Tyreia, Tracey, and Monica are three inspiring young women who have overcome so much tragedy and instability in their short lives. They were brave enough to share their unimaginable stories at the Celebrating Women Event on a beautiful evening on the Dearborn Heights, Michigan campus of Vista Maria. Born to a mother who didn’t want a child, a pistol held to her head at three, thirteen foster homes by nine, sexually abused at eleven, a best friend who committed suicide at twelve, and in and out of school at fifteen are just a few of the heartbreaking details they shared. For over 128 years, Vista Maria has restored hope for girls who once believed they would never be able to overcome their painful pasts or achieve their dreams. Today, Vista Maria’s Village of Hope is changing girls’ lives by offering the ongoing education, support, and services they need to ensure bright and successful futures.
Over 350 business, community, and political leaders gathered for the 12th Annual Celebrating Women Event, an evening that recognizes the achievements of three outstanding women role models, as well as three exceptional young ladies (Tyreia, Tracey, and Monica) who have overcome immense obstacles and are excelling in their academic studies and treatment. The evening also serves as one of two major fundraisers for Vista Maria. As the Official Airline of Vista Maria, Southwest supported the event by providing roundtrip tickets that were packaged with fabulous resort stays in Phoenix, Orlando, and Denver—the $128,000 raised will be used to provide girls at Vista Maria (nearly 1,000 yearly) the unique programs that are vital to their healing and future successes.
Vista launched the five-year initiative, “Village of Hope,” with the goal of implementing a full array of services and programs. Those include schooling and job training, supplemented by child care that enables the agency’s clients to take advantage of those offerings, behavioral health services including substance abuse therapy, and schools that meet the needs of learning disabled students. Currently $382,000 short of achieving their fundraising goal to meet a $500,000 challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation, Vista continues to work towards educating the community on the importance of their work and raising money which will complete the Village of Hope Initiative.
It was evident at the end of each speech given by Tyreia, Tracey, and Monica how much Vista Maria has helped them overcome their challenges and they each now have a bright future that includes a stable home, college, and better relationships with their family. Another special moment during the evening came when a birthday cake was delivered to Tyreia.
Seeing those candles burning while everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to this young lady who probably had many birthdays in which she didn’t have much to celebrate, was so heartwarming. Tyreia had come so far and had many things to smile about this evening of her eighteen birthday—a true testament to the great work of the Vista Maria Team.
Thank you to the entire Vista Maria Team for making a difference in the lives of these young girls. For more information on Vista Maria, please visit www.vistamaria.org.