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  • WELCOME

This nonprofit honors compassionate risk-takers, people who are largely unknown, people who have the courage to stick their necks out for the common good, in the US and around the world.

We offer you here a free database of those real heroes ~ A way to nominate a hero you've spotted ~ Materials for classrooms from kindergarten through high school ~ Speakers for events ~ Coaching tips to help you move into action yourself on problems that concern you ~ News of Giraffe Heroes around the world ~ Stories of courageous compassion that little kids can listen to ~ Annnd some cool "giraffenalia"—T shirts, mugs, and such.

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If you need to know more, check out Giraffe info.

Recent Facebook Highlights

GIVING CARE ON TWO CONTINENTS #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes Ekene Amaefule left her Nigerian home to earn degrees in nursing and in business administration at the University of Washington. She’s parlayed that education into a good job at Seattle’s Harborview Hospital and used that good job to create changes in her village back in Nigeria. Her nonprofit, Caring Hearts International, has drilled the first well in the village, and Amaefule is heading toward building a village clinic and a school. Until the kids can go to that new school, she’s sponsoring 25 of them to attend school in a nearby town, paying for their uniforms and their supplies. She’s been named Nurse of the Year at Harborview for the quality of her work there, received a humanitarian award from Washington State for the free care she gives to some of Seattle’s poorest residents, and her Nigerian village has made her an honorary chief—the first time such an honor has been given to a woman. At the same time that she works a grueling hospital schedule, does volunteer nursing for the poor, and manages the Caring Hearts programs, Amaefule is raising five children, three of her own and twin boys she adopted in Nigeria. When asked how in the world she manages it all, Ekene Amaefule says, “I pray every morning and just go day by day.” UPDATE: Nurse Amaefule is now the nurse manager of the Rehabilitation Inpatient Unit at the Puget Sound Veteran Administration Medical Center.

A STUDENT FOR SCIENCE IN THE CLASSROOM #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Some people—some Giraffe Heroes—are late bloomers. Take Zack Kopplin. It took him quite a while to realize that, in his words, “I had a voice, and I had a moral responsibility to use it.” He didn’t become an activist until he was all of 17. But it’s okay; since then, he’s been making up for lost time. Zack didn't want to be in the limelight; in fact, he avoided it when it was shining on his family. His father was deputy mayor and chief administrative officer for the City of New Orleans as well as the chief of staff for two Louisiana governors. When Mr. Kopplin ran for Congress, his son was reluctant to help him: Zack didn’t want to be seen as the son of a public person. But when the younger Kopplin was a high school senior, things changed—dramatically. Louisiana had passed something called the Louisiana Science Education Act, which, many say would be more aptly called the Louisiana Anti-Science Education Act. It allows schools to teach creationism—the religious idea that the Earth, and everything on it was created by God in six days. This idea, of course, runs counter to the scientific evidence that life on earth has developed over millions of years of evolution. Scientists are close to unanimous on this point. Creationism, being religious dogma, can't be taught in public schools without violating the U.S. tradition of separating church and state. This bothered Zack Kopplin a lot and he decided to step into the glare of the public debate. Working with an expert on evolution, a sympathetic state senator, and a Nobel Laureate chemist, he launched a campaign to repeal the act. He got 78 Nobel Laureate scientists to sign a letter of support. A petition he circulated on-line garnered 70,000 signatures. And he won the endorsements of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the New Orleans City Council. Nonetheless, his effort failed—twice. Louisiana legislators were not ready to toss out creationism in favor of actual science. One of the state senators even referred to the Nobel scientists as “just people with little letters behind their names,” so you see what Kopplin was up against. But Kopplin has continued his campaign. As he admits, “It’s going to be a long, tough fight.” Recently, he went on national television and showed that over 300 schools throughout the country are teaching creationism, many of them through voucher programs. He’s been interviewed in media outlets around the world, given a TED talk, and been dubbed “the newest giant-killer in state education policy.” In an open letter to President Obama, Zack Kopplin described the scale of his vision: “We need a second giant leap for mankind.” Now a student at Houston’s Rice University, Kopplin continues his struggle to “fight science-denying legislation” and to increase funding for scientific research. Why does he do it when he could opt for the relatively enjoyable life of a college student? “I don’t think it’s a choice,” he said in an interview. “I think it’s something that has to be done. And I’m the one who’s in the right position to do it, so I’m going to do it.” —Neal Starkman

