ATLANTA -- Being a great mom requires an around-the-clock effort. No one knows this better than Lorrie Wolfe who was named America's Most Inspirational Mom, through a pursuit conducted by Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Wolfe's ascension caps a nationwide search launched last November by Lucille O'Neal, BGCA and longtime partner Kimberly-Clark Corporation, which will yield her a full-tuition scholarship to University of Phoenix where she will major in Criminal Justice. Wolfe plans to use her degree to work in the juvenile justice system, and one day hopes to open her own Boys & Girls Club.
Wolfe from Hickory, N.C. is a single mother of three including raising one child with Asperger's Syndrome. She will soon celebrate her seventh anniversary as a domestic violence survivor. Her children have watched the family flee a physically abusive household with no money, transportation or job, to a safe environment in a loving home, with a car and food in the refrigerator. Regardless of her situation, Wolfe has always encouraged her kids to think big and to work hard in pursuit of their dreams. She works fulltime at the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Hickory as a Project Coordinator with at-risk youth. She also helps the Hickory community by collecting clothes, school supplies, researching part-time jobs for teens and soliciting donations from businesses for program support and career experiences for Club kids.
"Being named the Most Inspirational Mom is a life changing honor for me, and I can't believe I have the opportunity to go to University of Phoenix to pursue a degree in criminal justice thanks to the Family PLUS program," said Wolfe. "My children, and the children I work with through our gang prevention program, are always encouraged to think big, work hard and stay positive so they can achieve their dreams. I hope this award will inspire others in difficult situations to never give up on their dreams, and to always take care of their families and give back to their communities."
The Most Inspirational Mom is part of a joint venture to implement family strengthening at Boys & Girls Clubs around the country. For the seventh consecutive year, Kimberly-Clark and BGCA are teaming up to provide the Family PLUS (Parents Leading, Uniting, Serving) program at Clubs around the country. The Family PLUS initiative encourages local Boys & Girls Clubs to integrate family strengthening activities into their programming, in addition to hosting specific Family Nights to help parents learn and have fun together, further building a strong family dynamic. Currently some 2,000 Boys & Girls Clubs around the country are implementing the Family PLUS program into their curriculum.
Wolfe is joined by runner-ups Karen Baker from North Little Rock, Ark. and Sue Trnka from Callaway, Minn. who will also receive full-tuition University of Phoenix scholarships along with Kimberly-Clark back-to-school survival kits. As the Most Inspirational Mom, Wolfe will also receive a new laptop computer, along with a book bag full of school supplies from BGCA. All three women plan to begin college this summer.
"Lorrie, Karen and Sue are wonderful examples of the driven, motivational and inspiring moms we have supporting our local Boys & Girls Clubs," said O'Neal, Family PLUS ambassador and mom of legendary basketball player Shaquille O'Neal. "I'm a product of both Boys & Girls Clubs of America and University of Phoenix, so it's exciting to provide three well-deserving moms with the opportunity to go back to school, through the Most Inspirational Mom search. Lorrie truly embodies the core values of the Family PLUS initiative and I cannot think of a more deserving woman making a difference in her community."
Runner-up Karen Baker was driven to make sure her kids beat the cycle of poverty. She worked two jobs to make sure there was food on the table and clothes on her kids' backs. Baker has also been a leader in the community helping to raise a number of children from friends and family within the Little Rock area, in addition to her own. Because Baker was adopted, she wanted to make sure no one close to her went through that same experience. Her son, DeShaun Bennett, was the 2011 Southwest Regional Youth of the Year.
Second runner-up Sue Trnka was involved with a non-profit organization to reduce crime, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and implemented prevention based programs to enhance her community. Shortly after becoming a single mom, funding for this non-profit organization dried up and Trnka had to work four jobs to make ends meet for her family. In 2009 she became the Resource Development Director for Boys & Girls Club of Detroit Lakes and is working to provide great futures for youth in her community.