Before she co-founded This Is About Humanity, Zoe Winkler Reinis was a preschool teacher for a decade. She then worked as a therapeutic companion who helped children with social and emotional development.
“When I had my third son, I stopped working and was just going to be a stay-at-home mom,” says Winkler Reinis, whose boys are now 8, 4 and 2.
But when she started learning about families who had been separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, she knew she had to do something. “I couldn’t get it out of my mind,” she says. “I was just a mom looking at these moms. And in those mothers, I saw my own face. And in those children, I saw my children.”
In 2018, Winkler Reinis and two friends, sisters Elsa Marie Collins and Yolanda Selene Walther-Meade, started This Is About Humanity to raise awareness and provide support for separated and reunified families. Since then, they’ve taken 20 bus trips, primarily to Tijuana to bring supplies to shelters, build kitchens, bathrooms and roofs, replace tents and beds. They’ve raised more than $1 million. If that wasn’t enough, they’ve also joined forces with Yes We Can World Foundation to build a school in a retrofitted bus.
Winkler Reinis, whose father is actor Henry Winkler, has hosted charity dinners at her parents’ L.A. home to raise money for the Immigrant Defenders Law Center and other like-minded organizations. At these dinners, head chef Ruffo Ibarra has cooked alongside culinary luminaries including Tyler Florence, Ludo Lefebvre, Chris Bianco, Jessica Koslow, Ray Garcia, Bricia Lopez and Burt Bakman.
“It’s funny that I do this in my parents’ front yard, and I just take over their house,” Winkler Reinis says. “Sometimes, the
chefs will stay after dinner and do shots in the yard. My parents are asleep in their room and have no idea. It’s like high school.”
Winkler Reinis has long known that you can simultaneously have a good time and do good for the world. Her entire life,
she’s seen her parents fight for human rights and support many charities. Henry and Stacey Winkler’s activism includes co-founding the Children’s Action Network.
“I grew up watching my mom and dad fight for children who didn’t have a voice,” Winkler Reinis says.
Now she’s found her own cause and is getting other A-listers involved. Her friend Minka Kelly, who was part of the first bus trip to San Diego in July 2018, helped brainstorm a salon where speakers included immigration activists Mark Lane and Alida Garcia. Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent were so moved by a visit to Tijuana that they donated two years of rent for a LGBTQ shelter, and bedding for another shelter.
“There’s nothing like the raw power of a mother’s love,” says Sophia Bush, the actress and activist. “Zoe took the love she has for her own boys and turned it toward the most vulnerable children and families at the border. She’s brought together so many people, ideas and resources, and helped raise an unbelievable amount of awareness.”
Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who became familiar with This Is About Humanity through her friendship with its co-founders, echoes this sentiment.
“We all can see atrocities in the world and take a moment, donate, pray, etc.,” she says. “But to see these women take actual action and call upon their community and give us a chance to be hands-on and help, I’m forever grateful to them and to the change they are making in this world.”