11/05/2007 at 01:00 AM EST
Singer John Legend WITH VILLAGERS IN MBOLA, TANZANIA, OCTOBER 2007
The Grammy winner found heroism in Mbola, a desperately poor village in eastern Africa, where mere survival is a triumph of the human spirit. Joining forces with economist Jeffrey Sachs, Legend's Show Me Campaign will help raise $1.5 million for the village and Sachs's Millennium Promise—an initiative that tackles problems such as hunger, disease and lack of clean drinking water, in hopes of transforming impoverished villages into self-sufficient communities.
LEGEND: They're in a place with a lot of disease, intense, dry seasons where few crops can be grown without the right fertilizer and seeds. Now they're growing more crops, making wine and preserves from fruit. They're helping themselves, rallying around each other—and still finding joy in their circumstances. That's what's so beautiful. They have the odds stacked against them and they're still striving. www.showmecampaign.org; www.millenniumpromise.org. To see video from John Legend's trip to Tanzania, go to www.people.com/heroesamongus
Actress Mariska Hargitay WITH JENNIFER GOODALE, RAPE SURVIVOR, OCTOBER 2007
Emmy-winner Hargitay has used her fame—as sex-crimes detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
—to raise awareness about sexual assault. In 2002 she met Jennifer Goodale, when the corporate philanthropist spoke publicly for the first time about her 2000 attack, in which she was raped at knifepoint and, she says, further traumatized by police officers who she felt lacked compassion. (Goodale's attacker was convicted and sent to prison.)
HARGITAY: Jennifer put a face on this epidemic. People come forward because of her; they think if she had the strength to do it and she's okay, then they can come through it. And after that terrible time, Jennifer met her husband, had a baby and saw her career blossom. She's a constant reminder that even after a person has experienced something as horrible as rape, she can go on to have a happy, successful, fulfilling life. www.joyfulheartfoundation.org, www.safehorizon.org
Actress Halle Berry
with Karen Earl, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JENESSE CENTER, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE INTERVENTION PROGRAM AND SHELTER, LOS ANGELES, SEPTEMBER 2007
For years Halle Berry
watched her alcoholic father abuse her mother and sister; later she found herself in abusive relationships with men. Now expecting her first child with boyfriend Gabriel Aubry, Berry is chair of the Jenesse Center Year of Giving campaign to raise $2.5 million.
BERRY: I grew up with domestic violence, so I have a special place in my heart for women and children who suffer. I've known Karen for seven years and watched her give of herself to other people. She'll work 15 hours planning a benefit, then spend all night in the shelter with a new family. You don't often see people who make time for others every single day of their life. WWW.JENESSE.ORG