5 exceptional women who give so much — and show us all the power of caring.
When we look out for each other, incredible things can happen.
These five women demonstrate that beautifully.
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.
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.
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.
3. Kathy Koenigsdorf from East Islip, New York
She's helping recovering addicts and their families with resources and support.
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.
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.
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.
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!