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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!

Pop Culture

She bought the perfect wedding dress that went viral on TikTok. It was only $3.75

Lynch is part of a growing line of newlyweds going against the regular wedding tradition of spending loads of money.

Making a priceless memory

Upon first glance, one might think that Jillian Lynch wore a traditional (read: expensive) dress to her wedding. After all, it did look glamorous on her. But this 32-year-old bride has a secret superpower: thrifting.

Lynch posted her bargain hunt on TikTok, sharing that she had been perusing thrift shops in Ohio for four days in a row, with the actual ceremony being only a month away. Lynch then displays an elegant ivory-colored Camila Coelho dress. Fitting perfectly, still brand new and with the tags on it, no less.

You can find that exact same dress on Revolve for $220. Lynch bought it for only $3.75.
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This article originally appeared on 08.21.18


Addie Rodriguez was supposed to take the field with her dad during a high school football game, where he, along with other dads, would lift her onto his shoulders for a routine. But Addie's dad was halfway across the country, unable to make the event.

Her father is Abel Rodriguez, a veteran airman who, after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was training at Travis Air Force Base in California, 1,700 miles from his family in San Antonio at the time.

"Mom missed the memo it was parent day, and the reason her mom missed the memo was her dad left Wednesday," said Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, Addie's mom. She continued, "It was really heartbreaking to see your daughter standing out there being the only one without their father, knowing why he's away. It's not just an absentee parent. He's serving our country."

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Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.