About Community Heroes
Vision: A kinder, more compassionate and giving society.
Mission: To shift culture from “ME” to “WE” by making community service easy and fun for the whole family, creating an ever-growing cadre of compassionate heroes.
How We Achieve Our Mission
We inspire young philanthropists and social activists with 21st century skills and tools to be enthusiastic, effective change-agents. We aim to empower kids with empathy, problem-solving and social-emotional development. Our activities include:
- Facilitated lunch-clubs
- Video and social-media storytelling workshops
- Student-inspired fundraisers, collection drives and community service events
- Develop partnerships with socially-conscious companies and youth-inspired causes
- Annual Day of Giving : A fun-filled day of service projects that is held locally on the first Sunday in March. Past projects have included meal preparation for shelter residents, superhero capes and comfort blankets for children in the hospital, care kits for the homeless, an art project for seniors, and pet toys for our four-legged friends!
Our Secret Sauce: FUN + INSPIRATION = EMPOWERING KIDS TO ACTION
- Kid-inspired (kids are the heroes): we build off of their interests and what they feel passionately about
- Parent-guided (parents are the sidekicks): we take on the role of facilitators, asking questions, guiding conversations, providing a welcoming environment, and acting as positive role models)
- Voluntary: free to come as they choose, always welcome, no need to “sign up”
History of Community Heroes
As a parent to three boys living in Marin County, Calif., nothing is more important to Kala Shah than raising kind, grateful, compassionate and giving kids. After leaving her fancy job at a San Francisco foundation, she grappled with how to impart these core values to her children in an authentic and organic way. She knew that to be truly impactful, any effort would have to involve their peers and the community.
A fateful meeting at a LinkedIn networking event in Spring 2012 brought Kala together with Toan Lam, founder ofGo Inspire Go. Toan was looking for a way to reach youth with his message to “find your power to help others” by telling inspiring stories of everyday heroes serving their community. They joined forces to create Community Heroes at Kala’s kids’ elementary school (Sun Valley in San Rafael) — a fun, school lunchtime program that sparks youth to build empathy using inspirational videos and an open forum to discuss and act on real-world issues. Parents help facilitate service projects based on student interests.
After the opening kickoff assembly with the whole school, Kala didn’t know if anyone would willingly give up their lunch hour to talk about how they could help others. But then… POW! 50+ kids showed up at the first meeting with lunch pails in tow, eager to activate their power to serve their community.
The impact of this forum has been profound and sustained over 4+ years, and the Community Heroes enthusiasm has proven to be infectious. In hearing about Sun Valley’s Community Heroes program, other parents in Marin (and beyond) have approached Kala to replicate the program at their schools.
Community Heroes is now active in five Marin elementary schools, with many other schools lining up to join this homegrown movement to build kindness, compassion and action!
Community Heroes at Dixie Elementary
In 2013, Atashi Chakravarty served on the board and began Community Heroes at Dixie. A weekly lunch club was held that year, in addition to participation in the Annual Day of Giving where Atashi organized and facilitated the making of homeless care kits. Beginning in 2014, monthly assembly speakers were added in conjunction with the lunch clubs so that the rest of the student body would be included. Speakers were chosen from non-profits that featured issues the club members wanted to discuss. In 2015, UNICEF was added at Halloween, as well as Warm Wishes, providing cards to those in need of cheer for the holiday season. Atashi also coordinated the first book exchange for the entire student body.
Atashi and her family have moved to Texas and are no longer at Dixie. Atashi is still on the board of Community Heroes and has volunteered to continue helping our school to make care kits for the Annual Day of Giving. Here is a beautiful reflection about having a more meaningful life that Atashi wrote last fall.
For the 2018-19 school year, Christianna Lenox will be leading the Community Heroes team along with fellow parents Lisa Webb and Susan Cohen. Lunch club meetings will be every other Friday. Community projects will be posted throughout the year on our homepage.