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1 week ago · by · Comments Off on Plastic Surgeon Has Performed Over 32,000 Free Surgeries

Plastic Surgeon Has Performed Over 32,000 Free Surgeries

A world renowned plastic surgeon and his team have performed over 32,000 free cleft-palate surgeries to help children smile again. Dr. Subodh Kumar Singh established GS Memorial Plastic Surgery Hospital in the memory of his father to provide state of the art reconstructive plastic surgery to the needy patients at a very affordable cost. The hospital partnered with Smile Train, a charity providing corrective surgery for children with cleft lips and palates.

Dr Singh came from humble beginnings and lost his father when he was 13 years old. After his father’s death, his family lived in extreme poverty. He and his older siblings sold homemade soaps to help support the family. In 1982 his older brothers pitched in to pay for Singh’s medical entrance exams. He went on to earn an M.B.B.S (an international medical degree equivalent to an M.D. in the US) from Banaras Hindu University in 1988, a Master of Surgery in 1991 and a Master of Chirurgiae in plastic surgery in 1994.

Dr. Singh said since around 2008-2009 they have performed over 4,000 free cleft surgeries under the Smile Train initiative. Thousands of other cleft surgeries have been performed at his center under his leadership. Cleft palate is a common birth condition. It can occur alone or as part of a genetic condition/syndrome. Symptoms arise from the opening in the mouth, causing difficulty in speaking and eating. Repairing a cleft lip or palate can sometimes require multiple surgeries depending on the patient.

Dr Singh is a global trainer and speaker under the Smile Train initiative. His hospital in Varanasi has become a major centre where surgeons across the world come to train in cleft lip-palate surgeries. Dr. Singh and his team have also performed 6,000 free extensive burn surgeries. His efforts inspired the making of Burned Girl (2015), the National Geographic documentary that won international awards for detailing the life of nine-year-old Ragini, whose childhood burns were treated surgically by Dr. Singh.

Singh said every child he has operated on reminds him of himself when he was a child. His service to the poor has earned him wide recognition. He was among celebrated guests at the 2009 Academy Awards and the central court for the 2013 Wimbledon Men Singles Final. “My father Gyan Singh and mother Giriraj Kumari (she died last year) taught me to serve the poor and live ethically. I feel God made me a plastic surgeon and not a businessman to serve a divine cause.”

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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Veterans United Gives Homes To Veterans

Veterans United Gives Homes To Veterans

The nation’s top Veterans Administration-affiliated home lender launched a national campaign to highlight vets and their service. With the help of actor, comedian and retired U.S. Marine Rob Riggle, Veterans United Home Loans has been giving thanks to veterans across the country by surprising them with new houses—completely paid off.

As the initiative’s first expression of gratitude, the Missouri-based lending company and its charitable foundation surprised 10 deserving Veterans with a new house each. Veterans United teamed up with Marine veteran and comedian Rob Riggle to select 10 veterans making a difference in their communities for 10 home giveaways and is donating one more to any veteran who enters for a chance to win at ThanksToVeterans.com.

Pam Swan, vice president of military relations for Veterans United Home Loans and a military spouse, got involved in efforts to support service members after getting married in 1987 and becoming aware of what “military families are lacking” and joined Veterans United in 2011. “We as a company work on improving the lives of service members, their families and their communities, and that is the core of every decision we make,” Swan said. “…Last year, we made a big statement in trying to say thank you on Veterans Day in a more spectacular way.”

The donations were a complete surprise to those selected, who were all in the process of applying for home loans and were just recently approved. Winning recipients were Army Veteran Jonathon Brown, eight-year U.S. Navy veteran and single dad Andre H. from North Carolina; Vietnam Army vet Jim L. from New Mexico, who needed a wheelchair-accessible home; U.S. Army veteran and father of three Daniel G. from New York; U.S. Navy veteran, widow and mother of three Regina L. from Georgia; and Marine Corps veteran Iraq vet Samuel T. from California, who teaches local self-defense classes.

