Denise Zellous, Helping Other People Excel

Apr 25, 2014

Denise Zellous
Credit Debbi Casini Klein

Read and listen to a story about Denise Zellous as part of a series honoring the individuals who make a difference in people’s lives: 90.5 WESA Celebrates People Making a Difference.

Molested when she was 8 years old, Denise turned to drugs and promiscuity at a very young age.

“I didn’t know the difference between sexuality and love,” Denise said. “I made a lot of bad choices, bad decisions and eventually wanted to numb all of those feelings, and I did that with drugs, which ultimately lead me to be homeless for 11 years, living in and out of abandoned houses.”

She had five children and abandoned them for 11 years, seeking comfort in her drug world. Her world finally came crashing down after multiple arrests. In and out of jail for years, Denise hit rock bottom. She then decided to turn her life around, get help, and help others in similar situations.

She realized other women like herself, who were transitioning into permanent housing, needed help. As part of her volunteer work with Dress for Success, she founded the Zellous HOPE Project. HOPE stands for Helping Other People Excel.