On April 8, 2013, Gabby Frost opened Twitter and saw that three girls in her network were contemplating suicide. After responding to them directly, she thought, “What can I do to prevent this from happening again?” The answer was Buddy Project. Combining her own experience with social anxiety, and the knowledge she’d learned from friends who had opened up to her about suicidal thoughts and self-harm, and the power of social media, Gabby came up with the idea of an online community where people could make new friends, support one another and become mental health advocates.
For the Elwy family, volunteering together is engrained in their lives. Rani, Sherin and their three children, 20-year-old Lucy, 17-year-old Ben and 13-year-old Charlotte, have spent hundreds of volunteer hours on projects ranging from distributing groceries at food pantries, to creating learning aids for ESOL students, to planting flags at dawn alongside Boston’s 9/11 memorial. The family of five has discovered that volunteering is the one thing that brings them all together.
Joann and Don Tolmie first visited Tanzania in 1999 as guests of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. They soon realized there was a vast educational inequality for children with disabilities – who are often believed to be a bad omen or a hardship, and for whom educational opportunities are few. After discovering the need for disabled children to have a proper place to learn and grow, the husband and wife duo teamed up with the Northern Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania to create the Faraja Primary School. There’s no denying that this first trip ignited a spark in their hearts that was so big, it would grow to help create a culture shift in understanding disability.
Gitanjali Rao, a current seventh grader at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Denver, Colorado, was appalled after learning about the Flint Water Crisis, where dangerous levels of lead in the water affected thousands across Michigan. Upon researching more about the aftermath of the crisis and learning that it still remains a major issue in our nation, she set out to create a nanotube sensor device to equip every household to test their water.