Maren Sanchez Lives On Through New Foundation


Christina Genovese

Monday, September 26th, Donna Cimarelli introduced The Maren Sanchez Foundation to the University of New Haven campus. Cimarelli is the mother of Maren Sanchez’s, a young girl who was killed tragically on the morning of her junior prom in 2014 at Jonathon Law High School in Milford, CT.

Hosted by the University of New Haven Police Department, Donna Cimarelli presented in Dodds Theater where she discussed emotional, psychological and physical manipulation. She wanted to impact students and have them learn to become aware of taking action and stepping up with a primary goal of empowering and educating girls to defend themselves.

The Maren Sanchez Home Foundation was named after the song she loved by American Idol winner Phillip Phillips “Home.” Maren sang and played the song on her guitar for her high school talent show and won, so it is a very special memory people have of her because of her moving performance.

The foundation was also named integrated the word home because of what “home” means for so many people. Love, security, acceptance, and nourishment are the feelings they want to people to reference the foundation with.

Cimarelli wants to let who her daughter was transcend into other people’s lives. She believes that her daughter lives on and her energy shows its presence. Maren made a huge impact on those around her when she was alive, she always was including to everyone and was so friendly and did not like to hurt people’s feelings. Her school mourned for a while after Maren’s death, but then came back strong by spreading her spirit around the school and community.

Donna Cimarelli and officer Only Sierra out side Campus Police. (photo courtesy of the New Haven Register)

The school does an annual Celebration of the Life of Maren Sanchez called the Peace, Love and Music for Maren. The festival is sponsored in partnership through the Maren Sanchez Memorial Fund and The Maren Sanchez Home Foundation. The students of Jonathan Law and Foran High School in Milford benefited from  the scholarship fund with $55-thousand awarded to graduation seniors. The celebrate Maren’s life and all she continues to bring to the community through music, art, and honoring all things that Maren loved.

Bringing Cimarelli to U.N.H was campus officer Ony Sierra, who has been friends with her for over 35 years. In addition to being an office, Ony also teaches a self-defense class on campus. She knew that this presentation on campus would bring an impact and awareness to students.

“Women tend not to want to hurt other’s feelings, and it’s a problem that we see. I hope this presentation will help people to recognize the red flags and signs so they can be aware of them when they happen,” Sierra said.

Maren was a victim of manipulation and stalking. To prevent this from happening to girls, society has to stop giving the wrong ideas. Girls needs to be confident enough to say “no” and fight back, which needs to not only be taught in schools, but at home. Everyone needs to know that the internal voice you continually ignore sometimes, or the gut feeling you get you have to follow the instinct of it and not brush it aside.

The Maren Sanchez Home Foundation is partnering with Nick Newell, a mixed Martial Arts World Champion from Connecticut. Newell will be teaching self-defense classes for girls and women, and developing a core program to be instituted nationally.

Newell knows what it means to take action in hard situations and has experience in being a true up-stander. The foundation will be picking four girls from Maren’s high school to put through the self-defense course with the hope that the girls will become ambassadors for the foundation. The goal is to educate people to know how to make space and get away from a bad situation, and how to prevent the situation from even happening.

An inspiring presentation form Cimarelli’s was the first time speaking publicly, and decided to speak out due to the launching of the foundation. She really wants the foundation to grow, and is looking for sponsors that believe in their vision.

“I knew if I put something into action, it wouldn’t be small”, Cimarelli said.

From the day her daughter passed, she did feel motivated and full of ideas. The idea for the foundation started small by doing charitable things, and it created her into being more giving and doing more selfless acts. That is who her daughter was, a selfless person full of love and cheeriness for all.

Her energy lives on, and with this foundation it will only spread more. The mission statement of the foundation is to “challenge everyone who visits here to a Call for action. To get involved. To help a friend. To be aware of your surroundings and people’s actions, and to jump on board with the mission of the Maren Sanchez Home Foundation and join the Conversation.”

Maren Victoria Sanchez’s Voice will be louder than it ever has been before, and will help change the lives of young girls all across the country and the world who are being psychologically, mentally and physically manipulated.