national high school essay contest on Azerbaijan. This month, he will participate in a two-week study tour of the Muslim country as part of the delegation of national winners and World Affairs Councils of America representatives.
Yan was nominated for the honor by WorldBoston, the local chapter of the organization dedicated to engaging people worldwide in international affairs, in the regional selection in March.
The essay contest had students assess the range of influences on Azerbaijan’s foreign policy. , including the country’s history, geographic location, US interests, and energy sector development.
BON VOYAGE: Electric Youth, an international touring ensemble of singers and dancers trained at the Franklin School for the Performing Arts, will perform their Bon Voyage Concert next Sunday at 6 p.m. in Showcase Live, at Patriot Place in Foxborough.
The concert will kick off the troupe’s concert tour in Austria and Italy from June 15 to July 8, including a return Fourth of July engagement at Aviano Air Force Base to entertain US troops and families stationed in Italy. The Electric Youth 2012 European Tour is sponsored by the Red Sox Foundation.
The performers, ages 13 to 19, are Franklin residents Giovanna Ferri, Ali Funkhouser, Graham Hancock, Jocelyn Jones, Melissa Mandia, Shaina McGillis, Lucas Melfi, Jillian Rea, and Alicia Rivera; Michael Egan of Hopkinton; Erica McLaughlin of Medfield; Jenna McDermott of Wrentham; and Sasha Gardner of Sharon.
For tickets and more information, call 508-528-8668 or visit www.fpaconline.com.
FUN WITH ROBOTS: A team of 10 Lincoln youths in the fifth through eighth grades recently received the second place Champion’s Award for overall performance at the First Lego League robotics competition in St. Louis.
This was the team’s second trip to the world festival. Team members Catherine Appleby, Anthony Bau, Amelia Brown, Indrani Kharbanda, Dante Muzila, Claire Telfer, and Calvin Terpstra attend school in Lincoln. Jack Hutchinson and Caleb Sander attend the Meadowbrook School in Weston, and Thom Quirk goes to the Landmark School in Manchester-by-the-Sea.
The team was coached by parents volunteers Alex Appleby, Anne Hutchinson, and Linda Tempelman, all of Lincoln.
For this year’s theme of “Food Factor,” the Blue Gear Ticks team invented a method to purify milk for small farms making raw milk cheese. Part of the Lincoln Recreation Department’s FLL robotics program, the Blue Gear Ticks had the third highest robot competition score, which additionally earned the team the Robot Performance trophy.
As the top US finisher, the Blue Gear Ticks were invited by NASA to the Johnson Space Center in Houston for a three-day visit. The Japanese Falcons captured first place.
HOMETOWN MYSTERY: Newton author William Landay will read from his best-selling mystery novel, “Defending Jacob,” which is set in his hometown, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Waban Library Center, 1608 Beacon St. in Newton’s Waban section.
For more information on the free event, call 617-244-0700 or visit www.wabanlibrarycenter.org.
The book, which is set in Waban and Newton Highlands, will be available for purchase and signing.