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Pay It Forward: Erica Austin

Our August winner is someone who is involved with several organizations that help inspire area youth -- Erica Austin. (WICS)

Each month NewsChannel 20 and Hy-Vee partner to recognize incredible individuals who have gone above and beyond to enrich the lives of others.

Our August winner is someone who is involved with several organizations that help inspire area youth.

When presented with her $500 check from Hy-Vee, our August Winner, Erica Austin, said, "Honestly, I feel overwhelmed. I feel blessed."

In a given week, Erica spends six days a week dedicating her time to working with area youth.

"Helping them see their potential and helping them deal with change, helping them see that there are other options,” Austin said.

Whether it’s her involvement with 4H, Helping Hands, the Contact Ministries women shelter, or her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, she dedicates her life to helping others.

Tiffany Mathis, who volunteers with Erica, said, "She just really has the ability to reign people in with her spirit and the way that she conducts herself."

Mia Woods, nominated Erica for “Pay It Forward.”

She tells NewsChannel 20 it’s because she fit the description so perfectly.

"She is such a mover and shaker in our community. She does so many things involving youth, involving disadvantaged women. She just does it all,” Woods said.

Many of the children she works with come from troubled homes or live in crime ridden areas.

"Especially in Springfield. There's a generational cycle that goes on and the kids don't feel like they have a way out, they don't know what to do...by me providing a different avenues, for them to get different exposure in the different areas of life, I feel like it's definitely needed,” Erica said.

For her, these children are her family, and seeing them succeed is the best reward of all.

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