5 exceptional women who give so much — and show us all the power of caring.
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L'Oreal Women of Worth

When we look out for each other, incredible things can happen.

These five women demonstrate that beautifully.


From left to right: Alison, Maria, SuEllen, Teri, Kathy. All images by L'Oréal Paris.

Through their tireless work and compassion for helping others, they have each been selected from over 6,000 submissions as L'Oréal Paris Women of Worth. They are women who recognize some of the unique issues affecting our communities and choose to be part of the solution.

A total of 10 women were selected as 2015 Women of Worth honorees. Here are five to know about right now.

They so deserve it.

1. Maria Rose Belding from Washington, D.C.

She's making food for the hungry a lot easier to access.

Maria is bringing food pantries into 2015.

While many 19-year-olds only have college on the mind, American University student Maria is putting her focus on those who struggle to put food on their table every night.

She developed an interactive website called MEANS (Matching Excess And Need for Stability) that provides a super-simple way to coordinate food exchanges between donors and local food pantries and soup kitchens.

The most amazing part: In just two years, the site has expanded to include users in 50 cities in 12 different states, representing more than 1,600 partner agencies. THAT is impact.

2. Teri Kelsall from Laguna Woods, California

She's helping veterans join the workforce and start their own businesses.

Too many think veterans “lack real-world skills" when it comes to getting a job.

Teri's organization The Jonas Project began as a way to honor her son Jonas, a Navy SEAL who was killed while serving in Afghanistan. Teri and her husband wanted to give back. And after they realized how hard it is for veterans to find work or start their own business ventures upon returning to the states, they knew just what to do.

The Jonas Project is helping veterans who want to become entrepreneurs develop business plans, get advice from mentors, and seek angel investors for start-up capital.

So far, they've been able to provide assistance to 18 veteran-owned companies, four of which are open for business right now.

How cool!

3. Kathy Koenigsdorf from East Islip, New York

She's helping recovering addicts and their families with resources and support.

She has experienced the struggle firsthand.

Kathy's story comes with tragedy. In 2013, her son passed away from a heroin overdose.

Today, the Jake Koenigsdorf Foundation serves as a support network for families trying to help their children overcome addiction and raises money for substance abusers who want help but can't afford treatment. In only two years, they've been able to help 105 people access treatment. The beginning of a new start at life.

4. SuEllen Fried from Prairie Village, Kansas

She's helping prisoners see a different way.

Reducing recidivism, one conversation at a time.

SuEllen has been visiting prisoners in Kansas for more than 30 years, and she's making a lasting impact. Her organization, Reaching Out From Within, reaches more than 500 prisoners a year in Kansas and North Carolina and aims to help prisoners reduce their chances of relapsing into criminal behavior once they've served their time.

Through weekly groups and now GED classes, she's showing inmates that there are different roads ahead for them.

5. Alison O'Neil from Atlanta, Georgia

She's providing fun aesthetic services to seniors to give them the attention and support they deserve.

They deserve so much support!

Alison O'Neil remembers her father saying to her, "Beauty becomes you," right before he passed away. She took it to heart.

She created a new a mission: to help the often-overlooked elderly population discover their self-worth and feel better about the way they look and feel.

Her professional background in health mixed with those words from her dad helped her create Beauty Becomes You. She and her team have been able to provide more than 15,000 hair, skin, nail care, and massage therapy services to over 5,000 seniors.

A little attention can go a long way.

These women are helping others to help themselves, and there is nothing more empowering.

Their genuine belief and support in complete strangers is a small peek into a stronger, more compassionate world that we should all want to live in.

Bravo, ladies!

Celebrate these incredible ladies and this year's 2015 Women of Worth honorees by reading their stories and voting for the 2015 National Honoree to receive an additional $25,000 toward her cause!

Caleb Anders / Anderson family photo

I am not sure what you were up to at 12 years old, but I can tell you what I wasn't doing: going to college. The same cannot be said for Caleb Anderson, who recently started his sophomore year at Chattahoochee Technical College in Marietta, GA.

It is no surprise that Caleb is on such a fast track. Before he could even speak he had learned sign language, according to First Coast News. At two years old, he was not only reading, but at a rather high level. As his family recalls, "By nine months old, he was able to sign over 250 words, and by 11 months old, he was speaking and reading."


