A sister who takes care of her adult brother wasn't expecting anything more than an interview.
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Ad Council + AARP

Camilla's mom had one wish when she fell sick.

She hoped Camilla would do whatever she could to look after her brother, Reggie, who has schizophrenia and intellectual disabilities.

Camilla took the request very seriously, and she brought her brother into her home to live with her. She took him to doctors, got him on the right medications, and began the work of helping Reggie have the best life he can have. At the time, he was afraid to be hugged or touched. Camilla had a long road ahead to help her brother.



In addition to daily life tasks, just spending time with loved ones to keep them mentally engaged is a big part of being a caretaker.

She said it was a point in her life where she realized it's not all about her, and her life became about something more.

A hug is sometimes more than just a hug.

When Reggie first moved in with Camilla, his disabilities made human contact intimidating to him instead of welcoming or reassuring.

But research shows that human connection can be a significant component of healing. It's not good for anyone to go without some kind of caring touch, and it's even more important for those who are ill or disabled to experience it.

A study published in 2006 reports that participants with various mental health concerns like stress, depression, and anxiety who participated in "healing by gentle touch" therapy consistently had significantly reduced amounts of stress following the therapy as well as higher levels of relaxation and coping skills.

Reggie has come a long way. Now he'll easily exchange warm hugs with his sister and with others. It's not just a nicety for him; it is a huge sign of growth and a big milestone regarding his quality of life.

This is the kind of selflessness that caregivers across America are demonstrating every day.

"An estimated 40 million adults in the United States have provided unpaid care to an adult or a child in the prior 12 months." — National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP

So, a local caregivers union wanted to pull together a little surprise for Camilla — to say thank you for her work with her brother, her involvement in homecare support networks, and to help energize her for her road ahead.

How can you pay it forward to a caregiver you know? Sometimes just a kind word or gesture here and there can make a huge difference for someone doing heroic things everyday.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.