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Wednesday, November 22, 2000

By William D. Tompkins, Special to the Star-Bulletin
Kelly Hill reacts as she is named "America's Best Young
Community Leader," winning $100,000 for Sisters
Offering Support.

Support agency’s
leader wins $100,000

Kelly Hill's Sisters Offering
Support helps girls and women
escape Hawaii's sex trade
and rebuild their lives

By Christine Donnelly

The co-founder of a Honolulu nonprofit agency that helps young women escape the sex trade and rebuild their lives has won a national leadership award and $100,000 for her organization.

"I was speechless. I was really amazed," Kelly Hill, executive director of Sisters Offering Support, said about being named "America's Best Young Community Leader" by Do Something, an organization that promotes community activism among young people. "Everybody here is so excited."

Hill, 29, won over eight other finalists for the Do Something BRICK Award national grand prize, which was presented last week in New York. The other finalists received $10,000 each for their organizations. More than 400 people were nominated for the prize, which has been awarded yearly since 1996 to community leaders under the age of 30.

Hill said the $100,000 would be used to create an endowment for Sisters Offering Support, which offers a crisis hot line, peer counseling and other services to girls and women trying to leave the sex industry, whether they are call girls, working the streets, as lap dancers or in illicit massage parlors.

"We really need to start an endowment for our long-term goals and sustainability. But we'll still be pounding the pavement" for yearly budgeting and to bolster the endowment, said Hill, who co-founded the private, non-profit agency in 1996.

"I'd just like to thank the Hawaii community. The whole idea behind Do Something is that the whole community gets involved and SOS couldn't be successful without help from all over the community," she said.

The judges for the award were particularly struck by Hill's work -- including fighting for tougher laws against commercial sexual exploitation -- because she was once a prostitute herself, a "degrading, humiliating" experience she draws upon to help others rebuild their lives as she has rebuilt her own, according to a news release announcing the award.

"Kelly is a powerful example of how each of us can turn adversity into strength and dedicate ourselves to helping people in need," said actor Andrew Shue, who co-founded Do Something in 1993.

For more information about Sisters Offering Support, call 941-5554 or check the Internet at

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