After spending 15 years as a National Fashion Ambassador with Make a Wish, Mary Alice Stephenson was inspired to start the GLAM4GOOD Foundation. “I found a way to use my passion for fashion to honor courage, bolster self-esteem, give confidence and ignite joy,” she says. The GLAM4GOOD Foundation has supported over 3,000 men, women and children in need through its various initiatives and partnerships that focus on empowerment through style.
#VBGIVESBACK: Mary Alice Stephenson
June 1, 2016
What is the mission of GLAM4GOOD?
The GLAM4GOOD Foundation is a non-profit organization that creates and celebrates social impact and empowerment through style. The foundation harnesses the healing power, joy, and attention that fashion and beauty bring to raise awareness, bolster self-esteem, and honor courage. Through partnerships with non-profits, media outlets and fashion and beauty brands, GLAM4GOOD provides life-changing makeovers, clothing giveaways and confidence-bolstering fashion and beauty initiatives for everyday heroes and people in need.
Tell us more about the healing power of fashion – what have you witnessed through your efforts that has stood out?
There are so many unfortunate reasons women often connect self-worth with how they look, but it is a fact that when people look good they feel better, and that affects everything in their lives. At our GLAM4GOOD Foundation events I have witnessed teens battling life-threatening illness get up out of their wheelchairs and hospital beds after being pampered to celebrate the fact the feel so good. I have had women who have served our country and done all sorts of incredible and heroic things look at me and say, “Today was the first day I feel beautiful and it’s liberating.” It is an honor, and I am so grateful, to have witnessed so many ways in which style can make an impact.
How have you seen style empower women?
Fashion serves as a form of armor. When someone feels good about themselves and has the tools to take care of themselves, it bolsters their self-esteem that often helps them deal with far more serious things. The GLAM4GOOD Foundation has self-esteem empowerment initiatives that go into homeless shelters and domestic abuse shelters that style and create wardrobes for women who need a new look and a confidence boost to help them go back out into the world and get a job, or just to keep going in general.
“I feel so lucky and blessed to have seen so many ways in which style can make an impact.”
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from the women you’ve worked with?
Unfortunately, tragedy touches everyone’s life in some way. I have pampered women with GLAM4GOOD who have lost children from gun violence, lost limbs at war, lost breasts from cancer, lost their homes from natural disaster or lost their way because of substance abuse. What I have come to understand is somewhere deep down, no matter what horrific things these women have gone through, they never lose hope, spirit or the need to love and be loved. The women I have had the honor to GLAM4GOOD with have great strength, courage and the ability to move forward despite the challenging things that have occurred in their lives. But they need help and support and a community around them to encourage them.
What has been your proudest moment?
This past summer First Lady Michelle Obama asked us to GLAM4GOOD with a group of pregnant spouses and active duty service members at an army base in Italy. Mrs. Obama wanted to surprise these incredible military families with a baby shower and a GLAM4GOOD #ShoppingSpree4Free. It was such a beautiful moment to see the women react to the surprise and find out everything in the room was there to pamper and help them. Our military families give up so much to serve this country and it was a great honor for me to stand by our First Lady’s side and support Joining Forces with GLAM4GOOD.
What is your advice for those who want to make a difference in their community but might not know where to begin?
I am a single mom who has worked so hard for everything I have. I am not a philanthropist. People told me I was crazy when I started GLAM4GOOD and the GLAM4GOOD Foundation because what I was doing would take away from my life. Yes, I have made sacrifices to GLAM4GOOD, but what I have gained in my life and what my son has learned about love and service is far greater than any sacrifice. The lives that the GLAM4GOOD Foundation as empowered and the incredible organizations we have been able to support makes it all worthwhile.
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