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Local Heroes: nonprofits and projects we should all know more about

We often forget a very important truth: there is far more good than bad in the world.

We feel more attention and coverage should be given to people, projects and organizations like those we’ve highlighted below.  There are so many people doing incredibly important work and making a real difference in the world.  They are the true heroes and we hope you’ll join us in spreading the word about good people and projects.

Robyn Benincasa of The Project Athena Foundation

The Project Athena Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit that helps Survivors of medical or traumatic setbacks live an adventurous dream as part of their recovery. Every year, we hold 5 endurance adventures for Survivors (and the Fundraising Gods and Goddesses who support their training and adventure) who want to make their big COMEBACK and become the very best of what they are today. At Project Athena, we say that “You’re never defined by your setback, you’re defined by your COMEBACK”.

Nick Wallace of Nick’s Picks

I started Nick’s Picks, my 501C3 in 2012 at age 12, the same year I received my life saving liver transplant. After a childhood in and out of hospitals, I became a master at entertaining myself. Nick’s Picks is dedicated to delivering fun filled backpacks to isolated, seriously ill, hospitalized youths.

The backpacks include the dozen items I found most useful and fun in the hospital; things like the Boogieboard LCD writing tablet, Hoven sunglasses, the infamous NOBUTTON and so much more.

I have delivered over 1,500 backpacks and serve 15 centers nationwide, from Stanford to Mount Sanai.


Edward Remias and Karishma Shah of Child Rights & You (CRY)

Aseem Gupta Photography

Child Rights & You, America is a non-profit 501c3 organization that works to raise funds for projects that support underprivileged children in the US and India. It is a rights-based organization, that focuses on the children’s right to.
1. Survival – to life, health, nutrition, name, nationality
2. Protection – from exploitation, abuse, neglect
3. Development – to education, care, leisure, recreation, cultural activities
4. Participation – to expression, information, thought, religion

It is a unique ‘rights-based’ approach, that focuses on sustainable change, that sets this apart from the other similar organizations.


Deanna DeFrank of SPOT (Saving Pets One at a Time)

SPOT (Saving Pets One at a Time) is an all-volunteer, non-profit 501c3. It was started 7 1/2 years ago by Kris Nelson & Elaine Godzak because as volunteers within the Humane Society they saw too many adoptable animals still being euthanized and were outraged. So they took action. And because of them over 3, 472 animals have been rescued to date by SPOT.

Our Mission Statement states that we exit homeless animals from our local shelters that are at risk of euthanasia. In this way, we are typical to many rescues. Unlike others, we are one of the few dog and cat rescues. We take in over 350 very young kittens each year, many requiring bottle feeding, that would otherwise have been euthanized.

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