“Our #ThanksToVeterans campaign underscores the daily commitment of veterans as local leaders, dedicated volunteers, and exemplary neighbors. And what better way to thank these deserving individuals than by giving them houses of their very own in the communities they call home?” said Swan

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2 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on 13-year-old Uses His Make-A-Wish To Feed Homeless

13-year-old Uses His Make-A-Wish To Feed Homeless

A 13-year-old boy in Jackson, Mississippi used his Make-A-Wish to feed homeless people.
Abraham Olagbegi was born with a rare blood disorder and needed a bone marrow transplant.
His transplant was successful and he was later contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which gifts children with life-threatening illnesses a granted wish. Despite the allure of getting something epic for himself, he thought the money and opportunity would be better spent on other people.

Abraham decided he wanted a long-lasting wish. “I remember we were coming home from one of his doctor appointments and he said, ‘Mom, I thought about it, and I really want to feed the homeless,” Abraham’s mom, Miriam Olagbegi said. The Foundation was more than happy to oblige Abraham in his wish and they set up a stall in Jackson, Mississippi to hand out free food to homeless people as well as supplies donated from local businesses.

In September, Make-A-Wish helped Abraham organize a day to hand out free food in Jackson, Mississippi. Abraham’s wish is still not fulfilled. Make-A-Wish will help Abraham feed the homeless once a month for one year. Abraham and his family are scheduled to host the event every third Saturday of each month. The Mississippi chapter has pledged to help Abraham by seeking out local businesses that can offer assistance and food to serve up to 80 people.

After Make-A-Wish finishes his wish in August 2022, Abraham plans to continue helping the homeless. He already has a name for the nonprofit, “Abraham’s Table.” “We’re just very excited to be able to continue on this endeavor. It’s just so rewarding,” his mom said. “If I was out there on the streets, homeless, I would want somebody at some point to think of me and to do something special for me. So, that’s what I try to instill in my kids and we just try to pay it forward, by doing what we were raised to do.”

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Steelers Rookie Najee Harris Helps Renovate Homeless Shelter

Steelers Rookie Najee Harris Helps Renovate Homeless Shelter

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Najee Harris returned to the California homeless shelter where he stayed at times when he was a child to help renovate the building and the grounds. Harris partnered with the Lowe’s Home Team and Hands On Bay Area group to bring new life to the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program in Richmond – located about 12 miles north of Oakland. The shelter serves 15,000 homeless, hungry, and low-income individuals annually.

On Oct 5th, Harris, his family and more than 100 volunteers removed the floors, walls, fences, gardens, play areas and veterans’ housing. When Harris was 12 years old, his mother and four siblings were homeless and moved from shelter to shelter around the Bay Area at one point even living in a car. Harris spent a lot of time in homeless shelters but he especially remembers the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program so every time he’s in the area, he makes sure to pay his respects.

The Martinez, California, native would eventually attend Alabama where he would star as running back, helping the Crimson Tide to a national championship and then get drafted 24th overall by the Steelers. “In Alabama, I didn’t really go there because I didn’t really have time to do that. Ever since I’ve been out of college … I’m not going to say all the time but a good amount. I planned my draft there, I came back again after the draft to see some of the stuff they need done. I came back again to take some of the kids to a Giants game. “It was good to go back. Obviously, some of the people there are still working. I went back with my mom too and my family. It was good to renovate some of the things that needed updating,” he said.

Harris remembers his time at the shelter and continues to pay his success forward whenever he can. While visiting the shelter, Harris says he just tries to keep the kids’ minds off their struggles. “I tell them the basic stuff, it’s not like I give some grand speech or something but you know. I just tell them you can always change around the situation and sometimes I’m not even speaking to them about the situations they’re in because they all know where they’re at. I just try to take their minds off other things.”

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4 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Army Veteran Donated 36 Acres For Veterans Treatment

Army Veteran Donated 36 Acres For Veterans Treatment

US Army veteran Marty Weber donated 36 rural acres to help veterans with PTSD and addiction issues. The land bordering New Jersey’s Pinelands National Reserve will be used as a rehabilitation center/retreat for mental illness and addiction. Up to 30 percent of American veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and 14 percent suicides in the U.S. every year are vets. Many veterans also struggle with homelessness and addiction.

