Now a freshman at the University of Central Florida, Daniella Maya found a passion for community service as a sophomore in high school via community service and honors organizations at Killian Senior High School. Maya had a hand in outreach and toy drives and was inspired to create her own path thanks to her experiences within the community. “I’ll never forget collecting hundreds of items for Lotus House Women’s shelter at my school and being to able to deliver those items personally,” she says. “The smiles from the Lotus House representatives as we stacked what seemed like hundreds of bags is something engraved in my memory.”
Maya is open about struggling with bullying and self-esteem issues as a young adult, something that sparked her to look further into studies and literature about the subject. “I was a junior in high school when I realized that I had a love for social activism in women empowerment,” says Maya. “I was creating PPB through drawing on napkins and telling my closest confidants my ideas. I would read hundreds of articles and create vision boards of the activities for the curriculum.” Maya was especially influenced by Dr. Morris Rosenberg, creator of the most widely-used self-esteem measure in social science research. “Project Pink Butterfly was born with an idea of a developmental program that would build character and find the root of how to create more empowered young women at earlier ages,” she says.
Finding a Home
Maya’s path to nonprofit was not easy. After receiving pushback for her desire to tackle such a sensitive topic at such a young age, Maya kept going, finally finding a champion for her cause. “After contacting over 50 programs, I received one call back from a woman who became a long-lasting light in PPB’s future. Michelle Garcia, Director, and Owner of Dazzling Diva Productions, an all-girls summer camp located in South Florida,” she says. Garcia gave her opportunity to begin the PPB program and Maya ran with it, building social media and eventually finding a home at Somerset Academy and a target audience of girls 9-14 years old.
The Butterfly Effect
Today, Maya builds and leads workshops for young girls, focusing on “uplifting all children’s gifts and introducing them to therapeutic activities that allow them to express themselves.” The program’s signature activity sees the girls creating their own butterfly on which they write their name and one positive attribute. “The reason behind this is positive recognition. The more our butterflies see themselves in a positive light, the better.” Workshops are funded by PPB’s online store, which Maya encourages supporters to visit. “You can also contact us to volunteer or have us host PPB workshops at your local school or program. We welcome any person of any age to come and speak to our butterflies.”
Project Pink Butterfly, projectpinkbutterfly.org