Lizella, Ga., woman pays it forward after winning Museum of Aviation grand prize

The winner of the $20,000 grand prize at the Museum of Aviation’s auction and raffle is paying it forward.

Earnestine Broady of Lizella went to the auction July 15, she said, partly because she wanted to see how the silent auction worked. She is the founder and chairwoman of Lois’s_Kids, a registered non-profit that helps at-risk youth in Macon, and she is planning her own silent auction as a fundraiser.

She left before the raffle drawing, but later that night got a phone call from the museum telling her she had won the $20,000 grand prize.

“My first thought was ‘How am going to use the proceeds to benefit these girls?,” she said. “It’s very rare that you get an opportunity to win that kind of money.”

She collected about $13,000 after taxes, and is putting $8,000 of that into her charity. It’s the largest influx of funds the organization has gotten. The winnings were just deposited into her bank account Tuesday, which was also the day she had organized a back-to-school shopping trip for 10 girls, with each getting $100 from her winnings.

“It’s almost as if it’s not real, but it’s actually for real,” she said as the girl’s shopped at Marshall’s, where Broady is manager. “It didn’t seem real until I actually saw the funds in my account.”

She grew up poor Macon, but her mother, Lois Jarrell, always found a way to reach out to other children in the neighborhood and would feed any who stopped by.

“My mom was really like everybody’s mom, no matter who we brought home from school,” Broady said. “She would be the first person to reprimand them if they did or said something wrong.”

Broady started the organization two years ago to honor her mother, and originally it was just for girls but last year she started having programs for boys. Most of the organizations efforts involve workshops teaching life skills at the Frank Johnson Center. A different program is held each Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, with one for boys one week and one for girls the next.

Workshops have focused on financial management, cooking, bullying and more. One of the most successful, Broady said, involved bringing in law enforcement officers to talk to the boys about how to interact with officers to avoid any trouble.

“That workshop I felt did a lot for the young men that participated,” she said.

One of the girls shopping Tuesday was Selena Harper, 13, a student at Weaver Middle School. She was using her money to buy clothes. She said she has gotten a lot from the workshops she has attended.

“It helps me as a young woman to gain more independence,” she said.

Selena especially liked a workshop she attended on bullying, which taught her to turn to someone in authority who can help rather than trying to deal with it on her own.

One aim Broady has for the influx of money from the auction is to look for a building she can rent for the organization, so that programs can expand.

Lois’s_Kids is for youth ages 8-17, but she also has programs for young adults on Thursday nights at the Frank Johnson Center. Broady has hopes the organization could expand into other cities in the Middle Georgia area, or that people will start programs modeled after it.

Anyone who wants to find out more information about Lois’s_Kids, including a schedule of workshops, can go to the group’s Facebook page.

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