INSPIRED IMPACT™ is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to social entrepreneurs and leaders of purpose-driven organizations who are making an impact in their communities, industries, and around the world.
Dani Gilady is the Executive Director of The Eating Disorder Foundation headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and learn more at eatingdisorderfoundation.org.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
The Eating Disorder Foundation (EDF) is a Denver 501(c)(3) non-profit that strives to be an effective resource in the prevention and elimination of eating disorders through education, support, and advocacy. Our broadest aim is to radically alter the trajectory of suffering, illness, and death that accompanies eating disorders. By offering extensive support services, educational outreach, and resources for treatment, EDF is breaking the silence and shame that stand in the way of getting help. We are the only resource of its kind in the U.S., providing drop-in support, workshops, a mentorship program, and weekly support groups in Denver and beyond for people who are struggling, as well as their families and friends – all free of charge, thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers. The warm, home-like and non-judgmental environment we have created encourages community, recovery, and hope. We also deliver age-specific educational presentations about body image and eating disorders to schools and community organizations throughout Colorado. Our services are all conducted with an openness to innovation, dedication to self-realization and an unshakable belief that nothing should be allowed to compromise the humanity of those we serve.
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
“In 2003, the concept of EDF was born to address a void that was clear to me in the continuum of care for people struggling with eating disorders; to get support whenever you need it, and how to educate, especially our youth, in the hope of early detection and possibly prevention.” – Toni Saiber, Founder
We do this work because no one else is doing it and because eating disorders are the most deadly of all mental illnesses (suicide and heart failure are leading causes of death), yet fail to receive adequate amount of attention, research interest and funding they deserve. It is estimated that 30 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives (NEDA), yet they are vastly misunderstood and underrepresented. EDF is the only completely free and non-clinical resource in Colorado that is accessible to everyone regardless of income, insurance, health status, weight, diagnosis, ability, race, gender or sexual identity – with access to care being incredibly limited due to insurance restrictions, stigma and lack of awareness, EDF fills the gap by offering, hope, support and guidance to our beloved community.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Every year we serve thousands of individuals – through our educational presentations, our signature support groups, our mentorship program, drop in support and through the countless hours we spend connecting over the phone. We offer individuals and family members an opportunity for connection and understanding – critical for an illness which feeds on isolation and many unknowns. We are changing the conversation around body image, diet culture, weight stigma etc., and provide a safe space for people to explore their relationship to their body, food, and our culture in ways they’ve possibly never done so before.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
I am inspired by every individual who has been affected and I am driven to deeply honor those we have lost. I am inspired by every parent, partner, sibling, and friend who has bared witness to their loved one’s illness, by never giving up on their desire to live a life free of this devastating disorder.
WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
I want to make eating disorders a public health priority among local, statewide and national leadership, change societal attitudes within the community at large, expand our services beyond Colorado, and ultimately erase the stigma and shame that surrounds this population.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
More people with open hearts and minds, and of course funding.
WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
One of our biggest challenges is increasing the lack of awareness and understanding regarding how deadly, unpredictable and complex this disease is. We believe that as more individuals feel comfortable speaking their truth and connecting in community, the better chance we have of helping others. We know that roughly half a million Coloradans are struggling, yet the majority will never receive the care they need. We can no longer afford for this illness to be riddled in secrecy and shame; it is time for the greater community (medical, dental, insurance providers etc.) to join our fight against eating disorders.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Brene Brown
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
If you are in Colorado, please stop by our support center at 1901 E 20th Ave. Denver, CO 80205 for a tour – come learn more about the work we do and those we serve, volunteer, donate…and, just as importantly, take time to reflect upon your relationship with your body/food and try, if you can, to meet yourself with a little more compassion and self love.
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