Weber lost his longtime partner Jeff Poissant, who was also an Army Veteran, to bladder cancer in 2017. They had purchased the property in October 1994 and had always envisioned somehow using their Ocean County Ponderosa to help fellow veterans. Weber felt compelled to realize that dream following Poissant’s death to honor their 30 year union. “We thought about a cemetery for the vets but this is going to keep them alive,” he said.

Working with two already-established homeless outreach programs—Just Believe and New Life Addiction Services—Jeff’s Camp will feature an 8,000-square-foot facility incorporating a thrift store and a sober living residence providing treatment, rehabilitation, and vocational training—all in a serene, wooded setting. As New Life does at its existing facility, it would provide initial week-long detoxification care, followed by an intensive outpatient recovery program of three hours a day once the veterans move into the residence elsewhere on the property, said the company’s co-founder and administrator Joel Albano.

Just Believe director Paul Hulse said “While New Life is working with them on the medical side, we can work on the rehabilitative/vocation side, getting them back into society, touching people, getting back into that public eye, and getting people what they need. That’s what the store is going to do. The thrift store, like one already operated by Just Believe in Toms River, would employ the veterans living on the property, stocking and selling the donated clothing and other merchandise, as a means of reintegrating them into society through regular work and interaction with the public” Hulse said. The estimated cost of the project is $2.5 million, which Hulse hopes to raise through private contributions and grants.

Weber attributes Poissant’s death to delays in receiving medical care from the Veterans Administration. He said he and Poissant both experienced firsthand some of the challenges military veterans can face. “Our government is not taking good enough care of our vets,” said Weber. “I have to do what I can in Jeff’s memory to help make things right. Weber turned down a $3 million offer for the commercially and residentially zoned property by a developer in order to make Jeff’s Camp a reality.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Community Comes Together to Get Neighborhood Handyman’s Roof Replaced

Community Comes Together to Get Neighborhood Handyman’s Roof Replaced

For decades, James “Mac” McWhorter of Waco, TX has been working on the homes of his neighbors as a handyman so when it came time for his house to receive some TLC, they were ready to return the favor. McWhorter, a veteran, started doing odd jobs here and there, and as word spread that he did good work, he became the trusted neighborhood handyman.

Neighbor Carmen Merritt said no job was too big or too small and anything you needed, he could do. McWhorter was so busy helping others take care of their houses that his own home was falling into disrepair. Merritt noticed he needed a new roof and said knew she had to do something. “This is not OK. He has helped me with so much and I didn’t feel right just going back inside and doing nothing,” Merritt said. She reached out to neighbors on the NextDoor app about ways to assist McWhorter. “Almost immediately there were people offering to donate,” Merritt said.

Eighty-seven year old neighbor Millie Woods, an interior designer who owns MLW Real Estate Holdings took the lead on the project. Woods said she got involved because he was known to make some repairs for poor people without charging the going rate. He was just a good man and has been robbed of those skills because he has dementia. She asked one of her contractors if he would be willing to take a look at the house and volunteer one Saturday to fix it.

What she thought would be a simple roof repair turned out to be a lot more. Donations for repairs started pouring in after the initial post in early May and neighbors also raised enough money for a year of pest control. In addition, Clayton Homes is donating all the shingles and Lowe’s is furnishing the rest of the materials. Woods made sure McWhorter was able to enjoy the experience without doing any work. “The thing about Mac, twice I had to stop him from getting on a ladder to get up on that roof,” Woods said. “I said, ‘Mac, you can’t help with this job, you don’t need to do this anymore. This is something that you deserve because you’ve done this for other people for so many years and you need it and now it’s your turn.”

McWhorter said he’s grateful for the unexpected blessing. “It shows me that there are still those kinds of people that are willing to help others,” McWhorter said. Woods, who’s done a lot for military veterans in the past, said no one who served should have to live with a roof in the state of McWhorter’s. “We don’t want anyone to live that way, but our veterans that served our country need better care than that and we are blessed to have found out about him and it’s an opportunity for us to give something back,” Woods said.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Ontario Couple Helping Homeless Man Get Tiny Home

Ontario Couple Helping Homeless Man Get Tiny Home

A chance meeting and simple act of kindness led to a GoFundMe raising over $18,000, enough to build a tiny home for a homeless Ontario man. Kim Cormier, a mortgage agent in Kingston, was working from home on her front porch last July when she saw David McDonald struggling with the tire of his scooter in front of her house. She offered him some water and then watched his belongings while he went to get a new insert for his scooter’s tire.

