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Salute the Heroes Among Us

This page has moved to http://www.directv.com/DTVAPP/global/article.jsp?assetId=P5590008. Joan Lunden hosts DIRECTV Hometown Heroes

DIRECTV Hometown Heroes is an inspirational series featuring DIRECTV customers, whose acts of courage, kindness and bravery have made a profound impact on the lives of others. Joan Lunden returns as host of this original series that chronicles several extraordinary DIRECTV customers each week. Don't miss this emotionally powerful series.

"Hometown Heroes renews your belief in humanity. Each story shows how one person can make a huge difference." -Joan Lunden

Tune in to an all new episode every Sunday at 9 am ET/PT with encore performances throughout the day.

Nominate a hero.

Episode Guide

Episode #1 - April 5, 2009

Hometown Heroes Episode 1: Camp Kindle

Camp Kindle (Fremont, Nebraska). After working with HIV-positive kids, Eva Payne realized they needed a place where they could simply be themselves. So when she was just 21 years old, she formed Camp Kindle, a summer camp for kids infected or affected by HIV or AIDS. At camp sessions in Nebraska and California, she lets these kids know they're not alone, and provides outdoor activities, health education and counseling. For her campers, Eva's Camp Kindle becomes their special place. http://www.campkindle.org/

Lovelady Center (Birmingham, Alabama). Brenda Spahn had a successful career in real estate and as a motivational speaker. But she says she felt called to help women who were incarcerated. Six years ago, she formed the Lovelady Center, a full-service rehabilitation facility in Birmingham that provides food, housing, job training, counseling and religious guidance to women who have had trouble with the law. More than 300 women (some with their children) currently call the Lovelady Center home. http://www.loveladycenter.org

Farm Safety 4 Just Kids (Earlham, Iowa). Marilyn Adams not only knows the dangers of farm life first-hand, she's committed to protecting the most vulnerable farmers out there: the children. She formed Farm Safety after her own son, 11 year-old Keith, was killed in an accident on the family farm. Since then, Marilyn has traveled the country to raise awareness about farm safety, delivering her message to millions of people, and saving countless youngsters from injury and death. http://www.fs4jk.org/

Episode #1 - April 5, 2009

Hometown Heroes Episode 1: Camp Kindle

Camp Kindle (Fremont, Nebraska). After working with HIV-positive kids, Eva Payne realized they needed a place where they could simply be themselves. So when she was just 21 years old, she formed Camp Kindle, a summer camp for kids infected or affected by HIV or AIDS. At camp sessions in Nebraska and California, she lets these kids know they're not alone, and provides outdoor activities, health education and counseling. For her campers, Eva's Camp Kindle becomes their special place. http://www.campkindle.org/

Lovelady Center (Birmingham, Alabama). Brenda Spahn had a successful career in real estate and as a motivational speaker. But she says she felt called to help women who were incarcerated. Six years ago, she formed the Lovelady Center, a full-service rehabilitation facility in Birmingham that provides food, housing, job training, counseling and religious guidance to women who have had trouble with the law. More than 300 women (some with their children) currently call the Lovelady Center home. http://www.loveladycenter.org

Farm Safety 4 Just Kids (Earlham, Iowa). Marilyn Adams not only knows the dangers of farm life first-hand, she's committed to protecting the most vulnerable farmers out there: the children. She formed Farm Safety after her own son, 11 year-old Keith, was killed in an accident on the family farm. Since then, Marilyn has traveled the country to raise awareness about farm safety, delivering her message to millions of people, and saving countless youngsters from injury and death. http://www.fs4jk.org/

Episode #2 - April 12, 2009

Hometown Heroes Episode 2: Convoy of Hope

Convoy of Hope (Springfield, Missouri). When disaster strikes anywhere in the world, the nonprofit relief organization Convoy of Hope and its founder, Hal Donaldson, can be found there, providing food, fuel and critical supplies. Though he's a best-selling author, Hal has not escaped tragedy. When he was nine, a drunk driver killed his father and severely injured his mother. He was inspired to form Convoy of Hope as a way to honor the people who helped his family when they were in need. We traveled along with Hal to Iowa, where Convoy of Hope distributed aid to thousands of victims of the Midwestern floods. http://www.convoyofhope.org/

