SCHOOL ON WHEELS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TO BE HONORED IN SEVENTH ANNUAL WOMEN OF WORTH AWARDS
L'Oréal Paris Honors California Resident Catherine Meek in the Seventh Annual Women of Worth Awards
Vote for Catherine as the National Honoree: November 5 - November 21 on womenofworth.com
Los Angeles, CA - California resident Catherine Meek has been honored as a Woman of Worth by L'Oréal Paris for her work with School on Wheels, an organization whose mission is to enhance the educational opportunities for homeless children from kindergarten through 12th grade by reducing educational barriers and pairing homeless students one-on-one with volunteer tutors.
Catherine is one of ten honorees from across the country that will be recognized for her dedication to philanthropy and passion for making a difference in her community.
"The L'Oréal Paris family is incredibly proud to celebrate this year's inspiring group of honorees," said L'Oréal Paris President, Karen Fondu. "These amazing women represent our brand heritage and philosophy, "Because You're Worth It," by inspiring us all with their dedication and commitment to making a beautiful difference."
Each of the incredible honorees has received $10,000 for her charitable cause and will be recognized at an awards ceremony and dinner hosted by L'Oréal Paris and Hearst Magazines on December 6th in New York City. At the event, one National Honoree, chosen via a public online vote, will be announced, and she will receive an additional $25,000 for her charity.
Public online voting for the Women of Worth National Honoree is open from November 5th through November 21st on womenofworth.com. Visitors to the site can vote once per day for their favorite Woman of Worth, and the honoree with the most votes will be named National Honoree.
CATHERINE MEEK - WOMAN OF WORTH
Growing up in her native Glasgow, Scotland, Catherine credits education as her way out of poverty and she wanted to make sure others received the same opportunities. After seeing a PSA on television for School on Wheels, Catherine began tutoring children in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles once a week. Becoming increasingly involved over the years, she eventually retired from her successful consulting firm and became the Executive Director of School on Wheels.
In California alone, an estimated 334,000 children are homeless. School on Wheels' goal is to reduce the barriers and education gaps for children who live on the streets, in cars, shelters and motels. This year, 2,000 homeless students will have their very own tutors, with 2,000 volunteers each committing to spend at least one hour a week working one-on-one with their student throughout the year. Catherine believes that educating our youth is one of the most important issues we face as a country today - and it's the one sure way out of poverty.
Catherine has turned a small, grassroots nonprofit into an organization that provided educational assistance to more than 6,500 homeless children in six counties and 150 locations throughout Southern California just last year. With Catherine's stewardship and leadership, School on Wheels secured more than $1 million in donations in 2011, with 91 percent going directly to their program to help homeless students. In addition, School on Wheels provides backpacks, school supplies, uniforms and bus tokens to children who would otherwise not be able to get to school, and has provided scholarships to students to further their education. Now in the middle of a three-year strategic plan, School on Wheels aims to double the number of students they're helping to 3,500 students.
At a time when everything can feel impossible, School on Wheels provides hope to the most vulnerable and forgotten children in our society. Volunteers see children with tough lives, and, yet, they find the ability to laugh, play and succeed - humbling Catherine and her team with their courage.
"I am so honored to be chosen as a L'Oréal Paris Woman of Worth," said Catherine Meek, L'Oréal Paris Woman of Worth honoree and Executive Director of School on Wheels. "This generous award is going to allow School on Wheels to help hundreds of homeless students in my community and beyond. It is truly a privilege to be among the company of these ten amazing women."
Setting the bar for extraordinary philanthropic efforts, this year's honorees support a wealth of important causes, from healthcare to education and everything in between.
- Amy Paterson - Portland, OR; Co-founder of My Little Waiting Room, an organization that promotes the health and well-being of families by bringing drop-in child care to the hospital so that children can thrive as families heal.
- Catherine Meek - Los Angeles, CA; Executive Director of School on Wheels, an organization that enhances the educational opportunities for homeless children by pairing homeless students one-on-one with volunteer tutors.
- Dr. Ida Johnson - Davenport, IA; Founder of United Neighbors, Inc., an organization that helps others help themselves while building self-worth, and includes youth, education, housing, financial literacy and multicultural healthcare programs.