After returning from the store, McDonald and Cormier chatted while he fixed his tire and she heard about his troubles, particularly homelessness. She invited him to have dinner with her and her partner Alex. They learned McDonald had been intermittently homeless since 2016. The three hit it off and found an unexpected friendship. In the follow months McDonald and the couple stayed in touch.

They began helping McDonald out with donations of clothing, shoes, and a solar-powered backpack that enabled him to keep his cell phone charged. When McDonald lost a room he was renting they offered to let him stay in her backyard. After a few weeks, her friends also chipped in with donations like clothing, a tent, an air mattress, hygiene products, and food for David.

“Spending time at home and with David, my partner, Andrew, and I decided that we should start looking for a more permanent solution for the winter. As we live in a one-bedroom home and would offer a bedroom if we had it, we needed something else. He was already using our facilities, showering in our home, cooking with me, and doing his laundry. We thought a micro home would be the best option for him to get through the winter,” said Cormier.

Cormier contacted Our Livable Solutions (OLS), a group of people that provide solutions aiming to end homelessness and they put her in contact with EnerDynamic Building. OLS and EHT (EnerDynamic Hybrid Technologies) Corp are making 80 micro homes for people without homes in the Kingston area. The micro-homes are moveable (weighing 1,200 lbs), fully fire retardant, and have full electric hookups using the same plug as Christmas lights on the outside of your home.

She started a GoFundMe and raised the funds to put a deposit on a tiny home to be built for McDonald. The home is expected to arrive in October and McDonald says Cormier has already done more than he could ever thank her for. According to Cormier, McDonald gives back in his own way. “He has very good stories, and he’s just friendly and respectful,” she said. “It’s kind of nice to have someone come in and out, and someone to talk to, and a friend to rely on. I feel very blessed to have met David, he’s part of the family now.”

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Teacher’s “Handle With Care” System Spreading Nationwide

Teacher’s “Handle With Care” System Spreading Nationwide

A teacher in Hutchinson, Kansas, handed out a message to the parents of her students this year and now it’s being shared on social media by educators all over the country. Fourth grade teacher Rachel Harder is being praised for setting up a simple system that gives parents the chance to let her know a child had a particularly challenging evening or morning. They only need to text her the words “handle with care.”

Harder said she came up with the idea after attending a trauma conference a few years ago. “There was a discussion about how police stations across the country have started partnering with schools so that when they have encounters with families in the evenings or on weekends, the police will contact the school – either counselor or administrator – and let them know to handle a student with care since they had encounters with police beforehand.”

The next year, she said, she had a student new to the school who also had autism. Some mornings she struggled to get to school. Harder started using the “handle with care” system with the girl’s mom. “I knew that when she would text me that her daughter needed some extra time and a quiet location, not the gym for morning announcements, so that the rest of her day went smoothly. “It’s important for me to give kids a few minutes of extra time or space – and it’s easy to give,” Harder said.

Harder offers all parents the opportunity to text her with the words “handle with care” if it’s been a particularly rough evening or morning. “I don’t need to know details but parents like that – they know I’m keeping an extra eye on them. I also usually text back and let them know how the morning is going. This gives the kids the grace we all want after a hard night or morning. We all have challenging mornings – we can’t find shoes, backpacks aren’t packed. It’s doing for others what we would like done for us when we have days that are hard” Harder said.

Her idea was valued by many parents and other educators got on board too. Her system is now being shared across the state and nationwide. Stress affects each family differently and kids react to it. It can happen in the morning, in the evening, or even over the weekend. Whenever they go through difficult times it’s a good idea to let their teacher know so they can give them extra help or patience. Harder said a lot of teachers do this without needing a text from parents because they know that kids need time and space and love just by the way they walk in the room. But, a heads-up from parents is wonderful if they can get that.

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Sandler O’Neill Foundation Pays Tuition for Children of Those Lost on 9/11

Sandler O’Neill Foundation Pays Tuition for Children of Those Lost on 9/11

On Sept. 11, 2001, 66 of the 83 men and women who worked for the investment banking firm Sandler O’Neill & Partners on the 104th floor in the World Trade Center lost their lives. They lost a third of their employees to the attacks on the World Trade Center. The firm quickly set up a foundation to pay the college tuition for the children of those who passed. Twenty years later, now known as Piper Sandler, the firm has two of those children working in their office and following in their father’s footsteps.

