Stinson Takes Two National Honors for Community Service
Olivia Stinson, a sophomore business administration major at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), has earned $20,000 to support her community service project by being recognized as a 2012 L'Oreal Paris International Women of Worth honoree and a member of Next MAKERS.
Stinson was one of 10 chosen for the Woman of Worth recognition out of a pool of over 3,000 women nationwide. She was also selected for one of the six slots in the MAKERS competition from 1,200 women who were considered. Both of the national awards were based on her work promoting literacy and reading with children of incarcerated parents.
At the age of 13, Stinson had the idea to start a book club for the children of incarcerated parents, 5,000 of whom lived in around her hometown of Charlotte. Within a year, she had created PEN (Peers Engaged and Networking) Pals Book Club to promote literacy and provide cultural and social activities for these young people ages 12 to 19. Using a $500 grant to begin the program, she has seen her effort grow from a book club into a full support group and Stinson has now expanded the organization by creating BE a Reader (B.E.A.R.) Book Club for ages 2 to 11 to expand their knowledge of reading. By providing books, food, supplies and general support, she has already helped enrich the lives of nearly 4,000 children. She now hopes to take the program into other communities and eventually create a nationwide effort to support the children of incarcerated parents.
As a Woman of Worth honoree, Stinson received a $10,000 contribution for her charitable cause, and was recognized at an awards ceremony hosted by L'Oreal Paris and Hearst Magazines on December 6 in New York. Now in its seventh year, the Women of Worth initiative has recognized 70 women for their outstanding devotion to their causes, their commitment to their communities and their drive to make a difference in the world.
As an inductee into the MAKERS, Stinson also received $10,000 to support her work and an award that was presented by actress Marlo Thomas at a special reception in New York in November. The Next MAKERS now become part of MAKERS.com, a digital platform that showcases compelling stories from women of today and tomorrow. Those who have been featured include Hillary Clinton, Alice Walker and Sandra Day O'Conner.
In addition to being a student at WSSU, she is the daughter of Jacqueline Neal Stinson from the WSSU Class of 1982 and the niece of Donald Henderson, Class of 1978.