As a response to the bullying he experienced as a student, Joe created Voices Against Cruelty, Hatred, and Intolerance (VACHI) to educate teachers, students, and parents about the negative effects bullying can have on youth. To convince his school’s administrative leadership to take action, Joe developed a survey to record and demonstrate the extent of bullying on his high school campus.
Joe used this information to promote increased solidarity among his classmates and to petition his school board to adopt policies that would educate – not ignore or punish – first-time bullying offenders. The awareness campaign inspired an additional school to start its own VACHI chapter, and through Facebook, it has created an international following. VACHI raises funding through in-kind donations and sales of t-shirts and wristbands Joe designed proclaiming “Hate Hurts.”