This 18-year-old is showing kids how to save the world, one small project at a time.
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L'Oréal Paris Women of Worth

When Lulu Cerone was growing up, her family had a lemon tree in their backyard.  So, naturally, she set up lots of lemonade stands.

At first, she and her friends would use the money to buy little pleasures, like toys or candy. But when Lulu turned seven, she decided to do something more significant. Instead of spending their lemonade money, Lulu and her friends gave it to a local dog shelter, which upped the ante on their simple pastime in a big way.

"We realized that adding an element of social good to this social activity not only helped some dogs, it made it way more fun and meaningful," writes Lulu in an email.


My first lemonade stand for charity. With Erin and Kaitlyn. MLK Day of Service 2009

Posted by Lemon:AID Warriors on Thursday, July 4, 2013

But that was just the beginning.

Soon after, Lulu started researching other causes and stumbled upon Blood:Water — a nonprofit that seeks to end the HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa. On their website, she learned that $1 can provide one person in Africa with clean water for an entire year.

"It never occurred to me that people didn't have access to water — a basic human need I totally took for granted," Lulu writes.

What hit her hardest was that girls her age had to walk miles just to get water that was dirty and might make them sick while the boys went to school.

So Lulu's lemonade stand profits started going toward providing clean water to people in Africa. Then, in 2010, the philanthropic game changed again.

When Haiti was struck by that devastating earthquake, Lulu and her friends decided to throw down a boys-versus-girls fundraising competition for Lulu's entire fifth-grade class. The idea was so catchy, it grew to other nearby schools, and soon they were getting donations from all over the city. After just two weeks, they had collected over $4,000.

The girls' fundraising team. Photo by Renee Bowen.

The experience was so exciting and unifying, the kids were chomping at the bit for more.

"This event showed us how empowering it was to realize that we already had the skills to create tangible good in the world," Lulu explains. "We didn't have to wait till we were adults."

And like that, her nonprofit, LemonAID Warriors, was born.

LemonAID Warriors provides teens and young adults with the tools they need to infuse social good efforts into their social lives.

Since there's no shortage of causes that need attention today, they're constantly offering new and exciting ways to lend a hand. It all started with Lulu's concept of a PhilanthroParty, which is essentially a social gathering centered around a social good concept.

One of Lulu's (center) PhilanthroParties. Photo by Renee Bowen.

The projects they supported in March 2018 include completing a dormitory at an orphanage in Tijuana and designing shirts for the March for Our Lives. Their ongoing work includes providing scholarships for children at a school in Zimbabwe and, of course, funding sustainable, clean water, hygiene, and sanitation projects with Blood:Water, which is now their partner.  

What started out as a lemonade stand has grown into a wildly successful nonprofit that's raised over $150,000 for people in need. And Lulu's activism is the keystone of it all.

Lulu visiting a school in Uganda. Photo by Renee Bowen.

At age 13, she was sharing social good action plans with the heads of Mattel. Soon after, she flew to Uganda to visit some of the water projects the Warriors helped fund. At 15, she won a Nickelodeon Halo Award and wrote her first book, "PhilanthroParties! A Party-Planning Guide for Kids Who Want to Give Back." Now, at 18, she's one of L'Oreal Paris' Women of Worth honorees.

There's no telling what other amazing things this world's going to see from Lulu Cerone.

Photo via L'Oreal Paris Women of Worth.

But for Lulu, it all comes back to inspiring her peers and the next generation to take up the gauntlet of this grassroots-style activism.

"I feel we will be most effective if we are able to implement simple, realistic habits that make social-good a routine in our lives," Lulu explains. "My grassroots method doesn't add to your busy life — it turns what's already on your calendar into a chance to become an agent of change."

Starting with small, manageable actions is how Lulu got to be where she is today. It's these little, bold steps that lead to gigantic accomplishments. She also suggests looking to a mentor to help guide you. It's about following good examples and then, when you feel like you have guidance of your own to offer, giving back to those coming up behind you.

Speaking of which, Lulu's 14-year-old mentee, Madi Stein, is now the president of LemonAID Warriors. It just goes to show that you never know where social good pursuits might lead you.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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