The Share America Foundation, Inc. announced its first 2020 scholarship winner. Musician Olivia Grace Young, 17, of Toccoa, Ga. was selected as a Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarship winner.
The Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarship honors students excelling in the Appalachian musical arts. Pearl and Floyd Franks were the late parents and former entertainment managers of actor/entertainer Randall Franks, "Officer Randy Goode" from TV's "In the Heat of the Night."
Ms. Young expressed her gratitude for the $1,000 scholarship received. “This scholarship has been something that truly lit a fire to my calling to music and has been an immense driving factor to wanting to succeed, and be something great with my work as a mandolinist,” she said. “Plato once said, ‘Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything,’ while growing in my study of music I feel as if this expression has begun to truly express the same altitude of appreciation for music that I hold as well.”
Her interest in music began at an early age. She studied privately with award-nominated bluegrass gospel musician Lorie Watkins of The Watkins Family.
“She is a very talented young lady in many ways, but has a true love for music and the mandolin, while also having a true drive to succeed,” Ms. Watkins said. “It’s been an extreme pleasure to have a part of such a bright future”
The Watkins Family – Judy, Lorie and Todd - began raising funds with special concerts for the Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarship in 2007.
Joining the effort of providing funds to encourage youth in 2020 is the new lifestyle company – Hillbilly Love. The "socially productive, conscious brand" will be donating 10 percent of its profits from its family-focused products including apparel, jewelry, handbags and décor (www.HillbillyLove.com) to organizations including Share America to make a difference in the lives of youth like Young.
“Our goal is to share the message of Hillbilly Love, while creating positive opportunities to serve our communities and to support our children's future,” said CEO Lynda Weingartz.
Ms. Young said the scholarship will assist in her studies as she goes to North Georgia College this fall to study journalism.
“Olivia has amazing dedication to all she sets her mind on as a goal,” said Share America President Randall Franks. “Our board is proud to be a small part of the success we know she will define for her future."
Ms. Young graduated from Stephens County High School this year. She is a resident of Toccoa, Ga., although at the early age of 10 months she was adopted from a southern region of Russia. Throughout the years Ms. Young participated in both school and church functions. When she is not practicing music, Olivia said she enjoys studying classical literature and history.
Her plans for the future include getting her degree from the University of North Georgia, while also venturing out into performing musically, she said.
Share America Foundation Board members include Mr. Franks, Vice Chairman Jimmy Terrell, Chairman Gary Knowles, Secretary James Pelt and Jerry Robinson, Sr., Vice President.
The Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarship is funded by donations, special events and special projects such as the Share America Foundation’s recent #1 CD – “Americana Youth of Southern Appalachia.” The album was a #1 AirPlay Direct Top 50 Americana Global Albums chart success in 2019 and continues charting in 2020. It features 30 youth including previous scholars from Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina, and was released in partnership to radio by AirPlay Direct. The project was also supported with grants from North Georgia Electric Membership Corporation Foundation, Kiwanis Club of Ringgold and the Wes and Shirley Smith Charitable Endowment, and is still available for donation at www.ShareAmericaFoundation.org or through download outlets like Amazon.