CEREDO, W.Va. -- At 16 years old, Heather got her first baby doll. It was a moment she describes as magical.
Before that, she spent more than a decade dealing with physical and sexual abuse from the hands of her father -- a man who is currently serving a life sentence at a maximum-security prison.
Heather never had a real Christmas until she joined Golden Girl, a nonprofit group home for young girls who are wards of the state. The group home specializes in caring for abused and neglected girls, specifically those who have been sexually abused. The organization celebrates 30 years next month.
"This group home saved my life," Heather said. "My therapist has helped me find myself."
The Daily Mail sat down with Heather and other former residents of the home. Only their first names are being used in this story to protect their identity.
It's been 15 years since Heather left Golden Girl. She spent 2.5 years at the group home and has been employed as a care worker there ever since. She has been married for those 15 years and has two children.
"My husband is a great man," she said. "We have two beautiful children ... one son and one daughter."
Heather attributes her positive self-esteem to Golden Girl therapists who helped her adjust to living independently, as well as teaching her important life lessons.
Golden Girl employs a staff of 35 and is licensed to serve up to 24 girls and women, aged 12 to 21. The organization encourages positive change through a series of education, recreation, treatment and support services in a warm, therapeutic environment.
In addition to sexual abuse, the nonprofit also specializes in truancy, self-esteem and special education.
Executive Director Renee Harrison has been with the organization for nearly 30 years. She joined in April 1984, just 4 months after its inception. She originally was a broadcast journalism major at Brigham Young University before producing a three-part documentary on abused children -- she claims the documentary opened her eyes and led to her career change.
She is now a licensed counselor.
"We do everything we can for these girls," she said. "Some girls come from dysfunctional families, some are orphans and some simply have no where else to go. We provide them with counseling and therapy. We help them with school. We're one big family ... these are my babies."
Harrison said some girls do have families and their goal is to get those girls back to their families. In addition, she said there is currently a waiting list for girls.
"If you think about it, wouldn't it be nice if we went out of business," Harrison said. "Some of these girls have gone through a lot and it's great to see their transitions."
Becky has been involved with Golden Girl for nearly 2 years. She has nowhere else to go -- she has no family to go back to.
Becky was abused most of her childhood. Her father and stepmother abused her even though she claims they have always denied those allegations.