Alexi Panos, right, during a visit to Africa, helped form Everyday People Initiating Change, or EPIC. EPIC co-founder Tennille Amor is as left. Alexi Panos photo

Alexi Panos admits she has a pretty fun life. As a model and TV personality, the former Ventnor resident hosts a sports trivia show on SportsNet New York, and anything bought in size 6 at Kenneth Cole is based on her figure.

The 26-year-old Astoria, N.Y., resident, however, is using her career to help others.

A light bulb went off in Panos’ head when she was touring as a singer with Ja Rule. She remembers going to a club after a concert in Africa, seeing the headliners spend thousands of dollars and then walking out to witness homeless families.

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While she admits she wasn’t changed instantaneously, that moment ate at her slowly, forcing her to reassess her values.

After a trip to South Africa in 2004, Panos and her best friend formed Everyday People Initiating Change. Since then they have raised enough money to drill four wells, which cost $15,000 each, and there are four more in the works. Each well brings fresh water to 3,000 to 5,000 people.

EPIC is getting some publicity from JetBlue Airways, which picked Panos’ charitable story to feature in its current “True Blue” video and print campaign that can be seen on the airline’s flights, in airports, in New York Magazine and even in the New York subway.

 “I go back to Africa every year for a month,” said Panos, whose mother, Riana Milne, lives in Egg Harbor Township. “It’s obviously so different from my life in New York. It keeps me grounded, which can sometimes be hard to do in the world of fashion and entertainment.”

Short Stories

It’s not every day you find buried treasure in the sand. But that’s just what happened to Ty Farmer, 15, a Linwood native who moved to Colorado two years ago. While introducing his Colorado friends to the Ventnor beach in July, Farmer and his pals began to dig. Their aim was to bury one first-timer in the sand. About three feet in, though, they hit something hard. A small crowd gathered. They dug on. After shoveling out two more feet, the group unearthed a large wooden chest. They pried it open to find its interior layered in pennies from the 1970s and money — Monopoly money. “It was a pretty good joke,” Farmer said. The chest now sits in his father’s house in Ventnor, where it may remain safe from pirates for another 30 years.

- Short Stories compiled by Emily Brill

Everyone Has a Story appears Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. To share your story, call Scott Cronick at 609-272-7017 or e-mail him at

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