For the past 15 years, L’Oreal Paris has honored extraordinary women who serve their communities through volunteering. This year Philadelphia’s own Cheryl Ann Wadlington was among the honorees for her work with the nonprofit Evoluer House.

The honor earned The Evoluer House a $10,000 donation from the beauty company, and one of the 10 Women of Worth honorees, chosen by three weeks of online voting, will receive an additional $25,000 towards her cause.

Wadlington founded Evoluer House to hold programs to help educate and empower underserved girls of teen girls of color ranging in ages from 13 to 18. She said winning the top prize and additional money would mean the world to her and the girls that she serves.

“When I got the phone call, I cried actually. We really needed that money and now we have the chance, one of the 10, will have a chance to win $25,000 more for their charity, mine, of course, is the Evoluer House. And so that’s through online voting,” she said.

The public can vote for their favorite female philanthropist once a day at womenofworth.com now through Nov. 27.

Wadlington said the title and money are great but she’s cherished her newfound relationship with L’Oreal Paris the most.

“This has been a wonderful opportunity. Normally people just give you a prize and they go away but they gave us in-kind support. We had seminars and sessions. They even gave us media training to help empower our organizations and to help us grow. Even after this is over, they’re still going to be a part of our family. It’s just an absolute opportunity of a lifetime,” she said.

The Evoluer House founder said the recognition and prize money serve as reminders to girls about the possibilities open to them.

“Winning the grand prize would elevate the voices and the life stories of so many marginalized girls of color, and it would also amplify the fact that they can grow up to be leaders of the world, too,” she said.

Wadlington said the world needs organizations like hers, now more than ever.

“People don’t talk about how Black girls are suffering and this suffering didn’t just come about. This is suffering that has gone on with our parents, our grandmothers, historically Black girls are one of the most visible voices in America. They are under-protected, over-policed and pushed out of school. They’re discriminated against on so many levels. Black girls witness violence more than any other group which means that they’re more likely to experience high trauma,” Wadlington said. “Our girls have to learn how to be resilient in a way that no other culture does. All of these are reasons why we at Evoluer House, deal with the whole girl.”

Since its inception, nearly 2,000 girls have graduated from The Evoluer House’s programs, with 100% finishing high school on time and going on to college or other post-secondary studies. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way the organization usually operates and Wadlington said it may be for the better.

“When COVID hit, we had to transition our programs online and because of that, we are able to serve many more girls. We have gone nationwide,” she said.

To find out more about Wadlington, The Evoluer House and the other nine Women of Worth honorees, this Thanksgiving Eve at 8 p.m., NBC and L’Oréal Paris will present a special broadcast event: “Women of Worth.” The hour-long special will spotlight the 10 inspiring women from across the country in the running for the top prize, including Wadlington.

The special will feature introductions from entertainers Camila Cabello, Viola Davis, Elle Fanning, Aja Naomi King, Katherine Langford, Eva Longoria, Andie MacDowell, Helen Mirren and others.

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