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Stories of Service

“There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

Visitors from all walks of life will come to be uplifted by the stories and examples.  Families and school groups will make the National Museum and Center for Service a highlight of their Washington, DC visits.  International visitors will come to be reminded again of what is truly great about our nation and our people. And, for the millions who have served themselves or whose loved ones have served in some way, there will at last and forever be a place that recognizes and honors that service and tells their stories.

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Sachi Shenoy
Co-founder, Chief Impact Officer, Upaya Social Ventures

Sachi Shenoy is the co-founder and Chief Impact Officer of Upaya Social Ventures, an organization that reflects her life's purpose of generating stable, dignified jobs for people living in extreme poverty. Over her career, she has built a reputation for high-quality, thoughtful, and creative approaches to measuring and articulating social impact. This has made her not just a respected figure in Seattle’s international development community, but a global leader in the fight to end extreme poverty.

 

Everything Sachi does is rooted in her exceptional generosity and her wholehearted belief that every person has the right to live a self-determined life and pursue their dreams.

"Those living in poverty today are my teachers. They have taught me more about the strength of the human spirit than any classroom ever did. They have shown me the true meaning of trust, hope, and grit...they tap a deep well of resolve and believe in better tomorrows. People like me are often recognized for our work, but they are the true heroes. I view myself and others as conduits to amplify their voices. We have much to emulate and learn from the communities we serve. We serve to gain so much more than we put in." 

- Sachi Shenoy

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Visitors from all walks of life will come to be uplifted by the stories and examples.  Families and school groups will make the National Museum and Center for Service a highlight of their Washington, DC visits.  International visitors will come to be reminded again of what is truly great about our nation and our people. And, for the millions who have served themselves or whose loved ones have served in some way, there will at last and forever be a place that recognizes and honors that service and tells their stories.

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Kelvin Beachum
Offensive Tackle

Through his advocacy and partnership with organizations such as World Vision, Kelvin Beachum is breaking the mold of the stereotypical football player. His interest in humanitarian issues all started with a canned food drive in college and has blossomed into global efforts that are making real change. His hope is to inspire others to take action through advocacy, donations, and volunteering. Kelvin is passionate about ending hunger, providing clean water access, and fighting for education equity. He has worked tirelessly with food banks across the country in Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, and Arizona to combat food insecurity, specifically in rural areas. In 2018, his service earned him recognition as a nominee for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year award — the league's most prestigious honor bestowed to an athlete who shows a tremendous commitment to serving others. He has traveled internationally to address the global water crisis and works tirelessly to provide access and opportunity to under-served communities. He believes food, education, and access to clean water are basic human rights.

"The world is going through a lot right now. Anything that someone can do to bring light to it -- that's impactful. Let’s be a country that’s empathetic. We know the problems facing this country. It's time to band together to be the solution." 

- Kelvin Beachum

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Dr. Vinh Chung
Dermatologist, Surgeon

At 3 years old, Vinh and his family fled Vietnam in a small boat and were picked up by the Seasweep, an international rescue ship sailing after six days in the South China Sea. His family — ethnically Chinese — escaped the communist government’s persecution of ethnic minorities. Decades later, when Vinh and his wife went back to visit Vietnam, after hearing the stories from his family members who did not escape, he realized how truly blessed he was. In 2012 Vinh and his wife Leisle traveled to Cambodia to visit a trauma center for children rescued from trafficking, a cause they had regularly donated to. While it was hard, witnessing the trauma of these children and reliving his own, Vinh believes that to truly help someone, you need to have your heart broken.

“It was almost as if God was speaking to me at that moment when I was in Vietnam as if to say, ‘Vinh, have you done everything you can with what you have? Now that you can see with your own eyes and feel and touch this other world that could have been yours, what are your plans for the future?’” 

- Dr. Vinh Chung

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Photo Credit Anders Krusberg Peabody Awards

Alex Trebek
Host of Jeopardy!

In 1980, while watching the reports about the famine in Ethiopia, Alex decided he wanted to be a part of the answer to the most perplexing problems humans face today. Shortly after, an awareness-raising trip to the country soon followed. In one dramatic moment, as Alex visited a community affected by famine, a mother placed her baby in his arms and asked him to take her baby with him. That memory never left him. It sealed his lifetime commitment to helping the most vulnerable globally. Over the years, despite his busy schedule, Alex found time to visit some of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time, bringing attention to the issue of poverty. Alex inspired people to act. He was sincere in his motivation to help others, especially children. And he believed that people are open and willing to help others in need.

“We’re trying to build a gentler, kinder society. If we all pitch in just a little bit, we’re going to get there.”

 "Be kinder to each other. I see America in a crisis situation right now in so many ways. And I want people to open up their hearts, and open up their hands, and open up their wallets to help each other. Because if ever there was a time when we needed to do that, that time is now."

