This guest post authored by Shelby Jefferson, Vista Maria 

On April 27, Vista Maria held its 18th annual Celebrating Women event at The Henry, Autograph Collection in Dearborn. WDIV Channel 4 anchor, Rhonda Walker, emceed the affair and paid to tribute to an outstanding woman and three remarkable girls who have triumphed in the face of adversity.

The night’s honorees included Glenda Reed, CEO/Founder of Crossroads Learning Center and the creator of “Once Upon a Time”, a non-profit organization that honors women who have survived childhood sexual abuse. Vista Maria also recognized the achievements of three young women who, through the agency’s treatment programs, have embarked on a path toward successful futures.

“Today I can recognize what’s really important,” said Briana, a 17-year-old honoree. “I have love and respect for myself, and I know that I am smart and beautiful. Vista Maria has also taught me that education is the key to my future…Before coming to campus, I never realized that I was this intelligent, but I now know I can do anything that I put my mind to.”

Vista Maria’s signature event may have launched 18 years ago, but its quest to empower women and girls stems back to the late 1800s, when it was established as an orphanage by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd. Today, through in-class residential and community-based treatment services, Vista Maria continues to provide hope to girls and their families—an aspect well demonstrated through events like Celebrating Women.

“Because of Vista Maria, I’ve gained the coping skills I need to deal with life in healthy ways,” said CW honoree, Bailey. “The WINGS program, which helps victims of human trafficking, has allowed me to become more independent, while also increasing my self-confidence. Because of the program, I’ve also greatly improved my people skills and I feel more comfortable in a group setting.”

During the event, attendees were also able to see how Vista Maria’s Village of Hope continues to inspire young girls to reach for the stars. For Talisa, a junior at Vista Maria’s on campus charter school, Clara B. Ford Academy, the future looks bright. In fact, after graduating in 2018, the 18-year-old aspires to become a pediatrician.

“During my short time on this earth, life has not been easy. In fact, it’s been rocky, difficult and often cruel. But none of this matters because I’m a survivor,” she said. “I’m proud of how far I’ve come and I will continue to work hard toward my future goals and dreams. I want to thank Vista Maria for guiding me toward those goals, and for helping me see that there is no such thing as the impossible.”

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