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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Recent Facebook Highlights

[The #rio2016 Olympics are approaching, so we are featuring our favorite Giraffe Heroes from Brazil. Enjoy!] DANCING INTO A NATION'S HEART #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Dora Andrade teaches poor kids in Fortaleza, Brazil to dance—with their bodies and with their hearts and minds. She sold her jewelry and used the cash to create EDISCA (School for Dance and Social Integration for Children and Adolescents), where she not only teaches dance and self respect, but provides access to meals, medical exams, dental care and computer training. In many societies, including Brazil’s, formal ballet training is for the children of the middle class and the wealthy. Some Brazilians were appalled by the idea of barrio kids performing ballet in theatres, even telling Andrade that her “poor little creatures” would get nice theaters dirty or break things there. The doubters certainly weren’t interested in attending a performance. Now, Andrade’s dancers are so renowned they play to sold-out audiences and are favorites of the nation’s press. Their prominence helps them bring national attention to the plight of the poor, and their work with Andrade brings the kids not only dance training but also meals, medical exams, dental care, vaccinations, computer training, etiquette lessons, confidence in their own abilities and hope for bettering their lives. EDISCA’s kids get such great care that wealthy families have tried to fake poverty go get their kids in! Like this Giraffe? LIKE this Page. Giraffes should have 100 thousand Likes. And Share! Your friends need to know there are real heroes among us.

Love What Matters - Animals

"Baby giraffe loves to smile! Born on July 10th 2016 at Touroparc Zoo (Macon, France)" :) :) Photo courtesy of callilol via reddit

#GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Well, sometimes there's such a funny photo of a small-g giraffe (We call our human heroes capital-G Giraffes), we just have to post it. This baby was born a few days ago in France. Bienvenue au monde, petit cherie.

A GIRAFFE WHO GOES ON. AND ON. #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Decades ago, Si Kahn took his ideas about justice, a new college degree, 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. Si’s work in the southern civil rights movement was the first step on a road that has led him through the coal camps and cotton mill towns of the South. That road has led him through such powerful human dramas as the Brookside Strike in Harlan County, Kentucky; the Brown Lung Movement and J.P. Stevens Campaign in the Carolinas; and the critical work of building coalitions among blacks and whites, and men and women, in both rural and urban areas throughout 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.” There have been hard times, never enough money, and frightening times. Community organizers aren’t popular with people who don’t want things to change. But through it all, there’s been music. Kahn gets people who’ve never worked together to start by singing together. One of his favorite songs says: “I hope that when my time is almost gone/ They’ll say that people like me/helped people like you/ go on, go on/ Because people like you help people like me/ go on, go on. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Kahn heads a team of skilled and experienced organizers who work with communities and organizations across the South. Kahn's organization, Grassroots Leadership, provides help on such issues as voting rights, health care, the environment, discrimination, and peace. Grassroots Leadership helps people make use of the most important resource they have: themselves. On Kahn’s album, “Unfinished Portraits,” he sings, “It’s not how large your share is/ But how much you can share/ It’s not just what you’re given/ But what you do with what you’ve got.” We hear him loud and clear. 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. You can help at He's written a book titled, Creative Community Organizing: A Guide for Rabble-Rousers, Activists and Quiet Lovers of Justice.

BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT'S RIGHT #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Kaneesha Johnson’s fifth grade class in Hawthorne, California, on the edge of Los Angeles, was mostly African-American kids like Kaneesha. And then there were the Latino kids, and the Asians. Some of them weren’t born in this country and spoke little English; all of them looked different from Kaneesha and the other African Americans. Kaneesha’s friends didn’t speak to the kids who were different. And the tougher kids in the class went a lot further, bullying and tormenting them. At recess, each group of children played together, but not with kids they thought were too different from themselves. But this one small girl knew that wasn’t right. She stepped out of line, even though her friends thought she was strange. She befriended the outsiders, talking to them in class and on the playground, helping them with their English and their homework. She talked to the bullies about laying off the kids who were different. “I just decided to, because I know how it feels when people laugh at you,” Kaneesha explains. The bullies turned on her, calling her names and threatening her. She cried—at home, where they couldn’t see her. But at school she kept right on, getting her friends to see the others as real kids like themselves, kids they could get to know and like. Kaneesha even ended de facto segregation on the playground, getting all teams to be integrated. The breakthrough spread to the classroom, where the kids started working together. Kaneesha Johnson says it was worth getting picked on herself. “Sometimes you just have to do what’s right.” Like this Giraffe Hero? LIKE this Page. Giraffes should have 100 thousand Likes. And Share with friends. They need to know there are real heroes in the world.