Mel's Bracelets (Hingham, Massachusetts). Thanks to Pauline Alighieri, her friend Mel Simmons will never be forgotten. Mel and Pauline became friends nearly 40 years ago, when they both went to work for Delta Airlines as flight attendants. When Mel was diagnosed with breast cancer, Pauline and other friends rallied to raise money for Mel and cancer patients like her by selling imported bracelets. Though Mel lost her battle with breast cancer, Pauline and the Friends of Mel have raised more than 4 million dollars to help in the fight against cancer. http://www.friendsofmel.org/story.html

Girl Talk (Atlanta, Georgia). When she was just 15, Haley Kilpatrick was struck by inspiration: Seeking to help girls like her younger sister navigate their teen years, she created Girl Talk, a peer-to-peer mentoring group that matches high school mentors with middle schoolers. Since then, Girl Talk has expanded to include more than 30,000 members around the country, giving teen girls a safe place to talk about anything that's on their minds. http://desiretoinspire.org/

Episode #3 - April 19, 2009

Hometown Heroes Episode 3: Animeals

Animeals (Missoula, Montana). Karyn Moltzen didn't set out to become an animal advocate. For years, she's been operating a successful employment agency. But a few years ago, she turned her attention to the thousands of animals that go hungry in Montana, and formed Animeals. Karyn and her team of volunteers have delivered nearly 200,000 pounds of food to hungry cats and dogs throughout the wide-open spaces of Montana. http://www.animeals.com/

Boys & Girls Club (Seattle, Washington). In Seattle's rough and tumble neighborhood of Rainier Vista, there has been one constant for more than 30 years: Bill Burton, who has made it his life's work to positively shape and influence the lives of countless youngsters. We met Bill and visited the state of the art facility that was just dedicated in his name, and got to know two young people who credit Bill with saving their lives. http://www.positiveplace.org/

Operation Vacation (Glenwood Springs, Colorado). A few years ago, divorced father Bob Johnson spent the holidays apart from his 6 year-old son Bobby. He saw a news report about American families spending the holidays without their children who were serving in the military overseas. That inspired Bob to create Operation Vacation, which provides all-expenses-paid getaways to military personnel and their families. We followed along as soldier Todd Bennett, his wife Mandy and their four children had their first family vacation since Todd's deployment to Iraq. http://www.operationvacation.org/ 

Episode #4 - April 26, 2009

Hometown Heroes Episode 4: Toms Shoes

Toms Shoes (Santa Monica, California). Once upon a time, Blake Mycoskie thought he would be a tennis pro. But a foot injury ended that dream, and instead he became an entrepreneur at the forefront of a new kind of movement: He created Toms Shoes, which, for every pair of shoes it sells, donates a pair of shoes to needy children around the world. Blake's hope is that his business is proof is that you can do well for yourself, and also do good for others. http://www.tomsshoes.com/

Voices of September 11th (New York, New York). For Mary Fetchet, September 11th was a personally devastating event: her 24 year-old son Brad died that day, on the 89th floor of Tower 2. But in the aftermath, Mary was determined to do everything she could to prevent another day like 9/11, and to help the families of the victims keep the memories of their loved ones alive. That's why she created the 9/11 Living Memorial, an online memory book of pictures, testimonials and remembrances that she hopes will one day include an entry for every person lost on the day of the attacks. http://www.voicesofsept11.org/dev/

Frederick Hayes (Roxbury, Massachusetts). Though there are signs of gentrification, Roxbury is still one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in all of New England. Frederick Hayes grew up here, and for thirty years, he has been using dance to transform the lives of people young and old in his community. He accepts anyone with the desire to dance, no matter their disability, and his dance company gives dozens of free performances every year. http://frederickhayesdancecompany.4t.com/

Episode #5 - May 3, 2009

Hometown Heroes Episode 5: Gift of Life

Gift of Life (Syracuse, New York). When 25 year-old Lily Allen was married in the summer of 2008, it was a miraculous day, by any standard. That's because 24 years earlier, she had been just days from death, with tumors lining her liver. But her life was saved with a liver donated by Matthew, the beloved son of Milt and Janet Bemis, who have since become well-known public advocates for organ donation. Milt and Janet have a special bond with Lily, and were honored members of the wedding party when Lilly said her vows on the anniversary of the day that they saved her life. http://www.nedonation.org/

