Joshua Williams: A Superhero Since the Age of 4
You probably don’t remember much of what you did when you were 4. You were probably in preschool and you were starting to learn how to read and how to count. You probably weren’t aware of greater world problems such as greenhouse gases, poverty etc. And I’m sure you definitely weren’t thinking of ways to solve these pressing world issues, because it’s just not what 4 year olds do, right?
Well this isn’t the case for Joshua Williams, a now 18 year old boy who lives in Miami. When he was only 4 years old, he was walking to Church with his mother and he saw a homeless man. The man had a sign that said “need food” and Joshua realised that people out there to go hungry and they need help. This moment was eye-opening for him and so he decided to do something about it.
Joshua and his family started helping out some families at their church, by giving them food, but there were just so many people who needed help. And so he founded the “Joshua’s Heart Foundation” (JFH) in 2005 with the help of his family and a couple of close friends. Eventually word of the foundation spread and since then the foundation’s only gotten bigger and bigger.
JFH has two main goals; to “stomp out world hunger” and “break the cycle of poverty”.
They do this through many different programs such as the Food Recovery and Distribution Program which provides boxes of food staples to hundreds of needy families every month.
Joshua also wanted to connect with children specifically, so he created the Backpack Distribution program so that his organisation could forge a direct connection with hungry children. The program gives backpacks full of nutritious, non-perishable food to children who qualify for free or reduced price school lunches so that they will have enough to eat on the weekends and school holidays.
Joshua says that his focus was to always “get kids to help kids”, which is definitely something that he can say he’s done. He’s been able to engage and empower young people of all ages evident through the Junior Advisory Board which helps run the foundation.
JFH also educates communities and raises awareness of hunger and hunger related issues. People who are aware that hunger is a serious issue are more likely to support initiatives that fight hunger and donate money to foundations.
Joshua’s incredible work has led to him receiving many high profile awards. In 2012, he became the youngest recipient of the Champion of change award given by the White House for strengthening food security in the United States. He’s also received the Nickelodeon Halo Award Honoree, CNN Heroes Young Wonder, Youth Service America - Harris Wofford Award and TheGrio 100 History Makers in the Making designation
Now, let’s take a moment to realise how hard it is to do what Joshua’s doing. Most of us find it hard to sit down after school and do our homework and assignments. Most of us get mad when our parents tell us we can’t go out because we have to help out at home, or we get frustrated when we have to help our annoying younger siblings do their homework. Now imagine constantly give up your free time to help others in need when you’re only 4 years old!!! Joshua has not only created his own foundation, he’s worked tirelessly every day for the foundation to reach as many needy people as possible, all whilst juggling the pressures of the schooling system.
JHF now has over 25, 000 youth volunteers and they’ve donated over
100, 000 clothes, toys and toiletries, as well as raising over $1 million and distributing over 2 million pounds (1 million kg) worth of food to people in need.
Joshua Williams is extraordinary. He’s built a foundation from the ground up, when he was only 4 years old, and he’s continued to work and build his foundation for almost 15 years now. And he’s done this purely because he has an incredible passion to help others. He saw that people needed help and took it upon himself to help them, something that I know I aspire to have the confidence and courage to do. He’s inspired many other young people and hopefully hearing his story will inspire you too. Joshua shows how everyone, and I mean EVERYONE can make a difference.