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Lainey and baby goat Annie. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse
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Oftentimes, the journey to our true calling is winding and unexpected. Take Lainey Morse, who went from office manager to creator of the viral trend, Goat Yoga, thanks to her natural affinity for goats and throwing parties.

Back in 2015, Lainey bought a farm in Oregon and got her first goats who she named Ansel and Adams. "Once I got them, I was obsessed," says Lainey. "It was hard to get me off the farm to go do anything else."

Right away, she noticed what a calming presence they had. "Even the way they chew their cud is relaxing to be around because it's very methodical," she says. Lainey was going through a divorce and dealing with a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis at the time, but even when things got particularly hard, the goats provided relief.

"I found it impossible to be stressed or depressed when I was with them."

She started inviting friends up to the farm for what she called "Goat Happy Hour." Soon, the word spread about Lainey's delightful, stress-relieving furry friends. At one point, she auctioned off a child's birthday party at her farm, and the mom asked if they could do yoga with the goats. And lo, the idea for goat yoga was born.

A baby goat on a yoga student. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Goat yoga went viral so much so that by fall of 2016, Lainey was able to quit her office manager job at a remodeling company to manage her burgeoning goat yoga business full-time. Now she has 10 locations nationwide.

Lainey handles the backend management for all of her locations, and loves that side of the business too, even though it's less goat-related. "I still have my own personal Goat Happy Hour every single day so I still get to spend a lot of time with my goats," says Lainey. "I get the best of both worlds."

Lainey with her goat Fabio. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Since COVID-19 hit, her locations have had to close temporarily. She hopes her yoga locations will be able to resume classes in the spring when the vaccine is more widely available. "I think people will need goat yoga more than ever before, because everyone has been through so much stress in 2020," says Lainey.

Major life changes like Lainey's can come around for any number of reasons. Even if they seem out of left field to some, it doesn't mean they're not the right moves for you. The new FOX series "Call Me Kat", which premieres Sunday, January 3rd after NFL and will continue on Thursday nights beginning January 7th, exemplifies that. The show is centered around Kat, a 39-year old single woman played by Mayim Bialik, who quit her math professor job and spent her life's savings to pursue her dreams to open a Cat Café in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jeff Harry started making similar moves when he was just 10-years-old, and kept making them throughout his life. After seeing the movie "Big,"Jeff knew he wanted to play with toys for a living, so he started writing toy companies asking for next steps. He finally got a response when he was a sophomore in high school — the company told him he needed to become a mechanical engineer first.

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Here in the U.S. many of us had our eyes glued to the news yesterday as a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, disrupting a constitutionally-mandated session of Congress and sending lawmakers into hiding. We watched insurrectionists raise a Trump flag on the outside of the building, flinched at the Confederate flag being marched through its hallowed halls, and witnessed the desecration of our democracy in real-time.

It was a huge and horrifying day in our history. Our own citizens attacking our own government, all because the president refuses to accept that he lost an election. In their minds, they are patriots defending democracy from an illegitimate election. In reality, they are terrorists destroying the foundations of what makes America great.

The disconnect between what these people believe and actual reality could not be starker. Years of misinformation and disinformation, bald-faced lie upon bald-faced lie, and conspiracy theory upon conspiracy theory have led to this place. It was predictable. It should have been preventable. But it was still stunning to witness.

As an American, it's a little hard to digest in its entirety. We've been in this weird space of "alternative facts" for years, and have grown accustomed to hearing blatant lies pushed as truth. We've gotten used to being gaslit daily, from the highest office in the land. That constant deluge of falsehood has an effect on our psyches, whether we fall on the side of eating it up like candy or spitting it out like the poison it is.

So seeing what happened at the Capitol through the eyes of another country's media is really something.

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I've never been a gardener. I love the idea, but my history of killing plants isn't terribly inspiring. However, this year is different. I am doggedly determined to grow all the things because I will not allow 2020 to defeat me.

Is there a better symbol of hope than a garden? Planting a seed means you believe the future is imminent. Watching a sprout emerge from the soil and grow into a flourishing plant means life goes on. In addition, reaping the fruits and veggies of your efforts and giving thanks for the bounty that nature provides is perhaps the most basic, fundamental human act I can think of.

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