LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Hesh Alsafi

Position: Paraprofessional / Sports Coach
School: McKinley STEAM Academy
School District: Cedar Rapids Community School District
City, State: Cedar Rapids , IA

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Hesh Alsafi received multiple nominations from family members, students, and friends. The following profile contains text from each nomination.

Mr. Alsafi continually strives to be a better person than he was the previous day.  He genuinely worries and cares for his students. He wants to give them the best tools so they can succeed in the future and pick the best path for themselves. Mr. Alsafi mentors students, plays their favorite sports, and picks up his students’ interests, whether it’s chess, comics, or fashion.

After school, Mr. Alsafi has created programs for kids to enjoy themselves and get help with school work. His programs have helped many students improve their grades and stay out of trouble. He provides space for students to grow and helps nourish their abilities in things they love to do outside of schooling.

Mr. Alsafi’s work doesn't stop there. He develops great relationships with parents so they know their kids are always in amazing hands. He’s always occupied and can never stay stagnant. He volunteers all summer with kids to keep them off the streets, and he also coaches football, girls and boys basketball, and soccer. You can tell the kids he mentors really look up to him and remember the impact he has on them. They keep in contact even after they graduate to show him their progression.

In the community, he takes money from his own checks and donates to charities, and he also delivers food to the less fortunate. As a coach and mentor, he does the same for students, as well. If he knows a kid needs sports apparel, gear, or school supplies, he’ll make it a priority to get that necessity to his/her student. Mr. Alsafi gets pure joy out of seeing the development and evolution of his students over the years he works for them. He's an outstanding, selfless individual who sees the world from many points of view.

Below are a selection of quotes from his nominators that further speak to his impact.

“He is one of the most selfless people I know,” said Zahra Al-Safi, a family member.

“Hesh is the best basketball coach and friend you'll ever meet,” said a student. “He's so nice and is very passionate in life. He's always there for me and other people who are in need. I know that I'm not the only one who can say these things about him. He is friends with everyone!”

“I have watched him first hand put others before himself. His love and passion for kids is unbelievable,” said Sara Alsafi, a family member. “I've seen him go out and buy clothes for his basketball team because some of the kids didn't have anything nice to wear. He spent his own money and supported kids who didn't have much. He goes above and beyond!”

“During the summer, Hesh opened up McKinley school so students could come in, be active, and stay off of the streets in a friendly environment with their peers,” said Usama Alsafi, a family member. “Hesh is known in the community by everybody for his outstanding work and his passion to help the youth.”

“Hesh picked kids up individually before practices as well as games making sure no one was left behind,” said Xzavion Jones, a friend. “He dedicated his time and attention to the team, which helped them create a brotherly environment between the kids, which carried over to school and the classroom. It encouraged kids to want to help their peers more and be leaders like Mr. Alsafi. He has taken groups of kids on educational trips, fun excursions just to show appreciation for all their hard work!”

Comments (36)

Tony Bolden Posted over a year ago

I could go on and on about how great Hesh is! He has a huge heart and is the type of person I look at that really could create change in masses. His passion to help others is truly inspiring! Lucky to not only call him a friend but a brother. Keep touching peoples lives!

DaMu Posted over a year ago

Mr. Hesh, Is a genuine visionary. He is able to establish rapport with young people and always assists them in feeling included. He always tries to help where solutions are desired. I’m proud to partner with Mr. Hesh in empowering our young generation. Continued Blessings Broham. Selah

Eric Jeffries Posted over a year ago

This man here is a perfect nomination for this award and I would argue many others. I've known him going back to middle school. He has a way of smiling through anything. Persevering through tough times and people being rude around him or to him. He never let it deter him. I believe he walks the walk of how he sees the world and what it should be. More often than not a smile from ear to ear and an eagerness to keep making it better.

