Prof. Paula Olinger receives Lifetime of Peacemaking Award

Gettysburg College Spanish Prof. Paula Olinger received a lifetime achievement award for her social justice work, including the founding of The Center/El Centro, a community center for underserved children and families in Gettysburg.

The Gettysburg-based Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) presented Olinger with its Lifetime of Peacemaking Award for 2009 at a ceremony April 27.

"Paula Olinger has made a significant difference in the community," said an ICPJ news release. "In partnership with family members, Olinger founded El Centro in 1997 as a non-profit organization for children in first through eighth grades. The organization offers free after-school and summer activities, including mentoring programs, arts and crafts, cooking, recreation, practice with social skills and community service opportunities."

Paula Olinger at award ceremony"Olinger has developed mentoring and tutoring programs involving Gettysburg College students and community members," the release noted. Olinger is pictured with her grandchildren between ICPJ co-chairs Bob Appleton and Lea Czar, co-chairs of the ICPJ, and Jan Guillory (right) of the Gettysburg Soup Kitchen, who won the 2009 Peacemaker of the Year Award.

The College's magazine, Gettysburg, profiled Olinger's work in 2004, reporting that hundreds of students "have volunteered at the El Centro community center three blocks north of campus. Many are from the Spanish classes of Prof. Paula Olinger, whose family has long owned the house used by El Centro. Olinger's students assist local elementary-school children from Latino backgrounds with their regular homework. In exchange, the first- through fifth-graders help the college students with their Spanish."

Olinger's daughter, Axa Jones, introduced her at the ceremony. Jones, a teacher at the local James Gettys Elementary School, also works at El Centro.

The award included a plaque and a donation of $150 worth of books in the recipient's name to the Adams County Public Library System.

Paula Olinger joined the Spanish faculty of Gettysburg College in 1979. She received her Ph.D. from Brandeis University in 1981.

Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences. With a student body of approximately 2,500, it is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. The college was founded in 1832.

ICPJ photo by Denise Weldon-Siviy

Contact: Jim Hale, online content editor

Posted: Tue, 28 Apr 2009

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