When Aurora's Jetara Perry was 17 years old her parents adopted two daughters – up until that point, Perry was the youngest and only daughter in her family.
"Watching them grow up and seeing the way they looked up to me, it inspired me to be a better woman," she said.
"It was the first time in my life, I realized my actions do not only affect me. I have to be careful about the actions I take and the decisions I make because I have two young ladies who are watching me and wanting to mirror who they see," she said.
Graduating with a degree in business, Perry began working for a large corporation, something she continues to do today.
However, in 2016, Perry along with Laura Bermudez, founded the nonprofit Imperfect Angels with a mission to inspire young women to "bond and support one another and to assist them through their adolescent challenges to make positive choices."
"Five years ago, I never thought this is where I would be," Perry said.
The organization also is the namesake of Perry's book "Imperfect Angels," a book about Perry's own journey and her friends' journey into womanhood which sometimes was based on "trial and error" and emulating women they saw in the media.
"Sometimes we failed, so we learned we had to shake ourselves off and try again," Perry added.
Open to girls between the ages of 10 to 16, the group fosters friendship among the girls so they can be themselves and be accepted for who they are, she added.
Meeting twice a month from March through October in space provided by the Aurora Police Department, the girls participate in activities to promote self-respect, self-responsibility and happiness.
The girls participate in sessions that address topics such as bullying, peer pressure, self-defense and goal setting, including college plans and saving for college.
The group also discusses issues such as self-awareness, friendships and the use of social media.
"We discuss how friendships can alter how you feel about yourself and how you treat others," she added.
Thirteen girls are currently enrolled in the program, a number Perry and her team of volunteers hope will grow with a goal of making the Aurora community stronger.
In its first year, Perry said the grade point averages of the girls enrolled in the program increased.
"These young ladies are the mothers of tomorrow. We want to make sure that they have the right influences and mindsets to work their strengths and be OK with their weaknesses," Perry said. "I just don't want them to be the victim in every lesson they learn."
Often asked how she came up with the name Imperfect Angels, Perry said, "No one is perfect. I didn't want any young lady to come into the program and think it makes them better. I want them to know it is OK to have flaws."
However, she added, "what is important is to be kind-hearted and positive in nature."
Imperfect Angel's Activity Director Addie Forth began volunteering for the group after her friend's daughter joined.
Previously mentoring with another organization, Forth said, "I decided I wanted to devote some of my time to this organization to help area youth."
Growing up in Aurora, Forth, who now lives in Batavia, added that the group's members currently come from Aurora, Naperville, Oswego, and Crest Hill.
"I have seen so much growth in the girls through the program," she added.
The group is hosting a Back to School Bash Aug. 12 to celebrate the members' academic success.
"I let the girls run away with the idea," Perry said.
The event will include free school supplies, snacks and treats, a DJ, raffles, face painting, vendors and games.