● By Style
Photos by Dante Fontana
Feelings of beauty, confidence and inner strength are not mutually exclusive.
Where one exists, the others follow, and rarely can one thrive without the others. For women working to rebuild their lives after surviving domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, or other life crises, those inner feelings can be in very short supply. And while all of the support services for women in El Dorado County work miracles in helping them recover, few have the resources to help women complete the transition back to “normal” life. For that reason, InsideOut was launched in early 2011.
“Our mission is to take women who have gone through support programs and life crisis situations and instill in them a sense of beauty, confidence and strength so they can find work, care for their families and go on to live successful lives,” says Ashley Holst, who first had the vision for InsideOut more than three years ago. The program involves a four-week course, offered bi-monthly. Week one focuses on “the inside” with motivational speakers, educational classes on goal setting and healthy eating habits, in addition to personality and aptitude testing. The idea is to help them identify the skills and strengths they can best put to use in the workforce and everyday life. The next few weeks focus on the “outside,” covering everything from makeup application and hairstyling to how to dress for interviews. Week four is “makeover week,” where the women apply everything they’ve learned and go for a photo shoot.
Each four-week course is open to 15 women, although there are plans to grow the program over time. Only women who have completed another support program, are actively looking for work, and have permanent or temporary housing are eligible for the InsideOut course; also, the director of another support program must refer them. To that end, InsideOut has already formed partnerships with sister centers such as Progress House, The Center for Violence-Free Relationships, Hope House and others that have seen how InsideOut can meet a vital need in the region.
In addition to handling the coursework, Holst and cofounder Brooke Hunter are also diligently working to raise funds to help grow the organization. One major fundraising event, a High Tea, is set for April 22. The group is actively seeking donations for a raffle and a silent auction. Finding a permanent space in which to do their meaningful work is also at the top of their needs list.
“When you feel beautiful it’s easier to hold your head up high and represent yourself more confidently,” Hunter says. “When you carry that confidence, combined with a professional ‘put together’ look, it makes people want to listen to you. It helps you value yourself. And women who value themselves are much less likely to ever go back to the addiction or abusive relationships that could have destroyed their lives.”
For more information, including details about the upcoming High Tea fundraiser, visit insideoutheartstoheals.webs.com.