Know a woman who’s a philanthropy hero? Here’s a great way to honor her.
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L'Oréal Paris Women of Worth

SreyRam Kuy was 2 years old when the refugee camp where her family had been staying was bombed.

They had been fleeing the “Killing Fields” of the Cambodian genocide, only to be attacked again.

During the bombing, both she and her mother were hit by shrapnel. She lost her ear in the explosion, and her mother’s wounds would’ve likely been fatal without proper medical attention, but thankfully, Red Cross doctors came to their aid, saving both SreyRam’s ear and her mom’s life.


Even though she doesn’t remember much of the experience, the story’s become an integral part of her family’s history. It’s also why SreyRam chose to dedicate her life to helping others as a doctor.

Dr. SreyRam Kuy. Photo via L’Oréal Paris’ Women of Worth.

Not only did she become the first female Cambodian refugee to work as a surgeon in the United States, but she regularly performs free and low-cost surgeries for people in need. She also partners with Dog Tag Bakery — an organization that gives jobs and necessary work experience to disabled veterans.

What’s more, as chief medical officer for the state of Louisiana, she oversaw the first state-led Zika prevention program for pregnant women in the United States.

SreyRam is just one of 10 extraordinary women who were chosen as L’Oréal Paris’ 2017 Women of Worth Honorees.

Since 2005, the brand has selected women who are making a major impact in their communities through their passion for volunteerism and philanthropy. Each Honoree receives a $10,000 grant for their charitable cause, as well as recognition of their work through L’Oréal Paris’ Women of Worth.

Other 2017 Women of Worth honorees. Photo via L’Oréal Paris’ Women of Worth.

Past Honorees have been everything from anti-bullying advocates to supporters of victims of human trafficking to self-defense trainers. It really doesn’t matter what kind of charitable work you do, just as long as it’s making a positive impact on your community.

There are so many women out there who’re making a huge difference but aren’t getting any recognition for it. This program is trying to change that.

Want to nominate someone to be a Woman of Worth? Here’s what you need to know:

Candidates must be women who are legal residents of the 50 United States and 16 years or older at the time of nomination. Their philanthropic work must also have occurred within the United States, and their involvement needs to have been ongoing for at least six months. If it’s filling a previously unmet need in an innovative way and making a significant difference in their community, it’s worthy.

It’s fine if the woman you have in mind gets paid for her work as long as she’s working for a nonprofit or a national service program like AmeriCorps. However, she should have a noticeable passion for what she does that’s inspiring others to follow suit.

Photo via iStock.

If you think you know someone who fits the bill, click here to sign up and submit an application form. You can also submit the form by sending it in the mail to:

"Women of Worth Award" c/o The Points of Light Institute

600 Means Street, Suite 210

Atlanta, GA 30318

If you think you’d make a great honoree yourself, you can absolutely throw your name into the ring!

Whoever you decide to nominate, you better do it soon, because the submission period ends May 31, 2018.

Once all the nominees are submitted, the judges will narrow it down to a group of finalists.

That’s where the final 10 nominees are selected — and where you come back in.

In November, you can see the list of 2018 Honorees online and vote on one to be named the Woman of Worth National Honoree. This woman will receive an additional $25,000 for her charity of choice, along with national recognition for her cause. But every honoree will get an all-expense paid trip to New York City for the awards ceremony, where they’ll meet many notable women who are also working towards social good.

Sounds pretty awesome, huh?

It’s time the world recognizes these unsung philanthropy superheroes, but it’s on you to make that happen.

So what are you waiting for? Get nominating!

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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Microsoft Office

This article originally appeared on 03.19.15


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