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, review Giraffe basics

The Giraffe Heroes Project is an Accredited Charity of the Better Business Bureau, meeting all 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Recent Facebook Highlights

STOPPING A RATE-PAYER RIP-OFF #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes CPA Barron Stone, one of the accountants and top financial forecasters for Duke Power Company and a loyal employee for decades, was abruptly transferred to a new job in 2002: Senior Analyst of Special Projects. First drawback of this job change: he lost his office and was moved into a cubicle. Second drawback: there were in fact no special projects for him to analyze. He had been analyzing pending acquisitions and making earning projections, but now his responsibilities were vague and practically nonexistent. Drawback #3: he was being harassed by his company and characterized as untrustworthy and malicious. Why was this happening to Barron Stone? Several years earlier, he had noticed something in Duke’s books that was, to say the least, irregular. There were in fact three sets of books; the accounting procedures had reclassified items in such a way to allow the company to under-report earnings, thus keeping rates high and incidentally giving bonuses to top executives. Stone was the only one out of 70 accountants to be concerned about this problem. He told his supervisors about it, but they ignored him. He called the Duke “ethics hotline” about it, but they ignored him, too. What then? Should he go outside his own company, the largest utility company in the Carolinas, with over two million customers and a great deal of clout? “My wife was against it,” remembers Stone. “She was afraid for my personal safety and the family’s well-being.” Stone realized that his wife was right about whistle-blowing not being safe: “If you go into it thinking people are going to pat you on the back, you’re kidding yourself.” Stone had taken his concerns to the South Carolina Public Service Commission. It was all supposed to be anonymous, but the commission released his name, and that’s when the fun started. The job and office change, the isolation and attacks. He was also rejected for positions that were then given to less qualified employees. The work environment grew ever more hostile, and Stone’s career plummeted. The following year, an independent audit was conducted, and Stone was vindicated: Duke had under-reported $124 million in earnings over three years. It subsequently negotiated a settlement by which the company would pay back $25 million to its customers. Why did Stone blow the whistle on his company? Was it worth it to throw his career into a shambles? He’s clear about that: “It’s very easy to say to yourself, ‘The company has taken care of me; I’m not going to rock the boat.' But does that buy your integrity? For me it didn’t.” UPDATE: Barron Stone is now chief accounting officer for a private company that owns hotels and resorts. Like this story? Do LIKE this Page! Giraffes should have 10,000 Likes.

Centurion Ministries, Inc.

Today Centurion brought a son home to his mother. Barry was taken away when he was 17 and he is now 53. Bobbi, his Mom, is now 75.

Giraffe Jim McCloskey has been working to free innocent people from prison for decades. It's frustrating work, requiring infinite patience and perseverance--and then come the days when it is so worth every long hour...

"AN ANTIDOTE TO ANTI-IMMIGRATION FEVER" #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes When she was a kid, Giraffe Margaret Van Duyne often heard the story of her Romanian grandmother who came to the United States when she was eight. Laughed at by classmates because she couldn’t speak English, the girl spent one day at school in her new country – and never went back. A former schoolteacher, Van Duyne took up film-making and created a documentary about new immigrants to the Boston area, calling the film "Room for All." Many of the people she filmed were having bad experiences in their new land, just as her grandmother did. Van Duyne decided to do something about that. And she had some strong ideas about the right way to proceed. Never mind that people were telling her she had no credentials for assisting immigrants, no social work degrees, no training in ESL--English as a Second Language. What did she think she was doing? It would never work. She started One With One in 1983 in the basement of her Sudbury, Massachusetts home, recruiting American volunteers to help newcomers learn how to make their way in this new culture. Van Duyne was sure every newcomer needs a partner, and that partners were going to learn a lot from each other. With so many cultures and languages in play, Van Duyne said there was "multiversity" in action. Newcomers, she was sure, needed clues to how this new world works--the cultural nuances that were strange to them, and the attitudes and words that would help them move forward. “People talk of brotherhood, scold about brotherhood, but they don’t know how to bring it about," Van Duyne said. "This is how relationships begin: one with one.” One With One partners worked on job-interview skills, on how to get information or assistance via phone, on how to navigate grocery- and clothes-shopping and how to open a bank account, on how to pass the US citizenship exam--all practical day-to-day skills. For years, Van Duyne worked 14 to 18 hours a day, often seven days a week, without pay. Hundreds of newcomers to Massachusetts were partnered into living and working successfully there; hundreds of their American partners learned resilience, determination, and gratitude from the newcomers. An academic study of One With One called it, "One of the best employment training organizations in the US." “We inherited a culture of fear of strangers,” Van Duyne says. “The culture we are creating is a culture of the adventure of strangers working together. ... It's an antidote," she explains, "to anti-immigration fever." One With One can't send someone back in time to be a partner to an 8-year-old Romanian girl who was frightened away from an American school. But thanks to that girl's granddaughter, hundreds of newcomers since then have indeed been welcomed by partners. Update: Margaret Van Duyne died in February of 2015. She was 79. Her obituaries are filled with tributes to the astonishing energy and creativity she dedicated to One With One. Like this story? LIKE this Page. We think Giraffes should have 10,000 Likes, don't you?

