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INSPIRATION

Articles

Diane Latiker: Chicago South Side’s Founder Of “Kids Off The Block” (KOB)

Chicago South Side’s Ms. Diane opens her heart and home for at-risk youths to realize their potential. A Memorial Like No Other Another stone is placed on a memorial wall in Roseland, a neighborhood in Chicago. Bearing a name and date, the stone is carefully and lovingly displayed among the other 800 stones that have been collecting there since 2007. The wall is a sad testament of young lives cut short by the barrel of a gun. Worse yet, the wall has been rebuilt 15 times since 2007, and is over 400 stones behind! Diane Latiker, a community activist and founder of Kids Off the Block (KOB), set up the memorial wanting to shock “her community and the youth she served,”  KOB is a non-profit started in 2003 in Roseland, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago, where walking home from school could mean dodging a gauntlet of bullets. Even Latiker is not immune to her neighborhood’s violence. Her own van was found shot up by gangs. On another occasion, she says she found herself between two guns with

Haben Girma: A Champion of Disability Inclusion as Part of Diversity

From refugee to Harvard grad: She champions inclusion and dignity for people with disabilities.  We Are All Able The word “disability” usually comes with a negative connotation. It seems to deny the fact that there are people of all shapes, sizes, and skills that require judgement-free social services. Today, sadly, it seems that the differences that make our world colorful, unique, and progressive can also be a cause for isolation for many people. But Haben Girma, a deaf-blind Harvard scholar, is living proof that we are all able to complete grand missions no matter our abilities if we have the courage in our hearts and the support of our communities.  Girma is a public speaker and disability rights advocate with international fame. She aims to have inclusive practices for people with disabilities in every aspect of our daily lives. And she believes that technology can level the playing field.  She’s a lawyer, activist, and author who has been named a White House Champion of Change by President Barack Obama, spoken at national conferences, and gave a lecture on accessible design

Estella Mims Pyfrom And Her Brilliant Bus For Underprivileged Kids

Underprivileged kids take charge of their destiny on a magical mobile learning lab. Magic School Bus  In today’s digital age, information is everywhere. This has made for a more informed general public, but some poor and rural locations have fallen behind due to a lack of resources. That’s why Estella Pyfrom, an 82-year-old activist and educator from Quincy, Florida, is giving those who need it an “education on wheels.” Her ‘magic school bus’ established a movement to make education accessible to all. The Brilliant Bus is a non-profit, designed to help both underprivileged children and adults access education, modern technology, and educational resources no matter where they live. The project is helping to eliminate the digital divide in communities and has been featured during a Microsoft Super Bowl commercial, in O, The Oprah Magazine, and was a recipient of Toyota’s Standing O-vation award. Pyfrom was also named a CNN Top 10 Hero. You can watch her hero story here… Retirement Redefined When most people retire, they usually spend their savings on traveling, moving to a different country, or satisfying their

Stanford Thompson: Creating Social Harmony

By his example, he’s helping the under-served through the power of music. Change the Tune For Stanford Thompson, music is more than notes and pitches. He believes, like many others, that music can heal broken communities, uplift downtrodden children, and make Philadelphia a better place. Unlike others, Thompson is a world-renowned trumpet player who uses his musical talent for social justice initiatives. His art is undeniable, he’s performed solos with Ocean City Pops Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and the North Springs Philharmonic, and traveled as far China, Czech Republic, Germany, Kenya, and Austria playing his tunes. But to Thompson, the sweetest sound doesn’t come from his trumpet, it comes from helping those in need. His organization, Play On Philly, pairs world-class musicians with students who are struggling academically due to life circumstances. He shares his results about the life-changing effects of music and remains committed to the arts through his many leadership positions on the board of the Marian Anderson Award, American Composers Forum, and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. Due to his commitment to social justice through music,

Jim Ziolkowski: Building the Human Spirit

One brick at a time, his labor of love empowers lives and communities through education. A man with a wonderful soul wrote a book about walking in the shoes of the less fortunate. If you took a walk in Jim Ziolkowski’s shoes not only would they be covered in dust from foreign lands, they’d make your heart swell with love for your fellow man. In his book, Walk in Their Shoes, he poses the question: can one person change the world? In his life he’s already proven it. Heartland Upbringing Ziolkowski grew up like millions of other kind souls in the heartland of America. Raised in Jackson, Michigan, he enjoyed the peaceful life of small town U.S.A. and all the charming trappings associated with it. Attending Church with his parents was a big part of that wonderful childhood. His faith, deeply embedded in his consciousness, would affect not only his life but the fates of thousands. College Grad with a Conscience After graduating from college, Ziolkowski traveled the world, but not like your typical Eurorail backpacker. After hitchhiking around Europe