TRANSFORMING MEDICAL CARE FOR THE POOR #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut When Jeffrey Brenner MD chose to be a family practitioner rather than going into the lucrative specialties pursued by most of his fellow young doctors, he was considered odd by his peers. Deciding to then open a practice in Camden, New Jersey, made him truly strange to them; Camden is one the poorest and most crime-plagued cities in the US. Brenner had settled in, working long hours in his busy city office, when a student at Rutgers University’s Camden campus was shot while driving through Brenner’s neighborhood. Some bystanders tried to help the young man but were waved off by police. “He’s pretty much dead,” an officer told them. One of them called Brenner, who came and performed the emergency procedures that should have been done right away. It was too late, and the student died. While his death might have been inevitable, Brenner said the police couldn’t have known that. The incident became both a local scandal and the inspiration for Brenner to embark on a personal campaign. He started by trying to reform the local police. He was named to a local police reform commission and began studying the principles of effective community policing. He learned the “broken windows” theory, which says that minor, visible disorder in a neighborhood breeds major crime. Applying this theory, the police could make incident maps of minor crimes in the city and focus resources on the hot spots, warding off more serious incidents. The Camden police wouldn’t make the maps, so Brenner made his own. He got data from Camden’s three main hospitals on visits to their ERs by assault victims, transferred the files to his own computer, and spent weeks figuring out how to develop a searchable database to pinpoint the most violent hot spots. Brenner lost his crusade with the police, but he kept on digging into his database, fascinated by what he was seeing. He found, for instance, that a single building in Camden sent more people to the hospital with serious falls than any other in the city—57 in two years—resulting in almost $3 million in health care bills. He made block-by-block maps of the city, color-coded the hospital costs of residents, and looked for hot spots. He found them. One percent of the Camden’s patients were accounting for 30 percent of the city’s medical costs. He found that one patient alone had 354 hospital admissions in 5 years and had cost insurers $3.5 million. He didn’t know who the patients in the data were but he figured that if he could work with them, he might be able to help them stay out of costly hospitals. Brenner called a meeting of social workers and emergency room doctors. He showed them the cost statistics and use patterns of the most expensive patients, the top 1 percent. “These are the people I want to help you with,” he said. “Introduce me to your worst-of-the-worst patients.” They did. Brenner formed the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, setting up a medical team: himself, a nurse practitioner, a medical assistant, and a social worker. Meeting with the “worst-of-the worst” patients in their homes, the team helped these patients address some of the underlying issues in their health problems—diet, exercise, substance abuse, and problems in their immediate environs, such as mold or lack of heat. The team tracked whether the patients were taking their meds, and checked their blood-sugar and blood pressure levels regularly to avoid crises. Brenner’s team, which had grown to two-dozen health care professionals, was soon providing care for more than 300 people on his “super-utilizer” map. The cost of these patients’ medical care has been cut by 40 to 50 percent, saving the city millions of dollars and relieving the pressure on crowded ERs and hospitals. And Brenner observes that these patients are now receiving much better care. This work has been all-consuming for Brenner. He closed his private practice to focus on the Coalition full-time, even though the Coalition has never had a steady financial foundation. There isn’t enough money, say, for a clinic; the team can only do home visits and phone calls. And financial support isn’t coming from the current health care system, which—as Brenner points out—isn’t set up to pay for “disruptive change.” “If we scale this model up,” he said, “we won’t need as many hospital beds, we won’t need as many specialists, and that will be a really big problem”—a problem for the medical establishment perhaps, but not for the patients. “We’re bringing better care to the patients,” says Jeffrey Brenner. “They feel like they’re being taken care of. Someone is paying attention to them, finally.” UPDATE: Jeffrey Brenner was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2013, as in he got a "Genius Award." Well chosen, MacArthur judges, whoever you are.

