On a blustery day in 1984, Yvonne Pointer bundled her children off to school, delivered newspapers, and came home to a phone call. Her 14-year-old Gloria had been abducted, raped, and beaten to death. "Standing over my daughter’s grave, I promised God not to let her death go unnoticed," she says.
A year later, Yvonne founded Positive Plus to help women recover from traumatic experiences through workshops that inspire, motivate, and build self-esteem. She then established the Gloria Pointer Scholarship Fund for girls challenged by violence and neglect. Next came the Gloria Pointer Teen Movement in Ghana to aid children. (She laughingly tells about returning a dress to Nordstrom in tears because she really wanted it, but conceded to God that "It’s more important that kids eat in Africa.") Remarkably, she ministers in prisons because "everyone, including the incarcerated, has a story to tell."
Just after being notified of this award, Yvonne learned that Gloria’s suspected murderer had finally been arrested after 29 years. It made her doubly grateful for her aha moment: "After waiting for the cavalry to come speak for the children, I realized that I—an unemployed single mother—was the cavalry."
Yvonne’s mentor is Alexandria Johnson Boone, a businesswoman whose passion is developing leadership in women of color. After Yvonne read about her work, she contacted Alexandria, who asked her to lunch. Upon hearing Yvonne wanted to start a scholarship in her daughter’s honor, "Alex" opened her purse on the spot, wrote a generous check, and has mentored Yvonne ever since.
Gloria’s motto shows her core belief that one person can make a difference: "One Pointer, One Passion, One Purpose."