Fresh Water Cleveland ~ For Good

For Good

girls with sole a champion for cleveland’s troubled teens

Physical power is an important component of most any successful sports-related endeavor. However, athletics can also be used as a source of inner strength, a lesson Liz Ferro knows well.

Ferro is founder and executive director of Girls With Sole, a Rocky River-based nonprofit offering athletics programs to young victims of abuse throughout Cuyahoga, Lorain and Stark counties. Since its inception in August 2009, the program has aided nearly 500 girls. The organization offers traditional team sports as well as yoga, dance, Pilates and other wellness and nutrition activities.

“It’s an outlet for these girls to expend their negative energies,” says Ferro, whose organization brings its programming to different venues throughout the Cleveland area.

Ferro founded Girls With Sole to help girls who have experienced abuse gain self-esteem and mental strength. An abuse victim herself, Ferro used athletics as a source of empowerment when she had nowhere else to turn. Through the nonprofit, local girls have a chance to put teamwork, confidence and plain old fun into their daily routines.

“It’s an amazing feeling for them to do something physically,” Ferro says. “They can take that and use it in other areas of their lives.”

Ferro has numerous success stories among her young clients. One girl, a ward of the state in residential treatment, initially rejected Girls With Sole. Today, she’s a marathon runner and triathlete, a far better option than drugs or other unhealthy coping mechanisms troubled teens undertake.

“These kids don’t get this kind of encouragement elsewhere,” says Ferro. “Seeing positive and healthy people around them makes an impact.”

SOURCE: Liz Ferro
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

Liz Ferro honored with 2012 Longines and Town & Country Magazine Women Who Make A Difference Award

Luxury Watches News — 30 October 2012

Swiss luxury watch company Longines recently celebrated their 150th year anniversary of expertise in manufacturing watches along with lifestyle magazine Town & Country celebrated exceptional women at their annual Women Who Make a Difference Awards. Longines along with Town & Country honored women who have made an impact on the lives of children through her charitable work.

Winners of this prestigious award received an Longines timepiece, were flown to New York City where they had a dinner in their honor and sat for a professional photo shoot with Town & Country magazine. The winners also had the opportunity to spread awareness about their charities with a full page ad in the magazine’s February 2013 issue. Longines’ U.S. Brand President Jennifer Judkins states that this is the brand’s fourth year honoring women who dedicate their lives to the advancement of children.

The winners of the 2012 Longines Women who Make a Difference Awards are Saran Kaba Jones, Liz Ferro and Dr. Pam Cantor. These three remarkable women were honored for their untiring work and their influence over the many children in their communities. Sara Kaba Jones founded FACE Africa in 2009 to help provide safe drinking water for the millions of people in her native country of Liberia. FACE Africa along with the help of other charities and grants was able to launch several water and sanitation proejects.

Liz Ferro is the founder and executive director of Girls With Sole. The Girls With Sole program assists girl with a history of physical and sexual abuse to boost their self-esteem through a variety of fitness and wellness programs. Ferro indicates that she was a foster child who experienced sexual abuse and credits sports and fitness to give her self-esteem and help her through difficult times.

Dr. Pam Cantor is the founder and CEO of Turnaround for Children. This organization teams up with schools in New York City, New Jersey and Washington D.C. to foster a positive learning environment in high-poverty and low performance schools. Studies have found that schools who have enlisted in this program experienced fewer behavioral problems and higher scores.

4th Annual 2012 CLASSY Awards ~ Girls With Sole is chosen for Best New Charity ~ Midwest Region

Girls With Sole is honored to be chosen by the Classy Awards as the Midwest Region’s Best New Charity.

The event took place in San Diego on September 22, 2012 at the famed San Diego Civic Theater. Girls With Sole walked the Red Carpet, and as they say: “It was an honor just to be nominated!”

Take a look at the LADYLUX magazine article below for more on the 2012 Classy Awards.09.24.2012

Fourth annual CLASSY Awards continues to highlight philanthropies

LadyLUX via Marisa Machak

The fourth annual CLASSY Awards ceremony was held on Saturday, Sept. 22 to honor the most influential charities, nonprofit businesses and philanthropies nationwide. Considered the largest philanthropic awards ceremony in the country, this year’s CLASSY’s recognized the contributions of volunteers, professionals and organizations on a larger scale than the previous years.

This year’s awards were hosted by Adam Braun, founder and CEO ofPencils of Promise, and Tiffany Pearsons, founder and director of Shine on Sierra Leone, and took place in San Diego’s Civic Theatre. This year’s attendance was the highest yet and the venue was filled with finalists, nonprofit and tech industry leaders, last year’s winners and the entire StayClassy team.