BREAKING THE SILENCE ~ TAKING A STAND #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes Giraffe Hero Marcey Perry of Atlanta, Georgia, overcame her own trauma to reach out to other victims of sexual abuse with a stage presentation about her own devastating experience. In 1988, after attempting suicide, Perry got the help and protection she needed, and the abusive relative was kept away from her home. Reaching out to fellow victims, she began performing an autobiographical monologue that helped many abused youngsters get the help they needed. Perry performed throughout the southeast, as well as before the Governor of Virginia and the President of the United States. In June 1990, Perry was one of 30 young American leaders who were selected by the Giraffe Heroes Project to meet with their counterparts in the Soviet Union and share their stories. Perry's monologue stunned audiences again, only these were Russian and Ukrainian kids. After high school, Perry continued her commitment to helping others and was regarded by her peers as a “Big Sister”—someone who always had time for a friend in need. In 1993, she celebrated the production of her first play, a story about an inner city family and its struggle with drug abuse. What pushed Perry to help others? She describes a lifelong passion: "...service and advocating for people without a voice. It may be a cliché, but giving really is better than receiving—at least for the spirit.” Update: Perry was a member of the US Army Military Police for five years. Back home, she was again a leader for Atlanta's Communities in Schools program and chaired their Youth Acting for Change Conference, a two-day event addressing the problems faced by young people in inner cities. And she's expanded the program to involve Atlanta’s Private Industry Council. Her goal is no less than a better future for the city and for the young people of Atlanta. A mother and homemaker in Atlanta, Marcie Perry Morse has some thoughts about young people who find themselves in relationships that may be abusive: “I try to lead them to feel good, or better, about themselves. I believe that low self-esteem can be a gateway to all types of abusive situations. There is no easy answer, but if they don't feel worthy of better treatment, then it will be difficult for them to even hear the solutions.”

BLOWING THE WHISTLE AT THE NSA #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut In the late 1990s and early 2000s, William Binney, Ed Loomis, and J. Kirk Wiebe all worked for the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA); their expertise was in figuring out ways to identify and track terrorists via cell phones and Email. Binney, as an in-house expert, co-invented a program called ThinThread, which accomplished the NSA’s security goals and also contained built-in privacy protections so that innocent U.S. citizens wouldn’t be spied on: In this program, a judge needed to approve the decryption of data on any U.S. citizen, and could only do so if there was probable cause to believe that the person was connected with terrorism or other crimes. The NSA, however, opted for something called the Trailblazer program, designed by an outside company. There turned out to be three big problems with Trailblazer: One, it went several hundred million dollars over its multi-billion-dollar budget. Two, it was rife with waste, fraud, and abuse. And three, well, it didn’t work. How badly didn’t it work? The four NSA security experts think Trailblazer failed to prevent 9/11. Here’s how it went down: 2001: Right after 9/11, one of the executives who runs Trailblazer speculates with contractors about the money that will soon be coming in: “We can milk this thing all the way to 2015,” he says. “There’s plenty to go around.” Binney, Loomis, and Wiebe leave the NSA. “I couldn’t take the corruption anymore,” says Binney. The three form their own security consulting company but are blackballed by the NSA. “We’ve been denied untold hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential income as a result,” says Wiebe. 2002: Binney, Loomis, and Wiebe—with anonymous help from Thomas Drake, who was still a staffer at the NSA—file a report with the Department of Defense detailing problems with NSA in general and Trailblazer in particular. They ask the Pentagon to investigate. 2003: The NSA Inspector General declares Trailblazer an expensive failure. 2004: The Department of Defense Inspector General declares Trailblazer an expensive failure. 2005: Drake E-mails a reporter at the Baltimore Sun with non-classified information about NSA’s problems. The reporter receives an award from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on the subject. Things don’t go as well for Drake, however. 2007: Dozens of FBI agents raid the homes of Binney, Drake, Loomis, and Wiebe. They point guns at Binney—as he was stepping out of his shower—and at his wife and young son. They search the four houses for hours, and at each of them, agents confiscate computers, documents, and books. The men’s patriotism is questioned. Loomis: “It tore me up. I became a recluse, pretty much. I cut off virtually all social contact with friends. And that went on for all too long. I didn't even tell my family members. Didn't tell my kids. I didn't tell my father. It was rough, very rough.” 2010: Drake is indicted by a grand jury for “willful retention of National Defense information,” obstructing justice, and making a false statement, along with other allegations. Binney and Wiebe receive letters of immunity from the Department of Justice. 2011: The government drops all charges against Drake; he pleads guilty to the misdemeanor of misusing the NSA’s computer system and is sentenced to a year of probation and community service; he has lost his job and his pension. The judge says that it’s “unconscionable” to charge a defendant with crimes that might have resulted in 35 years of prison time and then drop all those charges right before the trial. Drake: “My life has been changed. It’s been turned inside out, upside down.” Meanwhile, the Office of the Inspector General concludes that the NSA “disregarded solutions to urgent national security needs.” 2012: Judges approve 1,856 NSA applications to spy; they deny 0. 2014: Binney, Drake, Loomis, and Wiebe, now calling themselves the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, send President Obama a memorandum. Among the highlights: “We all share an acute sense of regret for NSA’s demonstrable culpability for what happened on 9/11.” “Why do we still care? Because we have consciences; because the oath we took has no expiration date; because we know—as few others do—how critically important it is for our country to have a well functioning, Constitution-abiding National Security Agency; and because we know how that ship can be steered back on course at that important place of work by improving its ability to find terrorists and other criminals in massive amounts of data, while protecting the right to privacy and citizen sovereignty.” “It is not difficult to connect NSA’s collect-everything approach with one principal finding of the Review Group you appointed to look into NSA programs; namely, that exactly zero terrorist plots have been prevented by NSA’s bulk trawling for telephone call records. . . . Surely you intuit that something is askew when NSA Director Keith Alexander testifies to Congress that NSA’s bulk collection has ‘thwarted’ 54 terrorist plots and later, under questioning, is forced to reduce that number to 1, which cannot itself withstand close scrutiny.” “After 9/11 we came to realize that the abuses occurring during the years before 2001 had gravely damaged NSA’s capability to thwart attacks like 9/11.” And, about 9/11 itself, this from Drake: “I found the pre- and post-9/11 intelligence from NSA monitoring of some of the hijackers as they planned the attacks of 9/11 had not been shared outside NSA. This includes critical pre-9/11 intelligence on al-Qaeda, even though it had been worked on by NSA analysts. . . . Make no mistake. That data and the analytic report could have, should have prevented 9/11. . . . When confronted with the prospect of fessing up, NSA chose instead to obstruct the 9/11 congressional investigation, play dumb, and keep the truth buried. . . . NSA had already collected highly significant intelligence on the hijackers themselves but did not disseminate it outside of NSA before the attacks.” The “bottom line” of the memo: “By withholding information and exploiting secrecy, NSA’s leaders past and present have pulled off an unparalleled coup in concealing the sad reality that NSA could have prevented 9/11 and didn’t. . . . We are in a position to know that collecting everything makes very little sense from a technical point of view. And, as citizens, we are offended by the callous disregard of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution we all swore a solemn oath to support and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Binney estimates that since 9/11, the NSA has intercepted between 15 and 20 trillion calls and Emails. And the future? Wiebe predicts: “We are going to find out what kind of country we are, what we have become, what we want to be.”