Adrienne Kindhart Posted over a year ago

My son transferred to McKinkey middle school About two months into his 8th grade year. Hesh immediately took My son under his wing and made him feel welcome and part of the McKinley family. I went to pick up my son one day after school and he came walking out with a basketball and a package of Oreos. I asked him where he had gotten that stuff and he said Hesh gave it to me. Hesh barely knew my son but yet knew enough to give him things that are close to his heart. Basketball and snacks! Since this time two years ago, Hesh has become an outstanding support system for my son. I can call or text Hesh at any hour and he will undoubtedly go above and beyond to reach out to my son. Hesh is the epitome of what this world should be doing for our youth. He is empathetic, understands their struggles and strives to build programs that address the needs. If everyone was even half as compassionate as Hesh, this world would be a much better place for our babies!

Zumani Macheremo Posted over a year ago

My name is zumani and I am a basketball player at McKinley Middle school. Hesh is the best basketball couch In the world. He has a kind heart I love how he likes helping people. He teaches us how to be a man and take over the world. I can count on him like a father even though he has a son. To tell you guys he is spreading a message specially if you are a teenager. Hesh I love you man and I hope you have an amazing time...????????with your family..

Tachay Posted over a year ago

CONGRATULATIONS COACH HESH!! Glad to see you making a great impact on the youth!

Louis Hartzog Posted over a year ago

I can’t think of a more deserving individual. I will always remember your commitment to the kids at McKinley and seeing the best in them even in their worst moments. You are an inspiration to those in the Cedar Rapids community and you should be proud of this nomination. Keep being the great role model you are!

Kevin Starks Posted over a year ago

If you knew Hesh in high school from day 1, you knew he had a heart of gold. Always a kind soul, and would help anyone out. Makes me really proud to see what direction he is going. Also, to see him share his heart with the youth, do something he loves while befitting the community is priceless. Keep it up Heshem! We definitely see you!

Joshua Milam Posted over a year ago

Hesh Alsafi is one of the strongest leading advocates in our community. There aren't many words that can completely justify how marvelous this man is. He is one of the most selfless men I've ever met. He sacrifices so much just make sure that the young people in our community have a chance to make it. I've witnessed him use up gas just to make sure kids got home, money just to make sure kids have food to eat and I've even witnessed him take time out of his summer just make sure that kids have a safe place to be when they didn't have anywhere to go. He is genuine in everything he does, and he'll always put others before himself. That's just the man he is. He's a friend to many, and you if you ever call on him for something, he'll be right there for you. This humble man deserves so much and I believe that he has a crown of righteousness wait for him.

Dominique Brown Posted over a year ago

Hesham and I are co-workers at McKinley. He is so deserving of this award. In the short amount of time, I’ve know him I’ve observed his dedication to our student body outside of his traditional role. He goes above and beyond for the students at MSA. Thank you for being a great person!

Saif alsafi Posted over a year ago

From just a refugee kid to inspiring kids to be great and follow there dreams. What he does for this community and these kids Is unbelievable. Thank you for making this world better and being a role model to the youth.??

Leah McGee Posted over a year ago

I have had the privilege to work in the same building as Hesh for a few years. It’s obvious that he has amazing relationships with students and that he truly cares about them. I’ve always been impressed with how well he relates to students, especially students who really need a positive role model. He always has a smile on his face and take the time to say hello. He is an absolute game changer for kids at McKinley and he definitely deserves this award!

Randon hill Posted over a year ago

I’ve known hesh for over 5 years. Seen him in many different forms from coach to player to friend. Always makes great decisions and is a natural leader.

Coby Crist Posted over a year ago

I've known Hesh for about 5 to 6 years now and every since the day I met this guy he has had nothing but respect and positive attitude on life. He has always made it a point to put others before him. I've also been able to be apart of Hesh's life through sports and I have seen and heard of the amazing things he has done for the Cedar Rapids community and kids here. What he is doing now is great. If we only had more people who wanted to focus on the younger generatione and making sure they grow up to be the best person or persons they could be the world would start changing, but you can only change starting with yourself and everything your involved in around you, and that is what Hesh is doing. I think this is a phenomenal nomination and is well deserving of this award! Keep up the great work Hesh! Your making a huge difference in this community!

