He’s formerly homeless. Now he makes soaps and donates to charity. And he’s 13.

Source: Washington Post / Kristine Guerra

Donovan Smith knows what it’s like to be in need: He lived in a New Mexico homeless shelter after his single mother lost her job and their apartment.

For six months, the Henderson House in Albuquerque, N.M., was his home.

That was about five years ago.

Donovan Smith and Casey Phillips-Smith (Photo by Julie Daniels)Today, Donovan has his own business — an online shop that sells artisanal bath soaps he made himself using aloe vera and goat’s milk. He’s donated hundreds of dollars of his earnings to a nonprofit that helped him and his mother when they were homeless. He’s also given thousands of soaps to organizations that help people in need.

Most recently, Donovan emerged as an advocate for child abuse victims: Two weeks ago, he posted a video on social media urging kids to open up if they’re being abused.

Inspired by the horrific death of a young girl that rocked Albuquerque, the video made headlines across New Mexico.

He’s received awards — not to mention letters from President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, who praised him for his charitable work.

“I hope you take pride in all you have accomplished,” the president wrote. “By putting your best effort into everything you do and working around a common purpose, you can help shape the world we share and lift up the lives of others. Young people like you are tomorrow’s leaders, and you give me great hope for the future.”

Donovan has achieved all of that — and more — at 13.

“He’s always been wiser and smarter,” his mother, Casey Phillips-Smith, told The Washington Post. “He’s always been like this since he was little. Always been a considerate and caring child. I’m very lucky to have him.”

Phillips-Smith spent almost four years in the Navy before, she said, she was discharged in the early 1990s because of an injury. Later, she lost her job as a catering chef and, because of health problems, couldn’t find employment, she said.


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