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  • WELCOME

This nonprofit honors Giraffe Heroes—compassionate risk-takers 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.

When we tell their stories over social and traditional media, others are moved to stick their necks out too, helping solve significant public problems important to them. Our books, blogs, curricula, speeches and trainings help them succeed.

As long as there are Giraffe Heroes , there's hope. Telling the series of heroes may be the oldest strategy in the world for motivating people into brave, compassionate action—and it works.

We offer you here—

You believe in real heroes, right?

So keep us going! Click on the Donate button below.

If you want to know more, see About Us.

The Giraffe Heroes Project is an Accredited Charity of the Better Business Bureau. The Project meets all 20 of the BBB's strict Standards for Charity Accountability.

Guidestar is another solid gold reference.

Giraffe Heroes Recently on Facebook

WHEN REALLY DOING YOUR JOB TAKES COURAGE #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Hugh Kaufman is a member of what can sometimes seem an endangered species—public servants who actually serve the public. He works for the US Environmental Protection Agency—the EPA—and he takes his job seriously. In fact, many, including some EPA officials and co-workers, think he takes his job too seriously. Because Kaufman wants to give the public an even chance in the battle against polluters, he uses much of his weekend and vacation time to travel to communities with hazardous-waste problems. There he shares with citizens his knowledge of environmental laws and regulations. He teaches people how to effectively testify, negotiate, and play political hardball. Kaufman has been at the EPA since its beginning. As the agency’s chief hazardous waste investigator, his Congressional testimony on the EPA’s lack of enforcement zeal paved the way for the creation of the Superfund in 1980. Later, Kaufman leaked information to Congress and the press about how the EPA was using the Superfund to clean up hazardous waste sites but was not charging the polluters the damages that were supposed to support the Superfund. The taxpayers were footing the bill for the polluters, and Kaufman didn’t like it. EPA brass didn’t much like Kaufman’s criticisms. Asked whether the EPA has changed, Kaufman said that the EPA used to be "like the cops on the take from the robbers. Now it’s like there are no cops.” Clearly, though, there’s at least one “cop”: Hugh Kaufman is committed to doing what he was hired to do—protect the air, land, and water we all depend on. Update: Decades later, Hugh Kaufman continues to blow the whistle. In April 2013, when an explosion in a Texas fertilizer company killed 14 people and left dozens injured and homeless. Kaufman, working for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, was livid about both the lack of media coverage and the inaccuracy of what media coverage there was.

BECAUSE IT'S THE CHILDREN THAT MATTER #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut It's the mid-1980's in rural Arcadia, Florida, and AIDS is scaring the public into false beliefs and rash and sometimes cruel decisions. Attorney Judith Kavanaugh files an AIDS discrimination case against a school district where three boys have AIDS. School officials offer to build a portable classroom for the three boys, and say that they can use the playground—only when no other children are present; Kavanaugh rejects the offer. Kavanaugh paves the way for the children to be welcomed at a different school in Sarasota. School officials even administer the midday dose of AZT necessary to slow the progress of their infection. "It really is like another world," says the children's parent, Louise Ray. Kavanaugh finally gets the Arcadia school district to pay damages to the boys and their parents, and to pay their costs. UPDATE: Judith Kavanaugh remains an attorney in Sarasota. Like Attorney Kavanaugh? LIKE this Page. Giraffes should have 100 thousand Likes.

LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD ~ BRAD KATSUYAMA #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut When you blow the whistle on your own profession, bad things may happen. Canadian Brad Katsuyama blew the whistle on not only his fellow financial traders, but also on the entire system of buying and selling stocks. Katsuyama worked on Wall Street for the Royal Bank of Canada, trading stocks and eventually running the bank's equity-trading group. But he was seeing something that troubled him: When anyone on his team placed a large stock order, it wouldn’t be completely filled right away; when it was filled, he’d have to pay a higher price than he had been offered moments before. Katsuyama knew that this wasn’t fair to investors, but a great deal of money was being made by the traders who had rigged the system. The safest thing to do would be to just keep quiet about what he’d discovered. The profitable thing would be to get in on the system and join them in ripping off investors. Or he could stand up for what he knew was right. He told his wife: “It feels like I’m an expert in something that badly needs to be changed. I think there’s only a few people in the world who can do anything about this.” So Katsuyama blew the whistle, making sure people knew about the rigging of the current system. Then he set about devising a new one that would treat everyone fairly. He gave up his high-paying job, pooled his savings with a colleague who had joined him, and started a new stock trading system, the IEX Exchange. IEX guarantees that all orders arrive at all the exchanges at the same time; the high-speed operators cannot get that millisecond advantage they’ve been using to make vast fortunes. “Changing the way the market operates is better for everyone,” says Brad Katsuyama.

