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Heart of a Woman Award Winner
Dr. Phil and Robin want to celebrate a very special woman who chooses to live her life with passion and purpose. Lesia Cartelli has devoted her life to helping young burn victims because she knows their pain firsthand. Her organization, Angel Faces, is an innovative healing retreat for teenage girls with facial or body differences due to burn injury, cancer, accident, abuse or birth abnormalities. Angel Faces is the only program in the United States that focuses on the specific concerns of adolescent girls with disfigurements, and enhancing their self-esteem and social skills while addressing their emotional and psychological healing.
"Essentially, it's a soft place for them to fall, and a solid place for them to rise up from," Lesia says. "We address a lot of the issues that the girls struggle with: The staring, the teasing. I see the pain in the girls and I recognize it as my own pain. I was burned in a natural gas explosion as a child. Maybe if I had not been burned, I wouldn't have been able to go, â€˜Oh, here's a need.' As the retreat goes on through the days, I see the girls, they almost retreat back to little girls. At night, when we all go to bed, the girls are still up, giggling."
One girl from Angel Faces says, "It felt nice to know that I wasn't the only one, that there were other people out there that had the same thing happen to them."
Angel Faces is in its third year, and because of the budget, Lesia has only been able to host one retreat a year. Her vision is to increase the retreat's staff and resources to have at least three of them yearly. "My goal for Angel Faces, I would like to see this made available to the girls throughout the country. The need is there to grow the program. We need the funding to grow Angel Faces. When I go home, and I go through my books and my papers, I'll find notes from the girls." She reads one of them. "â€˜Lesia, thank you very much for everything you do. If we did not have you in our lives, we would not know what to do. You have touched all of our lives in many ways that'll help us in the future.' When I see stuff like this, I know I'm on the right path," Lesia says.