This year, I celebrated five beautiful, glorious years of full recovery from my eating disorder. Although we probably have not yet met, I could not have reached this milestone without your support.
The truth is, I never sought professional treatment for my eating disorder, even when I was at my worst.A treatment center did not save my life, but Project HEAL did. Ironically, I discovered Project HEAL when I was pursuing a modeling career. I was seeking out any opportunity to build my portfolio, and in scrolling through a friend’s newsfeed, I found an event she was attending: Project HEAL New Jersey’s EveryBODY is Beautiful Fashion Show. I immediately signed up to model for the event. I planned on walking the runway, getting some pictures for my portfolio, and feeling good about doing it for a good cause. I had no idea that day that Project HEAL would become such a huge part of my life, and that modeling wouldn’t be.
Since that event in 2012, I have remained a volunteer with Project HEAL. I befriended the co-leaders, and became involved in the planning process for the following year’s event. I shared my involvement with loved ones and even attended with friends. The next year I was asked to co-lead the New Jersey Chapter and I excitedly accepted. As a Chapter Co-Leader, I became more involved in planning several events, and quickly joined the planning committee for the National Gala, which I still help coordinate now. Today I’m a proud member of the National Junior Advisory Board. My work with Project HEAL has opened me up to an entire network of supportive, encouraging and inspiring individuals who have helped me maintain my recovery, and strengthened my desire to serve as a role model and support system for others who are struggling or have struggled.
Project HEAL has enabled me to comfort mothers and fathers who have children they see struggling and don’t know what to say or do to help; to be a mentor for individuals early in their recovery who are scared and unsure of their future and how they will continue to do this; to simply be a listener, free of judgement, when a stranger begins to open up and share their story; to connect individuals, families and friends with resources to help and support themselves or each other. Project HEAL has given me a voice to not only rewrite the ending to my story, but to empower others to rewrite their own as well.
Without Project HEAL, I would not have the incredible support system I have around me today. Without you, this organization would not have touched the many lives who have become a part of mine through it. I thank you for saving my life. I thank you for saving my friends’ lives. I thank you for sustaining this incredible organization so we can read more happy endings than tragic ones.