A WARRIOR FOR THE ENVIRONMENT~PETER WILLCOX #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes It's the night of July 10, 1985. The Rainbow Warrior, a 160-foot trawler owned by Greenpeace, is moored in New Zealand’s Aucklund Harbor; it’s there to protest a nuclear test being conducted by the government of France. Most of the crew goes ashore to celebrate a shipmate’s birthday. The captain of the ship, Peter Willcox, remains on board with a skeleton crew. Just before midnight, Willcox is awakened by explosions and warning alarms. He tries to get everyone out safely and then makes it off the ship himself. There are more explosions. The Rainbow Warrior is sunk and a photographer is killed. The crew is heartbroken, devastated at the loss of their ship and a life. Eventually, two of France’s secret service agents are arrested and charged with murder and arson. Greenpeace receives over $8 million in damages. Some time after the sinking, Willcox reflects: “It may sound stupidly macho, but I thought, ‘If things have gotten this weird, then what I’m doing is very important.’” What Peter Willcox does is in fact very important, even before he came to Greenpeace. He used to educate people about the ecological threats to New York’s Hudson River while piloting a boat called the Clearwater. He especially liked to teach middle-school students: “The kids would leave knowing that the river was an important part of their lives, not just something you drive over on a bridge.” But in 1981 the offer from Greenpeace came along, and it fit him perfectly. Says Willcox, “I liked the idea of direct confrontation. It really got the message across.” He became captain of the Rainbow Warrior, leading Greenpeace’s efforts to protest the killing of harp seals, the hunting of whales, the polluting of the seas, and nuclear threats. He's outmaneuvered Soviet gunboats, and he's helped evacuate the population of a Marshall Islands atoll contaminated by fallout. “I can live with a lot of other problems," he has said, "but I was never able to be blasé about the deformed babies I saw in the Marshalls.” Greenpeace’s tactics usually involve either obstructing the people harming the environment or at the very least photographing their actions. An example of obstructing: Willcox and the Rainbow Warrior blocked a barge from New Jersey that was dumping thousands of gallons of concentrated sulfuric acid into the ocean every day. “We took pictures,” says Willcox, “which hit all the 6:00 PM news shows in New York and New Jersey.” The plant commissioning the barge closed. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, he and other Greenpeace members spray-painted the backs of hundreds of white seals. The paint didn’t hurt the seals, but it did stop the hunters who had been skinning them for their pelts. Willcox has been arrested numerous times all across the world, but he remains a Greenpeace activist. He's now standing by to take command of the new Rainbow Warrior. Update: Peter Willcox has continued leading Greenpeace’s struggles against the despoilers of the environment. He's been charged with piracy and spent time in foreign prisons, he's swum directly into the path of a 3,000-ton destroyer, he's traveled around the world to organize with other activists, and he currently directs three of Greenpeace’s ships: the Arctic Sunrise, the Esperanza, and the new Rainbow Warrior. In the 33 years since Willcox joined Greenpeace, there have been wild successes as well as dramatic failures. Now Greenpeace’s priority is climate change. Willcox’s take on it could be Greenpeace’s overall philsophy: “We made the problem, and we can solve it. Our mission is to put it in the public sphere, and, hopefully, people start to do the right thing.” Like this hero? LIKE this Page! Then Facebook MIGHT let you see more real heroes' stories. We post one every day.