- Kate Bialo - Larchmont, NY; Founder and Executive Director of Furniture Sharehouse, an organization that empowers underprivileged families by providing basic furniture to turn their house into a home.
- Lorraine Kerwood - Eugene, OR; Founder of NextStep, an organization that focuses on people, the planet and education by providing community members with disabilities the tools they need to succeed academically and in the workplace.
- Olivia Stinson - Charlotte, NC; Founder of Pen Pals Book Club and Support Group, an organization that strives to promote literacy and provide cultural and social activities for the children of incarcerated parents.
- Risa Vetri Ferman - Abington, PA; Co-founder of Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center, a non-profit that gives child abuse victims a voice and helps them heal.
- Sandy Puc' - Littleton, CO; Co-founder of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, an organization that provides the gift of remembrance photography for parents suffering the loss of a baby.
- Sarah Cronk - Bettendorf, IA; Founder of The Sparkle Effect, a student-run program that empowers teens nationwide to include students with disabilities in school-based cheerleading and dance programs.
- Sue Runsvold - San Jose, CA; Founder of TurningWheels for Kids, an organization that provides a brand new bike to every low-income, at-risk child who needs or wants one.
WOMEN OF WORTH PROGRAM
The Women of Worth initiative, now in its seventh year, is inspired by L'Oréal Paris' iconic brand philosophy, "Because You're Worth It." Since its inception, the program has recognized 70 women for their outstanding devotion to their causes, with honorees embodying the spirit of the L'Oréal Paris brand through their commitment to their communities, their selflessness and their drive to make a difference in the world.
For more information about the Women of Worth program, honoree bios and to vote for the 2012 Women of Worth National Honoree, please visit womenofworth.com.
ABOUT SCHOOL ON WHEELS
School on Wheels, Inc. is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1993 by Agnes Stevens, a retired teacher. After reading Jonathan Kozol's Rachel and her Children, Agnes realized the extent of homelessness in the USA. She began tutoring homeless kids in a park in Santa Monica, encouraging them to stay in school and participate in school activities.
Today, hundreds of volunteers work one-on-one with children whose homelessness prevents them from receiving the academic stability and help they desperately need. The heart of the School on Wheels' program is the volunteer tutors who come from all backgrounds and professions, with a shared goal - to reach out to a child, to teach, to mentor, and assist in their educational life.
The mission of School on Wheels is to enhance educational opportunities for homeless children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The goal is to shrink the gaps in their education and provide them with the highest level of education possible. Their program serves as a consistent support system to homeless students at a time of great stress and fear. School on Wheels brings the message to homeless students that they are cared about and important. They do this by offering:
- One-on-one weekly tutoring with a volunteer
- Backpacks, school supplies and school uniforms
- A toll-free number for kids to keep in touch with us
- Assistance in entering school
- Help in locating lost records
- Guidance for parents in educational matters for their children
- Two Learning Centers, one located in the heart of Skid Row and the other in South Los Angeles
- Tutoring in seven major regions in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
ABOUT L'ORÉAL PARIS
The L'Oréal Paris division of L'Oréal USA, Inc. is a total beauty care company that combines the latest technology with the highest in quality for the ultimate in luxury beauty at mass. The L'Oréal Paris brand encompasses the four major beauty categories - hair color, hair care, skincare and cosmetics - and includes such well-known brands as Preference, Excellence, Féria and Healthy Look hair color; Elnett Satin Hairspray, EverPure, EverStrong, EverSleek, EverCrème, EverStyle, VIVE Pro, Studio Line and L'Oréal Kids hair care; Youth Code, Revitalift, Age Perfect, Go 360 Clean, Sublime Bronze, Sublime Sun and Men's Expert skincare; and the Colour Riche, True Match, Infallible, and Studio Secrets Professional cosmetics collections, along with a portfolio of mascara including Voluminous, Double Extend and Telescopic among many others. For more information on L'Oréal Paris and its brands, and to get comprehensive, personalized beauty information from the experts, visit www.lorealparis.com for access to unique content and dynamic interactive features, including the exclusive "Can I Help You" diagnostic tool.
School on Wheels, Inc.