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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) —”Empowered women, empower women,” that’s the first quote that came to mind when I sat down with Jane Helire and listened to her story.

“I went through a lot that my family didn’t even know I went through,” explained Jane Helire, educational/vocational manager at the Covenant House.

You would never know it by seeing how confident and hopeful Helire is but, at a very young age, she was sexually abused by a friend’s older brother.

“He started to fondle me. I went to get up and he jacked me back down and I started crying. Then, he whispered ‘don’t you move,'” recalled Helire.

Not letting that situation define her, she shares her story to empower others. “I feel like I’m obligated to help the voiceless.”

Hundreds of lives have been saved. Hundreds of lives have been transformed. That is because of the 20 years of work that Helire does right here in New Orleans. Most days, you’ll find Helire working with kids that are 16 to 22 years old and homeless, living at the Covenant House on North Rampart Street.

“It’s not easy because I hear why they became homeless and came here. (I know) why they ran from their pimp,” Helire shared. “You know and I can’t show my emotions in front of them but, the moment they leave my office, I’m boo-hoo crying.”

She quickly wipes those tears though and keeps working. “…because I know what I do makes a difference,” she reasoned.

If you pick up the book, Becoming of a Butterfly, you’ll get a glimpse of why so many of Jane Helire’s family, friends, and co-workers describe her as remarkable.

She wrote this book, encouraging women in domestic violence situations to realize they are no longer a victim. They are survivors.

“I called myself Enaj Butterfly. It’s Jane spelled backward and Butterfly because right now I’m I feel beautiful and free,” said Helire.

Finding her purpose through trials and tribulations is why she continues to push others to find their purpose too.

“We’re not here just to breathe air. We have a purpose, whether you find it at 50, you found your purpose. So, my purpose in life was to work with the distressed youth,” Helire shared.

Helire’s message to you, young or old, find your purpose. It’s never too late.