Midwest

Minnesota

140619_HER07_35Sandra Olson

Age: 52
Hometown: Woodbury
Cause: Educating refugees

Olson has never been out of the country yet she teaches refugees from Bhutan to Ethiopia. She arrived at MORE — a multicultural school that served 3,600 in 2013 — 11 years ago to help people understand banking. “Back home they put money under their beds,” Olson explains. Today the personal finance classes she teaches are the last of a series in which immigrants learn English and basic living skills. Olson explains budgeting and shows her students how to compare credit cards and real estate online; she discusses the link between credit reports and hiring. And she drives her students around because most don’t have cars. “Just giving them rides made them trust me,” she says. “Trust is huge factor. They’ve been through so much.” Olson, who works at Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, has brought more than a dozen of her co-workers on board as volunteers.

Says Olson:

Most arrive with the clothes on their back and few resources. We empower them to break the cycle of poverty.”

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