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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.

Ronna Luna of Maria’s Closet

Maria’s Closet provides prom dresses and other formal wear to financially-disadvantaged high school students.  Prom is such a special event and it’s a tragedy that rather than being excited, for some students Prom is something they have to miss out due to their families’ financial circumstances.  Once it’s gone, you can’t get the time back, you cannot get those experiences back and so we salute organizations like Maria’s Closet that help ensure that finances are not the reason a student missed out on something as special as prom.


Kelly O’Malley of A Light in Dark Places

Brandon LaJoie, Julio Vargas – Taller Fotografico, Jamale Abou Hamad

There’s stigma around suicide, and Kelly wanted to change that. She wanted to create a space where people could talk openly, learn about resources, and be reminded that no one is alone, that there is always hope. She thought the communal aspect of theater made it a great place to start, and so in 2016, she started A Light in Dark Places, a non-profit that uses the arts to bring understanding, resources and hopes to those affected by suicide. Their main endeavor is a theatrical production that takes place each September for two weekends during National Suicide Prevention Week.


Caitlin Adler of Project Ropa

Too many in LA are stuck in a cycle of homelessness because they don’t have access to the basics they would need to be able to get a job.  Caitlin Adler left a successful career in order to help the homeless through Project Ropa. To date, Project Ropa has directly provided clothing to 1,500 homeless individuals, prom outfits to more than 100 teenagers and job interview outfits to over 800 people transitioning out of homelessness.

Andrew Skinner of Triumph Foundation

Andrew suffered a spinal cord injury on November 26, 2004 and is a recovering quadriplegic. He was injured just six months after graduating from college, he had a great job, was in love with his girlfriend Kirsten, and felt like he was on top of the world. He did not give up, he kept trying to get better and over time he has made progress, can do 80lbs on the leg press machine, is able to stand with assistance in 4 feet of water, married the love of his life Kirsten and is a father to beautiful young daughter and so much more.  His path inspired him and Kirsten to start the Triumph Foundation in 2010 to give back to others who have suffered similar injuries.

Laura Pavlakovich of You’re Just My Type

Laura has lived with type one diabetes for all of her life.  After completing a photojournalism program in high school and living in eight different countries, Laura realized she could use photography to make a difference.  Laura describes You’re Just My Type as Humans of New York meets Type 1 Diabetics.  Her photos and stories help both diagnosed with diabetes and others see how life goes on and can be beautiful despite the diagnosis.

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