Manhattan’s Lower East Side today doesn’t look anything like it did just a few decades ago.

The '60s and '70s were an especially chaotic time with residents leaving in droves. Disinvestment in the area was devastating for the community — an impact that would be felt for decades.

Many of the social services agencies that the community relied on also began shutting their doors not long after the mass exodus. This meant that the Lower East Side — specifically the eastern edges of the community, which still has some of the highest rates of poverty in the city — was struggling.

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Maybelline New York Beauty & Beyond

It's not easy for the average person to strike up a conversation with a stranger.

It's hard for people with developmental disabilities too.

Rachel with another Path to Success student. All photos via Upworthy.

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State Farm

When he was just 14 years old, Felipe Lopez was dubbed the "Spanish Michael Jordan."

He had just immigrated with his family from the Dominican Republic to the South Bronx, and, without missing a beat, had started making a name for himself in New York City — the mecca of basketball.

Lopez starred at Rice High School in Harlem and played college ball at St. John's University. Then, in 1998, he finally made it to the NBA. But it's not just his skills on the hardwood that make him so special.

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