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At L’Oréal Paris, women inspire us every day, but once a year, we spotlight extraordinary, influential women who use their time to give back to their communities. This year, Women of Worth, our signature philanthropic program, has 10 inspirational honorees, each of whom is receiving $10,000 to support their cause. Click through for your introduction to each honoree and the amazing organization they’ve founded. After reading, you can cast your vote (once per day until November 27, 2020) for one person, who will receive an additional $25,000 for their cause.
Who she is: Cheryl Ann Wadlington found herself motivated to find her purpose in life and never stop supporting her community. This led her to become the founder of The Evoluer House, a non-profit that educates girls of color who have been impacted by chronic adversity, violence, and oppression. The girls are equipped with the tools they need to break the cycle of poverty and become agents of change. Today, nearly 2,000 girls have graduated from The Evoluer House’s programs. Of these young women, 100% have graduated high school on time and decided to continue their studies.
What being a Woman of Worth means to her: “Being recognized as a L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth elevates the work we do at The Evoluer House and significantly brings attention to the needs and life stories of so many girls of color from marginalized communities, amplifying how they too can grow up to not only be healthy, happy and strong but as powerful leaders of change throughout the world.”
Donate: Support The Evoluer House, here.
Who she is: Barbara is the founder of The Red Tent Women’s Initiative, Inc., which is dedicated to creating safe spaces for female inmates. The program provides incarcerated women with mentorship and coaching opportunities and the chance to participate in arts and crafts, with the goal of helping each woman prepare to leave jail and lead a successful life. While national data from the 2018 U.S. Justice Department shows that 44% of released prisoners were re-incarcerated within the following year, less than 25% of the women who take the Red Tent class each year are re-incarcerated.
What being a Woman of Worth means to her: “Being a L’Oréal Woman of Worth empowers me to open people's minds concerning the destructive issue of mass incarceration and shine a much-needed light on the difference trauma informed programs like Red Tent can make in an inmate's life and future.”
Donate: Support The Red Tent Women’s Initiative, Inc., here.
Who she is: In 1979, Gulshan Harjee, who was born in Tanzania, immigrated to America and began attending medical school. As the years went on, she built a thriving primary care practice. However, she decided to sell the practice because she desired to better serve immigrant communities with the Clarkston Community Health Center. The health center, which is almost entirely volunteer-run, is the most comprehensive free clinic in the Clarkston, Georgia area. Since 2015, the clinic has served 5,400 patients completely free of charge.
What being a Woman of Worth means to her: “It is humbling and an honor to be a Woman of Worth having the trust of so many, some total strangers”
Donate: Support the Clarkston Community Health Center, here.
Who she is: As only a sophomore in high school, Diana founded Letters to Strangers (L2S). The non-profit works to destigmatize mental illness and increase access to affordable, quality treatment through therapy-informed anonymous letter exchanges and other pathways. Her inspiration came from her own experiences. When she was 13 years old, Diana was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and uveitis, an eye disorder that triggered blindness. She struggled with her diagnoses but found that there weren’t sufficient mental health resources available. Since launching, the work L2S has done includes facilitating mental health workshops for students and creating a guidebook for schools to use as part of their curriculum.
What being a Woman of Worth means to her: “Each and every one of us deserves a chance to live and live right—being a L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth is testament to that. Our stories have power; within them reside infinite worth.”
Donate: Support Letters to Scarlet, here.
Who she is: The Pink Berets was formed out of Stephanie Gatta’s realization that servicewomen weren’t receiving the mental health assistance they needed. As a veteran struggling with her own mental health, she needed to improve her mental state and also wanted to help her fellow female combatants. The organization uses peer-to-peer support to help address the mental health needs of servicewomen and first responders, many of whom have been overshadowed by their male counterparts. In 2020 alone, the organization has reached almost 400 women using virtual therapy options.
What being a Woman of Worth means to her: “Being a L’Oréal Paris Woman of Worth affords me the opportunity to be a global agent of change and empower the younger generation of women veterans. I envision a world where women feel seen, heard, and honored for their contributions to their country. To positively change the trajectory of one’s life that has been impacted by trauma, is the most rewarding endeavor one could have the honor of experiencing.”
