Angela Davis of Springfield Gardens, New York, learned her kidneys failed when she went to an emergency room after a rapid onset of illness. When she transferred to a dialysis clinic, she quickly began to engage patients and staff. “I can’t be someplace without being involved,” says Angela. “I’m very spiritually connected to the world, to God and to people.”

She became a patient representative at her dialysis clinic and started a patient support group, holding monthly meetings with center staff. Angela was struck by how isolated many patients were. Many were lonely and depressed, having lost touch with friends because of the limitations imposed by their illness.

She decided to start a nonprofit—For Kidney’s Sake!—to provide social and educational opportunities for her fellow patients. During Kidney Month this year, she organized a spa day that brought in 85 patients, including a woman who had not been out of her house for two years except for dialysis and medical appointments. Angela hopes to schedule at least three events a month, including outings to museums, bowling trips and educational meetings.

“My passion has always been people and giving back,” says Angela. “It gives me energy and makes me feel better about what’s going on, just knowing that I can see the light, the hope, in someone’s eye. Little things can change people’s lives. That’s what it’s all about.”