Dimiceli CNN Heroes finalist
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September 28, 2011 | 08:31 AMNot too long ago, Sal Dimiceli performed his charity work anonymously.
There was a time when only his hand appeared in donation photos for the Time Is Now To Help and his name was not to be revealed to anyone.
But, now, millions have seen his face, know his name and are inspired by the work he does every day. Last Thursday, Dimiceli was named one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011 — remarkable everyday people changing the world.
"It took awhile for this to sink in," Dimiceli said after the announcement. "I went from anonymous to this happening. All of a sudden we're being recognized."
In late July, Dimiceli was named a CNN Hero. A short video including an interview and footage of him helping local people aired on CNN. Since then, viewers nominated the top 10.
"I am really flattered," Dimiceli said.
However, he said the honor is not for him. It's for the Time Is Now To Help, all the people who donate to the organization and the volunteers who help Dimiceli improve the lives of the poverty-stricken.
Years ago, Dimiceli helped on his own. He said in the 1980s, before Time Is Now was created, he spent his own money to help people.
"I made my own money and then would go help people with it," he said. "I would go to work to make more money so I could give more away."
Today, Time Is Now is receiving donations from local people as well as across the country. He said after the video aired on CNN earlier this summer, he received 600 donations from people around the world. That brought in an additional $20,000. He said local donors also gave more following the video.
"We couldn't do it without the money and the volunteers," he said. "I call people up and they are there. This has really hit me that I am not alone any more."
He credits his "mother's tears" for starting him on the road to giving.
When Dimiceli was only 12, he made a promise to God that if his impoverished mother could be helped, he'd never forget the poor when he was able to give. Since then he's given away millions of dollars of his own money and solicited millions more for TIN. The stories of those he's helped have been chronicled in the Lake Geneva Regional News for years. His story has been told in "People" and "Readers Digest."
The notoriety has brought awareness of the Time Is Now to Wisconsin from the south.
Dimiceli said he had some people in need write to him from Georgia and Florida. Dimiceli said he contacted people in that area to ensure those people were helped by their neighbors and friends.
But, his focus remains on the Lake Geneva area.
"This is about helping people, those who are trying to survive in this recession," he said. "In the past, three out of 10 were in bad shape, now that is like eight or nine out of the 10 who contact me are in desperate situations. There are people who are really suffering out there."
The CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute will air Live on CNN at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11. It will be hosted by Anderson Cooper at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The event will honor the Top 10, who will be in attendance, including Dimiceli. It is also when the CNN Hero of 2011 is named. The recipient will receive $250,000.
The others from the Top 10
This information is from the CNN website.
- Eddie Canales — His son was paralyzed during a high school football game in 2001. Today, Canales' nonprofit Gridiron Heroes, provides emotional and financial support to high school football players who have sustained spinal cord injuries.
- Taryn Davis — When she was 21, her husband, an Army corporal, was killed in Iraq. In 2001, she created the American Widow Project. To date, her nonprofit has provided a community of support to nearly 800 young military widows.
- Elena Duron Miranda — She witnessed children eating and collecting items from a trash dump in Argentina. Today, her nonprofit, PETISOS, helps keep about 200 kids out of the dump and enrolled in school.
- Derreck Kayongo — His Global Soap Project collects partially-used hotel soap and reprocesses it to save lives. Since 2009, the Atlanta-based nonprofit has provided more than 100,000 bars of soap for communities in nine countries.
- Diane Latiker — Surrounded by gang violence in her Chicago neighborhood, Diane opened her home to the youth and started a program called Kids Off the Block. She has turned the building next door into a safe place for more than 300 young people.
- Robin Lim — She became a midwife after her sister died from complications during pregnancy. Since 2003, she and her team in Indonesia have helped thousands of low-income women to have healthy pregnancies and births.
- Patrice Millet — After being stricken with cancer, he dedicated his life to helping children in Haiti. His nonprofit youth soccer program provides free equipment, coaching and food to participants from the slums and teaches them to become responsible citizens.
- Bruno Serato — Since 2005, Serato has been serving free pasta dinners to children, many are poor and live in motels with their families. Today, Serato provides dinner seven days a week to about 200 children at the Boys and Girls Club in Anaheim, Calif.
- Amy Stokes — She is redefining "family" for South African children affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty. Her organization, called Infinite Family, has connected almost 300 teenage net buddies with nearly 200 volunteer mentors from all over the world via the Internet.