Middle-schooler Joshua Williams is the founder and president of Joshua's Heart Foundation, a Miami-based organization dedicated to combating hunger and helping individuals improve their quality of life.
Courtesy of Joshua’s Heart Foundation
How many of us know our purpose in life? How many of us knew at only five years of age that our destiny was to help others? Joshua Williams did, and he is truly one of a kind.
Joshua’s story begins on an average Sunday. His grandmother gave him $20 to spend however he liked (that’s a lot for a college student, imagine how much it would have been for a five year old!). While riding in the car on his way to church, Joshua spotted a homeless man and knew he needed to give him the money. Joshua’s mother suggested that they buy the man a meal instead, but Joshua insisted on giving him the money.
Soon after, Joshua saw a Feed The Children commercial on TV and realized that his purpose in life was to help those suffering from hunger. It took some doing to convince his mother that he was serious, but shortly thereafter Joshua’s Heart Foundation was born. Today, six years later, the organization provides food for homeless individuals, hungry families, and school children. Other programs include visiting the elderly, working in a community garden, healthy cooking lessons, and a Junior Advisory Board.
Joshua’s hard work and big heart have not gone unnoticed. Last fall, Joshua was honored as a Champion of Change and wrote a blog entry for the White House. In addition, Joshua was featured on NBC News, and as a speaker at the YPO Global Leadership Summit in 2011. He also wrote this moving piece for Why Care.
I am moved by Joshua’s vision, drive, and kindness. His actions are filled with purpose and he asks for nothing in return. I can’t wait to see what Joshua will accomplish in the future. I’m sure he’ll be a force to be reckoned with! Thanks for talking with us Joshua.
1. IN JUST ONE SENTENCE, WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE? My purpose in life is to help those who are in need.
2. FOR YOU, IS DOING “GOOD” PRIMARILY A SELFLESS OR SELFISH BEHAVIOR? I believe doing good is a selfless act because when you help others you are caring for them and not yourself, so it is a selfless behavior. When I give, it’s doing something good in the community; it’s helping my neighbor or a stranger. Whenever I help out in the community I have a good feeling in my heart. That’s how I know I am doing something selfless and good rather than selfish and bad. “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by 'I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.' ” ― Mother Teresa
3. WHO IS YOUR HERO AND WHAT WOULD YOU ASK THEM IF GIVEN THE CHANCE? I have a few heroes: Oprah, Bill Gates, Mother Teresa, to mention a few. But two of my personal heroes are Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. Gandhi stood up for what he believed in and did it in nonviolent ways and made a huge movement in India. Martin Luther King Jr. followed in Gandhi’s footsteps and he made a bigger impact in the United States and the world. Today, because of MLK’s determination we have a better society. These people inspire me for multiple reasons. One, they never gave up no matter the obstacles and two, they believed in what they did and stayed on course. If you just believe in what you are doing you can succeed. There is a famous saying that goes “Do what you love and love what you do.” I care not only about giving food but helping people in general. I would probably ask them if they have any advice for me.
4. WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK BE? The title of my book is “What’s Your Purpose?”
5. WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE? I believe Jaden Smith would play me or I could play myself. I am in drama as an elective in school so I have some idea of what I am doing.
6. WHAT IS A BELIEF THAT IS CORE TO YOUR BEING? One of my main beliefs is if you believe that something will happen, it will happen; as long as you want it, it will happen. Let me give you an example. If you are on your way to work and you say I am going to be late you are going to be late. Construction is going to stop you, and everything that could happen to prevent you from being early will happen. That is because you placed it out there. You must stay positive at all times. This is one of my main beliefs. I am also a highly devoted Christian.
7. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING? I would be doing this. I could only do this. This is my purpose in life. If I didn’t do this, I would have no purpose in life. When I graduate from college I want to be a scientist, and I will still be assisting those who are in need. How can I not do this?
8. TELL US SOMETHING SURPRISING ABOUT YOURSELF. I love to sail, surf, and I am an avid reader. I also like to sing, and when I was younger I used to model.
9. IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE WISH GRANTED THAT WAS TRULY POSSIBLE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I would want everyone to be able to have food or let there be world peace in order to help end world hunger. If this is not possible then I would like to have a fundraiser that would raise enough funds that would allow me to create or build accessible sites with food for every needy person in need of food. They would also work at these sites to help themselves.
10. WHAT QUESTION(S) DO YOU WISH I HAD ASKED, AND WHAT IS THE ANSWER? What is the greatest need for you organization and how would filling that need help you toward your mission? My greatest need for my organization would be to receive donations so we can help more people and improve our programs to help people. With more donations we can spread our mission nationally and then internationally. ”I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale.
• This article originally appeared at Talking GOOD, a series of interviews with “citizen philanthropists” who champion causes and lead by example. Talking GOOD was launched in 2012 by Rich Polt, principal of the Baltimore-based PR consultancy Communicate Good, LLC. To nominate someone for a Talking GOOD interview, please fill out this form, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.