Jesus Contreras, 26, is a DACA recipient and paramedic in Houston, Texas. He helped fight Hurricane Harvey three years ago and says COVID-19 is a far bigger threat.

Contreras told USA TODAY, “We haven’t seen its full potential yet.” Despite the increased risks that come with his line of work, he continues to proudly serve his community every day.

Contreras is one of about 27,000 DACA recipients working as doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other health care workers.

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Wendy Ramirez, Founder of fashion brand Intimalena, began selling face masks amidst COVID-19. In April, she raised $6,000 in sales and donated 50 percent to the Farmworkers COVID-19 Relief Fund to help frontline heroes. She continues to donate 50 percent of sales to important causes.

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As a small business owner, Luciana Gomez faced significant challenges after closing her coffee shop Café Victoria Dallas due to the COVID-19 shutdown.

Her priorities were clear: keep her staff of four employed and help the local community. “I did not want to put more people in the unemployment pool,” Gomez said.

Her small shop, located across the street from the American Airlines Center, caught the eye of Shark Tank host and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. They partnered to provide coffees and pastries for first responders at a nearby COVID-19 testing site and City Hall.

Luciana continues to work with the local community to place large orders for health workers on the frontlines, which also allows her to keep her full team working.

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Melizabeth Santos partnered with the Chicago-based U.S. Soccer Federation to use old jerseys worn by Team USA players and turn them into masks for frontline workers.

Taking sewing lessons from her grandmother and mother since the age of five, this project requires Santos to combine her two biggest passions: sewing and soccer. Santos is making 500 masks, some of which will go to former national team players who have become frontline workers.

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Jovita Carranza is the 26th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). She was previously, the Treasurer of the United States. A true American dream success story, this Chicago native, had a distinguished 30-year career at UPS, where she rose through the ranks from part-time box handler to become the company’s President of Latin America/Caribbean (the highest-ranking Latina in the history of UPS). The first case of COVID-19 was reported in Washington state just a week after she was sworn in on January 14th. Less than two months later, the bill authorizing the first trance of emergency coronavirus relief was signed into law, which included $20 million to help the SBA make $7 billion worth of disaster assistance loans. Subsequently, the CARES Act, singed on March 27, established the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and as a result, the SBA so far has facilitated nearly 4.5 million loans to small businesses and nonprofits, totaling more than half a trillion dollars, via more than 5,500 lenders. This is by far, the largest financial initiative in the history of the SBA. To learn more about the PPP program, visit To learn more about SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza, visit

Veronica Velasquez, 27, is a DACA recipient and physical therapist at a Los Angeles community hospital. Her job has become riskier as the number of coronavirus patients rises. She is one of about 27,000 DACA recipients working as doctors, nurses, paramedics and other health care workers.


Karen Garcia

Karen Garcia is a mother of two, DACA recipient, and registered nurse at a hospital in central Phoenix.

The people in her care are suspected of having COVID-19 but must spend eight hours in the holding area, separated from their loved ones, as they await testing results.

Health workers are at the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic response and as such are exposed to hazards. According to the World Health Organization, hazards include pathogen exposure, fatigue, and psychological distress, among others.

Garcia continues to proudly show up to work every day. “I’m a nurse, and my patients need me,” she said.


Justin Sepulveda

Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, Justin Sepulveda and his nonprofit Clutch City Connect, provide resources to the homeless community and at risk youth in the Greater Houston area. They have delivered hundreds of care packages with socks, food, water, hand sanitizer wipes, hygiene products, and several other essential items.

“I’ve noticed that resources are becoming more and more scarce for our homeless community,” said Sepulveda. “It’s a blessing to be in this position that allows us to help others.”

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Xenia Paravalos

Xenia Paravalos is a teacher in the Brentwood Union Free School District in New York. She created and delivered bags of groceries to families in her community that were impacted by COVID-19. She also worked with a grocery store in her native country of El Salvador to create bags with essentials and had her uncle deliver them to families in need.


Lanzone Brothers

Giuseppe and Mario Lanzone, co-owners of Peruvian Brothers, transformed their business model to keep their staff employed and launched a campaign to provide free meals to those working on the frontlines. Every $10 donated to their fundraiser provides one meal to COVID-19 first responders. Over 8,600 meals have been delivered to date.

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