GUILFORD — Building confidence and giving back to the community has been at the core of Limelite Dance Studio since it opened its doors in 2005.

On Thursday, June 6, after years of dancing through Limelight, 12 students organized The Limelight Project, “Girls for Girls” fashion dance gala, raising over $18,000 for the Women & Family Life Center.

The evening included a fashion show with young women from the Shoreline, nominated by their peers for their positive influence as role models.

The gala was a community wide event with participation from many local businesses including Branford’s A's Unique Boutique LLC; Guilford’s The Bird Nest Salon Suites, Flowers on The Green, Flutterby and Kiernan Photography and Madison’s Ciao Bella Moda International.

Women & Family Life Center was chosen as this year’s beneficiary since the organization’s work closely aligns with Limelight’s mission.

The center, located at 96 Fair St. in Guilford, provides support, referrals and wellness programs for more than 1,200 Shoreline women and families who are facing divorce, violence, financial hardships, homelessness, bereavement, or other major life challenges.

“We’re working on empowering girls’ inner beauty, helping other women, women helping women and girls helping girls and bridging the gap,” said Limelight owner/instructor Tracy Tolisano. “It just seemed like the right fit.”

For Women & Family Life Executive Director Meghan Scanlon, watching the girls work together to create this event was heartwarming.

“We’re really excited and I’m incredibly impressed with their leadership, their passion around it,” said Scanlon. “They’ve really formed a vision around it.

“It was really cool to see,” she said. “It gives you a lot of hope for the future.”

Scanlon concurs that the work at Limelight closely aligns with the work being done at the Women & Family Life Center.

“It fits in with our mission of empowering young girls and women and to see them take them from a concept to reality and do so well in their first year, I’m excited to see what happens next year,” she said.

Scanlon said the donation will go a long way to helping those in the community who need assistance.

“We’re a small organization,” she said. “We’re small, but mighty.

“So, for us, we’re going to be able to serve more women, more efficiently, more effectively,” she added. “Right now, we’re serving 16 Shoreline towns and last year we served 1,200 women and we’re on track to probably serve about 13 – 1,400 this year.”

She said this donation will go to financial education resources, legal resources and the guided assistance program, “where they sit down with a social worker and she helps them prioritize immediate needs versus long term goals and works with them as long as they need.

“It’s been incredibly successfully,” Scanlon added. “We’re actually looking to expand it at this point because the need is so great.”

Tolisano is proud of all her students’ accomplishments.

“They’ve always been great kids, but I feel it’s something so different for them to be completely out of themselves and do something for other people that they don’t even know,” Tolisano said. “It’s just a whole new idea.

“The message is that we need to give the kids’ the power, at this age, to do something important and show them that we believe in them,” she added. “They get the work done and they’re really proud of themselves for raising so much money.”

Connecticut Media Group