IT STARTED WITH A SANDWICH FOR MIL #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes It started simply enough. Karen Olson, the assistant promotion manager of a New York City corporation, was commuting from her home in Summit, New Jersey, when she spotted a homeless woman she'd seen before, one of many taking shelter in the Port Authority Terminal. This time, though, Olson decided to do something: She bought the woman a sandwich. The woman thanked her and began talking. Her name, she said, was Millie. Since that day in 1981, thousands upon thousands of Millies and Davids and Abduls and Carlitas and just about any other name you can think of have been helped either by Olson or by the organizations she started. They're no longer nameless or storyless; each is a unique individual who's getting some much needed help. After her encounter with Millie, Olson began bringing her two young sons with her to New York, where they bought and handed out sandwiches, granola bars, juice, fresh fruit, and other foods to the homeless. Sometimes they gave it directly to the person. Other times, they put the food in a place where they knew that the person could find it. Sometimes they even made up stories: No one showed up at our picnic, so we have extra lunches. Would you like one?” As Olson came to know the people and the narratives behind their hunger, she began to figure out how to help more and more of them get the food they needed. She quit her job, attended classes to become a nutritionist, and turned to the New Jersey religious community for help. Soon she had donations, hospitality space, a van, and, most important, a plan. In 1986, the first Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) opened its doors. Update: Two years later, IHN went national, helping communities across the country form their own programs and then acts as a communications center to provide technical assistance, ideas, and support. Each program comprises religious congregations, community organizations, and local social service agencies. Olson continued making food trips to urban centers in New York and New Jersey, but now she had an organization behind her. In due course, almost every state had an Interfaith Hospitality Network, involving thousands of volunteers. Now called "Family Promise," these networks provide shelter, meals, housing, job placement, and health care. More than half their clientele are children. Awards and honors came to Olson, who is tied to her cause rather than her self-promotion: "Homelessness is unacceptable," she has said. "The homeless are human beings and I'm a human being, and they're in need. It's a natural response. I'm nobody special.” Thousands of people who have received a lunch, a job, or a home as a result of Olson's efforts may disagree. So would the many volunteers who have trod the path that Olson first opened up. Karen Olson has always believed that there was an untapped reservoir of such volunteers. "It's not that people don't care," she once said. "They do. They just need a way to help." Olson has announced her retirement from active leadership of the organization as of January 2016. In the long years since she began, more than 700,000 people have been served. Looking back to offering a sandwich to Millie and getting to know her, Olson remembers, "I thought you just don't go near homeless people. After talking to Millie, it was like a barrier fell down." Thanks to Olson finding a way they could help, 160,000 volunteers have crossed that barrier. Olson herself will continue giving talks nationally and serving the homeless near her own home. In those national talks, Olson will be making it clear that there's a reason so many people are homeless. "To discuss family homelessness without focusing on the affordable housing crisis is like telling the story of the Titanic without mentioning an iceberg.” You can keep track of this work at Like this story? LIKE this Page as well as the story, OK? Then Facebook's system might let you see more Giraffe stories. We hope.

KEEPING GOVERNMENT ON THE UP AND UP #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes Gordon Hamel has blown the whistle on government misdeeds at least three times. For his courage and his service to the public, he's been threatened, harassed, fired, and slandered. Whistle-blow #1: In 1990, Hamel was the Director of Executive Placement at the White House. He exposed illegal use of the President’s Commission on Executive Exchange when he found that taxpayer dollars were being used to essentially transform the agency into a base for the President’s 1992 re-election campaign. He reported this to the Office of the Inspector General, which substantiated the claims and took steps to order policy changes. As a result, though, the Commission’s director requested a “full investigation of possible abuse by Mr. Hamel of his position and professional responsibilities.” Hamel was relieved of his job; he filed a formal complaint. A congressional hearing found that Hamel was being persecuted for whistle-blowing; the President abolished the Commission soon after that finding, to prevent further political embarrassment. Whistle-blow #2: Hamel got a job at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; he found corruption there as well, including sweetheart deals and violations of federal regulations. He complained, was ignored, pursued his allegations further up the ladder, and was supported by the regional Inspector General, who was then demoted. Once again, the retaliations began. Treasury investigators went to Hamel’s house, told him to drop his charges, and even commented that “it would be a shame for you to lose this lovely house.” Hamel sued the agency, won a settlement, and left the Treasury Department. Whistle-blow #3: Hamel became a Senior Management Analyst in the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs. Yet again, he came upon procurement transgressions; yet again; he protested and then blew the whistle; and yet again, he was investigated and falsely accused of various misdeeds. This time, Department officials seized his computer and his attendance, health, and banking records. Nothing was ever found against him, but Hamel, exhausted, left the job. The investigations continued, and Hamel was denied a position elsewhere in 2008 because of the dossier compiled against him. This is too often the fate of whistle-blowers: social, financial, and political retribution, despite plaudits for their actions. One Special Counsel wrote this to Hamel: “I regret that this unfortunate sequence of events has been so personally painful for you. Certainly, you deserve great credit for coming forward to report official misconduct and malfeasance. Such actions merit public commendation and recognition. You suffered a wrong when there was a public airing of the ultimately unsubstantiated charges against you.” The Chairman of one congressional hearing into Hamel’s charges, summed up the plight of the whistle-blower when he said: “ . . . the whistle-blower, the accuser, becomes the accused . . . This sends a chilling message to other Federal workers who observe waste, abuse, and mismanagement. It tells federal employees that if you blow the whistle, it is you, rather than the agency officials, who may wind up in the penalty box.” LIKE this Page so you can see more Giraffe Heroes' stories. Giraffes should have 10,000 Likes. Or maybe more.

