Cara Belvin: She’s Empowering Girls Who’ve Faced Loss

June 27 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Finding Your Community

Have you ever gone through something difficult and felt completely alone in it? Adding isolation to the mix makes your heart even heavier. When that old adage “Life isn’t fair” proves true, it’s essential to remember someone out there knows how you’re feeling, whether it’s your next-door neighbor or best friend miles away. Today, we’re talking about girls who have had to face a stark reality all too soon: loss. One of the best ways to manage such overwhelming grief is to make an effort to transform heartbreak into feelings of hope, courage and strength, and take comfort and solace in the support of others. After all, there are few things more powerful than a community of sisterhood!


What I appreciate about women telling their stories—however difficult it may be to do so—is that they can inspire another young girl or woman to persevere through her own hardships. According to Hope Edelman’s groundbreaking book, Motherless Daughters, some 330,000 girls younger than 18 have experienced the death of their mothers. If you read Hope’s book, you learn that grasping and caring about how children process their grief is kind of a new thing. Though every day, it gets a little easier, the pain never disappears. We now have a better understanding of how vital it is to provide compassion and support for girls who experience such trauma.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Cara Belvin, Founder of empowerHER

There’s no doubt a community of like-minded ladies can have a tremendously positive effect on any girl or woman, whether she’s 1 or 100. That’s precisely why Cara Belvin founded empowerHER, a wonderful nonprofit that works to empower young girls who have experienced the early loss of their mothers.

Cara’s work is profoundly personal, as she lost her 37-year-old mom to breast cancer when she was just 9 years old. Fortunately, the young Cara got lots of comfort and encouragement from those in her life who recognized the magnitude of what had happened and were able to provide a steadfast support system. It was that life-changing support that led her to found empowerHer, with the goal of instilling confidence, reducing feelings of isolation and providing a caring community that offers hope to girls who’ve lost their moms.

Cara has a kind heart, and even before she launched empowerHER, she found ways to make a worthwhile impact in the lives of kids, working as a school psychologist for children with disabilities. Then, while transitioning into the world of fundraising and nonprofit management, and volunteering much of her time to help breast-cancer survivors, Cara saw her own life story replay when watching other young girls lose their moms, and decided to create empowerHER, the only program of its kind in the country.

To be clear, empowerHER does not aim to replace girls’ mothers or minimize the priority of other family members, but works to ensure day-to-day experiences in girls’ lives are met with passion, excitement and positivity. The group accomplishes this by hosting fun and inspiring group events and providing one-on-one mentorship for these girls at no cost. Volunteers help make sure empowerHER resources are available to girls, and each semester, the nonprofit taps interns from Boston College, those interested in a career in the nonprofit sector, to help keep things flowing smoothly.

One particularly special annual event empowerHER hosts is the Mother’s Day Retreat, an all-expenses-paid event that, this year, included a girls’ circle, brunch, a fireside gathering and a good old-fashioned slumber party, making this a weekend to remember a little more fondly for girls who’ve lost their mothers.

Cara credits patience for helping her launch empowerHER, but also acknowledges the bountiful rewards she receives from committing herself to this important, tireless work. Thank you so much, Cara, for founding such a marvelous organization that offers some optimism and a whole lot of empowerment for the girls who need it most!


Let’s end today’s inspiring story with an anonymous yet perfectly fitting quote:

“A mom’s hug lasts long after she lets go.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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