This holiday season, the New Opportunity School for Women in Berea and at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC, and the people it serves, received an early gift - Jane Stephenson winning submission to AARP Create The Good's national contest celebrating volunteerism and stories of service. Stephenson is the Win & Do Good contest winner, and has won a total of $15,000 for the New Opportunity School for Women.
Stephenson's story was chosen from more than 1,800 volunteer stories submitted online from individuals across the country. She was one of seven national finalists, and her story about the New Opportunity School for Women, a career and leadership development program for low-income women in the central Appalachian region, received the most votes online by the public to become the grand prize winner. Stephenson founded the organization in 1987.
The New Opportunity School for Women provides a free, three-week program to teach women basic skills to continue their education or get a job, including computer, math, interview and leadership skills, and more. They also provide basic health services, place participants in an internship and offer cultural events, among other support.
"Almost 700 women have graduated from our three-week residential program. A recent survey of the Kentucky grads indicated 79 percent are employed, in school, or both," wrote Stephenson in her winning entry.
The six additional finalists won $5,000 each for the charities of their choice. Voting in the Win & Do Good contest was open to the public. The voting period ended on November 18. Individuals could also participate in the Win & Do Good volunteer match game for a chance to win two $25 gift cards - one for themselves and one for their charity of choice.
Jane Stephenson is an alumna of Lees-McRae College class of 1957. She currently serves as a member of the College's Board of Trustees.
Create The Good (www.CreateTheGood.org), which sponsored the Win & Do Good contest, is a unique effort by AARP to help people 50+ find simple ways to give back to their community, whether they have 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days.
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