Everything happens for a reason, they say. While I, too, am one that will forever wonder why bad things happen to good people, I have witnessed too much goodness come from adversity to deny that with every struggle, there is purpose.
At just fifteen years of age, after battling anorexia nervosa and undergoing several bouts of intensive treatment together, Kristina Saffran and Liana Rosenman founded Project HEAL (Help to Eat, Accept, and Live). Project HEAL, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, raises funds to provide treatment scholarships for those battling eating disorders who are unable to afford the costly yet imperative care.
In a situation where full recovery from eating disorder is a mountainous challenge on its own, and still, in a world where eating disorders continue to be widely misunderstood, it would be completely justifiable for Saffran and Rosenman to keep their histories private and move on with life. Instead, they have transformed their struggles into a powerful and meaningful way to help others battling eating disorders. And now, still a few months shy of receiving college degrees, these remarkable young women have already saved many lives. Since Project HEAL's inception in 2008, the grassroots organization has raised well over $300,000 and sent nine scholarship recipients to treatment. In 2013, Project HEAL also launched collaborative scholarship programs with the Columbia Center for Eating Disorders and Monte Nido Eating Disorder Treatment of New York.
While in treatment, Saffran and Rosenman encountered countless young men and women who desperately wanted to recover, but could not afford the necessary care due to lack of insurance coverage. According to ANAD, eating disorders affect up to 30 million Americans and claim the lives of up to 20 percent who suffer, but insurance companies routinely deny coverage for the specialized care these illnesses require. Therefore, only 10 percent of sufferers receive some form of treatment, leaving the majority to their own devices.
Saffran and Rosenman also cited throughout their own recoveries, there were so few people who bore the message that full recovery is possible. To this, I can attest. Until I began undergoing treatment for my own eating disorder, I never knew another person who was going through, or had overcome, an eating disorder with whom I could speak openly and honestly. I waited until it was almost too late to get help, but now through Project HEAL, Saffran, Rosenman, and all of their chapter leaders serve as mentors, and a testimony that full recovery, difficult and painful as it is, can be achieved.
Saffran and Rosenman's message and commitment to their cause has expanded nationwide and across the globe with Project HEAL chapters in nearly twenty states, as well as in Canada and in Japan.
Founded in 2008 by Liana Rosenman and Kristina Saffran, Project HEAL promotes awareness of eating disorders and raises funds to provide treatment scholarships for others who suffer. For more information visit www.theprojectheal.org.