Woman uses own experience to spread hope to community

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By Bernadette Lauritzen

When Melissa Schmidt and her Aunt Brenda Kelley knew a change was needed, they created an opportunity for community discussion through a Facebook page called HOLLA, Hope and Love in Los Alamos, one they hope to see grow into a real force of encouragement in the community.
The idea was born after becoming interested in a website that offers similar goals to what HOLLA hopes to do in Los Alamos and that is to offer hope and help. To Write Love on Her Arms, twloha.com, works to offer hope and help, while addressing the stigma of mental health issues.
Born in Los Alamos in 1982, Schmidt went on to live in the big world, experiencing the heartaches of life, that many teens are forced to deal with.
These struggles included the divorce of her parents and confronting issues of sexuality, which led to her dropping out of high school, her senior year.
“Seriously, guys, stay in school, dropping out in January of your senior year is dumb, trust me,” Schmidt said and returned to get her diploma in 2003. “Now I see that my parents’ divorce was probably the best thing for me and my sisters, and being gay isn’t something I chose, and it is not something I am ashamed of.”

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