APOPKA, Fla. — Fifteen years ago, Lisa Williams noticed young women in her Apopka community needing some guidance.
- Lisa Williams created LANES to empower girls
- She focuses on self-love, confidence, and service projects
- She wants girls to gain critical leadership skills and self-confidence
“Girls become women who become wives, who become mothers, and who become influencers in their community," she said. “If you can help a girl dream and focus on their goals and set goals for themselves, the dreams they have they accomplish them.”
Williams started the nonprofit LANES, which stands for loving, assisting, nurturing, educating, and supporting teenage girls.
Working with middle schoolers each week — and high school students every other week — this Everyday Hero imparts lessons of self-love and confidence, mixed with service projects and events in the community.
Williams estimates she's worked with 150 girls in the program over the years.
“I do believe I was called for this," she said. “To me, it’s everything. It means the future. It means girls growing into all God wants them to be. Women can change an entire community when we put our minds to it.”
Logan Walker joined the after school program two years ago. Now, as an eighth grader, she's singing in the group's chorale and soaking in the moments with new friends.
“I would meet different people from different backgrounds … trying new things," she said.
Williams doesn't get paid to run the program, nor does she have any children of her own. For her, seeing girls gain critical leadership skills and self-confidence is enough.
“I don’t think there’s anything heroic about what I do. I think God gave me a heart to want to make a difference. If I was getting paid, that’s less money we could use taking our girls on a college trip or self-esteem summit," she said.
Williams said that the connection doesn't stop after girls graduate from high school, either. Alum of her program regularly drop by to share stories with the girls and mentor.
“They’re getting married, having children, and calling, 'Miss Lisa, are you coming to my wedding?'" she said with a laugh.
“I’m proud of her. I feel more confident because she’s my hero to me," said the eighth grader. “She’s that one person that just encourages everybody.”
To find out more about the program or how you can donate, visit the LANES website.