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Champions of Care: Inspiring others to care

Johnson & Johnson has launched a nationwide program called Champions of Care to shine a spotlight on people who go above and beyond to do extraordinary things in caring for others. Champions of Care is based on the belief that one small act of care can inspire another and, ultimately, create a more caring world.

The unique program will reward a selected few people who have come up with a story that impacts us all. The pull has been narrowed-down to six incredible finalists, who have been selected with the help of Karla Martinez, Univision’s "Despierta America” TV host, the program’s spokesperson.

The reward is big with a grand prize of tickets to the FIFA World Cup Final in Brazil this summer. These six individuals have gone above and beyond in their care for others as teachers, disaster relief volunteers, caregivers and non-profit founders.

You can get involved and cast your vote by visiting the website, reading the finalists' stories and voting once per day from now until May 25, 2014, to honor one of these caring individuals.

Maria Jaramillo helps inspire care by giving at-risk Hispanic students the chance to succeed. Maria, who lives in Houston with her husband, is a teacher in the underprivileged Hispanic community where she grew up.

Maria didn't just want to teach, but to create real change by helping her students overcome their insecurities and develop the confidence, skill set and ambition needed to continue their studies in college. Maria credits her dedication to positively impact the lives of her students to her mother, who did not have the opportunity to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher.

Erik Tobiason helps spread care by rebuilding schools and homes after natural disasters. Erik Tobiason, who lives in Barnard, Vermont with his wife, combines his professional skills as a contractor and dedication to caring for others to build homes and schools for those worst affected by natural disasters.

When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, Erik and his wife welcomed a refugee into their home and then traveled to New Orleans to construct an entire outdoor classroom for a high school, providing hope during a dark time. Following Hurricane Irene in 2011, Erik set out to provide housing for many families made homeless by the storm. And after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Erik traveled from his home in Vermont to Staten Island several weekends to help with the clean-up.

Erik encourages volunteerism among high school student and has taken over 200 young people with him on his projects, as he believes their work at a young age will be the force that helps in future disasters.

Dr. Elissa Brown helps spread care by providing free therapy to underserved children and families. A clinical psychologist who lives in Westchester County, New York with her daughter, Dr. Brown works tirelessly on the prevention and treatment of childhood trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.

After seeing the need for free access to therapy in her community, Dr. Brown established the Child HELP Partnership, a program providing free therapy services to New York City area children who are dealing with trauma or grief.

Corinne Cannon helps spread care by establishing a diaper bank for families in need. Corinne, who lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and two young children, established the DC Diaper Bank in 2009.

After giving birth to her first child, Corinne learned that there is a connection between not having enough diapers for a baby and maternal depression, and at the time, the closest diaper bank to Washington, D.C., was in Pennsylvania. Diapers are necessary but also expensive, and Corinne noticed an acute need for a local diaper bank in her community.

Since then, Corinne has grown the DC Diaper Bank from distributing diapers out of her basement to operating in a large warehouse. With her husband and two children, and countless other local families who volunteer, more than 600 hours have been dedicated to raising funds and distributing over 900,000 diapers to families in need.

Marty White helps spread care by helping his students volunteer in their community. Marty, a teacher for 25 years, lives in Elmsford, New York with his wife and two children.

Marty is dedicated to instilling values in his students that resonate beyond the classroom. From the beginning of his career, as the creator and faculty adviser of the Student Organization, a community service club, Marty has taught his students the importance of volunteerism and giving back to the local area.

Through his work, Marty has played a fundamental role in inspiring his students to be actively involved in, as well as lead, community service projects. Local nursing homes and children’s hospitals receive nearly weekly visits from his students; visits that include arts and crafts, birthday celebrations and sporting activities. Students organize bowl-a-thons, car washes, bake sales and annual school-wide events to benefit local animal shelters, veterans groups and national nonprofits including the American Cancer Society and the Humane Society.

Amalia Gonzalez helps spread care by volunteering to put her sister with cerebral palsy and others in need first. Amalia, who is 24 years old, lives outside of Chicago with her sister and mother.

Amalia is a full-time caregiver for her sister and also volunteers in her community to make her sister proud. While attending college and as she pursues her professional career, Amalia has remained committed to her sister’s care, and also devotes countless hours to make a lasting impact in her community.

Amalia has worked with “A Special Wish,” which grants unique opportunities for infant children and young adults suffering from life-altering diseases. Inspired by her Mexican heritage that stressed the importance of caring for others, in between classes at Second City, Amalia creates documentaries and aspires to produce a film to build awareness about cerebral palsy.

The six Champions of Care finalists have changed lives in their communities and beyond. Visit the website to learn more and vote each day from now until May 25, 2014.

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