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Empowering Survivors: A Journey of Resilience with Deanna Melluso

Urban Resource Institute (URI) hosted a Women’s Empowerment Lunch with celebrity makeup artist Deanna Melluso for domestic violence survivors. This transformative event took place at the URI Economic Empowerment Center in Midtown, Manhattan, and featured a captivating makeup tutorial and Q&A led by Amnah Bashier, the Program Manager of Career Services at the URI Economic Empowerment Program (EEP). Deanna – whose clientele includes iconic figures like Lady Gaga and who has worked at prestigious events like NY Fashion Week – highlighted the transformative impact of self-discovery, perseverance, and resilience during the event.

Deanna showcased a makeup tutorial that went beyond beauty tips. It became a beacon of empowerment and confidence, illuminating the path for each survivor present. Every survivor attendee received chocolates donated by Jill Fitzburgh and Jennifer Stein, and a gift bag donated by Laura Geller Beauty, each containing over 20 skin care and makeup products. 

“This event was truly inspiring for all participants. The survivors embraced Deanna’s message of resilience and empowerment, even delving into their own journeys toward healing and success,” shared Amnah. “Deanna’s invaluable support, alongside the generous contributions from Jill Fitzburgh, Jennifer Stein, and Laura Geller Beauty, play a vital role in sustaining essential programs like URI’s Economic Empowerment Program.”

As we reflect on the empowering stories and valuable lessons shared during this event, we are reminded of the critical importance of supporting programs like URI’s Economic Empowerment Program. By offering survivors practical skills, empowerment sessions, and opportunities for financial independence, EEP plays a vital role in helping survivors heal, thrive, and build stable futures. 

Join Us in Empowering Survivors: Take Action Today  
To support URI’s Economic Empowerment Program and contribute to the empowerment of domestic violence survivors, consider donating, volunteering, or spreading awareness about the program’s impactful work. Together, we can create a community where survivors are not just survivors, but empowered individuals capable of achieving their dreams and leading fulfilling lives.

Donate today.

Learn more by visiting the URI Economic Empowerment page or emailing Amnah at infoeep@urinyc.org.

Amnah Bashier (AB): Deanna, thank you for joining us today and sharing your story and talent. You’ve faced significant challenges, and that resilience has been a key factor in your journey. Can you share with us how these experiences have shaped your path and what advice you have for others going through tough times? 

Deanna Melluso (DM): Absolutely. I survived domestic violence as a child, and it was a difficult journey. One piece of advice that stuck with me was when someone told me to ride the anger like a wave. At first, it might sound strange, but it resonated deeply with me. I channeled that anger into determination and used it as fuel to propel myself forward. It’s like riding a wave—you embrace it, navigate through it, and come out stronger on the other side. So my advice to anyone facing challenges is to find that inner strength, that thing that propels you forward, and use it to overcome obstacles. It’s about harnessing your emotions and experiences to drive positive change in your life.  

AB: In such a competitive industry like makeup artistry, how has perseverance been a driving force in your journey? 

DM: Perseverance has been absolutely crucial in my journey. This industry is incredibly competitive, and there were definitely moments of doubt and challenges along the way. However, staying dedicated to honing my skills, constantly learning, and never giving up has been key to overcoming those obstacles and not just surviving but thriving in this competitive field. It’s about staying committed to my craft and pushing through even when things get tough, and that persistence has truly made all the difference in my journey.

AB: Could you share with us how makeup became a catalyst for your personal growth and career success? 

DM: Makeup has truly been a transformative force in my life. It served as my sanctuary during challenging times, providing a creative outlet where I could express myself and uncover newfound confidence. I realized that just like a canvas waiting for brush strokes, our faces too are blank canvases where we paint our best selves forward. This realization empowered me to pursue my dreams as a makeup artist. 

Being able to enhance someone’s natural beauty and help them feel confident is a privilege I don’t take lightly. As an artist, I believe in the power of makeup to not only transform appearances but also uplift spirits. It’s an honor to be able to help others look and feel beautiful, empowering them to embrace their unique features and radiate confidence.


AB: What advice do you have for survivors who are navigating their own paths to empowerment? 

DM: Once you find what ignites your passion, use it as a driving force in your journey. Your resilience and determination are your greatest assets, and never ever underestimate the power within you to create positive change. 

Also keep in mind the importance of financial planning. Strive to maintain financial organization. Even setting aside a small percentage of your earnings, such as 25 cents from every dollar, can be impactful. This financial foresight is often overlooked in traditional education settings. In creative fields like the arts, delayed payments are common, with waits of up to 90 days are not uncommon. This underscores the importance of proactive financial planning to navigate such challenges effectively. 

AB: What message would you like to share with survivors about embracing their unique talents and strengths? 

DM: Just as riding the wave teaches us to harness the power of the ocean, or mastering makeup techniques transforms a blank canvas into a work of art, embrace the uniqueness of your journey. Each experience has sculpted your resilience and capabilities. Celebrate your strengths – because they are the brushstrokes that paint your path to success and fulfillment.


About Urban Resource Institute (URI):  
URI is the largest provider of temporary housing for survivors of domestic violence in the country and a leading provider of transitional housing for families experiencing homelessness. Committed to ending cycles of violence and homelessness, URI offers trauma-informed, client-centered support to the families it serves. With 24 shelters in New York City, including 15 shelters specifically for domestic violence survivors, URI provides temporary housing to over 3,000 people each night and trauma-informed programming to approximately 40,000 people annually.  For more information, visit www.urinyc.org or follow on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  

For immediate assistance, please call NYC’s 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-621-HOPE or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.