This nonprofit honors Giraffe Heroes—compassionate risk-takers 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.

When we tell their stories over social and traditional media, others are moved to stick their necks out too, helping solve significant public problems important to them. Our books, blogs, curricula, speeches and trainings help them succeed.

As long as there are Giraffe Heroes , there's hope. Telling the series of heroes may be the oldest strategy in the world for motivating people into brave, compassionate action—and it works.

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The Giraffe Heroes Project is an Accredited Charity of the Better Business Bureau. The Project meets all 20 of the BBB's strict Standards for Charity Accountability.

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BECAUSE PEACE IS JOB ONE #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut In the early 1980s there was a widespread concern that total nuclear war was not only possible but imminent. It was in this atmosphere of fear and anxiety that architect Sidney Gilbert began organizing his fellow architects as well as planners and designers to take a stand against this imminent danger. It was the height of the Cold War, and many considered speaking out against nuclear proliferation to be highly unpatriotic. Warheads were being built and deployed, Star Wars defense systems were being designed—“mutually assured destruction” was US policy. Gilbert was a sought-after architect with his own architecture and interior design firm in highly competitive New York. His career was in full swing, requiring all his attention, but Gilbert believed that he and his fellow creators of beautiful spaces should take a stand against the proliferation of these dreadful weapons. Gilbert moved his profession to action, founding Architects, Designers & Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR). He was harshly criticized by many for taking a stand against his own government’s policies; his business suffered for the loss of his time and energy. But Gilbert went on, insisting that there was no point in creating beautiful buildings if they, and the people in them, could be vaporized by nuclear weapons. In the decade that followed, Gilbert engaged architects and designers in the Soviet Union in dialogues with their US counterparts. US and USSR professionals visited each other’s countries, engaging in high-quality and rigorous professional exchanges. It had never happened before; attitudes and lives were changed. Gilbert received numerous acknowledgments for his extraordinary efforts. He was not only in the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, he was also elected to full membership in the Moscow Union of Architects, an unprecedented honor. Nevertheless, he told family and friends that the Giraffe Commendation he received in 1986 was the recognition he most prized. Update: Sidney Gilbert died in 2001. His social responsibility work goes on at Like this Giraffe? LIKE this Page!

WHEN TEENS NEED A HOME #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes Sarri Gilman will tell you, “we recycle cans better than these kids are treated.” To Gilman, a social worker in Everett, Washington, “these kids” are the nation’s homeless and abused kids with no safe place to go. Some experts say that on any given night, there are half a million teenagers on the nation’s streets. Unlike many people who see homeless teens, Gilman didn’t look the other way. Gilman says, “It kept me awake at night trying to figure out what I could do to make a difference.” That “difference” became a miracle known as Cocoon House, a safe haven in Everett for teenagers in crisis. It’s a beautiful home that shelters teens ages 13-18 for a night, a week, or even a few months while they get help locating a stable home. This “cocoon” was not spun overnight. When Gilman started, she had no track record, no money, and was unknown in the community. Friends warned her she’d go bankrupt. When she asked civic leaders for assistance, some of them denied there was a problem. She was criticized for being “too optimistic." But Gilman persisted. Gilman persuaded the local Lions Club to buy the building that would become Cocoon House. She enlisted innumerable volunteers to help fix it up. She spent countless hours reaching out to businesses and social service agencies. The harder Gilman worked, the more the community responded. But in spite of the increasing support, Gilman says that when the doors opened, Cocoon House had $15 in the bank. Gilman never backed down, and Cocoon House not only survived its modest beginning, it grew. Cocoon House heard from one such former resident who’s now 20, employed by a software company, and sharing a house with friends. He ends his letter with, “Sarri, thank you for believing in me, and for opening your heart to so many others whose lives would be wasted without the dream that you made happen.” Update: Cocoon House is rolling right along--; Gilman has gone on to direct Leadership Everett and to run a personal coaching practice. LIKE this Page so you can see more great people like this!

