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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SO IT DOESN'T HAPPEN TO OTHERS... #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut It was the worst day of Helen Shanbrom's life when a speeding, out-of-control tractor-trailer jumped a freeway median in San Dimas, California, and crashed into a car being driven by her 27-year-old son. His senseless death galvanized her into becoming "a one-woman crusade" for truck safety. A private, apolitical person, she knew little about the legislative process and less about lobbying, but she set to work learning, despite the many people who warned her there was nothing she could do. A bedroom in her house became a library of information on safety and on governmental procedures. A stream of letters and phone calls began coming forth from that room—and threatening phone calls began coming in. Some drivers and trucking industry executives assumed Shanbrom was out to do them in, although she says, "I'm not out to get anybody. I just want to make the highways safer." Her lobbying efforts have led to legislation that increases fines for speeding, allows for surprise highway patrol inspections, bars the use of hand brakes for stopping trucks, and puts more patrols on roads with high accident records. Former legislator John Seymour said that it was completely because of Helen Shanbrom's urging that he introduced such bills. And she didn't stop; she went on to work all-out for limiting commercial truck drivers' hours behind the wheel, for improving training for highway patrol officers, keeping triple-trailers off California's roads, requiring anti-lock brakes on commercial vehicles, banning them from using radar detectors, and requiring them to have "black boxes" on board just as airplanes do. She also lobbied to prevent NAFTA from lowering US safety standards for the size and weight of trucks. Legislators and law enforcement officers alike credit Helen Shanbrom for a sharp decline in truck-related deaths and injuries. Because of one grieving mother's tireless crusade, hundreds of other families have not had to endure the terrible loss of loved ones. ....Please like this whole Giraffe Heroes page so we can send you more great stories.

ON MISSION IN IMPOVERISHED VILLAGES #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Ann Marie Zon works in Nicaraguan mountain villages and towns that are so remote they can be reached only by riding hours on mule-back. A former nun, she first went to the country in 1979. When she was told to return to her order, she chose instead to continue her work in Nicaragua. Living with families in Campoapa and Teustepe, she runs a "cow project" to provide milk for village children. In just three years, she placed more than 80 calves with village families. She is still in Nicaragua all these years later, returning to the U.S. a few months a year to canvass for donations and to earn money as a teacher. When she has enough to pay shipping costs for donated supplies and for her plane ticket, she heads back to the villages north of Managua. You can follow her work at We're happy if you LIKE this story. We're even happier when you like the whole Giraffe Heroes Page so you can get more great stories.

SAVING LIVES IN A LETHAL TIME #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut In 1939, with war about to engulf Europe, Zerach Warhaftig embarked on a desperate mission. Racing against time and risking his own arrest, Warhaftig paved the way for over 6,000 Eastern-European Jews to escape the Holocaust and reach Israel, China, and the West. By using, and at times carefully exploiting, untried and often precarious diplomatic channels, Warhaftig secured critical visas and other travel documents for Jews fleeing the rapidly advancing German forces. To get the job done, it was necessary to convince unlikely partners to aid in the rescue, among them a Japanese consul who hand-wrote hundreds of Japanese transit visas for refugees despite objections from his own German-allied government; a Dutch ambassador who agreed to set up two Caribbean islands as phantom destinations for escaping Jews; and high-ranking officials in the Soviet Union who, after meeting with Warhaftig, permitted the refugees to use the Trans-Siberian Railway to reach safety in Asia. Based in Soviet-occupied Lithuania, Warhaftig worked his plan even while German tanks moved into the country and while foreign consulates — the last conduits to the free world — were being closed down around him. Though he sought to use only legal and official means for relocating the refugees, Warhaftig later noted in his 1988 book, Refugee and Survivor, that the grave situation sometimes called for less formal measures. As one consulate staff packed to flee, “We ... took the liberty of transferring into our possession part of the stock of the consulate's official notepaper, which we proceeded to fill in as required. We even appended the signature of the consul ... — may he forgive the impertinence." After making his own last-minute escape across Russia and into Japan, Warhaftig continued to work for the safe transport, financial assistance and emigration of Jews still trapped in Central Europe during the war and, in later years, the Soviet Union. Following the war, he was a signer of Israel's Declaration of Independence, served in the new nation’s Knesset nine times, and was for twelve years the new country's Minister of Religious Affairs. Many Jews have bestowed another honor upon Warhaftig — the informal title of "mensch" – a moral and ethical human being of integrity and dignity who stands up for the well-being of others. Update: Zerach Warhaftig died in 2002. He was 96. We're happy if you Like this story. We're even happier if you also like this whole Page so you can get more great stories.