Ubuntu Life: Empowering Lives

A unifying idea, ubuntu means to be human is to recognize the humanity of others. “Ubuntu” is a simple African word that has deep meaning in society. It is a philosophy that holds a universal truth and is a way of life. Ubuntu means appreciating one’s uniqueness and having respect for each other. Each person brings different skills and strengths that contribute to the success of a society as a whole. But ubuntu also encompasses sharing, being helpful, caring, trust, selflessness, and community. Such a philosophy leaves no room for mean-spiritedness or retaliation. Instead, hatred and anger are conquered through compassion and peace. Nelson Mandela, an inspirational figure of freedom in the world, has been called the personification of ubuntu. He did not harbor retribution, bought sought peace, understanding, and harmony. Mandela once described ubuntu as “a traveler through a country would stop at a village, and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of ubuntu, but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu

Alicia Keys: Keep a Child Alive

Superstar takes positive action to combat the physical, social, and economic impacts of HIV. Star Power Alicia Keys, a world-renowned songstress and piano player, uses her global fame to make the world a better place. For years, her soulful voice and lyrics about hope, love, and freedom have inspired fans worldwide. As a classically trained pianist with 15 Grammys, she understands the power of music. She was signed to Columbia Records when she was 15 and has recorded megahits like No One, Empire State of Mind, If I Ain’t Got You, and Girl on Fire. Aside from music, Keys has acted in films such as The Secret Life of Bees and The Nanny Diaries. Even though Alicia Keys’ powerful voice, undeniable piano skills, and star power are her claim to fame, that’s not the only way she wants to leave her mark on the world. Few people know that she is a human rights activist and a spokesperson for afflicted women and children around the world. Musical Mission One of Keys’ most pivotal moments was when she traveled to South Africa

Guardians of the Children

Biker heroes serve to shield and protect the powerless victims of child abuse. They’re not just another biker club rumbling down the open road. They are not a Motorcycle club at all. Rough looking on the outside, they’re soft on the inside when it comes to kids, especially victims of child abuse. Meet Guardians of the Children (GOC), a non-profit biker organization formed in 2006 by Founders “LT” Trevino and “Bamm-Bamm” Cano whose members protect abused and neglected children. GOC’s members cover a broad range of professions united in a cause through their love of motorcycles. As bikers, they leverage their alliances to serve victims and their families. More Than Bikers “We’re an organization within the biker community,” says the Vice President of San Antonio Chapter. “It’s a matter of dedication to the lifestyle — we’re a group of volunteers that uses the image of the biker to help us in our mission, but we’re not living out the full lifestyle that the motorcycle clubs do.” GOC benefits communities by informing the public of how widespread the child abuse crisis

Shawn Hardnett: Beacon Of Hope For Our Youth

Going above and beyond to educate those who need it most, he illuminates their future, offers a role model, and makes them a part of a legacy. He was told that North Forest was a “wasteland in Houston.” That was exactly why he was determined to go. Though weary from years of work in the struggling education system in New York, he was focused on entering one of the lowest performing districts in Texas as a force of change. Educational Reset “We opened the school for black and brown boys, taking the lowest performing demographic out of the lowest performing district. Now, these kids are outperforming the state in Reading and Math,” says Shawn Hardnett. His title is Founder and Chief Executive Officer for Statesmen College Preparatory Academy for Boys Public Charter School. That said, he has proudly worn many other worthy titles – school founder, leadership coach, principal, educational consultant and, most notably – teacher.  What Hardnett does may not be obvious to the casual observer, but his results clearly are, and they are profound. You can see it

The Ultimate Gift: An Unforgettable Father’s Day

One young man’s Father’s Day gift completely changed life as he knew it. Grateful fathers around the country crack their smiles as they read their child’s handmade Father’s Day card and open up their gift to find the proverbial mug or clothing item. But for one stepdad, this past Father’s Day brought a gift beyond measure, an unforgettable surprise to last a lifetime and beyond. It started like any other Father’s Day. Unsuspecting Donzell Powell, a successful real estate investor based out of Suffolk, Virginia, was being treated to the usual Father’s Day activities. His 17-year-old stepson, Keon Wiggins, had something extraordinary in store for the stepdad he loved. Wiggins desired to give the ultimate gift in gratitude for all his stepdad had done in his life. What could he give that would be more meaningful than anything money could buy? In Gratitude Wiggins recognized it took an extraordinary man with a big heart to take him and his mother into his life. Powell was willing to take on the role of stepfather and created a loving, nurturing relationship with