- Alex Trebek

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Photo Credit Flickr Creative Commons

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Tony Lee
Advocacy Director, Statewide Poverty Action Network

Tony Lee worked for many years as the advocacy director of Statewide Poverty Action Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending the root causes of poverty and creating opportunities to prosper for people in Washington state. In 2007, Tony began discussing (and advocating for!) the possibility of creating a state version of the federal earned income tax credit (EITC) in Washington with his fellow advocates at the newly created Washington State Budget & Policy Center (B&PC). Tony was told that it was not possible for Washington to create an EITC as there is no income tax in this state and therefore no money or structure to implement and fund it.

 

Tony persisted and through his leadership, vision and hopefulness he persuaded B&PC to join him in researching how Washington could adopt an EITC for low-income working families. The idea grew and developed and soon a coalition formed to research, draft, and advocate in the State Legislature. A bill passed in 2008 with broad bipartisan support, but the legislature was unable to fund it as the 2008 recession hit the national economy. Finally in 2021, a similar bill passed; this time it included full funding and had been improved to be more inclusive and equitable. Now in Washington, very low-income individuals and families, immigrants, and domestic violence survivors can access this tax credit. At the bill signing ceremony on April 4, 2021, Gov. Jay Inslee named the bill in honor of Tony Lee.

"The work that we have done has really begun to shift Olympia's attention to make sure that we target resources to the people who need it the most." 

- Tony Lee

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Phil Kaplan,
Human Rights Advocate, Diocese of Chalan Kanoa

In 1994, Phil Kaplan established the Office of Human Rights for the Catholic Diocese of Chalan Kanoa on the islands of Saipan, Tinian and Rota in the Northern Marianas islands, a Commonwealth of the USA. Seeking to decompress from a 17 year career lobbying for the poor and disadvantaged in the State of Washington, Phil had moved to Saipan, and quickly became aware of the plight of foreign workers there.

 

Lax labor and immigration laws had led to rapid economic development and exploitation of cheap labor mainly from the Philippines and China. Foreign textile workers were working in the garment factories with little to no protections, long hours and low wages. Domestic and entertainment workers were subjected to horrific abuse with no recourse. The Islands were not subject to US labor laws and standards despite being a part of the USA. Phil assisted many individual alien contract workers and brought abuses to the attention of the US Dept of Interior, arranging for three workers to testify before the Senate committee in exchange for asylum in the US.

"I live to serve" 

- Phil Kaplan

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Irma Magaña
Educator, Lakewood High School

Irma created the One World Club at Lakewood High School in Lakewood, CA, as she believes that teaching students that they can make small movements that have a large impact everywhere. The club’s purpose is to discuss and learn about issues, help where they can and create small gestures of kindness. The club takes action in both their local and global community by collecting food for the local food bank, supporting the downtown women’s shelter and hosting an annual Water Walk to fundraise for safe drinking water projects in Kenya and Ecuador. Visit their Instagram @oneworldlhs.

"As an educator, teaching students and participating with students to help their community and beyond is an important part of our lives. Having them see what they can do at a young age can greatly change their perspective of the world." 

- Irma Magana

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Pat Garcia-Gonzalez
CEO, The Max Foundation

After losing her 17 year old step-son Max from leukemia, Pat Garcia-Gonzalez has been dedicated to increasing global equity in access to cancer treatment for the past 25 years. By designing a unique pathway to provide humanitarian aid to neglected patients in over 70 low- and middle-income countries, Pat’s work continues to decrease health disparities and provides dignity and hope to those patients. Thanks to her tireless dedication, today The Max Foundation implements a global direct-to-patient humanitarian access program providing 10 million daily doses of the latest cancer treatments to more than 30,000 patients annually. The organization carries out its work in partnership with a network of 200 institutions including National Cancer hospitals and other leading institutions worldwide.

"I know from experience that there is only one thing worse than hearing that your loved one has cancer and it is to learn that there is a treatment that could save their life, but it is not available in your country. The reality is that today it is possible to safely treat many cancers and other rare diseases in countries where these treatments are not locally available, and since we can, we have an obligation to do it. Geography should not be destiny; I will not stop until all people can face disease with dignity and with hope." 

- Pat Garcia-Gonzalez

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George Stephen (“Steve”) Crane
Founder, Crane International

From an early age, Steve had the courage and drive to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. When he was 13 years old Steve was stricken with polio, which permanently limited the use of his left leg. Despite the challenges of being told he may never walk again, he travelled to many difficult parts of the world to end polio once and for all.

 

On an immunization trip to Ethiopia, he endured the difficulties of non-ADA hotels and the long trip to a rural immunization site where his reward was placing vaccine drops in the mouths of children. His dedication to social causes, especially health issues that affect global and underserved populations, is the hallmark of his career. He made contributions to the post-war redevelopment of South Vietnam and to the funding of Stove Team International (Eugene, OR) providing safe and fuel-efficient cook stoves to half a million people in Central America. At the time of his passing in 2019, he was working with Rotary International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on their partnership initiative to eradicate Malaria worldwide.

"Fighting polio has prepared Rotarians to fight malaria...training neighbors to go house-to-house in their rural village just as we've learned we must do to end polio." 

- Steve Crane

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As the museum grows, we will be seeking stories of American service from across the country.

Sign up to stay informed of ways to nominate.