Margaret Yeboah, Minneapolis (Full Biography)
Since 1998, Yeboah, a single mother of five and health/physical education teacher at Lucy Craft Laney at Cleveland Park Community School, has helped build schools in Amponsakrom, Ghana, a tiny village where there is no running water, toilet facilities, roads or medical facilities for its 2,000 residents. Yeboah, a resident of Minnesota for 22 years, grew up in Swedru, which is near Amponsakrom.
To date, Yeboah has reached 700 children between the ages of two and 18, using her own money to help build 20 classrooms, a medical clinic and a vocational school in Amponsakrom. She has purchased two school busses, books, uniforms and six generators; hired teachers and paid their salaries; provided money for school lunches, and leased five inner-city classrooms. In addition, Yeboah has helped build a well for the community, helped construct a road for the busses, and purchased over 200 acres of land, allowing families to farm for free so children can learn agricultural skills and become self sufficient in the future. Finally, each year Yeboah buys 1,000 pairs of reading glasses for the elderly, and clothes and medicine as gifts for people in Ghana. To pay for all this, Yeboah has taken out loans by refinancing her Minnesota home three times, withdrawn money from her 401(k), and collected small donations.
Inspired by her own mother to give back to the community, Yeboah helps children in her Minneapolis community, volunteering to write and choreograph gymnastic routines, dances and plays for kids. She also has taken children to nursing homes where they sing, dance and read to residents.
In her own classroom, Yeboah buys clothes and shoes for disadvantaged students and honors up to three students per week with awards they can choose from, such as tennis shoes, t-shirts, basketballs, or a weekend at Yeboah's home, where she will throw them a pizza party or take the student and a friend roller skating, shopping, or to a movie, with their parents' permission. Yeboah ensures that all of her students have been recognized with an award every year. To encourage her students to stay in school and pursue higher education, Yeboah tells them she will award them with $500 if they go to college; she has already awarded two former students a total of $1,000.
There are many times when Yeboah is compelled to randomly help people in need, in one instance giving $50 to a poor woman in her neighborhood who had just been in a car accident. Yeboah has been a foster mother for 15 years, has adopted three children, ages 6, 8 and 9, and plans to adopt more children in the future. She has two biological children, ages 18 and 25.
Carol Schuler, Haberman & Associates, 612-338-3900, email@example.com