The co-founders of StayClassy, Pat Walsh and Scot Chisholm, greeted everyone on the red carpet and continued to make everyone feel at home with their opening ceremony welcome speech, which offered much gratitude and a bit of wit to add humor to the show.

“Clearly, the real celebrities here tonight are the nominees. They’ve dedicated their lives to causes that were bigger than themselves. They’ve endured hardships, they’ve lost loved ones, they’ve been injured, impaired […] Yet, they’ve turned it around and used it as motivation […] The 2,400 nominees from this year’s CLASSY Awards have impacted the lives of 346 million people around the world,” said Walsh in his speech.

Liz Ferro of Girls With Sole, nominated for Best New Charity, was excited about the evening and the much needed attention that the awards will bring to her organization.

“Being nominated is a huge thing that I’m excited about. It’s just an honor because we’re so small. I’m just really excited about the whole event itself. I hope that Girls With Sole will gather some sort of attention nationally so that we can go the next level, which is to add chapters in every city,” Ferro shared.

CLASSY Award winners were selected from 2,400 nominations and endured several rounds of judging by a panel of past winners who have gone through the nomination process and understand what it takes. This group of industry all-stars scored each of the Regional Finalists to help determine the 64 Regional Winners for all 16 categories. The number of nominations and categories both rose since last year’s event, going from 2,000 to 2,400 and 12 to 16, respectively.

The winners were:

Volunteer of the Year: Jim Elliot for Diveheart
Environmental ProtectionThe Reef Ball Foundation
Best New CharityTaylor’s Gift Foundation
Human ServicesThe Trevor Project
Most Creative Fundraiser by a CharitySt. Baldrick’s Foundation
Health and Well BeingFree Wheelchair Mission
Animal Advocacy and ServicesHalifax Humane Society
Most Influential College Student or College OrganizationSwipes for the Homeless
Small Charity of the YearTeam Rubicon
Most Effective Awareness Campaign by a Charity: Invisible Children
Educational AdvancementCristo Rey Network
Human Rights: National Domestic Workers Alliance
Disaster Relief & International AidMedical Teams International
Philanthropic Business of the YearRaven & Lily
Hunger and Poverty ReliefProject Peanut Butter
Charity of the YearWounded Warrior Project

Swipes for the Homeless co-founder and executive director, Tak Nguyen, shared how winning the title of Most Influential College Student or College Organization will help further the organization’s efforts.

“We were really hoping to win because fundraising right now is really tough. We have a lot of really interesting projects that we want to execute, one of them being a conference for all homeless chapters of the United States and that’s going to require a lot of funding and a lot of resources that we didn’t have being a college organization. We’re definitely going to use some of the prize money towards that. We’re excited about that,” Nguyen said.

A special highlight of the night was a video appearance by Maria Shriver delivering her personal shout out to the CLASSY Award winners and finalists for their good deeds. Shriver shared her memories of her mother and how she founded the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 50 years ago. Shriver reminded everyone that Sept. 22 was also Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day and to pay respect by retaining hope for the disabled.

Other highlights of the show included special appearances by MTV’s “The Buried Life” creators Ben Nemtin and Dave Lingwood, Jim Moriarty ofSurfrider Foundation, Jim Gibbons of Goodwill Industries International, Doug Ullman of LIVESTRONG and other well-known nonprofit leaders and even tech industry leaders from Google, PayPal and eBay.

The after-party was held at the Marriott Marquis & Marina in downtown San Diego, where finalists, winners and guests let loose to enjoy and honor each organization’s accomplishments, and to celebrate what a difference everyone has made in the past year.

The Fourth Annual CLASSY’s made just as much of an impact as last year’s ceremony and shed more light on these organizations and their efforts. The increased number of nominations, award categories and attendees proves that more people are getting involved and that StayClassy has done their part by bringing even more publicity and recognition to the world of philanthropy.

Read more about the CLASSY Awards.

“Finish Line Feeling” is published ~ Book Launch held at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, September 2012

Liz Ferro has penned a book about her life spent getting to the spiritual and emotional finish line.

The September 2012 Book Launch drew about 300 people to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum for the unveiling of this intriguing and inspiring memoir.

Many Girls With Sole participants came out to celebrate this honor with their favorite “Coach” ~ Miss Liz.

The night wasn’t all about Ferro and her new book, however.  An essay contest was posed to the participants in Girls With Sole, and they were asked to write an essay about how Girls With Sole has benefited them personally. A panel of judges, comprised the Girls With Sole board of directors, had the difficult task of choosing three winners.  Each young lady chosen presented their essay at the book launch, and received a GWS necklace and bouquet of flowers on stage.  The grand prize winner also received a Kindle Fire.