THE UNSTOPPABLE C.W. RODDY #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes C.W. Roddy was such an annoyance to East Palo Alto CA drug dealers that they put out a $10,000 contract to kill her. She'd already received a flesh wound to her stomach from a shooting the previous New Year's Day, and her bungalow had 35 bullet holes in it from semiautomatic weapon fire. After that, someone tossed Molotov cocktails into her backyard. "But despite all this," said Roddy, "This is my piece of rock, so I'm staying." At the time, East Palo Alto was a mostly African-American community of about 18,500. But it was having problems. The year before, there were 17 homicides. That was 10 times the national rate. It seemed that drug dealers were everywhere, and they were definitely not peaceful. Not long before she sustained her first attack, Roddy had asked a dealer to move his truck from the front of her house. He punched her in the face. Roddy's neighbor was knifed for defending her in an argument against another dealer. And the time she had a dealer arrested, he was back on the street before she'd finished filling out the police reports. Roddy has yelled at dealers, taken license plate numbers of their cars, and asked for police protection. She'd been there over 20 years, and she'd seen the community get worse every year: "When I'd open my drapes, I would see all different kinds of cars. I would wake up and find anything and everything on my front lawn . . . plastic bags filled with drug residue. I couldn't get in and I couldn't get out of my house. [Drug dealers] felt like they had the right of way." However, when Roddy was told that there was a contract out on her and subsequently went public with it, suddenly there was an outcry. Roddy herself had known for a long time that it was up to her neighbors to take action: "I've been angry, livid, upset with the apathy of the people of East Palo Alto. . . . The people in the communities are the ones who will determine which way the communities will go. They can get involved or they can ignore it. Its up to all of us." Public officials began to take notice, too, and began making hundreds of arrests. County and city officials applied for a $5.1 million federal grant for law enforcement, drug rehabilitation, and educational programs. At that time, half the city budget went to police services; they needed help. Things began changing. The neighborhood finally massed behind Roddy's leadership. For example, a group of mothers gathered in a local park, organized its management, and gradually drove out the drug dealers. Roddy said that she was hopeful: "I went by a couple of Saturdays ago and just observed the children out there playing. And it was such a beautiful sight, and it made me feel so good that it brought tears to my eyes. So it's looking better. It didn't all happen in one day and I don't expect it all to change in one day, but I do see the beginning of a change. And the future looks bright." Update: The people who attacked Roddy's home, and those who put out the contract on her, were never identified. Nonetheless, the East Palo Alto environment improved. In 2000, Roddy said, "I don't know whether (the drug trade) has gone underground . . . but it's certainly not as blatant." An East Palo Alto police spokesman pointed out that Roddy's troubles changed the city: "It brought national attention to our problem. The community itself also had a lot to do with the changes. And the San Mateo County Sheriff says, "Citizens now call us up and will identify certain houses. They are no longer afraid." And Roddy? "I don't think I would do anything differently. I wouldn't run away from the problem. I have never tried to run away from anything." C.W. Roddy died in November of 2012. No one ever collected the $10,000. Like this story? LIKE this Page. That way Facebook will allow you to see future stories. Maybe.

Growing Bolder

Jane Goodall, the world-renowned chimpanzee expert is now 81 and an outspoken environmental activist. “We are the most intellectual species that has ever walked on human earth. So why is it that we’re destroying the planet?”

