Thankful Thursdays: Project HEAL Provides Unique, Life-Saving Scholarships

Photo: (Project Heal)

Photo: (Project Heal)

Every Thursday in November, we’re profiling amazing changemakers we’re seriously thankful for. This Thursday, we’d like to introduce you to Liana Rosenman, 22, and Kristina Saffran, 21, of Project HEAL.

Liana Rosenman, 22, and Kristina Saffran, 21, are intimately familiar with the high cost of treatment for eating disorders. After all, the two young women met six years ago when they were both in treatment for anorexia nervosa. After helping each other along the path to full recovery, Rosenman and Saffran chose to pay it forward.

In 2008, the duo founded Project HEAL (Help to Eat, Accept and Live), which provides scholarships to those with eating disorders who are not able to afford treatment. The org also promotes healthy body image and self-esteem in hopes of preventing future eating disorders. In the past five years, Project HEAL has raised over $300,000 (NBD!!!) and helped send eight applicants to treatment. Rosenman and Saffran recently announced a new collaboration with Monte Nido Eating Disorder Treatment of New York, one of the most highly regarded treatment programs for eating disorders in the United States.

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Photo: Girls who like to have fun and give back: Christina Grasso (co-founder of HEAL NYC chapter), Liana, and Esther Zyskind (HEAL NYC chapter member). (Facebook)

The partnership isn’t the first time to founders have worked with the staff at Monte Nido; Medical Director Kenneth Willis helped Saffran with her treatment years ago. Saffran is “thrilled” about the collaboration, saying it’s “wonderful to work with Dr. Willis — the man who saved (her) life — in helping to save the lives of others.”

Although the pair is making great strides when it comes to helping others, the cost of treatment is staggering. According to the founders, eating disorders are difficult to treat because “they are complex and life-threatening medical and psychological disorders.” The process to treat the disorders takes time and a “committed and knowledgeable team of eating disorder specialists.” For one person to work with a full team of outpatient providers on a weekly basis might run up a tab of $20,000. For one person to attend inpatient or residential treatment, the cost might be as high as $30,000 month.

Although those numbers might be daunting, Rosenman and Saffran emphasized that, with proper treatment, eating disorders are 100 percent curable. They both expressed their gratitude at being fully recovered, even sharing that Thanksgiving has become one of their favorite days of the year.

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Photo: Liana and Kristina are helping others heal from eating disorders. (Instagram)

For those who are struggling, Rosenman and Saffran want you to know that your self-worth isn’t tied to your weight or size. If you have a friend or family member who is struggling with an eating disorder, the duo recommends reminding the person of his or her strengths, realizing the complexity of the illness, helping them discover who they want to be, and just being supportive.

If you would like to get involved with Project HEAL, you can help start a chapter where you live or check out the action widgets below.

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Photo: One of the many inspiring images the girls post on Project Heal’s Instragram. (Instagram)

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Find ways you can get involved with Kristina and Liana's Project HEAL!

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Half Of Us

Half Of Us

Learn more about eating disorders and how to get support or help a friend with it.