Picture this: You’ve just turned 15-years-old and started your first year of high school. You recently moved to a new city, leaving behind a place you knew and loved since birth. Your life abruptly changed, and you were uprooted from your comfort zone, your friends, and your family. This was Gia’s experience.
Gia moved to Las Vegas from Chicago, the place she had called home for 14 years. While trying to adjust to a new environment, she found comfort in watching makeup tutorial videos on YouTube.com. Years before, her dad gifted her a makeup kit. It finally captured her attention as she mirrored the lessons she saw online. The gift that was once deemed useless to a self-proclaimed “tomboy”, was now the key to unlocking her passion. Friends at school started to notice that she was wearing makeup and asked if she would help them get ready for the Homecoming dance. Nothing was more exciting to young Gia than an array of blank canvases that would allow her to practice her art.
To others, Gia was a fun, makeup loving girl, but there was a lot happening that people didn’t see. What others didn’t realize was that Gia spent a lot of time taking care of her father, whose cancer had recently relapsed, or just home alone. Those integral years of self-exploration and discovery were pushed to aside as she helped her dad survive another day. Every day while Gia’s dad was receiving chemotherapy treatment, Gia took comfort in watching makeup tutorials online to keep herself occupied and out of trouble.
Three years later, cancer claimed her father’s life. At a young age of 18-years-old, Gia was left to live alone in their two-bedroom townhouse. Family members came to take old possessions for themselves; each time walking away with a piece of Gia’s life that she wouldn’t be able to get back. Living with the very little that she had left in the house, she didn’t know what to do or where to go. Her family had abandoned her, more interested in the things she had rather than Gia herself. Gia was just finishing high school and facing some of the most trying times in her life.
Life started to feel unbearable and in search of a new start, Gia moved from Las Vegas, around California, and finally ended up in Arizona. She didn’t have a place to call home; she didn’t feel that sense of belonging. In 2018, she found herself with nothing: no clothes, no family, no place to sleep, no source of food or income. On April 24, 2019, Gia was warmly welcomed into UMOM’s Diane and Bruce Halle Women’s Center. Finally, she was living in a community where she felt she could connect with other people who had similar life experiences. She had a safe place to lay her head at night and she knew when and where her next meal was coming from. Not only did Gia find shelter at our Halle Women’s Center she also found an immense amount of support through one-on-one case management, community advocates, and was connected to the proper services she needed.
Gia’s only escape was when she was doing her makeup; it allowed her to focus on one thing at a time. Her self-taught makeup skills inspired her dream of attending cosmetology school to become a certified makeup artist. With the hopes of making a positive impact in other women’s lives, Gia is inspired to share the feeling of empowerment, strength, and beauty that she felt every time she opened her makeup bag. “Knowing that your true beauty comes from within is the most important part of the process,” she shared. “Makeup is only an enhancer to your true beauty, not a cover up.”
In Gia’s makeup tutorial, she explains how easy it is to take the first step toward believing in yourself. “Know that you love yourself first. Know in your heart that you are already beautiful,” Gia shared. Thanks to Thrive Causemetics, the women of the New Day Center and Halle each received their own personal makeup bag with 10 unique individual pieces. Additionally, Gia shared that the rest of her makeup was from a local store. “All of these things are affordable, anyone can pull off this look and feel fantastic.” There are 130 women living at UMOM’s Halle Women’s Center whose lives were far from traditional; like Gia’s story. To learn more about UMOM New Day Centers and how our programs restore hope and rebuild lives visit our website: www.umom.org/about.