When the 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, Nick and Gwenn Mangine (pictured here) grabbed their kids, ran out of their house and immediately went to check on their friends, Danny and Leanne Pye. The Mangines and Pyes had come to Jacmel, Haiti, from North Carolina to create homes for abandoned kids on behalf of the organization Joy in Hope.

But neither couple had ever been involved in disaster relief—they were just working to better the lives of a few underprivileged Haitian children. Now, surrounded by the rubble and wreckage of one of the most devastating earthquakes in human history, they found themselves at the forefront of international efforts to deliver aid and save lives.

I learned about the Mangines through a mutual friend and contacted Gwenn shortly after the earthquake, asking her, "Do you need help with anything?"

Minutes later, there was a message in my in-box: "Yes, come down here."