Tag: Champion of Change

12 Year-Old Joshua Williams Receives BET’s Shine A Light Award for His Work to End Hunger

joshua-williams-faces-of-hope

 Joshua Williams was four and a half years old when he figured out his life’s calling. He discovered it by listening to his heart.  “My grandmother gave me $20. I saw a homeless man. I felt really bad. I gave him the $20. I felt good, but I wanted to do more,” said Joshua, now 12 and a Miami Beach resident recently honored by BET with a Shine A Light Award by for his work with his nonprofit Joshua’s Heart Foundation.  Joshua begged his two aunts to help him start a program to help feed the hungry. “They didn’t do anything. I fired them,” he recalled. Then Joshua asked his mom, who was used to his persistence and his new ideas.  “After a while, she saw I was really serious,” he said.

He and his family (grandmother, mom and aunts) started giving cooked meals to homeless people every Saturday. His grandmother cooked and he, his mom and aunts helped package the food in containers to take to downtown Miami to feed the homeless.  Soon, there was a line of 150 people waiting for them weekly. But a city ordinance stopped them from continuing their distribution there. Joshua was not about to give up though. They moved their operation to his grandmother’s church.

“We would help families at the church or in the North Miami community at first,” said Claudia McLean, Joshua’s mother. “He said, ‘We can’t just give them a bag of rice and vegetables. Each time, he demanded more.”  Joshua explains. “We started small. It is easier now because we have volunteers. There’s a bigger demand, more people need help. We try to keep up. I do my best.”

Joshua’s Heart Foundation has been distributing meals for almost eight years, since 2005. The organization became a nonprofit in 2007—and yes, his aunts now volunteer and help distribute food with him. The foundation has distributed over 500,000 pounds of food as part of its mission to stomp out world hunger and break the cycle of poverty.

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