AN AFGHAN WARRIOR AND EDUCATOR #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut As a member of Afghanistan’s Resistance movement during the ten-year occupation of her country by the Soviets, Tajwar Kakar was imprisoned and tortured. As an educator advocating schooling for girls, she faced death threats that forced her to gather up her family and flee to Australia. Sixteen years passed before she was able to return home and pursue her vision of establishing schools and income-generating work for girls and women. For one protest, she had children catch wasps, keep them in small boxes and let them go underfoot as party activists marched with banners and flags. The wasps caused havoc, the ceremony fell apart and the Resistance workers took advantage of the chaos to collect guns, which they routed to both rural and urban Resistance fighters. In a Pakistani refugee camp, she began advocating for the education for the Afghan girls there, despite the fact that fundamentalists in the camp had killed others for such advocacy. Ignoring the danger, Kakar negotiated through political alliances, cultural Resistance, and funding difficulties to direct a secondary school for girls in the camp. As a private citizen she continues to advocate for girls’ education and economic development for women in a political system dominated by political cronyism and warlords. The person who nominated Kakar for Giraffe commendation, said, “Insisting that she is a good Muslim, she refuses to hide or stand down. She insists on education for Afghani women so they can participate in Afghanistan’s reconstruction” and survive economically. “The children of our freedom fighters deserve an education,” says Kakar. After almost thirty years of turmoil, Freedom Fighter Tajwar Kakar says the battle for women’s rights is just beginning. Update: Kakar has successfully built and run schools in Afghanistan, funded by the government of the country where she fled long ago, Australia. Still an enemy of corruption and of discrimination against girls and women, she was accused of trying to destabilize the Afghan government and became seriously ill after a suspected poisoning. She fled the province, but not the country. Her many children and grandchildren, all now Australian citizens residing in that safety, want her to come “home.” But Kakar is committed to building a viable nation in her original home, Afghanistan. Like this Giraffe? LIKE this Page!

CHANGING UGANDA'S TREATMENT OF PEOPLE WITH AIDS #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut When Noerine Kaleeba’s husband Christopher was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, they knew it was a death sentence. But they were not prepared for the added pain of being shunned and villified. Christopher was given excellent healthcare in England, where he was initially diagnosed and treated. But upon his return to Kampala, even nurses refused to go near him. When Christopher’s life ended in 1987, Noerine focused on educating Ugandans and other Africans about the disease. She and 15 friends founded TASO (The AIDS Support Organization) the first community-organized response to the epidemic in Uganda. TASO would provide information, caretaking skills, counseling, medical and nursing care, and material assistance to thousands of families struck by AIDS. Within the first year of TASO's operations, 12 of the original 15 founders died of AIDS. But Noerine continued bringing care to victims and information to the public. TASO’s innovative approach includes using drama, dance and song to educate people even if they are illiterate. UPDATE: Kaleeba was tapped by UN-AIDS in Geneva to be their mobilization advisor for sub-Saharan Africa, a post she held until 2007. TASO continues to provide Uganda with AIDS education, testing, counseling, and medication. Kaleeba is now retired and living in Ttrakajjunge in Mukono, Uganda. Like this Giraffe? LIKE this Page! Giraffes should have 100,000 Likes. And do Share with Friends. We all need to know there are real heroes among us.

A GIRAFFE WHO GOES ON. AND ON. #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Decades ago, Si Kahn took a new college degree, his ideas about justice, and his guitar, and went south. The Civil Rights Movement was at its height, and he wanted to help. But this Harvard graduate went, not as a director or even as an office worker, but as a mechanic and plumber, helping to build the Freedom Centers in eastern Arkansas, repairing organizers’ cars and trucks and mimeograph machines. And he sang songs to keep peoples’ spirits up. By the end of the 1960’s, most of the other volunteers had gone home, back to jobs and families. He could have gone home and concentrated his efforts on his work as a singer and composer. But he looked at all the work that was still to be done, and he stayed on, working as a community organizer in the poorest parts of the South. Kahn describes himself as “a mechanic of people’s organizations and movements.” “Organizing,” he says, “is as American as apple pie. It gives people a sense that not only are they all right, but that they are not alone, that they are part of something bigger than themselves and that’s something people seek. There are some things you can do by yourself, but the best things in life, you gotta do with other people.” Update: For the last six years, Si Khan has been volunteering in an effort to protect Bristol Bay, Alaska from a proposed mining operation that would destroy an ecosystem that has sustained the Bay's residents for thousands of years. He's written a book titled, Creative Community Organizing: A Guide for Rabble-Rousers, Activists and Quiet Lovers of Justice.

#GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut ANDERSON SA arose a violent, drug-infested favelas in Rio de Janeiro to become an internationally known musician. He could have moved up and out, turning his back on the world he was born into. Instead, he and his friend José Junior went back in as the AfroReggae Cultural Group, an organization that seeks to free young people from the squalor of those ghettos, giving them skills in art, music, and business. A documentary was made about their story -- watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOYGIn5ZK40

A BREAKER OF GLASS CEILINGS ~ BARBARA JORDAN #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Most of the people we honor are not famous, but sometimes famous people are nominated, and it seems unfair to say No, just because they're well known. Now, after so many decades of telling heroes' stories, there are once-famous Giraffe Heroes that the young may not know. Here's one of them: Barbara Jordan. The very smart daughter of a poor family in Houston TX, Jordan was encouraged by her parents to learn, learn, learn. With blazing intelligence and a core determination to serve, she burst through so many glass ceilings, it's a wonder she didn't have recurring concussions. She was one of the only black students in her class at Boston U's Law School, the first black woman to win a seat in the Texas state legislature, the first African American elected to the Texas state senate since Reconstruction, the first to be president pro tem of that senate, and the first southern African-American woman elected to the US House of Representatives. Her eloquence as a speaker and her deep sense of ethics made her a moral voice of her times. Through all the obstacles thrown at her as an African American and as a woman, Jordan fought and won decades of battles for civil rights, fair immigration laws, and against any violation of the US Constitution. Her public life was restricted as multiple sclerosis put her in a wheelchair and took more and more of her strength. She was teaching at the University of Texas/Austin when died in 1996; she was only 59. Like this Giraffe Hero? Please LIKE this Page so we can send you more great stories.

REPORTING THE FACTS NO MATTER WHAT #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Working for the Los Angeles Times, David Cay Johnston was the first reporter to uncover serious inefficiency, brutality, and corruption at the spying unit of the L.A. Police Department. He even hunted down a murderer that the police hadn’t been able to catch. But instead of getting support for his investigative reporting, Johnston was continually pulled off stories by timid publishers too afraid of making waves in the community. When asked why he kept working on stories that risked his career and reputation, Johnston answered, “It is the journalist’s job to report the truth.” In ensuing years, Johnston seems to have succeeded in doing just that. He's worked as a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times, received a Pulitzer Prize, wrote a column for Reuters, has been a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at the Syracuse University College of Law and Whitman School of Management, and has acted as board president of Investigative Reporters and Editors. Johnston's work is all over Google and here on Facebook at David Cay Johnston. Like this Giraffe? LIKE this Page. We need to know there are real heroes among us.

A LIFE TURN INTO PEACE-MAKING #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Donna Love Rankin of San Mateo, California, calls herself an “unstuck housewife,” a woman who lived, until her 40’s, a traditional life in an affluent suburban neighborhood. She had children, did volunteer work, played bridge and tennis, and endured the shock of her husband leaving her. She re-started her life in an equally classic way: she went back to college so that she could qualify in the workplace. She discovered an ability to work with special children and coached dyslexics for 12 years. Then her life really changed. A fellow avid walker told her about the Great Peace March that was forming up to walk from Los Angeles to Washington DC, “selling” peace to people along the way. Rankin closed her clinic, put her life on hold for nine months and walked away from all her comforts—3,706.8 miles away. In those miles there were rain, blisters, and scorching heat. There were dawns over farm-field encampments and encounters with thousands of Americans. Like the farmer who told Love he’d expected the marchers to be a bunch of wild-eyed hippies “screaming and hollering.” After talking to this calm, serious woman, he agreed to write his congressman and tell him to quit voting to spend money on arms. There had been angry people along the way, calling the marchers traitors. One yelled from a car window, “Why don’t you go do that in Russia?” and an idea was born. Thanks to that angry shout she’d heard, the walking wasn’t over for Rankin. She joined 230 Americans—many of them veterans of the U.S. march—and 200 Soviets, in a peace walk from Leningrad to Moscow, a walk that astonished the Americans. Rankin says she made it through her moments of exhaustion in all these long miles by imagining herself as a giraffe, stretching gracefully and easily across the miles. UPDATE: Donna Love Rankin, now in her 80s, has written and published three books of stories based on her rich and varied life. She lives in Capitola, CA and writes and speaks to audiences about telling their stories. To people who are intimidated by the idea she says, "Write your life one tale at a time." Like this Giraffe? LIKE this whole Page. Giraffes should have 100 thousand Likes.

Nobis Est - It's Up To Us

Meet people who stick their necks out for the common good, all of them commended by the Giraffe Heroes Project, the nonprofit that's "EnCouraging today's heroes - training tomorrow's." Check out http://www.giraffe.org for more stories, and for a way to honor your own hero.

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