and this organization. How has growing up in that kind of support system impacted who you have become?
OS: Oh wow. I think just seeing my mom doing it [for so many years] and having my mom as my role model, and also, when I was 5, she had major surgery to get a tumor removed and we ended up living with my grandparents for probably up to a year when she was sick, and I just saw how people in the church and friends were so giving to us and they were so loving and they helped us in so many ways to make sure I had everything I needed and I know what it’s like to be in need and to have people step up. It’s hard for me not to pay it forward and give back to someone else.
EBONY: I’ve had the privilege of interviewing quite a few MAKERS this past year and there are some really amazing women who are being honored, from Misty Copeland to Barbara Walters. What’s that like for you to be
OS: It’s so amazing but I guess I’m still kind of in shock you hear these big names and you think wow I’m among these phenomenal women. I think because I’m still 19, I don’t think of myself as a woman yet so I think I was just so excited and so blessed and so grateful and to receive wisdom from the next makers it was just so wonderful to be with them and see wow I’m included with these same women. It’s truly a blessing but I’m still in shock!
Keep up with Olivia Joy Stinson and her PenPals organization at PenPalsBookClub.org. The world premiere of Makers: Women Who Make America debuts on PBS on February 26 at 8pm EST on PBS. Check your local listings.