Thirteen years ago on May 22, 2006, Lisa’s mother died at the age of 64 from congestive heart failure in a tiny dimly lit hospital room in Richmond, Virginia. Her mother’s death reflected a disturbing and persistent trend in communities across the United States – that black women die every day at alarming and disproportionate rate, and at far younger ages than their peers from largely preventable illnesses. This tragic and personal loss made Lisa notice that not a lot was being done to address this terrible trend — so she did something about it herself.
After years of advocacy and extremely hard work, Lisa is currently working to open the Black Women’s Health & Wellness Center in her community of Madison, Wisconsin. This space would allow the staff to provide crucial services such as year-round health promotion and education, support for new mothers and moms-to-be, mental health and wellness support, financial education, and more. Lisa’s vision is to create a safe, accessible space for black women to receive the level of care they deserve — and she’s well on her way to seeing this dream become a reality.
Lance Cooper is an extremely dedicated activist and community leader based in Richmond, Virginia. A few years back, he created the #SaveFlintChallenge because he wanted to support the residents of Flint, Michigan, as they navigated the awful water crisis affecting their town. This support was not only crucial because Flint residents need access to clean water, but also because media interest had faded over time, and it was up to grassroots efforts to keep the support coming in.
Lance’s mission is to get his city of Richmond actively involved in supplying the residents of Flint with clean drinking water, and keep the world aware of this ongoing crisis. He’s been able to provide thousands and thousands of bottles to the community, and has raised incredible amounts of awareness long after the media stopped paying attention. He continues to organize handouts, even though he lives in a completely different state — and he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Michael and Sergio live in Brownsville, Texas, which is very near the Mexico border. Asylum seekers arrive at the border daily, but are simply dropped off at a bus station with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Many of them also need critical services, such as legal support, help finding family members, etc. The amount of need weighed heavy on Michael and Sergio’s hearts, and so they decided to help.
Michael and Sergio work to take food and supplies to the asylum seekers at the Brownsville border. They also organize volunteers who assist by serving meals and distributing much-needed supplies such as diapers, wipes, sanitary napkins, shoelaces, and belts, coloring books, crayons, and soft toys and dolls for the children. They also work to provide maps, and help assist in planning out their journeys and connecting them with necessary services, where possible. Team Brownsville volunteers provide daily breakfast and dinner to about 80 people, including those waiting in hope to cross the border legally. There is so much need and so little support being given where it’s needed — Michael and Sergio can’t imagine not answering that call for compassion.
Columbia Station, OH
One afternoon a few years ago, Charlie Hyatt went to her local VFW to volunteer and spend time with some of the veterans there. She was invited to play bingo in the domiciliary, where some of the homeless veterans in the association receive medical care. There, she had many moving conversations and really began to see how much need there really was for basic items like clothes, soap, etc. Charlie began collecting donations and bringing them back on a regular basis.
After arranging donation deliveries for quite a while, she once again found herself in conversation with a homeless veteran and another pressing problem became illuminated for her. This veteran told Charlie that although he was moving into an apartment soon, he was feeling down because the apartment would be completely empty – he wouldn’t even have a pillow to lay his head on, or a pan to cook with. This broke Charlie’s heart. She thought that putting a formerly homeless veteran in a completely empty apartment probably wasn’t going to set them up for success in dealing with an already difficult transition to a new life, especially when so many veterans are dealing with serious health issues on top of homelessness. After that day, Charlie felt called to address this problem by helping to furnish apartments for veterans transitioning out of homelessness — and she’s been doing so ever since.
When Daniel Alvarado was 6 years old, his brother, Diego, was diagnosed with Leukemia. Daniel remembers having to go to the hospital all the time to visit Diego. This experience was already incredibly hard on Daniel, but during their visits, he remembers feeling very sad for all of the other kids suffering in the hospital, especially when they had to stay for so long and couldn’t go home. 6-year-old Daniel decided to do something about it.
He thought of the name “Cancer Fighters” and wrote a letter in his own words asking people to help him get toys for the kids. He went around that winter taping his letter to everyone’s doors — and the response was huge. He received tons of donations and was able to distribute the toys to kids and families in need. Tragically, Diego lost his battle to cancer in 2016, leaving his family devastated. But Daniel hasn’t wanted to give up. He vowed to keep going to honor his brother’s memory — and that’s exactly what he’s done.
Daniel is now 16 and is ready to do his 10th toy drive this winter. His brother always told him, “Never give up and keep on trying”, and Daniel has led this yearly charge with that sentiment in his heart for all of these years.
In 2016, brothers Mike and Nick Fiorito quit their 9-5 jobs in search of more meaningful work. After some soul searching, the idea finally came to them: spread hope in their city & beyond by serving the homeless community. They called their new family project “Blankets of Hope” and handed out 100 blankets & handwritten notes in their first year. Their mission has been going strong ever since, and this year their mission is to deliver 20,000 blankets.
Benjamin Lesser was born in Krakow, Poland in 1928, and is a survivor of the Holocaust. He has dedicated his life to sharing his story, preserving the memory of those lost, and sharing a message of love around the world.
Matthew Santoro’s originality and humor has attracted millions of fans, making him a beloved YouTube star. His weekly videos on amazing and little-known facts are eagerly anticipated by his many subscribers and followers around the world. Matthew also uses his platform to talk about positivity and mental health advocacy.