WSSU Student Earns 2014 “Volunteer of the Year” Award
Olivia Stinson is just one of those kinds of people who is comfortable helping others. She has been doing it since she was in her early teens. She was recently recognized by the Black Celebrity Giving Awards as the 2014 Volunteer of the Year.
Two years ago Stinson earned $20,000 to support her community service project by being recognized as a 2012 L’Oreal Paris International Woman of Worth honoree and as a member of Next MAKERS. Each organization contributed $10,000 to her cause.
She 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 and 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 hopes to take the program into other communities and eventually create a nationwide effort to support the children of incarcerated parents.