Farm Rescue (Eureka, South Dakota). Bill Gross grew up on a family farm, then went on to become a jet pilot for UPS. From his upbringing, he knew that many family farms were overwhelmed whenever illness or crisis struck, so he formed Farm Rescue, which provides free equipment and labor to help farm families in crisis plant and harvest their crops. We followed along as Bill and his crew of volunteers harvested the soybean crop of Damien and Martha Kappenman, whose South Dakota farm was decimated by a tornado. http://www.farmrescue.org/

Reuben Martinez (Santa Ana, California ). Growing up, books provided Reuben Martinez a window to the larger world. He opened a barbershop as a young man, but found that he enjoyed lending books to his customers as much as he enjoyed cutting hair. That eventually led him to opening his own bookstore and becoming a leading advocate for literacy in Orange County's Hispanic population. His efforts have brought him worldwide acclaim and won him a MacArthur Foundation genius grant. http://www.latinobooks.com/

Episode #6 - May 10, 2009

Hometown Heroes Episode 6: Second Chance

Second Chance (San Diego, California). Scott Silverman has helped give more than 20,000 people a second chance at life. He knows how important that is, because after nearly committing suicide 23 years ago, he, too, got a second chance. Now he's the creator and executive director of a nonprofit that provides job readiness training, sober living, and mental health and employment support for people ready to turn their lives around, especially those coming out of jail or prison. Scott's tough-love approach has made a difference in thousands of lives. http://www.secondchanceprogram.org/

Animal Rescue League (Boston, Massachusetts). From the time he was a teenager, the Animal Rescue League of Boston has been at the center of Alan Borgal's life. For more than 30 years, every day, rain or shine, Alan has done whatever was necessary to save the lives of wild and domestic animals from cruelty, suffering and neglect. Whether it's breaking up an illegal puppy mill, rescuing a stranded cow, or freeing a former circus elephant from an abusive owner, no creature is too large or small to benefit from Alan's helping hands. http://www.arlboston.org/

Crayons 4 Kids (Kalamazoo, Michigan). When Matt and Emily Leinwand were just five and six years old, they went along on rounds with their father, a pediatric surgeon. They noticed that many of the children seemed lonely and sad. They decided then and there to form Crayons 4 Kids, a nonprofit that distributes crayons, games and toys to thousands of hospitalized children all over the country. http://www.crayons4kids.org/

Episode #7 - May 17, 2009

Hometown Heroes Episode 6: Platinum All-Stars

Platinum All-Stars (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). Just a few miles from Philadelphia's historic tourist attractions, there's a war zone that few visitors ever see. For kids living here, it's a struggle just to survive. That's where Platinum All-Stars comes in. It's a community-based nonprofit that uses an organized basketball league to fight crime and delinquency in some of Philly's toughest neighborhoods. Coach and mentor Juan Lopez has walked these mean streets; he says the classroom study, conflict resolution and trust-building of Platinum All-Stars is keeping teens alive in his community. http://www.changemakers.net/node/2611

4 Paws For Ability (Xenia, Ohio). After she was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, Karen Shirk tried in vain to get a service dog. When she was turned down by every organization, she trained her own. She credits that dog with saving her life, and she's returned the favor by forming 4 Paws For Ability, a nonprofit that trains services dogs for people with disabilities of all kinds. Karen has developed a special niche of providing dogs for autistic children and their families, where a loving companion can really make a difference in a child's life. http://www.4pawsforability.org/

New Directions (Los Angeles, California). Though he was born in Scotland, John Keveaney always wanted to be an American. After moving here in the late ‘60s, he enlisted in the Army and served two tours of duty in Vietnam. But the war left him psychologically scarred and addicted to drugs. When a VA program called New Directions saved his life, and that program was subsequently cancelled, John recreated it from the ground up. Since then, he has saved the lives of thousands of homeless and drug-addicted American veterans. http://www.newdirectionsinc.org/

