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Acts of Courage, Leadership and Influence Recognized by California Community Foundation & NBC4

The 2013 Unsung Heroes Awards and NBC4 Life Connected Award shines light on inventive charitable efforts being made in LA County

PRESS RELEASE: Los Angeles, CA (10/17/2013) — From planting vegetable gardens in empty dirt lots for South LA residents to a young entrepreneur empowering East LA teenagers with solid business skills, to a human trafficking survivor working tirelessly to end the cycle of violence against women.  These are just a few of the outstanding stories behind the honorees of the 2013 Unsung Heroes of Los Angeles Awards – http://my.calfund.org/unsung-heroes/year-2013/, presented by the California Community Foundation (CCF) and NBC4 Southern California this past week.   

“Five courageous and enterprising people from all walks of life were selected to represent the CCF’s Unsung Heroes because of their extraordinary efforts of philanthropy and innovative services that are bringing new resources to people in Los Angeles County,” said Antonia Hernández, chief executive officer of CCF.  “We are honored to highlight the incredible efforts of these heroes and recognize them for the significant impact they have made to improve lives of those most in need and hope that their compassion and advocacy will inspire others.”  

The five Unsung Heroes celebrated this year include

·       Ron Finley – The Ron Finley Project, was frustrated with the lack of accessible fresh food in his South LA community, so the artist and designer started planting vegetable gardens in the neglected curbside dirt patch outside of his home.  Soon, a green activist was born and his passion and commitment to creating fresh and healthy food options by installing gardens in unused land has transformed neighborhoods one step at a time.  View Ron’s story –  http://my.calfund.org/unsung-heroes/year-2013/honorees/#ron-finley

·       Maria Suarez is an example of how one person’s story of tragedy can turn to triumph despite unthinkable and often unspeakable challenges. As a teenager, her life was forever changed when she was “bought” by her employer and held captive as his slave for more than five years and then sent to prison for a crime she didn’t commit. After spending 23 years in jail, she is now using her experiences to help the most vulnerable in need and works tirelessly against human trafficking in the city of Los Angeles.  View Maria’s Story – http://my.calfund.org/unsung-heroes/year-2013/honorees/#maria-suarez

·       Ezequiel Olvera – Gumball Foundation, opens doors for students living in East LA. At the age of 11, Ezequiel Olvera invested $50 of his own money into a gumball machine, which eventually grew to 50 gumball machines and led to a savings of $15,000 for college.   With a strong work ethic and a passion to give back, he now helps dozens of teenagers acquire business skills in real-life working situations while they also earn an income to pay for their future academic studies. View Ezequiel’s Story –  http://my.calfund.org/unsung-heroes/year-2013/honorees/#ezequiel-olvera

·       Sophie AlpertPiece By Piece, is an organizer and activist at heart. Six years ago, she launched her first mosaic art workshop in South Los Angeles in an effort to address urban poverty.  What began as a program to help recently homeless and underserved residents earn additional income became a much greater cause.  Today, it continues to provide participants with a sense of community, offering purpose, confidence and empowerment to improve their lives. View Sophie’s story – http://my.calfund.org/unsung-heroes/year-2013/honorees/#sophie-alpert

·       Donald Manelli – Care Harbor, knew he could make a difference by providing families without insurance coverage a top quality medical and dental care experience by bringing medical resources to those living in poverty.  Manelli uses this platform to educate patients on how to lead healthier lives to avoid many preventable issues that are treated at his Care Harbor clinics. View Donald’s Story –  http://my.calfund.org/unsung-heroes/year-2013/honorees/#donald-manelli

The NBC4 Life Connected Award salutes the champions whose work is making an extraordinary impact in our local community.  The annual award originated from the station’s “Life Connected” series, which highlights the diverse landscape of Southern California and embraces community triumphs throughout the region. The first winner of this award was presented to Donald Manelli.

“The NBC4 Life Connected Award salutes the champions whose work is making an extraordinary impact in our local community,” said Terri Hernandez Rosales, vice president of community affairs and communications at NBC4 Southern California. “NBC4 has had a long tradition of giving back to the community and the Life Connected Award is an extension of this legacy.”

Unsung Heroes of Los Angeles is a biennial awards program of the California Community Foundation (CCF) that celebrates the power and impact of philanthropy in Los Angeles. The awards recognize individuals for their extraordinary acts of charitable giving so that their example will inspire others. First held in 2009, the awards will culminate with CCF’s Centennial celebration in 2015.

For more information about the 2013 Unsung Heroes and NBC4 Life Connected award, visit Unsung Heroes and NBC4.

About CCF: California Community Foundation (CCF) is a public, charitable organization serving Los Angeles County in multiple capacities since 1915. It advances philanthropy and serves as a steward of charitable funds and legacies. It makes grants to nonprofits and collaborates in addressing the critical needs of vulnerable populations. It actively engages in community problem solving with business, civic, government and other organizations.

About NBC4 Southern California: NBC4 Southern California, (www.nbcla.com) is the West Coast flagship of the 10 NBC Owned Television Stations. It produces more than 30 hours each week of local news and information delivering it across the main broadcast channel 4, online at www.nbclosangeles.com, and through multiple social media platforms.  Serving the Southern California community since 1949, NBC4’s news operation has received nearly every industry award bestowed on local news, including numerous Los Angeles Emmy and Golden Mike Awards, as well as two national Edward R. Murrow Awards and a Peabody Award.   The NBC Owned Television Stations, a division of NBCUniversal, also operates COZI TV (www.cozitv.com), a national network that brings viewers some of America’s most beloved and iconic television shows and movies.

Media Contact:

CCF – Stacy Miller | (818) 402-5806 | Stacy@StacyMillerPA.com