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Providing Opportunity for Low-income Women, Jane Stephenson Lexington, KY New Opportunity School for Women, Inc.
In July 2011, Create the Good launched the Win & Do Good Contest to encourage people across the country to share their volunteer stories and inspire others to say “I can do that!” We were amazed at the response. More than 1,800 individuals took the time to tell us how they give back to their communities. Seven finalists, selected because of their exceptional volunteer submissions, were awarded $5,000 for the charity of their choice. We then opened it up to the general vote for the Grand Prize – an additional $10,000 for the winner’s charity. Congratulations to Jane Stephenson of Lexington, KY for her winning submission and a big thank you for the good she creates for low-income women. Here’s Jane’s story:
Twenty four years ago, I began the New Opportunity School for Women, Inc., a three-week residential program to expand opportunities for low-income, under-educated women in the central Appalachian region of Kentucky. Today, at age 73, I’m still volunteering, teaching classes, fundraising and serving on the school’s boards.
The New Opportunity School for Women, which we expanded 7 years ago to Lees-McRae College in the mountains of North Carolina, helps women age 30 to 60 in very difficult straits. Eighty percent of participants have family incomes of less than $10,000 a year. They come to us to gain the skills necessary to continue their education or get a job including computer and math basics, writing, interview preparation and leadership training. Because of personal situations -- including abuse, poverty, poor health and alcohol and drug abuse in their families -- building a good self-image is also an important aspect of our program.
Nearly 700 women have graduated from the New Opportunity School for Women and the results have been amazing. Seventy-nine percent of recent grads are employed, in school or both. We feel it’s so important for these women to learn just how much they have to offer the world and believe in themselves. They are dramatically changing their own lives and those of their families.