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‘It’s iron sharpening iron’: CNN Heroes join forces in Miami to take their work to the next level

“It’s literally like winning the Academy Award of humanitarian aid work.”

Elevating the work of the CNN Heroes

“There’s an African proverb: ‘If you wanna go fast, go alone. If you wanna go far, go together.’ So often, these social entrepreneurs are alone. And … coming together periodically is energizing. It spurs innovation. It creates communities,” he said.

“I’m just inspired by the many ways that people are solving big problems without a lot of resources,” she said.

Turning lessons into action

The Heroes arrived in Miami with their own unique goals for the summit and training. Some were focused on their nonprofit’s financial planning, others hoped to find new ways to share their stories and reach a broader audience, while others looked to connect with donors to help fuel their work.

“Everything they said in that seminar that should not be done is what my accountant was doing,” Raines said, adding that she felt that she just got “that little push from the universe” and made the decision to fire her accountant.

In that moment, Raines was glad to have so many people surrounding her who knew what she was going through.

“If it’s going to happen, at least it happened at a damn summit where people are enriching me and telling me what I should do,” said Raines. After she left Miami, she said she found an amazing new accounting firm to handle Beauty 2 the Streetz’s business.

“In my mind it’s like TikTok is for dancing and for fun little things. It has nothing to do with removing the bias that exists in health care,” said Stanford, founder of the Black Doctors Covid-19 Consortium.

To bring attention to her mission of healthcare equity, Dr. Stanford came up with the hashtag #MyCultureMyCare and began using it to help build a new community online.

Combining forces for a day of service

“You know, I’m a beach girl. It felt good,” she said. “It was nice to be … in a different area and still be helping wildlife.” Now, Doughty is considering organizing a similar event back home.

Other Heroes opted to help restore the Key’s topography by removing invasive plant species and planting native ones. Hope Renovations founder Nora El-Khouri Spencer, who trains women for construction careers, said she felt “right in my element with a shovel in my hand diggin’ in the dirt.”

For Spencer, this service project helped her reflect on the importance of broadening her horizons.

“I think sometimes we get so involved in our own giving to the community … that it’s really nice sometimes as a group to just step outside of that and give to other causes.”

Returning home refreshed and ready

“Almost everything was demystified this week … even this mystery around being a Hero. For the first time I walked into a room, and I felt embodied as a Hero.”

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