2 women from Orleans recognized with Grit Awards

Staff Reports Posted 18 July 2021 at 5:30 am

GLOW Women Rise has recognized two women from Orleans County with Grit Awards, in recognition of their work in the community. The two award winners – Freddie Stewart and Jessica George – exhibit tenacity, fearlessness, and spirit in their work advocating for an underrepresented group, the organization said.

Freddie Stewart

Freddie Stewart has worked for Head Start of Genesee-Orleans for 44 years, tirelessly providing comprehensive services to thousands of children and families in the region.

She began this career as a parent, being drawn to the Head Start philosophy of advancing racial and ethnic equity while developing a student’s literacy, social, mental, emotional, and physical skills. During her lifetime of service, Stewart has exemplified the Community Action mission of treating others with dignity and respect.

“I continue to serve Community Action’s Head Start program because it still holds onto the foundation of acceptance, of being more than just a philosophy of tolerance, but one of inclusion,” Stewart said. “Head Start continues to strive to provide comprehensive programing for low-income children and this charge is to be carried out always mindful that a person’s dignity remains intact whether you are guiding a child, or partnering with a parent or member of the community.”

Stewart continues to view her role of service to the children and parents as a privilege. Head Start continues to stand, along with a few other “war on poverty” programs that provide needed support within our community, GLOW Women Rise said.

Throughout the years, Stewart has witnessed many changes and evolutions to the program and its goals and just as she did when she first began this journey, she continues to steadfastly exemplify a gentle tenacity and loving spirit as she shows up, cares, and continues to carry the progressive and inclusive message of Head Start forward.

Jessica George

Jessica George is an advocate for survivors of sexual assault inside jails, prisons and detention centers in New York State.

She started her own nonprofit in 2018, BreathOne Healing Centered Care, where she provides trauma-informed services to people returning to the community from incarceration.

“My commitment to ending mass incarceration requires the focus to be on successful re-entry services,” George said. “My role is to connect people to community, their families and support their healing, both from their time in prison and from what originally put them in prison in the first place. I do this work to uplift the community.”

George believes when there is help for the forgotten, this leads to real healing both for the individuals and the community together.

“This keeps our communities safer and gives those individuals who are healing an opportunity to be an asset to their community,” she said. “I am working towards the world I want to see. And I love what I do everyday!”