After seeing what these 5 women are doing for kids, it's no wonder they're winning awards.
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L'Oreal Women of Worth

There were over 6,000 submissions for the L'Oréal Paris Women of Worth awards this year. 10 women were selected.

Everyone deserves to know about these exceptional ladies.

As Women of Worth kicks off its 10th year of celebrating women going the extra mile in their communities, what better way to start than by giving a sneak peek at who they are.


Here are five of the amazing 2015 Women of Worth honorees.


1. Catherine Curry-Williams from Valley Village, California

She built the coolest playground around — and it's accessible for ALL kids.

Shane's Inspiration is changing how kids play. All images from L'Oréal Paris, used with permission

It all started when Catherine's son Shane passed away at just two weeks old from complications of spinal muscular atrophy. Everyone grieves differently, and Catherine grieved in her own way: by launching a worldwide initiative called Shane's Inspiration.

As a tribute to her son, Shane's Inspiration constructs accessible playgrounds for use by children of all abilities— which is something that's often hard to find. These are playgrounds with features that include special swings to accommodate wheelchairs, "sound walls" for the sight-impaired, and activities designed to improve balance and muscle tone for children with Down syndrome and other disorders.

The group has helped to create 57 fully accessible playgrounds worldwide so far, with 96 more under development in the U.S., Mexico, Ecuador, Russia, and Israel.

2. Schinnell Leake from College Park, Maryland

She throws super fun birthday parties for kids she doesn't know.

All kids deserve birthday parties, homeless or not.

After learning that more than 2,000 kids live in homeless shelters throughout her area of College Park, Maryland, Schinnell's thoughts went directly to a place many others wouldn't think of: birthday parties.

Understanding the importance of kids having confidence and feeling loved, she decided to launch Extra-Ordinary Birthdays to throw individualized birthday parties for homeless kids that most likely wouldn't get to have them otherwise. In the past two years, she's thrown over 200 birthday parties and has partnered with six shelters in Maryland and D.C.

3. Melaney Smith from Athens, Georgia

When Melaney met a young girl who loved to read, but had no books, it gave her an idea.

All kids should have books available to them.

It prompted her to launch Books for Keeps to make sure that kids have access to books at home, especially during the summer months when they're out of school.

You could say it's catching on.

Her organization has been giving out around 45,000 books every year to kids in need, which means summer recess has become a lot more fun (and educational!) than it used to be for many.

4. Elissa Davey from Vista, California

Elissa thinks everyone deserves to be remembered after they're gone, so she's making it happen.

Giving proper funerals to those who've been abandoned.

Elissa Davey was so distraught after reading a news article one day, she launched an organization because of it.

The article was about an abandoned baby boy who was found in a trash can. When she talked to the coroner and was told the boy would go to an unmarked grave if no one claimed him, she realized just how often that situation occurs.

Elissa couldn't just sit there and let it happen. She launched Garden of Innocence to provide personalized and dignified burials for abandoned children up to eight years old.

17 years later, she and her volunteers have provided services for 288 children. It's heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.

5. Jaha Dukureh from Atlanta, Georgia

When Jaha speaks, people listen. Even President Obama.

Empowering youth and changing perceptions on FGM.

You know what's not often talked about? Female genital mutilation (FGM). It's a heavy topic, no doubt, but considering 504,000 girls are at risk of experiencing it in the United States (and so many more around the world), that's exactly why it needs to be discussed.

There is no one better to lead that discussion than 24-year-old Jaha Dukureh, a survivor of FGM herself. She has started the organization Safe Hands for Girls to empower and educate young girls and communities about the dangers and effects of FGM.

Through her work, Jaha has directly saved more than 100 girls from FGM, and she has been instrumental in the creation of the Girls' Protection Act of 2010, which criminalizes the transport of U.S. girls abroad for FGM. Additionally, her 2014 Change.org petition, which collected more than 220,000 signatures, resulted in the Obama administration directing the CDC to investigate the prevalence of FGM in the United States.

When Obama gets involved, you know you're a big deal.

Congratulations to these women! They are five refreshing examples of the good in this world and an inspiration to us all.

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!

Courtesy of Creative Commons
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After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

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A video of a busker in Dublin, Ireland singing "You've Got a Friend in Me" to a young boy with autism is going viral because it's just so darn adorable. The video was filmed over a year ago by Terence Power, the co-host of the popular "Talking Bollox Podcast."

It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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