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.

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BECAUSE THE FORESTS NEED DEFENDERS #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Carl Ross believes that grass roots activism can change the world, and he's dedicating his life to that belief. As co-founder of Save America's Forests (SAF), a nonprofit lobbying group, Ross lobbies daily against forces that want to cut old growth forests and against fellow environmentalists who disagree with his tactics. He has been attacked in the press and even had angry environmentalists storm his office. They might well find him there in the middle of the night–Ross works so late and starts so early, he often sleeps in the office. Ross and two partners who later left the group, started SAF in 1990 as a national network that would enlist all environmental groups in a coalition to press for the legislation that would save America’s trees. It hasn't worked out that smoothly. Through unrelenting lobbying and educating of politicians, tiny SAF has repeatedly attracted strong congressional support for forest-protection bills. Ross works to rally environmental groups behind the bills in question, but some well-funded national groups have proposed separate bills and then accused Ross of undermining their efforts. In spite of all difficulties, Ross is undaunted. His viewpoint: "We got the movement out of the doldrums." Lobbying politicians and rallying grassroots environmental groups are only parts of SAF's work. Another major thread is training the next generation of environmental activists. SAF regularly has 10-12 interns learning environmental law and the political process. Many of them go on to careers in places such as the Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department. SAF also provides citizen education. Their website offers a Citizen Action Guide full of information about upcoming forest legislation and existing laws, the effects of clear-cutting, and the status of endangered species. Ross is sure that environmental protection will someday be the norm in our culture rather than a matter of ongoing dispute. "It took hundreds of years to end slavery and to secure women's right to vote." says Carl Ross, who led his first save-the-trees campaign at age 19, rallying neighbors in Plainview, New York. "Forest protection is doing amazingly well for a movement that's only decades old." Carl Ross will be hanging in for the long haul, working for that day when there are no more disputes about environmental protection. You can keep track of this work at Like this Giraffe Hero? LIKE this whole Page so you can see more real heroes' stories.

BECAUSE CONVICTS' LIVES CAN BE REBUILT #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Not many people choose to spend their lives working with convicted felons and drug addicts. But Mimi Silbert, founder of San Francisco’s Delancey Street rehabilitation project, has committed her every waking hour to helping ex-cons become productive, welcome members of society. Silbert knows what gets results: in the first 26 years of the program, Delancey Street rescued over 11,000 former convicts, addicts, prostitutes, and alcoholics, without government funding and without a single act of violence. The foundation has grown to include 25 commercial enterprises run by 500 recovering addicts and convicts working out of a $30 million residential/ business complex on San Francisco’s waterfront. Taken together, Delancey Street’s enterprises generate enough revenue to keep the foundation fully self-sufficient. Silbert could have taken her formidable skills anywhere. But she cites her solid family upbringing as the reason she chooses to stick her neck out for the common good. “Delancey Street functions the way my own family did—everybody looked out for everybody else as we struggled upward. That’s what happens here every day. Together we rise or fall.” Silbert’s approach is simple. Incoming Delancey Street residents must learn three different trades and take part in weekly group sessions that promote self-understanding, interpersonal communication, and basic life skills. And no one leaves without the equivalent of a high school diploma. Despite daunting national statistics on recividism among ex-convicts, Silbert starts with the assumption that people can change, and from there, creates that change. “We have a saying ‘to act as if,’” Silbert explains. “We say if you walk around saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ you will become a person who talks that way naturally. And if you act as if you believe in yourself, you will.” For Silbert, Delancey Street remains a work-in-progress, mirroring the lives of her “clients.” The foundation’s construction projects provide a case in point: “You’re building your own foundation here. If you make a mistake with a wall or a joint, you tear it down and rebuild it. That’s what we’re doing here at Delancey Street for ourselves–tearing down bad things and replacing them with good things.” In a world where most convicted criminal offenders and hard core drug addicts emerge from prison and from treatment programs unchanged, Silbert wants to spread the Delancey Street success: “Our biggest issue now is to replicate this model. You need a strong, visionary, committed lunatic to dedicate a life to initiate something. But to continue, Delancey Street must be bigger than I am. I think we’re succeeding.” To keep track of Silbert and Delancey Street, go to Like this Giraffe Hero? LIKE this whole Page so we can send you more real heroes.

If a friend is in trouble, don't trouble them by asking if there is anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it. #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut

FOR THE BEAUTY OF GEORGIA'S SHORES #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Larry Shaffield is into trash. Thousands and thousands of pounds of it. As founder of the volunteer organization, Clean Coast, Shaffield has taken on the awesome task of cleaning up the thousands of miles where Georgia’s mainland and its coastal islands meet inland waters and the sea. Shaffield joined the first national coastal cleanup way in 1988. “We took a ton of debris off a mile of one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve seen in my life,” he recalls. But it was soon covered again, most of the debris thrown or lost from boats. “Somebody’s got to do something,” Shaffield decided. His own expertise was as a professional photographer, but he threw himself into the awesome task, spending his own meager savings, and enlisting boat owners, donors, state and local officials, and fellow trash pickers. Clean Coast is under-staffed, under-funded, and under-publicized, but still forging ahead on Shaffield’s ability to inspire other Georgians to get out there and haul crud off their beautiful shores. Shaffield himself is a fulltime volunteer at Clean Coast by day; by night he’s studying nursing, planning to eventually earn his living with a night job in nursing. In his constant search for more volunteer coast cleaners, Shaffield says, “This is one thing everybody can get together on because the value is obvious--you take it away, it looks better. And anybody can participate. Kids are always out there.” Update: Hundreds of Clean Coast members come from all over the state to participate in the monthly cleanups. You can see what they're up to at Like this Giraffe Hero? LIKE this whole Page so you can get more real heroes' stories.

More Giraffe Heroes


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...


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...


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...


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...


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...


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....


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...


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...


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...


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...


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 for more stories, and for a way to honor your own hero.

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