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Teen launches program to help local students struggling with losing a loved one

By Faraz Javed, Jon Austin

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    SOUTHFIELD, Michigan (WXYZ) — The Lisa Project is a peer-to-peer mentoring program designed to help high school students struggling with losing a parent or caring for a terminally ill parent.

“A group Zoom session once every two weeks, then I will check in individually once a week,” said Alec Dorf, Founder of The Lisa Project.

17-year-old founder, Alec Dorf says the program consists of various activities to help students experiencing a tragic loss.

“It’s free. But you have to be referred through a school district,” said Alec.

The Bloomfield Hills High School junior launched the initiative in October last year.

“I called it the Lisa Project because I want to honor my mom and continue her legacy,” said Alec.

Alec was 14 when his mom Lisa died in 2020 after battling brain cancer for nine months.

“It was just very hard to see her… what she was going through. So I didn’t want any kid to like to go through it alone. So that’s why I created the project,”

“What are some things people don’t realize that a caregiver goes through?” asked Faraz Javed, 7 Action News Reporter.

“I feel like a lot of people don’t realize the emotional distress that it has on you. That you see someone at the lowest point in their life, like they are hanging by a thread,” said Alec.

Alec’s dad, Stuart Dorf, still can’t believe the love of his life is now gone.

“We started this journey walking into U of M, then we would limp in together, then I would wheel her in, then I would carry her, and I think that progression… It’s tough, it’s tough,” said Stuart.

Now, both father and son are on a mission to use their grief for the greater good.

“We’ve had a lot of interest in donations. The responsible thing to do is to set this up as a non-profit. So that we can evolve it in a way that will honor the investment, honor the mission, and do the most good,” said Stuart.

Oakland County publicly commended the program in March, and Alec was also awarded the outstanding citizen award by his school.

“If she was sitting right next to you right now, what would she say?” asked Javed.

“She would say ‘Alec, I’m proud of you, what you are doing is great, just remember to focus on school as well,'” said Alec.

Alec and Stuart were also recently invited to Washington D.C. by the National Brain Tumor Society to present The Lisa Project and lobby for better brain cancer research funding as well as mental health initiatives.

“There is not a night that goes by that I don’t turn over and look over and ask her, where are you?” said Stuart.

“If you could say something to her right now, what would that be?” asked Javed.

“You were simply the greatest thing that happened to me. I love you so much. I wish you would come back,” said Stuart.

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