She keeps saying absolutely true things, that Jane Goodall.

LOW-TECH ENGINEERING FOR THE WORLD'S VILLAGES #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes When three Indians from Belize arrived to landscape Bernard Amadei’s yard in Boulder, Colorado, Amedei got more than a few new trees—he got ground for a whole new life. Listening to the workers’ stories about the poverty in their home village, Amadei’s heart was touched. He went to the village, San Pablo. What he saw there put his engineering mind to work, along with his heart. A professor of engineering at the University of Colorado, Amadei could see that engineering could solve many of the villagers’ difficulties. He thought he and his students could engineer some practical solutions. The challenges were basic—like building a safe, efficient way to get clean water. “I came across little girls who had to carry water back and forth to the village all day,” Amadei says, “so they couldn’t go to school.” The professor rounded up a team of his students from the University of Colorado and brought them back to San Pablo, where they employed centuries-old technology to create water pumps that could run without electricity. The impact on the village from this one change was enormous; the impact on the student engineers was profound. Amadei knew a winning idea when he saw it. He decided to enlist other colleges and universities in the work, and Engineers Without Borders was born. Since its founding in 2002 more than 230 EWB chapters have sprung up in universities and professional firms around the US and overseas. Even US high-schoolers with an interest in engineering are joining in specific projects. EWB has built aqueducts in Mali, solar panels in Rwanda, and rainwater catchments in Cambodia. Everything they build can be operated by villagers themselves—there’s no need for outside experts. EWB also trains people to develop, build and manage their own projects to improve their community life. When he’s not working on a project half way around the world, Amadei is back at the University of Colorado, leading a paradigm shift in engineering education. It’s not all about how to create high-tech, mega-projects in the industrialized world. Studying to be an engineer in the 21st century is also about simple, low-tech solutions for communities that need the basics for sustaining human life. Bernard Amadei could have gone on leading a comfortable, safe life in Colorado instead of taking on the problems and sharing the hardships of impoverished people around the world. He explains his devotion to the work quite simply. “I’ve seen children dying in front of me, and that’s marked me for life. I’m doing my little work to change that.” You can track this work at Like this story? LIKE this Page! Giraffes should have 10,000 Likes. At least.

MOTHER & DAUGHTER GIRAFFE HEROES #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes Rosemell Ong’udi and her daughter Loyce Mbewa-Ong’udi began addressing the problems of feeding and caring for orphans in the Kenyan village of Rabuor in the 1990’s when AIDS was destroying families there. Rosemell started by using her own money to feed the orphans directly from her home in Rabuor. She tried to get others to do the same, but no one wanted to talk about AIDS and no one helped her. Refusing to stop speaking out about the problem, she eventually got women in the village to help her develop a nursery school and daycare center that took care of children whose parents were sick or dead. While Rosemell was beginning this work in Rabuor, Loyce was living in Seattle. When Loyce went home for a visit, she was shocked to see there had been so many deaths from AIDS. Parents were dying, leaving young children behind, impoverished families were spending scarce money on funerals. On her return to Seattle, Loyce began sending money to her mother to help, and she got the people in her Seattle church to contribute as well. Loyce and some supporters developed the Rabuor Village Project as a US non-profit whose mission was to empower the people of Rabuor to develop their own sustainable, community-based solutions to the challenges of poverty and HIV/AIDS. The work in Rabuor led Loyce to obtain a Master’s Degree in public administration at the University of Washington as she worked on the Project. They've expanded the Project to include-- Pre-school education, daycare and nutritional support for HIV/AIDS orphans; and scholarships and support for all Rabour's children. Funds to secure reliable supplies of clean water for home use and agriculture; & Micro-loans and technical assistance for agriculture and micro-enterprises. An organization called Village to Village has taken Rabour's model to over 10,000 people in ten other villages. A Rhodes Scholar who worked with the Project, has said: “It is one of the few successful cases I have seen on any scale, micro or macro, in the entire world, that genuinely empowers people to self-realize their goals.” Rosemell is working with farmers in Nyanza Province, the rural area around Nabour. Loyce helps the farmers raise cash crops and get fair market value for them. The mother and daughter have named this work “Mwanzo Proud Farmers.” Like this story? Do LIKE this Page--not just the story. That way Facebook will know you'd be pleased to meet more Giraffes.

Recent 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...