A PIONEER OF CITY FARMING #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut The neighborhood around Third Avenue and 172nd Street, in New York’s South Bronx, is the last place you’d expect to find a working farm. Run-down tenements, junked cars, and out-of-work residents, yes, but an herb farm? Gary Waldron isn’t surprised. He’s the founder, president and motivating force behind GLIE Farms, which raises a wide range of top quality herbs in the South Bronx and sells them directly to New York’s classiest restaurants. He went to the South Bronx, where he had lived as a child, in 1979 as part of an IBM executive-loan program. Waldron, a comptroller with the company, was to spend a year working with runaway and abandoned children at the Group Live-In Experiment (GLIE) in the Bronx. Looking at the rubble-strewn lots and abandoned buildings, Waldron saw potential for creating jobs. He resigned from IBM and went to work as a South Bronx farmer, using his pension, severance pay, and all his savings to clear some land, rehab a building to work from, and hire and train neighborhood people. GLIE Farms quickly had over three acres of reclaimed land, employed 27 Bronx residents, sold herbs year-round from its heated greenhouses, and even turned a profit. Delivery trucks leave the Bronx every morning and head for the finest restaurants in Manhattan, where world-class chefs are blown away by the quality and freshness of the herbs. So Waldron is expanding. With additional funding from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, he's building a 14,000 square foot greenhouse where hydroponic planting will allow a tenfold increase in production. Over 200 people will be working for GLIE Farms. All this from one man’s vision and courage. Waldron believes that what he’s accomplished can be repeated in other cities, where growing high value crops can create local jobs and ultimately alter the economics of inner cities. In one of the ironies that the world zings us with just to make sure we’re paying attention, the acres reclaimed from the rubble by GLIE were part of a tomato farm just a hundred years ago--the land is still legally zoned for farming. Update: GLIE Farms went out of business three years after we wrote this story. Waldron was negotiating to replicate the farm in Puerto Rico; the deal fell apart and Waldron, who was only in his 40s, had a heart attack. He still believed in urban farming and saw GLIE as lighting the way for more such efforts. Waldron's heart gave out completely just a few years later. Thanks for liking this Giraffe Hero. Now please LIKE the whole Page so you can get more great stories.

GOING BACK–TO SAVE LIVES #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut In the 70's, Frank Noe (MA), Bill Johnson (CT), Gene Spanos (IL), Mike Wallace (KS) Nate Genna (MA), and Robert Dalton (MD—not shown in the photo), were young US Marines laying land mines in Vietnam. Years later, at a reunion of the 11th Engineers' Battalion, they talked about their concern that the mines were still there. The Vietnamese government says that thousands of people—many of them children—have died from grenades, bombs and land mines since the end of the war. The men don't apologize for laying the mines during wartime. But they don't think it's right that the US military didn't clear the minefields, as they had after previous wars. There was an important task undone. Married now, with children of their own, the six veterans thought that something had to be done. Frank Noe told us, "In my heart, if children are getting hurt, that's the worst. I'll do anything to stop it." They formed Vietnam Revisited to go back and help the Vietnamese pinpoint and remove the minefields. Maps of the fields weren't available, so the men would have to rely on their memories. With an anonymous donor paying their expenses, they spent ten days in a changed Vietnam. The six vets worked with the Vietnamese Army defusing and clearing US-made mines. On their return, Nate Genna wrote the Giraffe Project, "...innocent people are, in fact, still being killed and injured from explosive junk left over from the war." The former Marines hoped their return to those fields will save innocent lives. Like this story? Great. Now please LIKE the whole page so you can get more great stories.

A CHAMPION FOR RAPTORS #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut It all started when Steve Hoffman was young. First, there were the family camping trips; the “great outdoors” made quite an impression on him, especially the large birds that are called “raptors." Then there was the “hawk watch,” and that sealed the deal. It was the fall of 1969; he was a freshman at Albright College in eastern Pennsylvania. Hoffman’s biology professor took the class to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in order to, well, watch hawks. But hawks weren’t the only birds there: Twelve other species made appearances that day—thousands of birds mingling, migrating, and making Steve Hoffman realize what we wanted to do with his life. When he attended graduate school at Utah State University, he found a similar “hawk mountain” and spent long hours there, figuring out how many were migrating and how they were doing. He knew watching hawks is more than an entertaining pastime: these raptors are a primary indicator of the health of the entire ecosystem. The status of this population is an indicator of habitat degradation, pollutants, climate change, and human interference, and that, in turn, can lead to effective conservation measures. Hoffman began his professional life as a biologist, first with the Bureau of Land Management and then with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But his heart and mind remained with raptors. On his own, he began conducting migration counts with some friends and soon was devoting all his free time to the effort. He was devoting his money to the effort as well, and finally, in 1986, decided to go all out: He founded the Western Raptor Foundation, which soon became HawkWatch International. HawkWatch International counts, bands, and assesses data on migrating birds. It studies all aspects of their lives. It partners with government agencies, land owners, and other groups and individuals to protect raptors. It informs and educates both professionals and non-professionals so that everyone can understand and implement the actions that are needed to protect the entire environmental system. The new organization was not easy for Hoffman to establish—or to sustain. Wildlife preservation was not many people’s priority, and Hoffman had to essentially become a one-man public relations firm to make the public aware of the environmental issues involved and to garner enough donations to keep the nonprofit afloat. He spent all his savings and had no income as he put in 80-hour weeks. Eventually, his message struck home: It resonated with scientists and environmentalists, and today it’s a success story—for the raptors, for the overall environment, and for Steve Hoffman, who sacrificed a secure career in a government agency to follow his dream of protecting the magnificent birds he first glimpsed on a family camping trip when he was a kid. Update: After over three decades, HawkWatch is still going strong. Hoffman left the organization in good hands in 1999 and became Executive Director of the Montana Audubon Society. His ardor for raptors, particularly hawks, has not waned: After all, he says, they “eat at the top of the food chain, so they’re a good indicator of the health of an ecosystem. They help to show the connection between humans and all forms of life.” Thanks for Liking this story. Now please LIKE this whole Page so you can get more great stories.

More Giraffe Heroes


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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...


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.

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Nobis Est - It's Up To Us

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