This student is using social media to shine a heartwarming light on unsung heroes.
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Sometimes all it takes is a simple handshake to launch a movement.

Georgetown University student Febin Bellamy knows this well.  

While walking to class one day, Bellamy decided to stop and say hey to a maintenance worker he'd seen around the halls. He reached out his hand to introduce himself and was pleasantly surprised at what followed.


"A lot of times, we just walk past these workers like they're invisible." This college student is challenging his classmates to see the unsung heroes around all of us.

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Upworthy on Saturday, December 10, 2016

The two hit it off immediately.

"We had a lot of similarities," said Oneil Bachelor. "This guy was like my lost brother, because I was telling him everything."

Bellamy, the student, and Bachelor, the maintenance worker, bonded over being immigrants, talking about their families, their talents, and their dreams.

Bellamy learned that Bachelor, who'd been cleaning at Georgetown for many years, dreamed of opening his own catering restaurant. He'd been cooking since he was 12 and he had true talent.

Bellamy said he'd help him in his cooking endeavors, creating a website and garnering outside support. Soon, students were experiencing Bachelor's cooking for themselves, and coming back for more.

Georgetown students getting a taste of Bachelor's cooking. All images via Upworthy.

For Bellamy, it was a reminder that everyone has a story — including the often-unnoticed workers who keep the university running behind the scenes every day. If only people got to know them to see who they really were. He wondered if social media could help with that.

Bellamy launched a Facebook project called Unsung Heroes to show appreciation and awareness to the workers who often go unrecognized.

He made it for the custodians, cafeteria workers, security guards, facility managers, busboys, and all the people helping to run our schools, businesses, and communities. It's for the people who work day and night making others' lives safer and easier yet often go overlooked and under-appreciated.

"A lot of time, we just walk past these workers as if they are invisible," said Bellamy.  

Last year, the Unsung Heroes project  interviewed over 100 workers around Georgetown to share their stories and give them the recognition they deserve.

Unsung Hero #22 - Tsion Kibron, Food & Service Worker at Epicurean & Company➖➖"My mom and I moved to the United States...

Posted by Unsung Heroes on Thursday, October 27, 2016

So far, the project has posted more than 24 of them to their Facebook page (check it out!) and the idea is spreading outside of the campus walls. At least 40 universities around the country have inquired about starting their own chapters.

Unsung Hero #24 - Leon Black, Food & Service Worker at Leo O'Donovan Dining Hall➖➖"I served in the Army for 16 years....

Posted by Unsung Heroes on Sunday, November 13, 2016

Taking the time to reach out and listen to one another creates a more inviting and empathetic world – for all of us.

"That handshake woke me up, and I feel like we could all be like that to somebody," said Bachelor, who is seeing such a great response to his catering efforts that he hopes to launch his own food truck.

In a time where social media is thought to divide us and to filter out the unfamiliar, projects like Unsung Heroes show the beauty of connection. It strengthens our communities, makes life more interesting, and — who knows? It could even help launch the next great business.

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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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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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