If ever anything occurs that shakes our faith in humankind – as, sadly, it does from time to time – we have a simple remedy . . .
Events in the adult world can be incomprehensible, as has been proved in no uncertain terms in recent times, but in our children there is great hope. Young people hold the future in their hands. In putting our faith in children, we feel as though that future is looking a little brighter.
In Jack Andraka, in Matthew Lannon, in Samantha Manns and in Kelvin Doe, there is a light that shines bright at the end of a very long, very dark tunnel. There are others in their number. One is called Joshua Williams.
He might be just 11 years old, but Joshua is out there, helping others, making a difference and setting an example. He should serve as an inspiration to us all.
Joshua spearheads his own non-profit organization that helps those in our midst who find themselves without enough to eat. The program is called Joshua’s Heart and it is doing great work both at home and abroad. So far, Joshua’s Heart has distributed more than 400,000 pounds of food to those in need. That Joshua began his mission before his fifth birthday is something that astounds us all here at OM®.
‘My story starts when I was on my way to church on a Sunday morning,’ he explains. ‘When I was about to leave, my grandmother gave me twenty dollars. On the way to church, I was thinking about all the things I could buy with the money. But when we stopped at a red light and I saw a homeless, hungry man, that changed my life forever. I knew I had to give him my twenty dollars. Then, on another day, I was watching television and there was a commercial about the Feed the Children Foundation. That’s when I had the vision of exactly what I needed to do in life. I needed to help people. At first, my mom didn’t take me seriously. But if you believe in something, or if you have a passion about something, you must be persistent and never give up’.
That was six years ago. In the intervening period, Joshua’s Heart has grown and countless people – both in and around his neighborhood in Miami and far beyond – have felt the benefits. There is, however, still a long way to go . . .
It is thought that, worldwide, one billion people do not have regular access to food that is nutritious and safe and that, in the United States alone, 16 million children suffer from hunger issues. In Florida, some 924,000 children live in poverty, whilst 1.4 million students are reliant on free or heavily-subsidized lunches. Joshua, whose innovative Back Pack Program is amongst innumerable initiatives addressing the problem, is determined to make a difference.
‘I want to do this because I don’t want to see kids suffer,’ he says. ‘I have the liberty to help the poor and you have the liberty too. Together, we can make a difference in the world. In the United States, one in six children go hungry on a daily basis – I can’t imagine not having food to eat when I need it. If we all work at this, we can make a huge dent in hunger and we can stomp it out’.
Joshua’s efforts are not going unnoticed. Last September, he collected a commendation from The White House, becoming the youngest-ever recipient of the Champions of Change Award. Recognition is deserved, but it’s not his main motivation.
‘I believe that everyone has a purpose in life,’ he adds. ‘It’s their choice [whether or not] to follow that purpose. I believe that I have a purpose in life and that it’s to help those less fortunate by giving food. If you follow your path, it will be a great achievement. The path to your purpose might be hard and rough, or it might be easy and smooth. What I do seems natural and right to me. When I help, I feel like I am doing something right. I want my foundation to become a worldwide organization, and I want to help more people’.
Faith restored . . .