Former country singer Naomi Judd understands, as few others can, the wrenching poverty that still grips much of Appalachia. Growing up in Ashland, Kentucky, she was pregnant (with Wynonna, the first of her two now-famous daughters) before she was out of high school. A few years later she found herself an uninsured single mom of two (by then Ashley had come along), just barely squeaking by on welfare. Her meteoric rise to fame as part of the singing duo The Judds notwithstanding, Naomi has never forgotten her humble roots. Every summer on July 4 she organizes a food drive to stock the local Appalachia food pantry. And this holiday season she'll be in command of the Santa Train, which brings more than 15 tons of gifts, food, and warm clothing to children in remote areas of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. "Service is the work of the soul," says Judd, 60. "No matter what's on our own family table, if we can help provide for one another, we can grow together in strength and love."
*The name of this award was originally the Impact Award. In 2008, the awards were renamed as the Inspire Awards.