BRINGING AID INTO COMBAT ZONES #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut When war in Liberia spilled across the border into Sierra Leone, bringing terrible violence, villagers in Sierra Leone had to flee. When the fighting ended, Vinod Khatumal, a successful businessman in the capital, Freetown, helped them return to their homes. Khatumal had been helping his fellow Sierra Leoneans throughout the war, personally braving the violence to bring transportation, food, and fuel to villagers who were still in combat zones. In some cases Khatumal would visit a village, arrange for aid and then travel on, only to learn that the village had been attacked hours after his departure. Almost 10% of Sierra Leone’s entire population was displaced during the war, forced to abandon their homes, mostly in the eastern districts. With no property, possessions, or livelihoods, they barely survived. When they did return to their farms, they found their houses pillaged, and their crops destroyed. They had to start all over again. Khatumal focused his efforts on helping them re-settle and rebuild their communities. He began exporting cocoa and coffee—the crops of the area. His business plan cut out the middlemen in overseas sales, thereby increasing income to local farmers. Khatumal also led two area cooperatives that improved transportation in and out of eastern villages by raising funds to buy vehicles and repair roads and bridges. Funding also helps to build and repair housing, to supply tools and pesticides for improving crop yield, and to construct buildings specific to coffee and cocoa production, structures such as drying rooms. Cooperatives even helped build a medical center in one village. In every case, local people do the construction work, receiving the income they need to rebuild their lives. Vinod Khatumal says his mission is to re-settle families and re-establish their farms so crops can be planted, harvested, and sold, and life can flourish again in Sierra Leone’s war-torn countryside. UPDATE: When Ebola hit Sierra Leone, Khatumal brought in desperately needed medical supplies, and made a large contribution to the government's effort to fight the epidemic. He's here on Facebook at Like this Giraffe Hero? LIKE this Page. Giraffes should have 100 thousand Likes.

BECAUSE LIFE IS ABOUT HELPING OTHERS #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut "They're not just people who were looking for another job. They're people who understand what life's about—helping others." Cindy Pickard was describing people she hired to care for AIDS patients, but she could have been describing herself. She invested time, money, and energy to help people who, in 1988, were often considered pariahs. They were looked down upon by many because they were assumed to be gay; they were feared by even more people because they were assumed to be contagious. Pickard had been working as an occupational therapist, but she realized that she could do more good by tending to AIDS patients. And these were AIDS patients who were near the end: Most were resigned to dying, but they didn't want to die in hospitals. So Pickard started AIDS Care and Assistance, secured funding from AIDS Services of Austin, placed an ad in the newspaper, and hired 20 caregivers. Home care is less expensive than hospital stays, and it's usually much pleasanter for patients. The director of nursing for South Austin Medical Center described Pickard's work this way: "It's a program on the cutting edge. It fills the gap between hospital, the hospice program, and insurance." Pickard and her workers do everything they can for their dying patients. They fix meals, they clean houses, they shop for food, they answer the phone, and of course they offer emotional support. Pickard has a lot of sympathy for her patients: "These are people not accepted by society. We can't just shut these people out." Cindy Pickard has had personal experience with death and dying. When she was seven years old, her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died soon thereafter. Her brother committed suicide. She struggled to overcome despondency, took classes in photography as well as occupational therapy, and one day was inspired by a talk given by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross to became involved with hospice work and AIDS. "I encouraged my patients to paint pictures," she remembers, "write poems, and make scrapbooks as remembrances for their family and friends. Sometimes I audio-taped their life stories for their grandchildren, and often I photographed them." Pickard didn't stop at Austin. She travels around the country to speak at conventions, at conferences, and at informal community meetings. AIDS Care and Assistance became Rites of Passage. Its mission is to provide services for terminally ill patients as well as to offer education on AIDS and on death and dying. It hasn't been easy; many people consider those with AIDS as undeserving of concern. Nonetheless, Pickard wins converts. For her, there really isn't any choice: "If you do something you really want to do, it's a test of strength in the obstacles that come to you. We've passed through it and that feels good." Update: Rites of Passage has grown, reaching people all around the world. Cindy Pickard has produced videos and multimedia projects on loss, grief, and transcendence. Beginning in 2004, her Between Now and Forever conferences have been well attended; they include poetry, photos, and artwork that weave together the stories of people who have experienced the loss of a relative, friend, or spouse. Now, Pickard is facing another enormous obstacle: The funding for her work has disappeared. Find out more at Like this Giraffe? LIKE this Page. Giraffes should have 100 thousand Likes. And Share! Your friends need to know there are real heroes among us.

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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