“Be the change you wish to see in the world,” Gandhi once told us.

The Triangle has more than its share of challenges: affordable housing and gentrification, pockets where there’s a lot of crime but little opportunity, infrastructure that struggles to keep up with growth. And for each of these problems, there are dedicated souls trying to help. For the last thirty-three years, the INDY‘s Citizen Awards have honored individuals who are being the change they wish to see.

In keeping with that tradition, this installment profiles five people who are striving to foster a better community. Whether they’re assisting the needy, forging a juvenile-justice system that is a little more just, or improving the lives of our canine companions, they exemplify the best parts of our natureour empathy, our compassion, our willingness to help those who can’t always help themselves.

All around us we see a coarsening of our culture and politics, a bubbling sense of anger and resentment in which empathy is mistaken for weakness and disadvantage for laziness.

These five serve as a reminder that we can do better.

How Nation Hahn Turned Tragedy into a Mission The Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation, named for his late wife, is trying to develop the state’s next generation of leaders
by Jane Porter
Judge Marcia Morey Wants to Make Juvenile Justice More Just
She established the Misdemeanor Diversion Program to give Durham youth a second chance
by David Hudnall
Mark Anthony Neal Teaches What It Means To Be a Black Man The acclaimed Duke professor has focused his career on black masculinity
by Danny Hooley
Lori Hensley Is Changing the Landscape of Canine Care With the Coalition to Unchain Dogs, Hensley is working to keep owners and dogs together and happy
by Jane Porter
Shana Overdorf Thinks Wake County Can End Homelessness The director of the Raleigh-Wake Partnership to End Homelessness has instigated a massive amount of change
by Tina Haver Currin