EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Not all heroes wear capes — every day, heroes walk among us. People who work hard in order to uplift their communities, help others and never ask for any recognition.
On a Spectrum News 1 special titled Everyday Heroes, we give those people the praise they deserve.
As one of the longest working character actors in Hollywood, Pepe Serna has inspired and paved the way for generations of LatinX actors by defying stereotypes and fighting for representation in an industry that continues to largely ignore the LatinX community.
Now, in his late 70s, Serna is determined to help solve Hollywood’s representation problem by empowering students in under-resourced communities to become the next generation of storytellers.
“We’re so much more than anybody gives us credit for,” he said. “We’re good at anything and everything. And that’s why it’s important that I reach as many students as I can in my workshops.”
As an educator, Dolores Sheen, known as “Aunt Dolores” to her students, recognized that children in under-resourced communities rarely have access to the tools they need in order to further their education. Because of this, she helped create the Sheenway School and Culture Center in South Los Angeles — a classroom on wheels and a mobile bakery that comes to children in need in order to teach them important life skills.
“The main thing is thinking,” she said. “Not just using their hands, but thinking how to make those hands create some kind of bond or message or friendship.”
Justin Sather is one of the world’s youngest eco-heroes. When he was in kindergarten, he founded “For the Love of Frogs” — a nonprofit organization that aims to protect the dying species of frogs. “There’ are a lot of things that are threatening the frogs,” Sather said, “My goal is to protect 30% of the planet by 2030.”
Zion Clark was born without legs and bounced around from one abusive foster home to another, but that did not stop him from becoming a champion wrestler and Guinness World Record holder. Today, he works with foundations like Foster Nation in order to help inspire children in foster care to achieve their dreams like he has.
“I want these kids to have the option to do all these things that I’m doing without the other option of complete failure and being homeless and going to prison,” he said.
As a young girl, Chelsea Elliott lost her vision in one eye and her hearing in one ear. She was inspired by Helen Keller and referred to herself as “half Helen.”
Today, that’s the name of the foundation she started to ensure thousands of visually impaired children have access to the screenings and resources they need to live their best lives.
“We can help close that access to care gap that is often the greatest challenge for underprivileged families in seeking eye care,” Elliott said. “Because we believe clear eyesight is a basic human right.”