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THE GIRAFFE HEROES PROJECT was born in the head and heart of Ann Medlock, a freelance editor, publicist, and writer living in Manhattan. She started the project as a non-profit organization in 1984 as an antidote to what she saw as: "the mind-numbing violence and trivia that pervaded the media, eroding civic energy and hope." Founder Ann Medlock believed then as she still does three decades later: "People needed to know about the heroes of our times, and all that they are accomplishing as courageous, compassionate citizens." The Giraffe Heroes Project has now honored over a thousand Giraffes, and reached over a quarter of a million kids in schools all over America and around the world. We honor the risk-takers: people who are largely unknown, people who have the courage to stick their necks out for the common good, in the United States and around the world. Join us today, and #StickYourNeckOut for the common good!

Recent Facebook Highlights

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men [sic] as a whole, experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing."-- Helen Keller #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut #Quote #Quoteoftheday

Doing A Nursing Home Right Cordelia Taylor ~ http://bit.ly/CordeliaTaylor When Cordelia Taylor RN was the Administrator of a nursing home in Milwaukee, she was told by its corporate owners to make decisions based on the company’s need for profits, not her patients’ need for good care. Unwilling to comply, she complained bitterly to her husband, James, who said, "Open your own." And she did. The Taylors left the beautiful suburban home they’d worked for years to buy and moved back to their old place in the inner city. The neighborhood had become the crime center of Milwaukee, filled with drugs and violence, an urban "war zone." But it was also a place that greatly needed a good nursing home. They renovated their old place and created "Family House," a licensed, nonprofit, community-based, residential facility whose mission is to prevent people from being institutionalized, and to give them a family living experience. If you want to live at Family House, you must be at least 55, you must not use alcohol or illegal drugs, and you must not be violent—those are the only criteria. If you live there, you’re free to choose when to wake up in the morning, when to eat meals, and which activities to participate in. You’re encouraged to garden in the House’s raised plots, and to socialize with neighborhood children. At first, Taylor took in eight people. Over time, she has bought all the houses on one side of the block and now cares for 35 people. She, James, and six of their children work at Family House. They plan to double their capacity by acquiring and renovating the houses on the other side of the block. Many of the houses that the Taylors have acquired have been occupied by drug dealers, whom they’ve had to evict. Taylor has testified against dealers and has confronted them on the street, telling them that the neighborhood is not about drugs and that they should leave. Taylor has extended Family House’s services to include a Foster Grandparent program and a medical clinic that’s open to anyone who needs care. Her other plans include a community center, classes on parenting and budgeting, and job training at Family House. The House is funded by donations from faith-based groups, foundations and individuals. Fueling it all is Ms. Taylor’s philosophy of "treating other people the way that I want to be treated . . . being sure people are safe . . . just letting people know that you will be there for them.. . .To change a life, not just one part of it, but the whole thing, isn’t that the goal?" Keep up with her work at http://www.familyhousemilwaukee.org/Home.html #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut

“The central purpose of each life should be to dilute the misery in the world.”— Karl Menninger #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut #Quote #Quoteoftheday

For the Children, of Iraq Bert Sacks ~ http://bit.ly/BertSacks Bert Sacks, an engineer by profession, has made a cause of the plight of the civilian population of Iraq. While most of the world was unaware of what happened to families in Iraq since the military actions against that country began, Sacks has made repeated trips there, taking in medical supplies for the children. The United States had sanctions against bringing in supplies to Iraq from 1990 until 2003, and Sacks knew he was bumping heads with the US government each time he visited and took in desperately needed supplies. After the first Gulf War, he was horrified by the news of the destruction caused by the war and the trade sanctions imposed by the UN. One dreadful statistic he found was an estimate in the New England Journal of Medicine that 46,900 Iraqi children died in the first eight months of 1991, over and above what would have been the normal death figures. Despite being warned that he could be sentenced to prison and fined $250,000, Sacks went to Basra, Iraq and delivered medicines and medical supplies donated by a U.S. non-profit. Sacks was fully aware that this was a direct violation of the sanctions imposed on Iraq. It didn’t matter to him. The kids needed help. Sacks made eight more round trips, taking in medical supplies for children and bringing back first-hand accounts of the devastating conditions that Iraqi families were enduring. He reported that the US bombing of Iraq’s water, sewage-treatment and electricity plants had caused serious increases in civilian deaths from cholera, typhoid and gastroenteritis. The sanctions that followed the bombings were intended to put pressure on Saddam Hussein but the real impact was on the children. UNICEF estimated that the war and the sanctions caused the deaths of half a million Iraqi children. Sacks saw for himself that the children were dying, and came home to sound the alarm. The US Government levied a fine of $10,000 against Sacks for “trading with the enemy.” He refused to pay it. Instead, he sued the US Government, saying that the trade sanctions against Iraq violated international treaties on human rights. There have been numerous legal exchanges and, as of 2011, it is uncertain if there will be a trial. Sacks says he would welcome a trial so more people would know what happened. “If we don’t understand it, we’ll do it again,” says Bert Sacks. There's an excellent long article on Sack's missions here: http://www.realchangenews.org/index.php/site/archives/5203/ #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut

