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PHILANTHROPY

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

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

Painless Payment Plans

A groundbreaking humanitarian initiative gives patients access to free medical care in exchange for community service. Healthcare is so expensive in America. Did you know that medical debts are the leading cause of individual bankruptcies in the United States? Moreover, more than 65% of these patients utilize their insurance but still can’t cover the bill. Now, imagine if you could volunteer your time instead of paying your medical debt. Well, Dr. Demetrio Aguila III is a Nebraska-based plastic surgeon who is allowing his patients to do just that. He is also the president and CEO of Healing Hands of Nebraska, a medical and multi-specialty surgical practice that offers surgical solutions to chronic pain, as well as surgical treatments for conditions of the nose, throat, and ears. “I see too many people who need surgery, but just can’t afford it,” he says. “I decided to make it fair, as long as people agreed to pay the goodness forward.” Through his surgeries, Dr. Aguila has helped the immobile walk, veterans recover from chronic pain, alleviate the pressures of sinusitis, and many more

Marian Hamilton and The Ken Hamilton Caregiver Center

A private sanctuary for caregivers eases the everyday stress associated with the care of ailing loved ones. Unsung Heroes Imagine having a break in your day, time so precious you can have a moment all to yourself to escape, relax, and recharge. This momentary freedom is appreciated beyond measure by family members whose lives have been dramatically altered to become the courageous caregivers of loved ones with serious illnesses or injuries. Caregivers give their all to support the physical and well-being needs of loved ones. Caregiving is more than a loving, noble, selfless act —it speaks of endurance when courage and strength seem exhausted. But usually, one dives into their newfound role and then realizes how inadequate they are to take on the responsibility. Their own lives become disrupted even to forgo paid work to accommodate the needs of the loved one. Exhaustion, stress, frustration, anxiety, isolation, and depression often creep into a caregiver’s life. Patience and fortitude become precious commodities to survive caregiving. Where does one turn for help? Roughly one third of family caregivers have difficulty in finding

Lisa Klein and Loved Twice: Starting Life with Compassion

A new mother finds room in her heart to help at-risk newborns. It’s another busy day at a San Francisco Bay Area warehouse filled with volunteers sorting through mountains of baby clothes. Another box filled to the brim is sealed, labeled “Baby Boy,” and placed on a stack of similar boxes ready for delivery. Among the piles of baby garments, Lisa Klein can be found examining each article and lovingly divvies them up by size 0 through 12 months. A Head Start in Life Klein is the founder of this non-profit enterprise, Loved Twice, that collects and distributes donated baby clothes to help underprivileged newborns, giving them a better start in life. They collect gently used baby clothes that would otherwise end up in a landfill and pack them lovingly into a boy’s or girl’s wardrobe-in-a-box. Each box contains 75 items including socks, hats, pants, sleepwear, booties, bibs, books, and other items. Deliveries are made to social workers who hand out the boxes to desperate new mothers and guardians in local hospitals, shelters, and clinics. It all started in 2005

Susan Nastasi: “Horsing Around” is Good for You

Sharing the unconditional love of miniature horses promotes peace, joy, comfort, and healing. Humans and animals have shared a bond since prehistoric times, one helping the other for mutual benefit. Our lives are enriched by an animal’s unconditional love and ability to sooth the wounds of our body and soul. A cuddle, a snuggle, a wagging tail acts like a balm for our emotional, psychological, and physical well-being. Just interacting with animals uplifts our spirit, and the feeling is mutual. What place better for this friendly bond to be experienced than at SOUL Haven Ranch in Winter Garden, Florida. It’s the perfect place to immerse in peace, tranquility, and nature, yet only a half-hour’s drive from mega-parks Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World. Guests are welcomed to a charming Victorian-style house with a wrap-around porch complete with rocking chairs. Upscale accommodations await the tired traveler as do friendly dogs, cats, and goats. Relax and unwind in the gazebo, hammocks, and swings beneath the large shady oak trees. There’s even a horse-drawn carriage service available for tours, weddings, birthdays, and