History of Community Heroes

As a parent to three boys living in Marin County, Calif., nothing is more important to Kala Shah than raising kind, grateful, compassionate and giving kids. After leaving her fancy job at a San Francisco foundation, she grappled with how to impart these core values to her children in an authentic and organic way. She knew that to be truly impactful, any effort would have to involve their peers and the community.

A fateful meeting at a LinkedIn networking event in Spring 2012 brought her together with Toan Lam, founder of Go Inspire Go, who was looking for a way to reach youth with his message of “find your power to help others” by telling inspiring stories of everyday heroes serving their community. They joined forces to create Community Heroes at Kala’s kids’ elementary school (Sun Valley in San Rafael) — a fun, school lunchtime program that sparks youth to build empathy using inspirational videos, an open forum to discuss and act on real-world issues, with parents helping to facilitate service projects based on student interests.

After the opening kickoff assembly with the whole school, Kala didn’t know if anyone would willingly give up their lunch hour to talk about how they could help others. But then… POW! 50+ kids showed up at the first meeting with lunch pails in tow, eager to activate their power to serve their community.

The impact of this forum has been profound and sustained over 4+ years, and the Community Heroes enthusiasm has proven to be infectious. In hearing about Sun Valley’s Community Heroes program, other parents in Marin (and beyond) have approached Kala to replicate the program at their schools.

Community Heroes is now active in several Marin elementary schools, with many other schools lining up to join this homegrown movement to build kindness, compassion and action.