Heroes of Orange County: Here’s to the Best Among Us

They’re selfless. They’re courageous. Simply put, they make our world a better place.

Here’s to the best among us—those who overcome great challenges, plunge headfirst
into danger, and fight the good fight. They’re selfless. They’re courageous. Simply put, they make our world a better place.

 

Here are some of their stories.

Mohammad Jaffrey

Mohammad Jaffrey is a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of O.C.

How has being a Big Brother changed your life?
It means so much to me to impart a little bit of wisdom to my Little Brother, Isaac, but the surprising part was how much I’ve learned from him. He is me at his age. I met him when he was 8, and now he’s a freshman in high school.

What is involved in being a Big Brother or Sister?
You’re asked to have two outings a month with your Little. Also, BBBS is always in need of guys to be mentors.

Advice for those considering becoming mentors?
You don’t have to be this saint to do it. We all have our unique journeys, perspectives, and experiences that can help shape someone who’s young.


Jennifer Snider of Irvine

Jennifer Snider of Irvine has been a foster parent for 25 years.

Why did you become a foster parent (now termed a “resource family” in California)?
My parents became foster parents when I was 16. I actually convinced them to do it. Then when I was 18, I became a foster parent.

What has been your experience?
We have kept in contact with probably 90 percent of the (more than 70) children who have been in our home, whether they go back to birth parents or they get adopted.

Advice for would-be resource families?
A lot of people say, “I could never do that. I could never let them go.” My motto is, “If you don’t shed a tear when they leave, then you didn’t do your job.”


Jessica Morris of Newport Beach

Jessica Morris of Newport Beach donated her kidney to a stranger.

Why do this?
I wanted to be a donor for a few years. My New Year’s resolution was to save someone’s life. I found this person (David Nicherie, 29, of Oakland) looking for a kidney on Craigslist. We started corresponding. I didn’t know this, but he was looking into hospice care. I did a lot of testing to see if I was a match. I donated on June 12.

What was it like?
It was one of the best experiences of my life. Through this process, I was able to meet his whole family. I kind of view David as a brother now.

Final thoughts on organ donation?
I’m a huge advocate. It gives you a purpose in life, and it’s something you carry with you forever.


Where to Donate
Charity Navigator’s top scorers in O.C.

Homeaid America, Newport Beach, housing the homeless

Families Forward, Irvine, housing for at-risk families

Second Harvest Food Bank of O.C., Irvine, ending hunger

Nuru International, Irvine, ending extreme poverty in remote areas

O.C. Community Foundation, Newport Beach, facilitating local philanthropy

O.C. Coastkeeper, protecting and promoting clean water

Taco Bell Foundation, Irvine, supporting and investing in youth

Blind Children’s Learning Center, Santa Ana, fostering the development of visually impaired children

YMCA of Orange County, programs for healthy living

Stories by Madison Freeman, Lizzi Hayes, Robin Jones, Astgik Khatchatryan, Laura Saari, and Valerie Takahama

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