If you want to help, the answer is often right in front of you, say recipients of the 2011 Scarborough Urban Hero Awards.
For Cyleta-Gibson Sealy, it was the children who came to her door, asking to be read to.
Auriel Haynes saw aneglected piece of land by her apartment in Malvern could be a community garden where children can learn about food.
Mike Germiquet wanted to teach basketball in Scarborough and has done that as a volunteer for 17 years.
"My thing is you always have to give back to the youth," he said. "They're our future, and if somebody doesn't teach them properly, who will?"
All three, along with 20 more individuals and groups, were recognized Monday, May 9, for the often-unsung work they do making Scarborough a better place.
"Here is such goodness from Scarborough," Toronto Community News Publisher Betty Carr told this year's honourees during a ceremony at the Centennial College Residence and Conference Centre.
"You inspire our youth. You inspire them to carry on the tradition that you have set."
It was the second year in a row The Scarborough Mirror has celebrated people working for their communities at a grassroots level.
Bernice Carnegie, a recipient herself this year for her leadership of the Herbert H. Carnegie Future Aces Foundation, said there are many, many more, "doing incredible things," and the awards are "a wonderful opportunity" to hear about them.
"If each of us did one thing each day that made a difference to someone else we ourselves would feel better - and just think of the ripple effect that would have," she added.
"So the power is in our hands."
Gibson-Sealy started a homework club, Beyond Academics, in her Glendower neighbourhood, and though money is scarce - she needs more books and snacks for the children - Gibson-Sealy accepts whatever help she can get.
If someone feels they can't teach, she said, she asks if they can sweep up or make a sandwich. "My message to people is do something," Gibson-Sealy said.
"Whatever you can do for me, you're helping the kids."
Haynes said good healthy food is the best thing you can offer children, especially vegetables and fruit. "They will eat them, they just need the guidance. The kids who came into the garden prove that."
Rose Balthazar, founder of a breakfast club in the Empringham area of Malvern which will expand in September from three to five days a week, said most children there need someone they can talk to as a friend. "You're not only there to prepare their breakfast, you're there to listen."
Harvey Walker, also recognized Monday, donated $100,000 to The Scarborough Hospital in memory of his wife Joan.
The government pays wages at the hospital but the rest is up to the community, so getting involved in raising funds is "good for all of us," Walker said.
"And the hospital really does a great job of making you feel good (for giving)."
Raj Thavaratnasingham, another honouree, said it's important for people to rally around the Rouge Valley Health System's Centenary hospital because health-care costs are going up.
For his 60th birthday, Thavaratnasignham asked for no gifts and collected $7,000 for Centenary. Small things like that go a long way to protect the health care we have, he said, adding as a Tamil-Canadian raising hospital funds is a way of giving back to his adopted country.
Volunteering also gives you good friends, said Dawn Todd, who signed up as a Toronto Zoo volunteer after she saw an article in the Mirror in 1975. She now serves as a day captain of volunteers at the zoo where, she added, "you meet really fascinating people from all over the world."
Todd was one of eight day captains who were recognized.
In some cases these Urban Heroes were "responding to 'community fires'" but in general they are just "the everyday people who actually do a little bit more," and it goes a long way, said Scarborough Centre Councillor Michael Thompson, adding he's looking forward to next year's celebration.
All of the recipients have done an incredible job, said Scarborough Centre MPP Brad Duguid, who presented honourees with a certificate from the Ontario Legislature.
"They are truly heroes," Duguid said. "We're all from Scarborough and we're very, very proud of that."