Holly Robinson Peete
The actress cofounded the HollyRod Foundation with her husband, Rodney Peete, to aid families affected by Parkinson’s disease and autism
Photograph by Christina Gandolfo
Why she does it: I think people don’t realize how much a disorder like autism or a disease like Parkinson’s reverberates throughout a family—financially, emotionally, even physically. I never planned on advocating for so many people, but not everybody has the platform I do. I have a big mouth, I have exposure, and I have the ability to represent.
Her secret to success: Raising money is not for sissies. You have to be creative when you approach people because everybody’s hand is out and everybody has a great cause. If you’re not willing to get a few bruises or black-and-blue knees from begging, then you’re not a good philanthropist.
The reward: I wish my dad didn’t have Parkinson’s, and I wish my son didn’t have autism, but they have been my pathway to helping others. They led me to a life of service, for which I really am grateful. Maya Angelou said “giving liberates the soul,” and it really does.
Next: Korean Churches for Community Development founder Hyepin Im