OpenDoors is proud to present the 2015 Laureate of the Year Award to Mrs. Elinor Earle, founder of Asheville’s Youthful HAND Center, which is located in the Lee Walker Heights neighborhood. This award specifically recognizes and celebrates members of the community for outstanding service to help eliminate child poverty.
Ms. Earle has dedicated her life to raising the achievement levels of local students. Daily, she provides hands-on tutoring and mentoring – teaching academic skills across all subjects and imparting the practical and essential life skills young people need in order to succeed beyond the classroom. OpenDoors Executive Director Jennifer Ramming explains, “We enjoy partnering with Ms. Earle’s program because she is so open and collaborative, with nothing but the best interest of the child in mind.”
Over the years Ms. Earle has tutored and mentored hundreds of Asheville youth, and she recently cited the example of a girl she tutored whose dream was to grow up and become a doctor. “Someone sent me a photo of her high school graduation, and you know what? She earned a 4-year scholarship to Xavier where she is studying to be a pediatrician. If you give them the opportunity you can change their lives. We just have to all work together and know that what you need to be successful in this world is a decent education.”
Every school day Ms. Earle can be found consulting with teachers or working with students. “You have got to expose young people to positive experiences,” she says “and get involved with their education at an early age. Otherwise they get behind, and once you start playing catch-up it’s hard. But if you work with them, within a short time they are ready to compete. They begin to open up to you and feel good about themselves, and that’s the key to everything.” When asked what inspired her to start doing this kind of selfless work, Ms. Earle replied, “My thing is that I am always going to do whatever it is that needs to be done. That’s just me.”