Butterfly Effect Project continues to inspire confidence


The North Fork may be very a lot a giving place.

As a lot because it modifications with every passing 12 months, a way of generosity between neighbors stays.

This vacation season, we at northforker need to pay tribute to a few of the charities which have helped individuals in our communities dwell fuller lives.

This month, we’ll share the tales of those organizations and allow you to know how one can assist them additional their missions.

There comes a time when a profitable nonprofit group turns into measured much less for its potential and extra on the impression it has already made in a group.

For the Butterfly Impact Mission, which was based in Riverhead in 2014, that success is measured in individuals.

A gaggle that started off with simply eight ladies from Riverhead and Flanders and aimed to empower them with instruments to develop into assured and emotionally steady younger ladies has grown exponentially within the six years since. The group’s mission assertion is “offering secure areas for women to dream and succeed.”

Selfie time at a previous 12 months’s Butterfly Ball. (File photograph)

There at the moment are 437 members from throughout the 5 East Finish cities and Brookhaven and the group primarily providers ladies from low-income minority households.

“I see myself in every one of many ladies in a different way,” mentioned BEP founder Tijuana “Ms. Tia” Fulford. “I relate to the nerdiness, the goofiness in each certainly one of them. I’m 37 and nonetheless forcing myself to return out of my consolation zone.”

That’s in the end what this system does for the ladies. It teaches to all the time do higher at school, to volunteer, to talk up — life expertise that aren’t all the time instilled in youngsters.

Fulford’s personal story is well-documented. As a child in Riverhead, she didn’t all the time slot in. She was poor. Her father, whereas current for her, was additionally hooked on crack-cocaine.

She discovered a mentor in longtime Riverhead city historian Justine Wells, who pushed her to decide on laborious work over self-pity.

Tijuana Fulford was the Riverhead Information-Assessment’s 2015 Particular person of the 12 months. (Credit score: Katharine Schroeder)

This angle shift helped Fulford achieve confidence, enabling her to higher herself and make pals. It additionally impressed her to start out the group to do the identical factor for future generations of Riverhead ladies in an identical state of affairs.

Like all nonprofits, 2020 has been a difficult 12 months for The Butterfly Impact Mission. 5 of its deliberate fundraisers had been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group additionally needed to take up the lack of a few of the cash paid out to prepare these occasions.

Nonetheless, Fulford, her new program and growth director Brienne Ahearn and the women and men who volunteer to assist out with the group have impressed the present crop of butterflies to remain lively.

“We’ve pushed them to dwell as regular as doable at a time when that’s not doable,” Fulford mentioned.

AnnMarie Galasso, who has volunteered with the group. marveled at its success and the power of Fulford, who she calls a “one-woman military.”

“They consider success shouldn’t be dictated by the place you’re born, how a lot cash you have got, your race, bodily limitations or something aside from your means and private dedication,” Galasso mentioned of BEP.

The group has all the time relied on monetary assist from enterprise companions. (File photograph)

Ms. Ahearn, who not too long ago started in her position, mentioned she goals to assist set up partnerships with native companies and group organizations to see how they will “work collectively to make it possible for we’re all thriving.”

“I’m solely constructing on what’s already right here,” she mentioned. “Tia is superb and has finished a lot. She’s so artistic in creating curriculum, so I hope I may help elevate it to achieve extra individuals.”

After all the success of BEP isn’t simply measured within the quantity of lives it has touched, but in addition in particular person tales.

After we interviewed Azharia Allen 5 years in the past, she had simply grow to be a young person and he or she informed us about how necessary her “position mannequin” Ms. Tia was in her life. As we speak, she’s attending faculty on the West Coast, and nonetheless discovering time to assist out from 3,000 miles away.

Shanysa Tems was impressed by each Ms. Tia and her buddy Azharia. As we speak, she’s the group’s head junior volunteer, a management place only one butterfly rises to every 12 months. Fulford mentioned Shanysa got here into this system like many teenagers battling vanity points.

“It’s been superb to see her develop to have a voice,” Fulford mentioned.

Christmas is a giant time of 12 months for the group as they supply items for kids who want it most. (Credit score: Krysten Massa)

Shanysa has earned the nickname “Social Employee,” for the way in which she helps youthful program members navigate obstacles. She’s additionally very a lot focused on social equality and human rights. The highschool pupil is in an early childhood growth program, works a part-time job at McDonald’s and nonetheless finds time to volunteer 20 hours every week with the nonprofit.

“I’ve all the time mentioned I’m not a crier,” Fulford mentioned. “When she graduates, I’m gonna cry.”

Need to assist the group?

The Butterfly Impact Mission depends on group donations and there are a number of methods to contribute via the group’s web site, together with collaborating in its year-end marketing campaign. To do your half in making a distinction within the lives of those younger ladies go to To volunteer e-mail [email protected].


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