As a young woman in Southeast Colorado Springs, Latrina Ollie looked around and saw all the problems many others see when they visit her corner of town: higher rates of crime and poverty than most other parts of the city, a lack of economic development, and too few opportunities for young people to realize a better future for themselves.
Rather than look for answers outside of the neighborhoods where she grew up, Ollie realized that the changes she and her neighbors were seeking could — and perhaps should — come from within.
“For me, it was always just a matter of wanting to do more, not really knowing how to do more, but I knew there was something that needed to be done,” said Ollie. “That’s when I was able to help form a community engagement group, called Be the Change 719.”
Ollie, 35, started the group last year as a way to spread awareness in the Southeast about the importance of voting in the 2020 election and to organize community events, like neighborhood cleanups, to keep young people occupied with something positive during the pandemic. Black Lives Matter protests were popping up throughout the country, so she wanted to give her four children a positive way to get involved.
“We can’t expect everyone else to come down and help that area if we’re not going to do it for ourselves,” she said. “We have to take the initiative and do something first to be able to get the help and the resources that we need and want.”
As a successful entrepreneur, that’s been Ollie’s guiding philosophy since she graduated from Harrison High School in 2004.
First, she started her own salon. After a series of jobs at other salons, she eventually took a friend’s advice to enter the notary business in 2014, launching Ollie Mobile Notary. Her in-office and mobile notary services were so successful that she expanded the business in 2019 under the name Quar Notary, which has recorded more than 5,000 loan signings.
But Ollie’s heart and soul clearly lie in community service.
Over the last several years, she has split her time between at least 10 different community organizations and charities. She earned a volunteer recognition award with the Pike’s Peak chapter of the American Red Cross in 2015. She is on the board for The Thrive Network’s, an organization that works to spur economic development in low-income neighborhoods across the United States.
Ollie is also heavily involved with Solid Rock Community Development Corporation, where she serves as its youth coordinator. The organization recently received a grant to develop a 60-unit affordable housing apartment complex in the area, she said.
Ollie helps out at the Solid Rock food pantry and organizes events for young people in the Southeast.
“I met Latrina initially because of her vision to see a community space come together for the Southeast,” said Mattie Gullixson, who nominated Latrina. “Through that initial meeting, and following her work through Quar Notary and Be the Change, I am convinced there are few people working harder to support their community and specifically the Southeast than Latrina. And she does it with grace and compassion and kindness.”