The women who gather in a circle of chairs at People Coordinated Services Senior Center in South Los Angeles anxiously await their exercise instruction. In a suit and cowboy boots, retiree Hayward Gray gets his fellow seniors moving and motivated to improve their health. Between classes, Hayward helps in the kitchen or assists people who are disabled. He’s been doing this faithfully for 25 years. His purpose is clear, and his intention is true.
“I thought for a long time that you have to be rich to give back, then I found out that isn’t true,” he says, reflecting on his service.
Hayward is one of the California Community Foundation’s (CCF) 30 Unsung Heroes of Los Angeles County, honored as part of our centennial commemoration. In neighborhoods throughout the county, Unsung Heroes improve the lives of others every day. Driven by their passion, guided by compassion, they impact lives in diverse ways, from advocating for critically ill patients to ministering to the needs of youth on the streets to promoting greener forms of transportation. Together, they exemplify the good at the heart of Los Angeles County – people dedicated to positive change.
This centennial annual report is dedicated to the Angelenos who strive to make our community a better place, today and for future generations. If these Unsung Heroes teach us anything, it is that individual acts of kindness, of generosity and often of courage create ripples that touch and transform countless lives.