Every morning for the past 23 years, Betty Chinn has loaded up her truck and headed out to feed the least fortunate residents of Eureka, California. But Betty delivers more than just food and hot coffee. She also serves up kindness.
Born in China, Betty was separated from her family at age 7 during Mao Zedong's brutal Cultural Revolution. Tormented by hunger and lack of social contact, Betty went mute. After four terrifying years, Betty escaped from China by walking 1,600 miles to Hong Kong. Though she had just $20 in her hand, Betty later made her way to America and found her voice again.
Betty has never forgotten what it felt like to have nothing and no one, and she continues to help her neighbors, one person at a time. "They are all my friends; they are all my family," she says.
In her 82 years, Louise Hay has transformed millions of lives with her simple message: "What you think and what you believe is what will come true for you," she says. "Your thoughts create your life."
This self-help pioneer learned that lesson the hard way. She was raped by a neighbor at 5 and was a pregnant high school dropout at 15. Louise left her tormented past in Los Angeles and moved to New York, eventually finding work as a model. When her marriage fell apart, a friend introduced her to a groundbreaking belief system that changed everything.
Her experience overcoming cervical cancer in 1978 led her to counsel people with AIDS on the power of positive thinking. When no one would print Louise's book You Can Heal Your Life, she did it herself by founding Hay House publishing. That book has gone on to sell 35 million copies and was made into a movie, and Hay House has gone on to become an almost $400 million business!
Billie Jean King
In 1973, the question on everyone's mind was, "Can a woman really beat a man at tennis?" When Billie Jean King took on Bobby Riggs in the The Tennis Battle of the Sexes, 50 million people tuned in to find out.
By the time the match was over, Billie Jean had easily defeated Bobby and redefined what was perceived to be possible for all women.
While she's won a record 20 Wimbledon titles and became the first female athlete to win $100,000 in a single season, Billie Jean has earned tremendous success off the court too. She has always been a tireless crusader for equality—having created the first-ever female professional tennis tour—and fought to ensure women earn the same prize money as men.
In 1962, Ivelise Markovits was working as a probation officer, finding homes for troubled and abandoned girls. Seeing that there were many programs for boys but almost nothing for girls, she opened Penny Lane, a safe haven where these girls could get counseling, medical care and support.
"I want these girls to know that they can have strength, hope, and that they can be good mothers, good wives, good professionals, and that they can be successful," Ivelise says.
Penny Lane began taking in boys in the '80s and has given more than 50,000 children and families and second chance.
In 1968, Gloria Steinem was a young journalist whose agent sent her on a job for Life magazine. "They sent me home," she says. "They said they wanted a writer, not a girl"
Gloria eventually got a big investigative writing job...going undercover as a Playboy bunny. Her article exposed the treatment of women at the Playboy Club. Over the years, she became a well-known writer, best-selling author, women's rights activist and co-founder of the groundbreaking Ms. magazine. The same idea led to the creation of the Ms. Foundation, the group responsible for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.
Printed from Oprah.com on Saturday, March 15, 2014