Nikki Miller didn't feel beautiful -- not after years of childhood molestation and drug abuse.
But last year she was among a group of women from the Damascus Way Home for Women and Children who attended a local conference where they received massages, facials and hair cuts.
"I had lost a lot of trust in people over the years," said 24-year-old Miller, who now works at a Valley Rescue Mission retail center. "And to see how those women went out of their way to make me feel beautiful, it restored my faith in humanity and made me feel better."
Females on Fire, a group organized by the woman who planned the event, will host the Third Annual "Allow Me to Pour Into You" conference on Aug. 9 from noon to 6 p.m. at the East Columbus Family Life Center, 6001 Buena Vista Road. Organizers said the day will consist of free pampering, food, empowerment speeches, games and entertainment. This year, the group will also honor one woman who is continuously pouring into the lives of others. The name will be announced at the event.
Kurundi Daniels, 43, is founder of the group, which began in 2012 as an effort to empower women in the community.
She started the organization after experiencing feelings of dissatisfaction in her own life, she said. At the time, she was a single parent, twice divorced, who had just retired from a successful military career. But she said something was missing, and she realized she needed more in her life.
"I was the person in my family who everyone looked to for advice," she said. "But I didn't know who to turn to when I needed someone to call."
After retiring from the military in 2010, Daniels began selling natural products. As she went door to door, she met other women who shared her experience. They were pouring into other peoples' lives, and feeling depleted.
In 2012, she held the first "Allow Me to Pour Into You" event for female entrepreneurs in Atlanta.
At the time, she didn't think Columbus was ready for something of that magnitude. But the next year, she said God impressed her to minister to women in her own community. She started an online meet-up group to recruit local women, and she received a good response. So she started Females on Fire with women in Columbus. The membership grew to 100, she said, but she began limiting it to like-minded people committed to the vision. Now the group consists of 35 people, who pay annual dues.
Daniels also recently opened her own business, Kurundi Massage Suite & Spa, at 3470 University Ave., to address the needs of the mind, body and soul.
"The purpose of this organization is to teach each individual woman to fill their internal cups through self-love, self-awareness and sisterly love through growth workshops we conduct," she said of Females on Fire. "Then from there we give from our overflow to the community. So many times we are so depleted because of all the hats we have to wear."
Daniels held the second "Allow Me to Pour Into You" event last year in Columbus, attracting around 125 women.
Christine Deborde is activities coordinator for Damascus Way, a shelter that houses about 30-35 women and 10 to 12 children. One side of the building is for women recovering from addiction and the other side is for victims of domestic violence and economic hardship.
Deborde said about 30 women from the shelter attended last year's conference, and they left feeling empowered.
"When women come into the shelter, they're broken, they're not even thinking of themselves," she said. "They're thinking about their families, how to feed them, how to get a job. They're not concerned about appearance."
She said some have been abused and told they're unworthy, ugly or fat.
"They've been told these negative things and it's not true," she said. "God made us all beautiful women in his image, and we need to hear that.
"This conference gives them hope," she said. "It helps build their self-esteem. And that face they've lost in the mirror, they can see it again."
Miller, who grew up in Thomasville, Ga., said that's what she experienced when she attended the conference last year. Her father died when her mother was pregnant with her, and she grew up in an unstable environment, she said.
After being molested from age 9 to 14, she began doing drugs, starting with marijuana and escalating to methamphetamine. In January 2013, she went to jail on five felony drug charges. A month later, she went to Damascus Way, where she said she received the support and counseling she needed.
"They showed me what God looked like, mercy, grace and how to love myself," she said.
Before she went to the "Allow Me to Pour Into You" conference, her self-esteem was still low and she only wore T-shirts and ponytails.
But the conference made her take a second look at herself, she said. Now when she goes to work, she wears her hair out and sports a little makeup.
"They spent a whole day pouring into us and making us feel beautiful," she said, "and now I care about my appearance."
Daniels said this year's theme is "Just Breathe," and she hopes to draw 200 women.
The event is open to all women 18 years and older, but those from Damascus Way will be admitted for free and treated as VIP guests. The cost for non-Damascus Way attendees is $20, and covers all services provided, including chair massages, hand treatments, hair stylists, facials, lashes and brows.
Daniels said the pampering will be provided by several businesses that supported last year's event, and she welcomes others. Vendors also will be on site to sell women's items.
Online registration will end Aug. 8 at midnight, and registration at the door will only be permitted from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 9.
To register for the conference, go to www.allowmetopourintoyou3.eventbrite.com. For more information, call 706-565-1885.