Noelle Garcia, right, is the founder of She Leads. Courtesy Tara Vreeland.

She Leads Project shares stories of hope, bolsters nonprofits

TIMNATH — Noelle Garcia of Timnath started the She Leads Project because she wants women rebuilding from positions of struggle to be surrounded by community — not bogged down by feelings of shame.

“The vision and mission of She Leads came from the heart of a woman (myself) with a passion to help other women who find themselves in the in-between stages of transformation,” said Garcia, president and founder of She Leads. 

Garcia, founder and chief executive officer of SILX Global in Fort Collins, launched She Leads in July to raise awareness of nonprofits helping women and children get back on their feet and to share “stories of hope” about what those women have overcome and achieved. Their stories are many, including overcoming abuse, divorce, trauma, loss, addiction and other life challenges.

Garcia started the project because she believes those stories serve as a source of strength and that by sharing her story publicly, she might inspire other women to take the first step. She struggled with prescription medications for about 10 years and, thinking of her two daughters, knew she had to get treatment. She felt “so much paralyzing shame,” a feeling she doesn’t want other women to have to experience, she said.

“When I got out of treatment in 2017, I promised myself that I wouldn’t be shy about telling my story,” Garcia said. “The stories could be our strength. There doesn’t have to be shame in choosing a better way or a healthier life. … We can find courage when we choose a better way.”

Garcia wants to bring help and hope to others, letting them know they can get out of “these hard places in life” and that they’re not alone, she said. She got out of her own hard place and gained confidence with the success of SILX, which she founded in 2018 to run education and extension training for stylists throughout the nation.

“This is not an ‘addiction’ movement,” Garcia said. “It’s a hope-versus-fear collaboration.” 

Garcia held the launch event for She Leads on Aug. 5 at the first of what will be quarterly events at partner New Belgium Brewery Co. in Fort Collins. The quarterly events serve as fundraisers as they spotlight and support a Northern Colorado organization or nonprofit that’s “doing incredible things to help women and children get back on their feet,” Garcia said. 

“Our entire goal and mission is to collaborate and highlight other organizations doing great things,” Garcia said.

Greeley resident Allie Reilly, a medical assistant, professional photographer and Mrs. Colorado Petite, shared her “story of hope” during the event, which spotlighted Alternatives to Violence in Loveland. 

A survivor of domestic violence, Reilly wanted to tell her story of how she overcame domestic violence and homelessness and now is speaking about it as part of her platform as Mrs. Colorado Petite. She does advocacy and public speaking on behalf of nonprofits such as Alternatives to Violence and Crossroads Safehouse in Fort Collins.

“You can get away, and you do have support systems out there. You just have to find them,” Reilly said. 

Reilly met her former husband when she was 19 and thought he was “the one,” though she started seeing red flags when she was pregnant with their daughter. He apologized after each incidence of abuse, saying it would never happen again, and she began to lie for him to cover up what he’d done.

“I learned that you are always stronger to walk away. It’s not easy, but once you do, you learn your self-worth,” Reilly said. “It’s something that’s not spoken about. It’s brushed under the rug, and I wanted to bring awareness to it.”

She Leads serves as a catalyst to support organizations like Alternatives to Violence, carrying out its mission to share, inspire and lead together while also inviting the community to participate at the quarterly events. The support is financial through ticket sales and social media donations, plus there’s a service component of filling care packages with items the highlighted organization regularly distributes to its clients. 

Alternatives to Violence is a Loveland-based nonprofit that since 1982 has provided shelter, advocacy, education and resources for men, women and children impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. The safehouse, which has eight bedrooms and 22 beds, is typically full and gets calls on a daily basis — about 80% are from domestic violence victims.  

At the first quarterly event, approximately 50 volunteers stuffed 50 backpacks with donated self-care, toiletry and other items that will be given to those staying at the safehouse. She Leads gave Alternatives to Violence a check for $10,000, and staff from the nonprofit had the opportunity to speak about its mission, the services it offers and ways for the community to get involved.

The nonprofit selected for the next quarterly event in November will be Career Closet in Fort Collins. The organization helps women overcoming homelessness, abuse or other difficult situations be prepared for the workforce by providing them with clothing and fulfilling their other career-related needs. There will be a personal story from someone connected to the nonprofit of how they overcame a struggle as a way to help educate and inspire those in attendance. 

She Leads shares “stories of hope” in other ways, such as Permission to Press Play, a podcast with an archive of stories expected to be released at the end of September and accessible from the She Leads website at sheleadsproject.org. The stories are categorized into sections, such as hope, addiction, foster care, human trafficking, miscarriage, abusive relationships, poverty and other topics.

“These stories are meant to inspire others,” Garcia said.

She Leads also has a Partners of Impact program, where the nonprofit partners with corporations and small businesses in Northern Colorado to fulfill any identified needs, such as through financial gifts, products or services. The current project is sponsoring 10 single mothers with $1,000 gift cards to King Soopers, which were scheduled to be distributed Sept. 1.  

“Here’s a pick-me-up from your community. … We see them and value them and know it’s not easy,” Garcia said.

TIMNATH — Noelle Garcia of Timnath started the She Leads Project because she wants women rebuilding from positions of struggle to be surrounded by community — not bogged down by feelings of shame.

“The vision and mission of She Leads came from the heart of a woman (myself) with a passion to help other women who find themselves in the in-between stages of transformation,” said Garcia, president and founder of She Leads. 

Garcia, founder and chief executive officer of SILX Global in Fort Collins, launched She Leads in July to raise awareness of nonprofits helping women and children get back on their feet and to share “stories of hope” about what those women have overcome and achieved. Their stories are many, including overcoming abuse, divorce, trauma, loss, addiction and other life challenges.

Garcia started the project because she believes those stories serve as a source of strength and that by sharing her story publicly, she might inspire other women to take the first step. She struggled with prescription medications for about 10 years and, thinking of her two daughters, knew she had to get treatment. She felt “so much paralyzing shame,” a feeling she doesn’t want other women to have to experience, she said.

“When I got out of treatment in 2017, I promised myself that I wouldn’t be shy about telling my story,” Garcia said. “The stories could be our strength. There doesn’t have to be shame in choosing a better way or a healthier life. … We can find courage when we…