The outrageous treatment of one of the nation’s most outstanding teachers

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Rafe Esquith has been barred from teaching as part of an investigation that began with him telling a joke.

Rafe Esquith, a teacher so extraordinary and so dedicated that he's won hundreds of honors, including a Giraffe Commendation, is being shot down by his district's administrators. We read this and can barely believe it's happening. May the LA Unified School District get smart and let this guy get back to his classroom!

DOING BUSINESS, GIRAFFE-STYLE #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes When Judy Wicks started baking and selling muffins out of her own Philadelphia house in 1983, she didn’t expect to become one of the most lauded business owners in the nation. But the quality of her menus as the muffin operation morphed into the White Dog Café, and the concern for social justice that has guided her business decisions, may have made her renown inevitable. The restaurant business is a notoriously difficult one; typical owners will tell you how thin the profit margins are, how fickle the dining public is, how necessary it is to pay low wages and cut every corner possible. Many will tell you that they don’t have a minute for any concerns beyond the running of the business and that anyone who thinks otherwise is doomed to fail. Wicks stuck her neck out and defied all that conventional wisdom. Profit has never been her primary reason for doing business, yet the White Dog is soundly profitable. The place is always filled with devoted regulars as well as newcomers drawn there by word that it’s an extraordinary place. Her employees start out at higher than minimum wage and get regular raises and solid benefits. The quality of the produce and meats coming into the kitchen are the highest, all grown or raised organically on nearby farms. The menu prices are reasonable. And the White Dog sponsors so many environmental and social justice programs that a Philadelphian could have a fully subscribed social-action life just by signing up for activities that are all based at the now greatly expanded restaurant. Wicks mentors minority high school students interested in the business, and directs a sister restaurant program that reaches out to minority-owned restaurants in Philadelphia, Camden, and in eight countries around the world. She’s led other restaurant owners in refusing to serve endangered fish or any genetically modified produce. She’s advocating for pastured animal farming instead of confined-production operations. And the White Dog’s entire electricity supply is from wind power. To business owners worried that their companies might fail if they were socially responsible as well as watching the bottom line, Judy Wicks is a living, breathing exemplar of the viability of doing successfully doing business as service, while making a profit. Update: White Dog continues to model Wicks's business smarts + conscience while she speaks and consults to others about how it's done.