SAVING MARINES' LIVES & YOUR TAX DOLLARS #StickYourNeckOut #GiraffeHeroes From 2003 to early 2008 more than 60 percent of U.S. troop deaths in Iraq were caused by homemade roadside bombs. Field commanders urgently requested tougher vehicles. Franz Gayl heard them loud and clear. He pressed within the Pentagon to get the vehicles replaced. He got nowhere going through the proper channels, so Gayl blew the whistle. It wasn’t an easy thing for him to do. He had enlisted in the Marines the day after his 17th birthday. After retiring as a major, he was hired as a science advisor to the Marines at the Pentagon. Gayl saw himself as Marine Corps to the core. Gayl conducted an MRAP study, identifying a number of specific ways the Marines weren’t responding to urgent requests from commanders in Iraq to provide blast-resistant vehicles. Then Gayl went public with his unclassified study, testifying before Congress and appearing on PBS’s NewsHour. Before his whistle-blowing, Gayl had a sterling job record; immediately after, he was ranked in the bottom 3 percent in job performance and was pressured to resign. But the MRAPs were indeed being shipped to the troops. Shortly before Gayl left the Pentagon, the Secretary of Defense said publicly that sending MRAPs to Iraq saved “thousands of lives. Franz Gayl looked back at the ordeal and said, “I am as committed as ever to return to the Marine Corps to work hard in support of all Marines.”

FROM GLITZ TO A PROUD LEGACY #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut In the 1980’s, orthopedist Michael Berkeley was on the high road to wealth and prestige. His Aspen, Colorado practice involved treating skiing injuries of the rich and famous–movie stars and world-class competitive skiers. But today, Berkeley brings "first-world technology into third-world contexts," searching the US for medical supplies and equipment which he then brings to Mexico, where his patients have never seen a ski. They are subsistence farmers and their families, mostly Tarahumara Indians who suffer from high infant mortality, contaminated water, poor diet, and a history of little or no health care. Now their medical treatment comes from Mexico Medical Missions, a non-profit organization that Berkeley founded, manages, and helps fund. Working with volunteers, including three Amish families, he's built a 10,000-square-foot hospital to meet the medical needs of the Tarahumara. Berkeley works much harder than he did in his Aspen days and there is no income for his efforts, but now his satisfaction level is high. He looks forward to new challenges, including training indigenous medics to work in rural outposts and expanding the hospital's services to include dentistry and a food bank. "This hospital is going to outlive me,” says Michael Berkeley MD, “but before I go, I'd like to see it fully equipped and bustling. This is a place where Tarahumaras, or Indians of any tribe, can come with confidence, knowing they'll be cared for no matter what their problem." Keep track of this work at Like this Giraffe? LIKE this Page!

GIVING STUDENT STAND-IN GRANDPARENTS #GiraffeHeroes #StickYourNeckOut Mabel Barth met with skepticism when she began talking about a simple idea to reduce the loneliness and alienation of college students, loneliness she had witnessed on her own return to college in her middle years. In Barth's vision, a grandparent stand-in sat at a small table in a busy student lounge, sharing fruit, peanuts or cookies, and listening to a student—not advising, not counseling—just listening. Her own education was delayed--when she was 8, her father died and her dream of a college education was put on hold for many years, but she finally graduated Phi Beta Kappa from West Virginia University when she was in her 50s and had seen students' need for someone to talk to. Since 1979, when Barth set up the first Listening Post at Auraria Higher Education Center in Denver, she has put her life into the creation and expansion of the program. For 12 years the main office of the Listening Post was in Barth’s apartment, where she kept in touch with Post managers. She used her own limited personal funds to pay the bills, including those for all the student snacks the grandparent stand-ins dispersed. Now more than 4,000 students a week talk to 400 trained "grandparents" at Listening Posts on 85 campuses across the US and Canada. Barth still puts in a 60-hour week doing administrative duties, volunteer trainings, and her own shift at a Listening Post. When asked why she works so hard, she said, "You cannot pour the perfume of happiness on others without spilling some on yourself." UPDATE: Mabel Barth died in 2012. She was 103 years old. Like this Giraffe? LIKE this Page.

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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