A Milford-based nonprofit, the Maren Sanchez Home Foundation (MSHF), launched a #GivingTuesday campaign to raise money that will allow it to expand its workshops and self-defense programs for girls and young women to locations across the country.

“The mission of our foundation is to educate and empower girls and young women to defend themselves against emotional, psychological and verbal manipulation and physical violence,” said Donna Cimarelli, founder and CEO of MSHF. “Our goal is to raise $25,000 on Giving Tuesday to help bring our training to more places. Our lectures and workshops help girls, young women, and parents learn to recognize concerning behavior. And we offer a life-changing HER-Self Defense class led by MMA fighter “Notorious” Nick Newell.”

The foundation’s mission has a tragic beginning. Maren Victoria Sanchez, Cimarelli’s daughter, died in 2014. She was the victim of a violent attack while in her school in Milford.

With that difficult experience in hand, Cimarelli founded MSHF to help save the lives of other girls and young women. Through MSHF’s HER-Self Awareness workshops and lectures, Cimarelli shares knowledge about how to spot red flags, what action steps kids and parents can take, and how to go from bystander to life saver. Then, MSHF backs up that education with a HER-Self Defense class that empowers individuals with confidence.

Since 2016, MSHF has produced more than 30 events across Connecticut for middle schools, high schools, universities, youth sports teams, nonprofits, businesses, civic leaders, and more.

“It’s not about teaching anyone to become fighters. It’s about knowing some life-saving techniques you can use to defend yourself in dangerous situations,” Cimarelli said. “The classes help girls and young women gain confidence, raise self-esteem, and reduce insecurity.” All the classes are led by experienced self-defense pros. One of them is Connecticut-based MMA fighter “Notorious” Nick Newell.

A professional fighter since 2008, Newell is happy to help. “I enjoy helping people learn how to take action if they ever find themselves in a difficult situation,” said Newell. “Even if they never need to use these skills, it’s great to give back. What Donna and MSHF are doing is close to my heart, because Maren’s life was taken in my high school.”

MSHF has a goal to raise a total of $25,000 through its campaign, which is going viral on social media and is called #BringItHomeForMaren. The funds will cover materials and other costs associated with expanding its programs. As part of the campaign, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers are hosting a Maren Sanchez Home Foundation night on Nov. 29 for their game against the Springfield Thunderbirds. A portion of ticket sales will go back to MSHF.

To learn more, make a donation or buy tickets to the Sound Tigers game, visit marensanchezhomefoundation.org/bringithome/.

To sponsor or host one of MSHF’s programs, contact Donna Cimarelli directly at donna@marensanchezhomefoundation.org. Follow the Maren Sanchez Home Foundation at facebook.com/marensanchezinourhearts.