So far, 54 young men and women have had their college tuition paid so far, with 22 more still eligible. The 54 who are now attending or have attended college have gone to an array of schools from Stanford to Notre Dame to community colleges and technical institutes. The youngest child eligible was born six weeks after September 11. When that child graduates from college, the Sandler O’Neill Foundation will cease to exist, except as an honorable memory.

In 2001, the investment banking firm had 171 employees and was headquartered in New York City. Eighty three employees worked at the World Trade Center. One third of the firm’s partners, almost the entire equity desk, the entire syndicate desk, and all of the firm’s bond traders died in the attack. Among those lost were Herman Sandler, and Christopher Quackenbush, two of the three senior executives who managed the firm. In the harrowing days following the terrorist attacks, the company made the decision to set up a foundation to pay college tuition for all the 76 children of their fallen colleagues.

Sandler’s surviving partner, Jimmy Dunne set up the foundation along with friends, colleagues and some banking competitors. When asked why he set up the foundation, Dunne said “There was a moment in time to stand up,because we believed that what we did would echo for a hundred years in the families of our people, their kids and their grandkids. Because how we conducted ourselves in those first few hours and days would define who we really were and what we were about. I knew that if we were not honorable, then we stood for nothing.

Dunne’s friend, Andy Armstrong, one of the founders of the foundation said “We were up and running by the end of the first week. We wanted the families of the lost to know that we would always remember, that the passing years would never sweep this under the rug. People donated many millions of dollars to set up the foundation. We have no salaries and no expenses except fees to stay extant. I know most of the children who went to college. You wouldn’t believe some of the letters they have written in appreciation. I think they particularly appreciate that we remember their mom or dad this way. Many of them hardly knew their moms and dads.”

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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on PAWS Act Passed to Connect More Veterans With Service Animals

PAWS Act Passed to Connect More Veterans With Service Animals

A bill to connect more veterans with service dogs trained to support mental health conditions has passed the Senate. The Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members for Veterans Therapy Act, or PAWS Act for short, will require the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a pilot program for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to train service dogs. Once signed into law, the $10 million, five-year pilot program will take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

The PAWS ACT authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to create a pilot program to connect service dogs with veterans dealing with post-deployment mental health needs by awarding grants to nonprofit organizations that would provide veterans with puppies to become therapeutic service dogs, as well as cover the cost of training the puppies.

Additionally, the bill will amend title 38, United States Code, and authorize the Secretary of VA to provide service dogs to veterans with mental illnesses who do not have mobility impairments. The American Legion testified in support of a previous version of this bill in 2017. “Service dogs can act as an effective complementary therapy treatment component, especially for those veterans who suffer on a daily basis from the physical and psychological wounds of war,” wrote The American Legion.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will work with organizations like K9s for Warriors, a Florida nonprofit organization that provides service dogs to veterans. Rory Diamond, the CEO of K9s for Warriors said that of the more than 700 veterans who have been through the K9s for Warriors program, 72 percent had attempted suicide before being paired with their service dogs. Jeremy Van Beek, the founder of Get Your Six K9′s Service Dogs said veterans with PTSD had been left out to dry. “They would ask, our well-being isn’t enough? And now a lot of veterans didn’t come forward that probably needed this and unfortunately are not with us today because it wasn’t a well respected idea.” Van Beek said.

Michael Thorpe, a veteran and dog trainer for Elite Canines said he is living proof that service dogs can make a difference for those with PTSD. “I had tons of panic attacks, I had tons of nightmares and before I got my dog Fecto, I would just stay in all the time and it was a nightmare for me.”

Senator Kevin Cramer, who helped get the bill passed said “Many veterans with mobility impairments have had their lives changed — in some cases, saved — by service dogs. Our bill would expand this treatment by launching a pilot program to make veterans with mental health issues such as depression eligible to receive service dogs. It’s a big deal for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. I think it’ll lower the suicide rate and give these veterans their lives back.”

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