2013 Unsung Heroes of Los Angeles Awards

Recognizing the remarkable achievements of individuals who, through unusual creativity and resourcefulness, are addressing an issue that affects Los Angeles communities, and do so with little to no attention on themselves.

  • Sophie Alpert

    Sophie AlpertInspired by the micro-enterprise agencies she visited during a trip to South Africa, Sophie created Piece by Piece, an organization that offers mosaic workshops taught by professional artists, and provides materials free of charge, for residents in the underserved communities of South Los Angeles.  Through sales of their artwork, Piece by Piece provides opportunities to earn supplemental income, empowering residents by giving them the tools, marketable skills and self-confidence to put together the broken pieces of their own lives.

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  • Ron Finley

    Ron FinleyRon has responded to the “food desert” of South L.A. by building urban gardens, with a focus on serving low-income residents and others with scarce access to fresh, affordable food.  Through The Ron Finley Project, he  not only creates home-grown, healthy food options for residents, but has helped to develop a sense of community by inspiring others to volunteer and get involved by planting their own gardens.

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  • Ezequiel Olvera

    Ezequiel OlveraMotivated by his own experience investing in a gumball machine at 11 years old, Ezequiel engages youth from low-income communities to provide a hands-on approach to entrepreneurship training.  His organization, the Gumball Foundation, enables students to partner with local businesses and corporate offices to run a microventure using healthy vending machines as a tool for educational opportunity and to earn money for college.  Through their experience, students learn invaluable business skill sets that they can incorporate into their lives post-college graduation.

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  • Maria Suarez

    Maria SuarezAfter enduring years of trauma, Maria has the courage to share her story as an advocate against human trafficking so that it might prevent others from being victims.  She raises awareness through community outreach efforts among vulnerable populations, as well as speaking engagements, to help eradicate modern slavery.  Maria is able to expand her reach through her work as the primary bilingual Talkline counselor at the National Council of Jewish Women/LA.  She also works part time with abused women at About Face, in addition to volunteering with The Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking.

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NBC4 Life Connected Unsung Hero Honoree

Life ConnectedPresented to the Unsung Heroes honoree who embodies the community goodwill and meaningful human connections in Southern California that are featured on NBC4’s weekly Life Connected segment.

  • Donald Manelli

    Donald ManelliWith limited resources and no medical background, Don has inspired thousands of health professionals and volunteers to donate their time to serve those in need of medical care.  He founded Care Harbor, an organization that stages a massive free clinic each year for people with limited health resources.  In just four days, the event provides medical, dental and vision services to more than 3,700 patients, in addition to educating patients about healthy lifestyles and existing community resources available to them, so that they can obtain sustainable year-round care on their own.

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The Eisner Prize for Intergenerational Excellence

The Eisner PrizeDesigned to recognize excellence by an individual or a non-profit organization in uniting multiple generations, especially seniors and youth, to bring about positive and lasting changes in their community.

View The Eisner Prize video to learn more.

  • Motion Picture & Television Fund

    Motion Picture & Television FundThe Motion Picture & Television Fund’s Media Center is a model of senior engagement that marries creativity with technology, incorporating the involvement of multiple generations. Recognizing that the urge to create never goes away, the Media Center pairs older adults with high school and college volunteers who share their diverse film experience spanning generations to create meaningful content together. This exemplifies MPTF’s goal to create a sense of community among entertainment industry workers, and foster support for essential health, wellness, social and retirement services.

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