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'Leap to Success': North San Diego County organization helping women find their voice

Leadership Leap to Success
Posted at 6:04 PM, Mar 03, 2023

CARLSBAD, Calif. (KGTV) — It is an organization in North County providing a critical resource for women in need, including domestic violence survivors.

Leap to Successis based in Carlsbad. Brittany Dela-Cruz and Tarlease Jones were participants in the program.

Today, they both said their lives are going well. “My life now is such a blessing!” Dela-Cruz said.

However, it wasn’t always that way. After ten years, Dela-Cruz finally escaped an abusive relationship. “I was actually living in a shelter, the women's domestic violence shelter in downtown. I was broken,” she said. “I was crying every single night and I didn't know where to turn.”

It was Dela-Cruz’s case manager who referred her to the Leap to Success organization.

“Leap to Success has helped me change my entire life. The program has helped me find awareness and master myself and really be able to create a life that I didn't even know was a possibility,” Dela-Cruz said.

The woman behind the program is Dana Bristol-Smith.

“We help women find their voice and build the confidence to be able to move forward and create the life that they want to be living,” Bristol-Smith said.

She said the idea came to her in 2007 in the middle of the night. “It made me get out of bed,” Bristol-Smith said.

The idea was so powerful to her, she wrote an outline for the program immediately. The main workshop series is called “Leap to Confidence.” Both Jones and Dela-Cruz participated in the workshop.

It is a six-week session for women, and it is all free.

“There are a lot of programs that help women when they're in the crisis, but you think about what's next. How does someone rebuild that sense of who they are, their self-worth, their self-confidence or self-esteem,” Bristol-Smith said. “It's a different type of support that they need.”

Since the organization was formed, Bristol-Smith said more than 2,500 women have graduated from their programs.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to do this work. I feel like I've found my purpose in life,” Bristol-Smith said.

Jones also left a domestic violence relationship that lasted several years. She saw the Leap to Confidence flyer during a counseling session and enrolled.

“I think it's the commitment of our instructors. I think it's the compassion that they bring to the classroom and it's the bond that you began to build with the women that you're going through the program with,” Jones said.

After graduating from the Leap to Confidence program in 2019, she went back to school and now has a steady job she loves. She credits the organization for helping her in her darkest moments.

“After the trauma, after the counseling, after the healing, you have this empowering organization that is looking to equip you with tools of affirmations and also supports you in your journey of recovery ongoing,” Jones said.

Bristol-Smith hopes to expand the program nationwide. Last year, Leap to Success expanded its new Trainer Certification Program, “so more women can benefit from this unique, proven curriculum.”

“Leap to Success has equipped me with tools to help affirm myself who I am as a person, not to be identified as a mom or a girlfriend or domestic violence survivor, but just as Tarlease,” Jones said. “And that has been a beautiful, beautiful journey.”