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Storycorps presents 'Who We Are: Blanca and Connie Alvarez.'

This video is a powerful example of immigrants working hard and doing whatever it takes to attain the American dream.

Storycorps presents 'Who We Are: Blanca and Connie Alvarez.'
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#WhoWeAre

When Connie's family came from Mexico to the U.S. in 1972, her mother, Blanca Alvarez, was pregnant with Connie.

Even after Connie was born, her family's first years in America weren't easy. Sometimes they didn't have anything to eat. Sometimes they had to take any job they could to get by. Sometimes Blanca had to take the kids to work with her or make due with bean tacos when there was nothing else to eat.

It's a tale I'm sure many immigrants can relate to. And as our national conversation about immigrants continues, stories like Blanca and Connie's can make all the difference in helping us grow empathy.


Like most working parents, Blanca says she regrets not dedicating more time to her daughter.

The curious thing is that what Blanca thought would make Connie feel resentful or neglected is actually what motivated her daughter to push forward.

"For me, watching you go to school with two kids and trying to make ends meet — that was the biggest inspiration for me to finish college," Connie says.

Listen to Blanca Alvarez tell her daughter about her struggles and successes in this poignant and powerful video from StoryCorps:

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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.