Mabel Brown, 27, a single mother, found safe harbor for herself as well as 18 of her family members, then quickly landed a job as a maid at an Atlanta hotel to help support them. Nominated as Beliefnet’s most inspiring person of the year, she represents many others whose determination and quick thinking have gone unheralded.

Retired NBA star Karl Malone, 42, took workers and equipment from his construction company in Haynesville, Louisiana, to Pascagoula, Mississippi, to assist in the reconstruction effort. They were able to clear out 115 houses, averaging between 12 and 15 houses a day.

Donyea Hoffman Goodwin, 37, a Newark, New Jersey, native turned her 11-bedroom Phenomenal Women Outreach safe house into a place of comfort for families displaced by Hurricane Katrina. From her safe house Goodwin has helped more than 56 people move into permanent housing. She’s also launched Each One Help One (, an online gift registry that links donors to hurricane survivors.

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