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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Good Girl Comeback
Chelsea Gheesling starts conference series to prove “Good Girls” have more fulfillment

Good Girl Comeback logo

As a teenager, Chelsea (Niemiec) Gheesling’s perspective on life was a bit unique.  She wanted to be thought of as a “good girl.” 

Today, the founder of the metro-Detroit organization Good Girl Comeback (GGCB) is proud of that label.

“Being called a goody two-shoes is a compliment to me,” she said.   And she wants to offer her confident worldview to young girls as a role model.

Chelsea began her GGCB initiative in November 2011, and since then, 150 girls have gone through her program, which includes conference series for middle school (3 one-day get-togethers) and a series for high school-aged girls (4 one-day get-togethers).  Her website lists dates available through May, 2012, and soon, through December 2012.  Her goal is to offer enough conference dates to make
Chelsea Gheesling
Chelsea Gheesling, founder of Good Girl Comeback
the program available to girls throughout southeastern Michigan. 

Faith is the Key

Chelsea claims that most young girls are looking for their life’s fulfillment in all the wrong ways, and she is adamant that fulfillment comes through an active faith life.

“To learn this – it takes hearing it from another person,” she said. “It’s during that rebellious phase of your faith development that you need a role model.  You need to be told you will be unhappy if you look for fulfillment where most people do in our modern world.

“Girls will dress immodestly, gossip, need attention from boys, all to find fulfillment.  But you are not fulfilled with these things.  The only way to fulfillment is through a relationship with God.”

Chelsea makes it clear that faith is a component of the GGCB, though she says girls of all faiths and even no faith have attended and benefited from the program.  But she states
Prayer in the chapel
Spending time in prayer is an important part of the GGCB program
emphatically that the most important time during the conference program is in the chapel where the girls learn to pray.

“Throughout the day I encourage the girls to write down anything that inspires them,” said Chelsea.  “We do a lot of journaling activities during the conference, so when they arrive in the chapel, they can go through their journals and talk to God about everything they wrote down.”

The Role of the Parent

Because parental guidance is so important in a young girl’s development, Chelsea includes a session for parents at the end of each of her GGCB conferences.  In this session, parents learn about what was covered during the GGBC program so they have the tools to continue the conversation at home.

According to Chelsea, a young girl’s interest in the issues of sexuality and the opposite sex starts in 6th grade.

“Some parents think their daughters will figure things out on their own,” said Chelsea. “They think they are doing their girls a favor by not talking to them.  But the girls will just use the resources available -- the Internet, TV, their peers, radio…Do you really want them to get answers to their questions from these sources?”  

“I have had heartbreaking conversations with girls,” she said, remembering meeting one young woman whose parents forced the girl to have an abortion.  “Then they never talked to her about it again,” she said sadly. 

Chelsea said her own parents were very “open and vocal” about these issues and about their Catholic faith. 

“They talked to me about everything – sex, modesty, drinking, drugs.  Everything was on the table at a young age,” she said.

Chelsea said her mother was involved in all the day-to-day parts of her life. “In the best way,” she clarifies. “I couldn’t get anything by her.”

And her father was a “huge influence” in her
First GGCB
The first GGCB conference took place in November 2011
life in what she calls the “major” parts.

“He got me my promise ring when I was 13, and took it off me when he walked me down the aisle,” she said.  “He told me his job was to protect me until he gave me away.  This gave me the love I didn’t have to look for elsewhere.

“Between my relationship with my Dad and God, I wasn’t trying to find my fulfillment with a boyfriend,” she said.

Regnum Christi and a Role Model

Besides her parent’s influence, Chelsea also credits her involvement in the Regnum Christi movement as crucial to the development of her faith life.

She participated in several RC programs including Challenge and Mission Youth, going on two mission trips to Mexico.  Before attending college, she served as an RC Mission Corps volunteer (called a coworker at that time) in Washington DC between the years 2002 and 2003.

 “I found Regnum Christi when I was 14,” she said.  “And the movement gave me real tools to be close to Jesus Christ. 
GGCB presentation
Chelsea says being attractive is being confident in the gifts God has given you
It made my faith real to me.”

Chelsea said these experiences -- especially her time as a coworker -- helped her initiate Good Girl Comeback.  It trained her how to design a successful program, and to be organized and consistent in her approach.

She also got some inspiration from her high school biology teacher.  While attending Walled Lake Public High School, Chelsea found a kindred spirit in Laura Jennings.  

“I told her how my father had given me a promise ring, and we got talking,” Chelsea remembers.  She would discover that Laura was the founder of a program called D.I.V.A.S., which offered mother/ daughter retreats through churches in the Detroit Archdiocese.  Laura asked Chelsea to be a regular speaker at these retreats.

“I spoke during her programs 3 or 4 times,” she said. Chelsea then found herself being asked to give her testimony at other venues as well. 

“I would share as much wisdom as I had to share at the time,” she said. 

“People starting asking me, ‘When is your next thing?’ I would say, ‘I don’t have a next thing.’  But then I thought, ‘I need to come up with a next thing.’”

Chelsea started toying with the idea that would later become her present GGCB venture.

“I had thought about starting a program for a very long time,” she said.  “I started jotting down cool names, something you could put on a T-shirt that you would get right away.  The name ‘Good Girl Comeback’ just popped into my head.”

Chelsea’s Testimony

During her conference series presentations, Chelsea shares how her resolve to remain chaste as a teenager did not harm her ability to make friends and be “popular.”

Chelsea explains there is a difference between “being popular” and “being respected.” 

“Being the kind of person people want to be friends with is different from being popular,” she said. “When you are confident in the gifts God has given you, this is attractive.”

Chelsea tells her listeners how she was the “new girl” at her public high school, having attended a small Catholic school through 8th grade.

“But I did not lack for activities and involvement during my high school years,” she said.  She dated boys and was even named Homecoming Queen.

Being “Good” has its Rewards

Chelsea also shares how she recently married the “love of her life.”  Her husband is a teacher at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s High School, where Chelsea now holds many of her conferences.  “He is very supportive,” she said.  “He encouraged me to do this. In fact, he is also a ‘good’ boy.”

“He had tough standards for the girls he dated,” she said.  “He was interested to meet me because he learned I work at a Catholic school.” (Chelsea is the marketing director for Everest Collegiate High School and Academy in Clarkston, Michigan.)

Chelsea tells proudly how, after her husband met her for the first time, he told his friends and family he had “either met the girl who would break his heart, or who he was going to marry.”

Her Future Goals

Chelsea will add a second level to her Good Girl Comeback conference series in September 2012.  Girls who attended the first session can progress to the second level, which will go “deeper” into the topics from the first conferences.  She also hopes to offer the program beyond herself and SE Michigan. 

“Hopefully, in the short term, I will be offering a video of my sessions,” she said. “Eventually it will be available online to download.  In a very long time, I am hoping to train presenters to be facilitators.  But I’m taking baby steps right now.”

Good Girl Comeback is currently listed as an LLC, but at the end of the year, Chelsea will make the organization a non-profit.  Currently registration costs participants $100, though scholarships are   available.  (Chelsea says she has never denied an application for a scholarship.)

Chelsea says she researched her prices carefully.  She points to feedback from one of the mothers of a past participant, who said, “You cannot put a price tag on what is taught at the GGCB.  The conference is 9 ½ hours, packed with many activities, talks lunch and dinner.  This program is well worth it!”

To register for an upcoming Good Girl Comeback conference, click here.  To read Chelsea’s GGCB blog, click here.




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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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