"There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometimes lose sight of this force when there is suffering, too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways."-- Mother Teresa #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut #Quote #Quoteoftheday

A Champion of Causes, Since He Was 4 Bilaal Rajan ~ http://bit.ly/BilaalRajan It all started when Bilaal Rajan was 4. He saw a TV news report about earthquakes in Gujarat, India, and told his father he wanted to help. “What will you do?” his father asked him. At the time the boy was eating a clementine. He said, “I’ll sell these,” and so he did, trudging door to door in his neighborhood through the Canadian winter snow with a basket of the oranges. He raised $350. By the time he became a teen, Bilaal had raised millions of dollars for disaster victims and the underprivileged throughout the world, with a major focus on children. He sold handmade plates and donated the proceeds to HIV/AIDS orphans, helped build a school for HIV/AIDS orphans in Tanzania, sold boxes of cookies to benefit children and their parents in Haiti—when disaster hits kids anywhere in the world, Bilaal moves into action. At the grand old age of 9 he issued the Canada Kids Earthquake Challenge, asking the children of his country to raise a minimum of $100 each so they could collectively send at least $1 million in aid to the Southeast Asia tsunami victims. They surpassed that goal; with matching funds from the Canadian government, the kids’ final donation was nearly $3 million. UNICEF took note and Bilaal became a “children’s ambassador” sent by UNICEF to Malawi, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Maldives to see how the donated millions were changing lives. To help more children get involved in addressing the problems of the world, Bilaal founded a nonprofit, Making Change Now. He’s written and published a book, Making Change: Tips from an Underage Achiever, in which he discusses being creative, thinking big, being bold, and never taking “no” for an answer. It’s the recipe for his own success, and he shares it every chance he gets. He says, “I want children all over the world to realize their potential.” One of his latest schemes for helping young people help others is a Sudoku website where players of the brainteaser can win UNICEF Plumpy’Nut“ packages for malnourished children throughout the world. Another, the Barefoot Challenge, occurred to him while he was watching children in Africa play soccer without shoes. He challenges young people in the industrial world to go barefoot on international Children’s Day. The kids who participate line up sponsors, then explain why they’re barefoot to their friends, families, classmates, teachers, and principals. Thousands more people learn about the needs of kids too poor to have shoes, and UNICEF gets a hefty donation for its work to help these children. As a motivational speaker, Bilaal inspires disadvantaged young people to have goals and to reach for them, and inspires wealthier youth of the West to reach out and help kids in need. He tells them, “Always know that just a small effort in the Western world can make a big difference in the lives of children far away. Always remember, together we can make a difference.” Stay up-to-date with Bilaal Rajan’s extraordinary actions at his main website: http://www.bilaalrajan.com #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut

“The Gem cannot be polished without friction, nor people perfected without trials.”— Confucius #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut #Quote #Quoteoftheday

Kennedy Masiye, on the left in this photo, is a human rights attorney and the newest Giraffe Hero in Zimbabwe. Terry Mutsfanga, GHZ Director, is shown presenting Masiye with his Giraffe trophy. The two men are doing press interviews this week. #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut #News

Los Ninos are Safe, While Moms Work Donna Quathamer ~ http://bit.ly/DonnaQuathamer Something was wrong. From 1995 to 2000, Donna Quathamer was the Campus Minister at Illinois’s Lewis University; she was responsible for outreach to urban communities in Chicago, rural communities in Appalachia, and foreign communities in central Mexico. It was perhaps the Mexican communities that vexed her the most. As she once remarked, “How could it be that this country which shares a border with the United States could be so poor, so invisible to that rich country to the North?” Quathamer made more trips and asked more questions. In San Miguel de Allende, the local women were near unanimous in their need for a day care: They didn’t want their children locked up at home while they went to work. But how could Quathamer provide them with a day-care facility? Quathamer returned home and secured a donation for the down payment on a building. She moved to Mexico and spent the fall and winter of 2000-2001 getting acclimated, renovating an old restaurant, learning Spanish (“A friend of mine said that within a year I would be bilingual. Silly lady! It's been ten and I'm still learning new words each day.”), and founding the nonprofit group, “Casa de Los Angeles.” Within ten years, the organization was serving over 100 children in two multi-purpose community centers, offering medical supplies, clothing, transitional housing, a summer camp, a food bank, and opportunities for scholarships (Quathamer made sure that she didn’t duplicate services already provided by other nonprofit agencies, e.g., dental care and legal advocacy). By 2010, Casa de Los Angeles had over a thousand volunteers from 18 countries. Those volunteers included the mothers of the children who received the day care: They were responsible for one hour of service each day their children stayed there. The vision of Casa de Los Angeles remains consistent with Quathamer’s own vision back in 2000: The organization wants to see “a community of caring people, who together help shape the lives of these children and their mothers so that their future is hopeful and that they can become self-sufficient.” And it seems to be succeeding. As for Donna Quathamer, she’s solicited volunteers from around the world, and she’s thankful for their contributions: “It always amazes me how they find us. It seems to me that people have good hearts. They want to help others, and we are one vehicle which helps them to do that. . . . to make a difference in the world.” Keep up with her work at http://casadelosangeles.org #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut

"Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing." – Albert Schweitzer #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut #Quote #Quoteoftheday

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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