Daren grew up in Erie, PA, spending much of his childhood living with his grandfather, a former police captain. Instilling a firm sense of social responsibility in him, his grandfather taught him that the most important thing in life is to care for other people, especially those in need. While he always knew that he wanted to make a lasting impact on the world, he didn’t know how, and instead spent much of his days whittling away his time playing video games and watching t.v.
This all changed after his study abroad trip to Tokyo during his senior year of college. A trip of a lifetime, he truly embraced the opportunity that was in front of him, knowing it may be his last time visiting the country. Little did he know that a much more impactful event was about to change his life. On March 11, 2011, the Tohoku earthquake hit Japan, causing thousands of deaths and mass trepidation about the effects the Fukushima Power Plant might have on the people. He was truly witness to the unpredictable and harsh nature of the world. Encouraged by his university to return to the U.S. in the middle of this crisis, Daren made the difficult decision to go back home.
On his return to the United States, he took his grandfather’s lesson to heart, vowing to do everything in his power to help those who are unfortunate enough to experience tragedies like the Tohoku earthquake. After Ramon introduced him to the mission of Unhoused Humanity, he finally knew how to make his impact on the world. He is currently the acting CEO of the organization and strives every day to help more individuals and families who are suffering from homelessness.
Jemal was born and raised in Aruba. He played various sports growing up from baseball to tennis but eventually settled on swimming. At the age of 11, Jemal was part of the national swim team of Aruba where he began traveling and competing at various competitions around the world. Through the endless support of his family, friends, teachers, and swim federation, he was able to find balance in school and swimming. In that same year, Michael Phelps won a record 8 gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. A couple of other well known swimmers such as Cullen Jones, Shaune Fraser, and Brett Fraser were among a few swimmers from the Caribbeans who had excellent performances. This inspired Jemal to pursue what would be his greatest goal at the time: competing in the Olympic Games for his small Caribbean island.
In 2011, Jemal was awarded an Olympic scholarship from the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in order to help fund any expenses necessary to prepare him for the 2012 Olympics. This is when Jemal made the decision to move to the U.S in pursuit of his dreams. He lived, went to school, and practiced in South Florida leading up to the 2012 Olympics. Jemal was humbled and honored to be selected as the best performing athlete in that four year span and was selected to represent his country and be the appointed flag bearer at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
After the Olympics, Jemal pursued a college degree, where he signed and swam for Florida State University. He also began volunteering in the Tallahassee community with his teammates, from reading books to middle schoolers to helping donate and distribute food and other items to the less fortunate. This is when he really began noticing and appreciating the impact a collective group can have on a problem. Jemal graduated from FSU in 2017 with a degree in International affairs and two minors in Business and Entrepreneurship.
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