Episode #8 - May 24, 2009

Hometown Heroes Episode 8: Billy Moss

Growing up in one of Long Island's less-distinguished suburbs, Billy Moss was fortunate to have mentors who encouraged him to pursue his dreams. He followed them all the way to Harvard. After that, he could've written his own ticket on Wall Street. Instead, he returned to his old neighborhood of Brentwood to teach math to junior high and high school students, doing everything in his power to encourage them reach for their highest aspirations.  http://www.billymoss.com/home2.htm

Bethlehem Farm (Paris, Kentucky). Sandra White was one of those girls who never outgrew her deep love of horses. From her years around the track, she knew that the glamorous world of horse racing had a darker side, and that women were frequently its victims. So she created Bethlehem Farm and the Center for Women in Racing to give women in the horse business a safe place to work through physical, emotional and spiritual problems alongside rescued and retired racehorses. http://www.centerforwomeninracing.org/

Discovery Arts (Orange, California). Discovery Arts began 15 years ago, when film composer Don Harper lost his mother and brother to terminal illnesses in the same year. Don knew what a difference a little bit of kindness could make to those who are hospitalized, so he formed Discovery Arts to bring joy and kindness to children getting treated at local hospitals. Currently, Don and his team of volunteers regularly visit 6 pediatric hospitals in Southern California. http://discoveryarts.homestead.com/

Episode #9 - May 31, 2009

Hometown Heroes Episode 9: Project Joy

Project Joy (Boston, Massachusetts). An emerging field of study suggests that play is of pivotal importance to the mental health of children. Steve Gross, the founder of Project Joy, is convinced that's the case. Steve and his fellow playmakers travel the world teaching at-risk and traumatized children how to regain their playfulness and joy of life. They also instruct teachers and caregivers how to recapture their own joy, and how to pass that along to the children with whom they work. http://www.projectjoy.com/

Have Justice, Will Travel(Chelsea, Vermont). The back roads of rural Vermont are beautiful and peaceful, but as Wynona Ward knows from personal experience, they also keep hidden the dark secret of domestic violence. After surviving abuse in her own family, Wynona left behind a career as a long-haul trucker to get her law degree and become an advocate for the women of Vermont who are desperate to escape abusive situations. Now her nonprofit helps hundreds of women every year begin new lives free from their abusers. http://www.havejusticewilltravel.org/

Bridging (Minneapolis, Minnesota).Minneapolis is famous for being the home of the Mall of America. But just a few miles away is a more fulfilling shopping experience called Bridging. Bridging is a nonprofit that provides a house-full of free furniture and items for the home for those in need. Ron Osterbauer began running Bridging a few years ago when it nearly went out of business, and he has overseen its growth since then. Today, Bridging serves more than 130 families each week, helping them to start over. http://www.bridging.org/

Episode #10 - June 7, 2009

Hometown Heroes Episode 10: Dr. Regina

Dr. Regina (Bayou La Batre, Alabama ). Bayou La Batre is a tiny village of 2500 people that's been nearly wiped out by two hurricanes in the past 10 years. It's the kind of place where good health care is hard to come by. Luckily for the people of Bayou La Batre, they've got Dr. Regina Benjamin on their side. Dr. Regina has rebuilt her clinic three times — twice after hurricanes, once after a devastating fire — and routinely treats her patients for free. Her motto is to provide healthcare with dignity to the hardworking people of her close-knit community. http://www.bayouclinic.org/

Unusual Suspects (Los Angeles, California). In the aftermath of the 1992 L.A. riots, actress Laura Leigh couldn't stand by and watch her city break apart. She founded the Unusual Suspects to reach across the racial and geographic divides of the city. Every year since then, Unusual Suspects has given hundreds of at-risk youth in school and the juvenile justice system the opportunity to express themselves by writing and performing original plays. For many of the kids in the Unusual Suspects, the program has made the difference between dropping out or finishing school. http://www.theunusualsuspects.org/

Trees 4 Tomorrow (Eagle River, Wisconsin). Where will the environmentalists of tomorrow come from? Maggie Bishop, executive director of Trees for Tomorrow, hopes that she's playing a pivotal role in creating them. Trees for Tomorrow, located in a remote and beautiful forest, is the only natural resource specialty school that's fully accredited in the entire nation. Thousands of school children attend classes here every year to learn about environmentalism and how to become stewards of the land. http://www.treesfortomorrow.com/

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