All guests received a goody bag and a copy of Finish Line Feeling.

Girls with Sole running towards a mission

(WOIO) -After years of abuse a Rocky River woman turns personal tragedy into something good for northeast Ohio kids.

43-year-old Liz Ferro is like a little ray of sunshine.

Her story starts with a dark journey through sexual abuse as a foster care kid.

This is the reason she started Girls with Sole in August 2009.

Each of the now 350 girls in the program gets a new pair of running shoes to lace up for a lifetime of achievement following the trail forged by Ferro.

“The running shoes help me to come to the light and that’s what I’m trying to show them…and it’s working,” said Ferro.

“We give girls free fitness and wellness programs to empower them and create self esteem and it’s for girls who are at risk or who have experienced any type of abuse,” said Ferro.

Ferro has run 17 marathons and done four Iron Mans.

Ferro has just penned a book about a life spent getting to the spiritual and emotional finish line.

She’s making a difference in the lives of young girls.

Click here to see article

Child Abuse Prevention Month–a ‘soleful’ organization in The Examiner

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Liz Ferro is putting her footprint on child abuse. Ferro’s organization, Girls with Solein Rocky River, serves girls from 9-18 years old and aims to empower girls who are at-risk or have experienced abuse of any kind.

Ferro was adopted at the age of two and was later sexually abused as a young child. Through her organization, Girls with Sole!she shares with girls how athletics and fitness helped her through challenging times and how they too can overcome. I met Ferro at an event in February where she talked about her journey. Her story was so riveting that I recently interviewed her for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

I read where you were sexually abused by a male next door neighbor when your 8 and 9 years old. Did you ever tell anyone? I never verbally told anyone about it, however, in order to get it out, I wrote some things about what was going on with the neighbor in an assignment pad that I had in my room, but never used this pad for school. While at school, my mom was in my room and read it. When I got home that day, she was waiting for me with it in hand, and she was upset with me. She asked me if it was true, and I told her that it was. Then she asked me, “Was it so important to you that you wrote it down?” (As if I was happy about it or something.) After that she told me that we would never tell anyone about it. She said that if my father found out about it, he would kill our neighbor and then go to jail. I didn’t want it to be my fault that my dad was in jail so both of us never told anyone, and went on about our lives.

Liz Ferro, Founder/Exec. Dir. (Girls with Sole)
Liz Ferro, Founder/Exec. Dir. (Girls with Sole)
Photo credit:
Liz Ferro

Why do you think it’s hard for kids to tell someone about abuse? I think kids struggle for many reasons and being dismissed, or not believed, is one of the big ones. For me, there was also a lot of shame and embarrassment. I also felt as if I had done something wrong and feared that it was my fault. My mother’s reaction to it further reinforced those fears.

To this day, have you ever spoken to the abuser? I have never spoken to him about it and actually never had to see him again after I went away to college in Ohio. He lived in Rochester, NY, where I grew up. When he was abusing me he was already retired. Recently, when I got my book published, I searched the internet for him and his wife to see if they were still alive. They are both deceased.

You started Girls with Sole! in July of 2009. What were some of the challenges you faced when starting the non-profit? I started in during the height of a recession and many people told me that it would fail. Some people even told me that I should take out the word “abuse” from the mission.

Why did you persevere? I persevered because I knew in my heart that I could not divert from our mission and that Girls With Sole! was extremely needed for a population of girls that was not being served. These girls needed someone to give them hope, strength and healing, and I couldn’t turn my back on them. I figured if it didn’t work out, and Girls With Sole! fizzled away unsuccessfully, at least I would have tried, and maybe helped a few girls along the way. But that isn’t what happened and I am so glad I listened to my heart.

How do you think Girls with Sole! will empower girls who have experienced sexual abuse?
 My hope is that they survive by gaining emotional and physical strength and high self-esteem through fitness; that they realize abuse is never their fault, and that no matter what, they can always move forward. They are encouraged to be themselves and to believe that they can do great things and achieve. It gives them the ability to cross a finish line and release painful emotions in a very healthy way.

In June, Ferro along with several girls and supporters will cross the finish line in the Team LULA 5K run in Rocky River. The race is open to anyone who wants to run and is part fundraiser, which goes toward training the girls and registering them for free. The race also coincides with the promotion of her new book, Finish Line Feeling, an uplifting memoir about her journey from foster child, to sexual abuse survivor to founder of Girls with Sole.

The first federal child protection legislation, Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was passed in 1974.