ROSE ESPINOZA, 58
La Habra, Calif.
Twenty years ago Rose Espinoza was scrubbing graffiti from her husband's truck when she spotted five young men wielding bats and golf clubs. Espinoza marched up to them. "Get used to my face," she said. "I'm going to help kids here."
Two months later she'd converted her garage into an after-school tutoring center staffed by herself, her sister Victoria and a few neighbors. Today, through her nonprofit Rosie's Garage (rosiesgarage.org), this daughter of Mexican immigrants has provided homework help to more than 1,000 kids, ages 6 to 13. "We need a Rose in every neighborhood," says Christine Cross of the Klein Family Foundation about the center, which now operates out of a rented house and has a 575-book library and computer room.
Eva Camacho was a struggling 6-year-old when she started with Espinoza; five years later she'd made honor roll. "I wouldn't have succeeded without Rose," says Camacho, now 25 and completing her master's in architecture at Arizona State University. "She's incredible."
KNOW A HERO? SEND SUGGESTIONS TO HEROESAMONGUS@PEOPLEMAG.COM