Volunteer Heroes   


In keeping with the spirit of National Volunteer Week in the United States, and National Volunteer Month throughout the world, we’re highlighting a few hardworking men and women who have been making significant contributions to their local or the international communities. These individuals are doing everything from providing mentoring services to traveling away from their home to aid with various humanitarian crises, and are making immediate and meaningful impacts.
Check out the brief profiles below and feel free to comment on this post with the names of anyone you might know who is doing similarly beneficial work.
Norman Hurns – Detroit, Michigan
As a high-school teacher in and around Detroit, Norman Hurns saw a need to engage and inspire black male youth academically. Working in an area adversely affected by the economic environment, Hurns certainly saw income as part of the issue—but quickly realized that it was not the only one.
“What I’ve noticed is that the problem exists no matter where you are. Even in the suburbs, it’s still an issue, especially with black males,” Hurns said. “In general, our young men are not performing at the same rate as young women; they’re not engaging in academics.”
Determined to find a solution, in 2000 Hurns founded Brothers Making a Difference, an organization that aims to provide a solid foundation in young boys, ages 6-9, so that they can go on to become productive and participatory members of society. According to Hurn, the “experiential part of [the program]” is its most valuable asset, and he hopes to teach the children the importance of personal and professional responsibility and instill lifelong values of service in each and every participant. Hurns was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Lifetime Award in recognition of his 4,000+ hours of work in service of children in his community.  
To read more on Norman Hurns, please visit the post on the Points of Light blog here.
Kathy Hertz – Lesbos, Greece via Fairfax, Virginia
Kathy Hertz was trying to find the perfect vacation destination for her and her cousin, Joanne Feinberg, when it hit her. “One night, I just said to Joanne—you know, what I really want is to go and help the refugees,” she later said. Working as a life coach in Fairfax, Virginia, Hertz spent her days helping clients work through various personal obstacles in order to achieve their full potentials. And each night, she would return home to watch the news reports about the more than 1 million refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other nations that were attempting to gain asylum in the European Union by entering through the ports of Greece. Hertz found herself deeply affected by this, and decided to do something about it.
By the end of December of last year, Hertz and her cousin found themselves on the island of Lesbos, Greece—the main point of entry for most refugees. Both Hertz and her cousin ended up splitting time between the shore—where they would help the refugees off the boats—and the camps—where refugees were fed, sheltered, and clothed. For Kathy, being involved in such a volunteer project showed her that even the smallest effort on her part can make a world of difference for someone else.
To read more about Kathy’s story, please visit the original post on the Points of Light blog here.
Johnson Ho – Jacksonville, Florida
Johnson Ho is a college grad in Jacksonville, Florida who works as a member of the City Year Jacksonville AmeriCorps. He has dedicated his career to providing academic support and mentorship to students to help ensure the success of every child, regardless of geographic location or socioeconomic status.
As a mentor working with numerous students, Ho admits that it can be difficult to know if he is making a significant impact on the lives of his mentees. He recalls a former student of his “Z” who began as a well-behaved and responsible student, but eventually began to act out in class. He began to work with him one-on-one, and “Z” slowly but surely began to succeed. To date, “Z” is one of the strongest mentor-mentee relationships that Ho has. It is these types of relationships that Ho hopes to continue to foster through his work with City Year.
Ho acknowledges that the job can be incredibly difficult and testing, but it is the success stories of students and the knowledge that he is making a lasting impact on the lives of hundreds of children that keeps him committed to and excited about his volunteering efforts.
To learn more about Ho’s work, visit the original post on the Serve.gov post here.
We want to hear from you – tag a friend or family member who is dedicating themselves to service in the comments area below.

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