Ben Wright Posted over a year ago

Mr. Hesh is nothing shy of a blessing towards any student he comes across. He has definitely been a life changer to the youth at McKinley Middle School, as well as the youth in the neighborhood. One of the things I appreciate and admire about Hesh is that although he dress's professionally quite often. he teaches the students to present themselves professionally as well, especially on game days. If the youth does not have professional clothing at home, Hesh goes above and beyond to purchase professional clothing for the youth so they have something nice to wear.

Kayla Posted over a year ago

From the few years I’ve know Hesh he’s always been a positive person and never anything negative about his personality and who he is, and he shows that everyday with the children he mentor with. Those kids are everything to him and you can see that he means everything to them. This is not a job to Hesh this is his life and what makes him happy is see all those beautiful kids faces happy. ??

kane irons Posted over a year ago

I’ve known Hesh since i was in middle school he’s a Great guy always guided me toward the right path , gave me good advice , and would workout with me playing basketball to make me a better player. always in a good mood and he strives to make the world a better place which i love! Thank you for everything hesh.

Pierce perez Posted over a year ago

Hesh has always been a helpful person and not jus to kids. Grown adults such as myself Have asked him for help on my basketball ball skills or help in the weight room. When he is not helping his friends he is busy helping the kids in his life try to achieve the same greatness he sees in himself. Its an honor is be associated with this man and his family but a blessing to call him my brother for all the hard work and selfless acts for 5 years i have known him he deserve whatever God has planned next for him

zahra al-safi Posted over a year ago

Hesh was a great role model for me when i was growing up, and now he’s taking his leadership and giving it back to the community. It amazes me how much he has made an impact in others’ lives, especially children. They look up to him as a role model, the same way i did when i was growing up. No matter what the problem is, he will help you resolve it. It’s not just after school programs he helps them with, its making sure they’re doing their homework, or if they need help. It’s making sure they have something to eat, or clothes. Helping them make friends, making sure everything is okay, mentally. Hesh is very deserving of this opportunity, he never asks for anything in return. He is truly a life changer!

Drew Bernhard Posted over a year ago

What can I say about Hesh that probably hasn’t been said...The man is one of the most selfless people I know going above and beyond to help people especially the kids he interacts with at McKinley. I have know Hesh since high school and he has always been this way when it comes to helping others. I work at a different middle school and Hesh and his McKinley players had a game there and my students were impressed with how he treated his student athetes. Hesh does a lot of things for people even if its just a smile and hello to a stranger. I am sure he know but he is the kind of role model a lot of these young men and women need.

Gamerh Alsafi Posted over a year ago

Hesh is a positive role model in the community. Hesh is a mentor to any kid that comes his way & is always there for them. Whether it's picking up and dropping them off so their whereabouts are accounted for or just to keep them off the streets. When a students family's home burnt down Hesh raised donations for them, collected gift cards and even went out to purchase new clothing for the kids to wear to school. He also volunteers at the local YMCA as a basketball and football coach as well as being a referee. Any time any of his students needs help, they are reaching out to Hesh because they know he will always be there for them. Some of his current and former students don't have a father figure in their lives and Hesh is there to give those students advice & help whenever they need it. As a current school district employee, Hesh inspires and motivates not only me but others to be the best we can be for our students. He is the perfect example of a role model for any child.

Drew Bernhard Posted over a year ago

Man what can I say about Hesh that hasn’t already. Hesh is one of the most selfless people I know especially when it comes to his kids at McKinley. He goes above and beyond to do what he can to better improve peoples lives whether thats just saying hello with a smile on his face or going the extra mile to have a full fledged deep conversation with someone he just met. To me Hesh embodies this award and he rightfully deserves the nomination.

Draeden Spang Posted over a year ago

Great Man, Always had a smile on his face at the YMCA. He would help kids and people in many positive ways. A very good role model.