A 2002 Giraffe Hero ~ Then and Now BEING A GOOD SCOUT Eagle Scout Steven Cozza thinks the Boy Scouts of America should either live up to their name or start calling themselves the Boy Scouts of Part of America. Cozza, who is straight, is on a crusade against the BSA’s policy of excluding homosexuals from its membership and leadership. He first challenged the policy formally when he was 12 and challenged the BSA as part of earning a Boy Scout merit badge for citizenship. He followed up with letters to newspapers and a refusal to publicly recite the Scout Law at meetings. Cozza maintained that the BSA was not observing that law, which includes the words, "You should respect and defend the rights of all people." When he was 13, Cozza co-founded Scouting For All, a non-profit group dedicated to making scouting open to everyone. Cozza quit scouting in protest when his father, a scoutmaster, and another Petaluma scoutmaster were fired by the BSA for supporting the right of gay boys and men to be involved in scouting. “Scouting is great,” says Cozza. “I just have a problem with discrimination.” Now 16, Cozza gives speeches, marches in parades, organizes protests and maintains a Scouting For All website. He formed a gay/straight alliance group at his high school and kicked off a petition drive that has collected more than 64,000 signatures of people protesting the BSA’s policy. Cozza has received threats and hate mail, and in June of 2000 his cause was dealt a blow when a five-to-four vote of the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of BSA, as a private organization, to discriminate in its polices. Though the Supreme Court decision was a disappointment, Cozza is undaunted. Since the ruling, Cozza and Scouting For All have campaigned to cut public support for the Scouts, maintaining that public funding and facilities should not be used by private groups that discriminate. Scouting For All has also been working to put more local control into scouting so that membership rules can be determined locally rather than at the national level where the BSA has now formally renounced gays and declared local decision-making on the issue unacceptable. Cozza has called on the United Way and all public schools to withdraw their support until the BSA is truly democratic. He has urged the president to “leave no child behind” by pressing the BSA to change its policy and withdrawing as its honorary president until they do. "Scouting teaches us to stand up for what we believe in, and that's what I'm doing,” says Steven Cozza. “I'm just being a good scout." Update: Cozza went on to become a professional bicyclist, competing in races all over the world. Colitis intervened and he became a realtor in Petaluma CA, still cycling from time to time--for a cause. Check out his championing of kids at http://www.stevencozzaraceforkids.org/ And Boy Scouts of America? Their policy statement is still: "We do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals."

SINGING TO THE ELDERS ~ BOB ROWE #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes The crowd is fidgety with anticipation. The tall, lanky singer strolls in and begins singing “Oh Lord It's Hard to Be Humble” and the crowd goes wild. Well, as wild as people in wheelchairs, on walkers or canes—median age: 83—may get. They smile, clap their hands, tap their toes. Many are remarkably transformed. One was a man who hadn't spoken a word to anyone for years. When Bob Rowe, musician extraordinaire, started singing, the long-silent, elderly man began to sing too and, according to the nursing home staff, hasn't stopped talking since. Rowe, who lives in Portage, Michigan, founded Renaissance Enterprises, a non-profit, volunteer artists’ group to bring the arts to residents of nursing homes and other care facilities, including homes for veterans and the developmentally disabled, across the country. Over the years, Rowe and other volunteer musicians and artists have presented hundreds of programs nationwide, thanks to Rowe's taking endless hours out of his career to organize all the action. Rowe taught himself the guitar when he was 16 and credits two vivacious grandmothers for making him feel so comfortable with and connected to the elderly. He sings and plays hymns, patriotic tunes, folk songs, pop music from the 20's and 30's, and contemporary country. In recruiting other musicians he looks for those with “a real touch and a real contact” with the audience. The program has attracted well-known artists and earned praise from Mother Teresa, who urged Rowe to “continue to use music to make the presence of God—his love and his compassion—better known to those most in need.” Like Mother Teresa, Rowe believes that people are both spirit and body, and that while nursing homes usually do a good job of meeting residents' physical needs, on a spiritual level residents are “withering away.” Renaissance performances not only transform residents, but artists as well. “Renaissance brings the energy of youth to the audience and brings the lessons of aging to the performers,” says Rowe. “It's not just a musical performance, it's a time of education, a time of communication.” Rowe has recorded a CD, “Coming Home Again,” and hopes proceeds will enable the organization to become financially independent. “Nobody's going to benefit financially from this except the elderly,” says Bob Rowe. “I would be a hypocrite if I didn't back up my words with my own life... It's risky; sometimes it's scary, but I think its even scarier to do something mediocre. Commercial rewards can be wiped out in a minute. But no one can ever take away spiritual rewards.”

