Each year, DoSomething.org honors an elite group of young world-changers. Here are the 2013 Do Something Award Nominees.
DANIEL MAREE, 25
Growing up as a black male in a predominantly white neighborhood in Florida, Daniel frequently felt profiled because of his race.. He did not decide to do anything about this until February 2012 when Trayvon Martin was shot while walking around his neighborhood. Daniel started the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice to advocate for amending the Stand Your Ground law in Florida, instruct young people on conflict resolution techniques and inform the public about all forms of profiling. Million Hoodies raised awareness for Trayvon Martin’s case by collecting over two million petition signatures to have George Zimmerman arrested and engaged 50,000 people to participate in Million Hoodies rallies across the country. There are Million Hoodies chapters in 12 U.S. cities.
SASHA FISHER, 24
Sasha was in South Sudan helping to build a school for girls when she noticed many other schools that had been built by foreign aid organizations just sitting empty. When she asked why the schools weren’t being used, it was because the local people were not involved in the planning and so they didn’t feel ownership of the schools. They were waiting for foreign organizations to run them, since that is what usually happened. Sasha realized that the solution would be to involve the community in the planning and design of these types of projects. After graduating from college, Sasha moved to East Africa to start Spark Microgrants. Spark provides grants to rural poor communities in Rwanda and Uganda and works with communities on the design, implementation and management of their own social impact projects such as schools, water wells, and health centers. Since 2011, Spark has awarded 32 grants in 50 communities, creating projects that have improved the lives of over 15,000 people.
JILLIAN MOURNING, 25
Jillian was 19 years-old when she took a break from college to start her modeling career. One night while sleeping in her hotel room, her manager and his friends raped her, which started a vicious cycle where she was the victim of sexual trafficking and blackmail for six months. After getting out of that dangerous situation, Jillian finished college, studying international genocide and violence against women. She realized she wanted to do something to prevent sex trafficking and provide aid to victims. In July 2012, she started All We Want is LOVE (Liberation of Victims Everywhere) to educate the public about sex trafficking in the U.S., provide training to those who might come in contact with it such as hotel workers and cable companies, and work to rescue sex trafficking victims. All We Want is LOVE assisted in the rescue of three models from sex trafficking, as well as distributed 12,000 bars of soap labeled with the National Sex Trafficking Hotline to hotels during the PGA Golf Tournament, which resulted in five cases being reported.
LORELLA PRAELI, 24
Lorella was 2 years old when she was in a car accident in her native country of Peru that left her with only one leg. At 11, her parents brought her to the U.S. so that she could have a better chance at receiving top-notch medical care and an education. Lorella is a DREAMer, someone who was brought to the U.S. as a child without documentation. She did not know she was undocumented until she was applying for college and was offered a full ride from Quinnipiac University, but was not allowed to receive it. She eventually convinced the college to give her financial aid anyway. While in school, Lorella founded Connecticut Students for a Dream, a local chapter of the national organization United We Dream. CT4D helped to pass legislation that allowed Connecticut DREAMers in-state tuition. She is now the Director of Advocacy and Policy at United We Dream, a national organization dedicated to earning rights for DREAMers.
Ben Simon, 23
When Ben was in high school, his family took in a man (James) who was homeless and hungry. Ben’s family provided housing and food to David for two years, which opened his eyes to the fact that there were many hungry people living right in his own city. When he got to college, Ben was shocked to see how much food in his dining hall was wasted, and that 22 million pounds of food are wasted every year on college campuses across the U.S. He created the Food Recovery Network at the University of Maryland, which uses college volunteers who recover leftover food from their dining halls and donate it to local soup kitchens and shelters in their communities. FRN has 19 college chapters across 11 states and has recovered 135,000 pounds of food.