Trevi Pershay says dance saved her life.

"There were a lot of gangs and a lot of drugs going on and there was really no outlet for us, you know, for girls," Tervi said.

Pershay grew up in East New York's Pink Houses. She says dancing kept her busy and out of trouble.

At 16, she started her own group right in the housing projects' community center. It's there where she began sharing her love of dance with other young women also looking for an escape.

"I was a big sister and a mentor then and I was having an impact just listening to their issues and concerns,” Tervi said. “I knew that was the beginning of something great."

That first group was the building block for what would eventually become "PDM," the non-profit performing arts organization Pershay founded in 2000.

Over the past two decades, the group has given hundreds of young women free access to dance and theater workshops.

Members perform across the city and even take their talents to stages across the East Coast.

Many of them come from the same housing development Pershay grew up in.

"When you see a problem in the community, you should be a part of making a change, you should see a solution to that problem, so when I came back I said we're going to do dance, we're going to do theatre, this, that, and I did,” Tervi said.

Dance is what gets new members through the doors, but it’s more than dance that keeps them coming back.

"She has taught me leadership and she has also shown me that, being a young woman, you have to follow your dreams, keep pushing, and always be loving and caring," PDM member Diamond Durham said.

It’s that opportunity to share those larger life lessons that makes Pershay most grateful.

"There's not a day that doesn't go by that I don't feel especially blessed that I have something to give somebody that doesn't cost anything,” Tervi said. “These girls don't pay tuition, they don't pay for a lot of stuff, but just to know that somebody could make a difference in their life, it's like the best reward in the world."

For leading these young women to the dance floor and through life, Trevi Pershay is our New Yorker of the Week.