Eliyah Vasquez Posted over a year ago

I love Hesh! Sweet soul??

Logan Posted over a year ago

hesh is very inspirational and pushes you to do your best love you man????

Dillon Ross Posted over a year ago

Hesh is a role model around the community. I’ve known Hesh since I was a troubled youth! I am 23 now! He has helped me in so many ways in life. Always there when I need him one of the most kind hearted and genuine people you will ever come across! I could never repay him for all he has done for myself and the next generation and what he will do for generations to come!

Bowin Haug Posted over a year ago

Hesh has always been a great friend, and a even greater person. I still remember when we first met, I had just moved here in 6th grade and I went to the YMCA (Helen G Nassif Center). I was trying to make friends and meet people there. Hesh was playing basketball at the time and looked over at me and welcomed me to play. This doesn’t seem like a whole lot to many people but to me at the time it was. He was older and playing in the middle court where most of the older/better basketball players would play. For me that courteous offer of asking a young kid who he’d never met to play with them, it meant a lot. After the game he introduced himself and his brother who was playing as well. He became a familiar face for me and a friendship started to form as I knew I could say “Hi” or have somebody to play basketball with. Throughout the years I’ve seen him grow into man and a mentor for kids, He was always inviting kids and young adults to these activities or events to stay busy after school, and to keep them from partaking in other things that could lead them into the wrong path. Hesh used to take the time out of his day, and even wake up super early to help me and many other kids play basketball and help them get better at the game, training them and always giving advice. School was just as important to him as well, I remember he had to motivate a good friend of mine, who was very talented in basketball, to work harder at school. Hesh told him “hey I see the potential on the court but there is more than basketball in life, and if you want me to train you, I need you to put the same effort in school as you do into basketball”. My friend picked up his grades and graduated on time with our class 2017. Hesh has a very special ability to reach out to kids and connect with them. I see him now working with way more kids than back then and It truly brings a smile to my face, because he is having the same affect on them as he did for me and my friends.

Josh Januska Posted over a year ago

I have known Mr. Alsafi for a long time. He is always there to help others especially children who might not have the best living situation. He is someone for the children to look up to and other people should see this and strive to be more like him.

Rebecca Grandon Posted over a year ago

Hesh was a wonderful coach. He really helped my son who didn't have a clue about football as it was his first year and helped him understand the game. He made sure he was included and was taught him a lot. Appreciate all that you do!

Tyrese Wilson Posted over a year ago

Mr. Hesh Alsafi is constantly impacting students lives. He wants nothing but the best for every student he’s come across. He making a change in the classroom, through sports and in the community. He is a true life changer!

Kenneth Moore Posted over a year ago

Coach Hess took a time out of his busy life schedule to coaching the kids and instilling some life skill our kids can use on there journey in life and thanks for your help

Henry Pineda Posted over a year ago

Mr. Alsafi always thinks of others first, nurturing kids passions. Which not only makes him a great mentor but friend. He is always there with an open heart and open ears.

Lane Cue Posted over a year ago

Hesh has an incredible ability to relate to youth. He continues to help youth from all different walks of life. He challenges kids to push them selves but most importantly I think Hesh expresses this with love resulting in the kids improving their self esteem and achieving things they did not see possible in sports the classroom and far beyond sports. Hesh is one of the most selfless individuals I have had the privilege of knowing. Hesh continues to lead by example and continues to help many many youth as well as positivity influence adults as well.

Myles Monnahan Posted over a year ago

Coaching with Hesh this summer I got to see how how he puts kids first and himself second! When he works with the kids he builds a relationship that is for long term and truly invest in them for who they are!

Devin Cook Posted over a year ago

The biggest impact you see from Mr.Alsafi is how much he genuinely cares about the development and safety and well being of his students, that’s what makes him such a amazing and impactful person in the younger generational.

Ferida Posted over a year ago

This guy is the definition of a life changer! He sees kids for who they are, finds value in that, and inspires and supports them to be the best version of themselves.