Melissa was 14 when her father suddenly passed away. Her mother was verbally abusive and extremely controlling. Her older brother struggled with mental illness and would often act out in fits of violent rage. To cope with the stress and grief, Melissa resorted to cutting.
She was invited to a dance production by her co-worker, Grace, who happens to be a co-founder of The Lovely Project.
The story told in The Lovely Project dance production resonated with Melissa.
Melissa connected with other Lovely girls that day. She formed meaningful friendships and even found a Lovely mentor. Through those relationships, she discovered the truth about her value and found purpose for her life. Now in her twenties, Melissa still regularly attends a Lovely group. She has become an advocate for other at-risk girls and helped connect The Lovely Project with one of our partners, University Behavioral Center.
Shelby was 18 and struggling with depression, crippling anxiety and a vicious eating disorder she could no longer control. She had been physically and verbally abused for most of her life - a secret she had hidden from even her closest friends.
At age 19, Shelby decided to commit suicide. Thankfully, by what she believes to be divine intervention, she lived another day and decided to reach out to a friend. Shelby later joined a Lovely group who supported and lovingly encouraged her to forgive and find healing.
Today Shelby is thriving. She is happily married and has a family of her own. She still attends a Lovely group and attributes her successful recovery to the support and mentorship she found in her Lovely friends. She is actively involved with The Lovely Project's efforts to see girls and women thrive in our community and throughout the world.
Hana was 11 when her father, the sole breadwinner, went to jail. She and her siblings often went without basic necessities like food and water. Hana found herself at shelters collecting whatever food was available. Her family went without running water for months.
She began drinking at age 12 and her mother supplied her with the alcohol. When her father was home, evenings of heavy drinking ended with fighting - the police officers at the door knew the each family member by name.
Hana was a depressed little girl forced to shoulder adult problems.
As a teenager, she was invited to attend a Lovely group. She's been coming ever since, and her life has been transformed through mentorship, character building, personal healing and simply being surrounded by those who love her, care for her and believe in her.
Hana is now a Lovely Mentor and leader in her church. She is happily married, and passionate about helping other girls get out of tough situations to find healing and wholeness. She encourages them to get connected with others who will love them and push them towards their dreams. Hana also leads Lovely groups for at-risk girls at the YMCA.