Meet our 2013 Women of Worth Honorees. This amazing group of women are working tirelessly to help make a difference in the lives of others.
Our 2013 Honorees are granting wishes of those who are terminally ill, advocating for victims of domestic and sexual abuse, providing applicable life skills to those disenfranchised, teaching others how to become more civically engaged and bringing a level of awareness to mental health issues. Discover their stories … and be inspired to create your own.
A longtime volunteer and entrepreneur, Susan drew from her experience to create Curt’s Café. At the nonprofit restaurant, at-risk youths - many of them ex-offenders considered to be unemployable – learn job and life skills through hands-on training. The work gives them a chance to redefine themselves and feel at home again in their community. Young people receive high levels of personal and professional support while working at Curt’s Café and ongoing mentoring once they take new jobs or return to school.
Lauren founded Lauren's Kids in 2007 to help protect children from the sexual abuse she, herself, experienced as a girl. Because studies show most abuse is preventable through education, Lauren's Kids created a statewide prekindergarten and kindergarten child sexual abuse curriculum called Safer, Smarter Kids. Lauren’s Kids also provides guidance and support to those who have suffered sexual abuse and works to strengthen laws that prevent abuse and protect victims.
A first grade teacher who experienced the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, Kaitlin was determined to better integrate a social curriculum – one that fosters community building, friendship and conflict resolution – into K-5 school classrooms. She founded Classes 4 Classes, through which classmates create gift projects for kids in other classrooms. In return, the receiving students must design gift projects for other students – a chain reaction of goodwill.
Throughout childhood, Somy witnessed severe domestic violence in her home. In 2006, she founded No More Tears to provide individualized assistance to domestic abuse victims and their children – and to help victims overcome the often tremendous barriers to leaving their abusers. The group offers a unique range of support services including rent assistance, legal aid, counseling, language and driving instruction, and pediatric and dental care.
As a hospice nurse, Kimberly heard many terminally ill seniors tell of what they still longed to do or experience with the time they had left. In 2011 she decided to start making some of those dreams come true by starting Bucket List Foundation, which grants end-of-life or "bucket list" wishes to the terminally ill, including swimming with dolphins, riding in helicopters and meeting pro athletes. The group has also arranged simple, heartfelt events, such as anniversary dinners and reunions with estranged family members.
After losing her 2-year-old son to leukemia, Lori started the Me Fine Foundation to provide financial assistance to families with children in treatment for the disease at two nearby university hospitals. During her son’s illness, Lori realized that many families must endure devastating lifestyle changes in order for their children to receive state-of-the-art treatment. As these families struggle both emotionally and financially, the Me Fine Foundation strives to ease the pain by meeting specific individual needs.
Tricia’s son was stricken with severe depression and committed suicide shortly before he would have graduated from high school. The stigma surrounding his death was so strong that his sister, who attended the same school, was socially ostracized. Tricia founded Attitudes in Reverse to combat negative perceptions of mental illness and educate young people through regular presentations at schools and colleges about depression and the prevention of suicide.
Patricia learned firsthand the unique difficulties of being a foster parent, and of shortcomings in the foster care system. She founded Straight From The Heart in 1998 to provide critical support and resources to foster families. Straight From The Heart volunteers distribute Kid Packs of must-have items such as pajamas, blankets and clothing to foster children. The group also provides mentoring to foster parents as they adapt to their new roles.
As an immigrant growing up in a low-income urban neighborhood, Maria saw a great deal of poverty during her childhood. As an adult, she started Children’s Lifesaving Foundation, which serves homeless and at-risk youths through a variety of programs. Children's Lifesaving Foundation sponsors a summer camp, community recreational activities and an after-school tutoring program designed to help kids get into college. The foundation also serves low-income and homeless families by providing housing and emergency financial assistance.
Estella's Brilliant Bus is a state-of-the-art mobile learning center where children without home access to computers or the Internet can learn vital computer skills. After retiring from a 50-year career in education, Estella used her own savings to purchase the bus and outfit it with computers and a satellite receiver. Now in her mid-70s, Estella travels from school to school, teaching a curriculum designed to boost kids' computer skills to meet national standards.