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The founders of Project HEAL, Liana Rosenman and Kristina Saffran, met while undergoing treatment for anorexia nervosa. The two girls helped each other to reach full recovery, and then wanted to help others achieve it, as well. In 2008 they founded Project HEAL: Help to Eat, Accept and Live (www.theprojectheal.org), a not-for-profit organization in the United States and a federal not-for-profit organization under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (NFP Act). We provide scholarship funding for people with eating disorders who cannot afford treatment, promote healthy body image and self esteem, and serve as a testament that full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Since being founded in 2008, Project HEAL has raised over $400,000 and has sent eleven applicants to residential and intensive outpatient treatment. They have opened over 30 chapters across the United States, Canada, and Japan that also work to spread the mission and values of Project HEAL.
The Southern Minnesota chapter of Project HEAL was founded in 2014 by Brianna Utz.
For someone who has battled anorexia nervosa since the age of 13, the now almost 24 year old Brianna Utz knows the detriment al effects and living horror that is an eating disorder.
Only when she hit rock bottom was she able to finally find her way to true recovery. In what seemed to be an unending battle and a war that she could not win, Utz endured and exhausted the few resources and options of treatment that were available to her - unfortunately only able to find them in the metro area - over two hours away from her home.
While enduring the many bouts of treatment and countless failed attempts at recovery, she gained a great understanding of the illness and the way it is viewed by much of the general population. Having been told at a young age that she did not have a problem stuck with her, allowing Utz's eating disorder to go full steam ahead. Over the years, the signs and symptoms were often misread. Her eating disorder was able to trick and manipulate the people who loved her most, consequently almost causing her life to come to an end in October of 2012.
It was not until she received the proper care, support, and found the will to fight that Brianna was able to begin true recovery. This was made possible through her finding her faith and the belief her Doctors, family, and friends now saw in her. She could recover. Brianna has obtained a passion for raising awareness around the very illness that took so many years, memories, and happy times away from her. In recovery, the fire inside of her has sparked something - that something being hope. Where there was once none, there is now that sense of hope that recovery is possible and that she does not deserve to live with an eating disorder. It is not something she chose.
Realizing that there were not many treatment options near her, nor any therapists or doctors who were properly trained and educated on eating disorders, Brianna sought out to change that. After stumbling across a blurb about Project HEAL, discovering that they shared similar missions, she knew she found the right thing. This was her hope. Where God led her. After contacting the national office in New York, Liana and Kristina, founders of Project HEAL let her get on board and start the Southern Minnesota chapter of Project HEAL.
Recovery is possible. While Brianna does not consider herself fully recovered just yet, she has been in true recovery for the past two years. She knows she can do it - and she wants to encourage and help others believe in themselves to, all the while creating more resources for those suffering in the Southern Minnesota area.