This former pro baller isn't building better players. He's building better citizens.
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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.


All images via Felipe Lopez, used with permission.

"When I was in college, I already had the urge to give back to the community," he says. "But there was the financial uncertainties as you go through college."

So in his first year in the NBA, Lopez took action to make an impact both on and off the court.

Immediately, he laid the groundwork for the Felipe Lopez Foundation, a program geared toward providing underprivileged kids with athletic and academic opportunities.

"Once I made it to the league," Lopez explains, "every time I went to the Dominican Republic for vacation, it was not a vacation — it was to travel around the country and give free [basketball] clinics and give out free donations to all the places that I went to."

Lopez even petitioned the president of the Dominican Republic to create a new gym on the site of the playground where he first fell in love with basketball.

"The best way to make ourselves feel good is by giving — giving your time, giving your effort, giving your love to people that need to find their way," he says.

Not even a serious knee injury, which derailed his career in 2002, could slow down his humanitarian work. Lopez kept coming back to the Dominican Republic despite leaving the NBA and playing in leagues across Europe and South America.

In 2014, Lopez returned to New York to give back to the community that gave him so much. He started working with kids at the Bronx Spanish Evangelical Church to support efforts to take them off the street and give them a safe haven from the rampant drug abuse and gang scene in the neighborhood.

It's here that Lopez started getting more recognition for all the amazing community work he was doing. In fact, his inspirational story and heartwarming relationship with one of the campers was recently featured in a profile for State Farm's Neighborhood of Good.

With all the kids he helps, Lopez tries to offer guidance for their future.

"I'm not trying to build the next superstar," he explains. "I'm trying to build the next best citizen that is going to go all around and take all the opportunities that's going to be given to them."

That's why he's trying so hard to set kids on the right path towards college — to him, it's the key to unlocking a world of possibilities.

And to help them get there, he stresses one thing: preparation. "When you talk about preparation," Lopez says, "you talk about readiness, you talk about being on time, you talk about doing your homework." These are the things, he says, that help them not lose sight of their goals.

Lopez also shares his faith with the kids to give them another source of guidance. In fact, that's a big reason why he renamed the Felipe Lopez Foundation to the Ministry of Faith this past year.

Today, almost 20 years since he first launched his foundation, Lopez has only found more ways to give back — earning him a new nickname: "Saint Felipe."

Fellow NBA Cares Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo gave him this new nickname after Lopez became an NBA Cares ambassador in 2008.

"Felipe is special among former players," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. "He's magical. Kids respond to him, his manner, his smile. He has almost a special skip in his step."

Today, Lopez also serves as a mentor for My Brother's Keeper, a project started by President Obama. "It's a mentoring program," explains Lopez, "and the point was to raise 25,000 mentors to guide young black men across America."

Without a doubt, paying it forward is at the heart of everything Lopez does.

That's because he knows that at one time, he too needed encouragement and guidance to keep him on the right path and get to where he is today. Now, he wants to do the same for the next generation. Because whether it's trying to pass an exam or make it to the NBA, everyone could use a helping hand or a mentor.

"I see myself as that person that lent me their hand when I needed it," he says. And if all goes according to plan, that's exactly what the kids he helps will say once they reach their goals.

To learn more about his incredible story and how Lopez is reaching his hand out to help kids, just check out this heartwarming video below:

If you're looking for easy ways to take action in your community, get started by visiting the Neighborhood of Good. State Farm will help you connect locally with people and organizations in need of a good neighbor.

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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Image by 5540867 from Pixabay

Figuring out what to do for a mom on Mother's Day can be a tricky thing. There's the standard flowers or candy, of course, and taking her out to a nice brunch is a fairly universal winner. But what do moms really want?

Speaking from experience—my kids range from age 12 to 20—a lot depends on the stage of motherhood. What I wanted when my kids were little is different than what I want now, and I'm sure when my kids are grown and gone I'll want something different again.

We asked our readers to share what they want for Mother's Day, and while the answers were varied, there were some common themes that emerged.

Moms of young kids want a break.

When your kids are little, motherhood is relentless. Precious and adorable, yes. Wonderful and rewarding, absolutely. But it's a LOT. And it's a lot all the fricking time.

Most moms I know would love the gift of alone time, either away at a hotel or Airbnb or in their own home with no one else around. Time alone is a priceless commodity at this stage, especially if it comes with someone else taking care of cleaning, making sure the kids are fed and safe and occupied, doing the laundry, etc.

This is especially true after more than a year of pandemic living, where we moms have spent more time than usual at home with our offspring. While in some ways that's been great, again, it's a lot.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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