5 people who inspired us this year


As 2018 comes to an end, we come back to see how some of these designated people – and the good works they started – do. From the suburban mother who started a movement helping Detroit's destitute to a 4-year-old boy on a mutilated cape eating Birmingham homeless, the stories are still inspired. Their projects are still strong and the combined spirit of service still has an impact.

When they saw the news about its foundation, the Raising Men Lawn Care Service, disseminated through the social media, donations were introduced to allow Smith to expand his mission.

At the beginning of the festive season, Smith decided to dress up as Santa Claus and amaze the homeless with gifts in every new city he visited.

"They can not believe that Santa Claus is coming for Christmas," Smith told CNN from his latest post in Boston. "Many of them here are fighting, moving when they hear their stories and touching me forever."

Two homeless people open gifts received by Rodney Smith Jr.

In the context of his winter tour, Smith has gone through blankets and backpacks with supplies for the homeless. And he has done some wonders of Christmas as he spreads cheer.

"People have donated so much, so I can buy them what they want," he said.

In Idaho, she bought two bus tickets for men so they can reunite with their family.

In Boston, he bought another person a couple of nights in a hotel room, including a very desirable hot shower.

Smaller acts of goodness include a cup of hot coffee and a pair of Dew mountain containers.

"Seeing their faces lit up," said Smith, is the most rewarding Christmas gift of all.

The following year, Smith plans to launch a campaign of "seven continents – seven lawns" to continue to spread the service message across the globe.

The teenager who provides jobs for the homeless

San Diego teenager Kevin Barber (center) poses with him
In February, 17-year-old Kevin Barber – with some financial help from his mom – started a pilot project in San Diego called "Wheels of Change". It pays the homeless $ 11.50 an hour to clear the streets.

"Employees are so grateful for the opportunity to work … to contribute to the community and make little money to buy their personal items or to buy a bus ticket for a job interview," Barber said.

"Even every morning, every morning, the wheels of change work to get the chance to get out of the crew!"

The grateful residents and shop owners gather together to enjoy the homeless participants, sometimes even to buy them lunchtime. After every shift, workers pay their salary in cash and then consult the city's services that can help them get off the road. The crew manager, himself a former member of the gang, speaks to homeless workers about the resources at their disposal.

The homeless give money - and access to city services - when they work for

For participants, only one-day work can change life, Kevin said. "One member of the crew said openly that he was suicide and was over the Coronado bridge, ready to jump last week. Today he was in our wagon to work, he was incredibly grateful and says he wants to be an example to others."

"Another homeless had planned to earn money in the program so she could buy hair machines, she wants to use them to shave her head and face so she can look better when she asks for a permanent job" .

"Wheels of Change" started with a single vehicle. Less than a year, the program now operates two trucks.

Kevin's goal is to have both trucks five days a week, employing 100 homeless per week. So far, his program has been employing more than 800 homeless people – many of them many times.

Kevin hopes that his local success can be replicated around the world. So far, representatives from 36 other cities visited San Diego to learn about the program.

The master who installed a washing machine at his school

Mr. Akbar Cook presents a part of the donated detergent dispatched to the West Side High School in New Jersey to support the free laundry room.

When the school started at West Side Gymnasium in September, there was a new addition: a washing machine.

Akbar Cook had learned that some of his school students in Newark, New Jersey were missing chronologically because they were infected with their dirty clothes. So Cook installed washing machines and tumblers for students to use before and after school free of charge.

"After the story went out, she donated supplies for clothes from around the world," says Mr.. "To receive such gifts from places like Scotland and the Pacific Islands to help our babies, Procter & Gamble took part and sent us thousands of everything for washing machines.

Initially, he was not sure if the washing machines would be used, but he quickly realized that the school needed to extend the wash times and bring more staff. The machines operated continuously until 8 pm. every day.

Most importantly, school attendance has improved.

The cook holds a gift box of laundry products.

Cook is already facing the next obstacle to learning his pupils.

"We have opened a free store for students, providing toiletries, feminine products, toothbrushes, bags and more," said Mr. "" With such generosity, we now have a list of school wishes for Amazon and Walmart to provide other needs. "

"We feel like we can really do something here," he added. "And that's the feeling we want our students to come to school every day."

The suburban mom who brings donors and the needy together

Erica Guido (left) says the start of her charity is the most satisfying thing she has ever done, next to being a mom.

Six days a week, a suburban mum is driving her truck to Detroit city center, throwing away donations and spreading goodwill.

Erica Guido is president and founder of "To Detroit, With Love".

"We are converting homes into homes and neighbors to friends," he told CNN.

In a closed Facebook group, Guido shares the desirable lists of family needs. People then offer the donations they have: beds, dining rooms, clothes.

Guido or her volunteers receive donations and distribute them within the same day.

Volunteer Levi Lindsey loads furniture on Guido's pickup.

"We do everything in friendship and love," said local Detroit.

Since its inception in October 2017, it has helped more than 200 families and the donor network has increased from 1,500 to nearly 3,000.

From her first interview with CNN, Guido said that people from around the world have contacted her to launch similar initiatives.

"My main goal is not to expand where I am, but to get more communities to do the same – for example, instead of" That Detroit with Love. "It could be" in Chicago with love. ""

Known as "Lady E" or "Miss E," Guido said he also hopes to directly combine families who do not need help with those who do.

"It's the human effect and the connections that take place that surpass every piece of furniture."

Guido has a particular need of his own.

"We need a truck truck for a long time," he explained.

With a larger vehicle, its organization can have a bigger impact.

"We do not have time for our items to sit in a warehouse or store where there are children sleeping on the floor. This is the ultimate goal.

The 4-year-old who supplies the homeless

Austin Perine travels to Detroit to feed the homeless on his over-devoted red cape.

Austin Perine, the four-year-old, has captured the hearts of fans around the world, as his video that gave him chicken sandwich to the homeless was shared by the social media millions of times.

Since CNN gave its story in July, Austin traveled to more than 15 cities to spread his mark: #ShowLove. A small boy on a big mission, passed to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Austin spreads his message to #ShowLove in Puerto Rico.

"It was an amazing experience to make people smile, bringing something for what started with 25 chicken sandwiches," said Austin TJ Perine's dad at CNN.

Perina said she cried at Detroit when Austin got a grip on a homeless and sickly shelter of addicts. The staff even wore Austin's #ShowLove t-shirts.

"It was remarkable," Perina said. "It's a child from America who is inspired."

Austin's long time also included a letter from Lebron James, an appearance on Steve Harvey's shows and front line positions in a Miami Heats game.

Austin visits Steve Harvey's show.

"We are honored and grateful for all the opportunities we had this year," said Perine.

Austin's favorite activity, when it's not a superhero in red, hits the mat as part of a local wrestling team.

"I like being, I never want to change," she said in fact.

We hope he does not. The world needs more people like him.

Ben Burnstein, Mayra Cuevas, Christopher Dawson, Jennifer Grubb, Martha Shade and Ashley Vaughan contributed to this article.