The mosquito nets and tents Giraffe supporters funded are arriving in Nepal. Giraffe Hero Sushil Koirala (on crutches from breaking his leg in the rescue efforts) is distributing them to families that need protection before the hard rains come. Our thanks to all who have sent $s! #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes

A YOUNG CHAMPION OF THE ELDERLY #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut “If you have the ability to help people,” Max Wallack says, “then you have the responsibility to help people.” Max has been living that motto since he was six years old. Max is an inventor, and everything he invents helps people, mostly old people. When he was just 6 he noticed his grandmother had a hard time getting into her minivan. Using a wooden box and a removable handle, like a crutch, Max created the “Great Training Booster Step” to make her life easier. “Oh, she loved it,” he said. He was 7 when he made the “Walk Away Cane”—“basically a cane with a folding seat attached to it,” Max says. It allows the elderly to sit at times when they might otherwise be stuck standing—like in lines or when watching a parade. Max’s next invention was the “Carpal Cushion,” which straps to the hand and wrist and protects the often over-taxed carpal tunnel in the wrist with a cushion of air. These inventions brought Max a number of science awards. He went to Chicago to receive one of them and there he saw lots of “people living out bags and boxes,” says Max. He started wondering what he could do to help the homeless, and his next invention did just that. The “Home Dome” is a small, portable house made from Styrofoam packing peanuts, polyethylene wrap, and aluminum rods. The Home Dome brought Max the Trash to Treasure Award, and he used his prize money from that to start his next endeavor: the non-profit Puzzles to Remember, inspired by his great grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s. The organization collects jigsaw puzzles and distributes them to facilities that care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Puzzles to Remember has distributed more than twelve thousand puzzles to over twelve hundred care-giving facilities in all fifty states. “It’s been great to help so many people with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” Max said. Inventing is a quiet thing Max does alone, devoting hours to the work. He’s also stepped way out of his comfort zone to give public talks to students and to service groups, sometimes talking to as many as 600 people about ways they can help others. “I just try to identify a need and find a solution to that need,” says Max Wallack, inventor and humanitarian. Update: Not yet 20, Max Wallack has graduated from Boston U. and is doing research on Alzheimer's at BUSM Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics. The photos are of Max back when he was commended as a Giraffe, and as he looks now, still earning awards for his inventions.

Recent Giraffe Heroes

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This is Sister Megan Rice, a nun for most of her 80+ years and a peace activist since the 1980s. She had been arrested more than three dozen times and had done time twice when she and two other peace activists performed what was called the most serious security breach in the history of US...

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Andy Hall, a Brit, works for Finnwatch, a world-wide nonprofit that spots human abuses around the world and works to stop them. When Hall called out Thailand's National Fruit Company for the way it treats its workers, he asked to work...

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This is Catherine Hamlin MD, who left her home in Australia in 1959 to provide gynecological care to poor women in Ethiopia. At 90, she's still doing that, focusing on one of the most distressing medical/social issues imaginable: obstetric fistulas.

This is an injury that women can...

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This is Hanna Hopko. She braved snipers' bullets in Kiev during a citizens' uprising that brought down a corrupt government there. Now she's leading a rapidly growing citizens' movement that's doing more than rising up and demanding...

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Imagine you're 11 years old and your body is twisting from scoliosis, causing you constant physical pain and making you look very different from other kids. You're scheduled for surgery to straighten your spine and your mom takes a "before" picture so you'll have a history of how you once...

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Bob Bajek, a reporter on a small-town newspaper in Illinois, came up with a Big Story: the town's recreational lake, where residents fished, swam, and boated, was highly toxic--a now defunct military base had dumped Agent Orange in the water....

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There were no protections for whistle-blowers in South Africa when businesswoman Wendy Addison reported her own corporate bosses for breaking the law. She was fired, got death threats, and was blacklisted, even in England, where she took her...

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This is veteran environmental activist, Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez. He's 12. And he's been working to save his beloved Colorado for half of his life. It started when he saw that the forest near his home was changing. Trees were dying, plants...

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Allan Adam is Chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan nation, whose lands lie within Alberta, Canada. These First Nation people have formal treaty rights that protect their lands from being taken or used by outsiders, but that treaty has been...

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Sangduen Chailert, known as "Lek," puts in 18-hour days caring for sick and injured elephants in a protected reserve she co-founded, the Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand.

The dwindling elephant population is a world-wide...

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