Donate: Support The Pink Berets, here.
Who she is: Marta Michelle Colon was only a teenager when she saw her brother begin to misuse drugs after being prescribed opioids as the result of a motorcycle accident. This experience, including his eventual death, led her to take action. In her devastation, she founded Be Gutsy, a national awareness campaign aimed at educating the Latinx community about the dangers of misusing opioids. Through local partnerships, mentorship opportunities, and healthcare programs, the campaign addresses opioid misuse among Latinx youth. In just two years, Be Gutsy directly impacted more than 5,500 young adults and indirectly reached tens of thousands more through health fairs and medical programs.
What being a Woman of Worth means to her: “Being celebrated as a Women of Worth is a validation that we can transform negative experiences into a positive impact for others. Becoming a Woman of Worth amplifies my reach to speak openly about how the prescription opioids epidemic is impacting our Latinx community. I feel more empowered to continue developing a central strategy that includes education, access, communication — rather than shame, stigma, punishment, and harm.”
Donate: Support Be Gutsy, here.
Who she is: Noelle was a college student and athlete—a key member of her school’s lacrosse team—when a moped accident caused her to lose her left leg. But that didn’t stop her from playing her sport. She got in touch with different foundations until she was able to receive first, a running blade that allowed her to play, and later, a waterproof prosthesis. Today, Noelle is using her foundation, The Born to Run Foundation, to provide young amputees with prostheses, which can otherwise become a financial burden. Through the foundation, she has also worked to build a community of support, all the while continuing her own athletic career. Noelle is a member of the U.S. Paralympic Track and Field Team and is training for the 2021 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. She currently holds the American record in the 100m for T73 classification group.
What being a Woman of Worth means to her: “It is truly an honor to be chosen as a L’Oréal Paris Woman of Worth where I join other incredible women who are all doing amazing things to support others. The award will help me spread the message that suffering a tragedy does not mean your life has to change for the worse and that good things can still happen to you if you work to make things better for you and others.”
Donate: Support The Born to Run Foundation, here.
Who they are: Leah Juliett was a victim of revenge porn in high school, which left them ashamed that their body was used as a commodity without their consent. Leah stayed silent at first but found the courage to speak out, and when they did, realized sharing their own experience could help other victims of cyber sexual abuse. As part of reclaiming their voice, Leah founded March Against Revenge Porn, which is an international cyber civil rights organization that uses protest marches and legislative action to help eradicate this type of abuse. Through their work with the organization, Leah learned that a disproportionate number of LGBTQ+ individuals are victimized by revenge porn. As a non-binary individual, Leah wants the world to see people like them not only survive internet abuse but also go on to achieve incredible things.
What being a Woman of Worth means to them: “Being a L'Oréal Paris Woman of Worth allows me to honor my younger self, who did not believe they would survive their teenage years, let alone live to see this type of recognition. This is a reminder to other LGBTQ+ folks and victims of sexual abuse that we have the power to take a stand against the people that harm us.”
Donate: Support March Against Revenge Porn, here.
Who she is: Danielle Boyer created The STEAM Connection, a program that focuses on kids who are left behind in regards to technology education. Her inspiration came from witnessing the lack of resources for children who are interested in science and technology. The STEAM Connection offers diverse, accessible educational materials to kids for free. In only a year and a half, the platform has managed to reach tens of thousands of students, a majority of which are girls and minorities. (Danielle herself is a queer, Ojibwe female.) As part of the program, Danielle invented a robotics kit that costs less than $20 USD.
What being a Woman of Worth means to her: “Being a L’Oréal Paris Woman of Worth means uplifting and creating a community for children who are traditionally underrepresented through accessible technical education. Together, we can create the future that we want to see by supporting, listening to, and fostering our youth to celebrate their brilliant minds.”
Donate: Support The STEAM Connection, here.
Next: Learn about Women of Worth from years past via our interview series, 15 Years, 15 Women of Worth: Meet Past WOW Honorees.
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