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3 months ago · by · Comments Off on Chicago Neighborhood to Become Energy Efficient with Microgrid

Chicago Neighborhood to Become Energy Efficient with Microgrid

A Chicago neighborhood has created a microgrid to become energy efficient. The Bronzeville Community Microgrid combines rooftop solar, natural gas-fired generators and batteries to produce and store energy at a local level. Once fully operational, it will render the entire neighborhood “energy independent,” giving it the ability to disconnect from and reconnect to Chicago’s citywide grid at will.

The microgrid is part of a $25 million initiative, including $5 million in Department of Energy grants and is the first neighborhood microgrid in the US. ComEd plans to have the system up and running by early 2023, not just for emergencies but also to balance and optimize the interplay of distributed energy resources with the larger grid.

The microgrid also has become a blueprint for reducing communities’ contribution to climate change. This is due to the fact that the system gives its operators the ability, at scale, to introduce more renewables into its energy mix while reducing “line loss,” the electricity lost as it travels across power lines.

Along with the microgrid, ComEd has sponsored community-related activities, off-grid and solar-powered streetlights and free Wi-Fi throughout the service area. The community will also have freestanding digital kiosks providing community-related news and energy-related information.

The neighborhood also has an advisory council, The Bronzeville Community of the Future, which is composed of approximately two dozen individuals and organization leaders from a broad range of organizations. They have formal sessions quarterly and frequent informal meetings to keep stakeholders and residents informed about the initiative. The initiative has been years in the making and ComEd also hosted an Ideathon in 2018, 2019 and a virtual format in 2020 for Bronzeville-area high school students to design smart city and smart grid projects using STEM skills.

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4 months ago · by · Comments Off on Brother of Boston Bombing’s Youngest Victim Runs Marathon

Brother of Boston Bombing’s Youngest Victim Runs Marathon

Henry Richard, the brother of the youngest victim in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, has completed the Boston Marathon in honor of his brother. He was emotional as he completed his first Boston Marathon. As he neared the end of the race, an emotional Richard stopped at the Boston Marathon memorial on Boylston Street for several moments. He then turned and ran to the finish, pumping both fists in the air as he crossed the line.

Henry ran with Team MR8, to raise money for the Martin Richard Foundation, which promotes inclusion, kindness, and peace in Martin’s legacy. The foundation invests in community programs that broaden horizons for young people and encourage them to celebrate diversity and engage in positive civic action.

Henry was 10 years old when his 8-year-old brother Martin was one of three people killed that day. Hundreds of people were injured that day including his 6 year old sister Jane who lost her left leg in the bombing. Jane survived that day after Matthew Patterson, from Lynn Fire Department, grabbed a stranger’s belt and made a tourniquet for her. Patterson then lifted her into his arms and raced through the devastation carrying her with her father, Bill Richard, by his side.

His sister, Jane, his parents and other family members were there at the finish line. “It’s great to get here finally. It’s been years in the making for me so I’m just so happy I could finally be here. I know Martin would have been doing it with me — so happy to finish it, that’s all I can think about. So many people were out there for me, all my friends, my family. Motivation was the least of my worries. There were so many people there to support me. It was wonderful and I couldn’t believe it. It meant the world to me that they were here waiting.” Henry said.

Finishing the Boston Marathon is an incredible achievement by itself, but crossing the finish line meant even more to Henry Richard. It also brought back a lot of emotions for the entire Richard family. Henry plans on running the marathon again in the future. “I love this city and I couldn’t be more grateful to them and everything they’ve done for me,” he said.

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Five Women Run Multi-Faith Soup Kitchen To Help Less Fortunate in Montreal

Five Women Run Multi-Faith Soup Kitchen To Help Less Fortunate in Montreal

Five women in Montreal get together once a month to cook for the city’s less fortunate. They call themselves the Shathi Sisters. Shathi is a Bangladeshi word that means togetherness and that is the core of what drives the women to operate their multifaith soup kitchen out of the St. George’s Anglican Church in downtown Montreal. Together, they are helping others and showing that, even in small numbers, you can make the world better.

When COVID-19 hit the world and brought even more struggle to the already difficult lives of those in need, these women gladly ventured on this project. It gave them the opportunity to help others and to see each other. Since December, the Shathi Sisters have spent one Saturday a month cooking 100 meals for those in need and have distributed them around downtown Montreal.

Food costs are kept under $100, but the woman philanthropists have always made sure that the food is “not just scraps of food,” but something they themselves would prepare for their own families: delicious, enjoyable, and healthy, but low cost. They hope to expand their services in the future and eventually do this mission once a week. Besides giving food to the needy, the multifaith soup kitchen project has also brought these women together and they always look forward to it. “We think it’s our duty to do this,” said Irene Mazumder. “Not just because there’s people in need. It’s our duty. If we’re able to help, then why not.”

“The purpose of my engagement, it’s serving the community,” said Sobhan. “When the pandemic was going on, many people lost their homes. They are homeless. So it was great timing for us to start with this. And maybe we started with a soup kitchen, maybe we can do more things. More projects.” Another founder member, Nafissah Rahman, says ““We have a lot of spaces, but it’s not people of colour, there’s no representation. And it mattered to us that the representation of ourselves, so that our future generations can see that we too, we have to do this.”

With the months of public health restrictions, the Shahti Sisters say meeting up every four weeks fulfilled their need to connect in person. The added bonus to their good deed is another great example that anyone of all backgrounds can make a difference in the lives of others and these acts of kindness always inspire others.

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Michigan Community Saves Couple’s Wedding Day

Michigan Community Saves Couple’s Wedding Day

A couple’s wedding was like a fairytale until tragedy struck. Elizabeth and Jake Landuyt’s reception was interrupted just minutes after Elizabeth’s father began giving his speech because the cottage next to their wedding venue caught fire on Mackinac Island, Michigan. The newlyweds had to abandon their reception and without a plan of where to go, headed back toward the church they had just married in.

Guests piled back into the church and began to pray for everyone’s health and safety. While they were in the church praying, unbeknownst to them, angels were at work trying to save the day. Mission Point Resort and other nearby businesses saw everything unfold and immediately sprang into action to save the wedding. The resort staff immediately started getting tables and chairs set up to host the reception.

The chef at the venue took all 120 meals — which were only partially prepared — and instructed the staff to bring them to safety at the restaurant next door. What they didn’t have, another restaurant provided. Other obstacles that were overcome were that Mackinac Island doesn’t have cars, so the migration of the wedding had to be done manually. From catering and supplies by the Island House Hotel kitchen and the Pink Pony, bartending led by Mission Point’s head bellman, late evening ferry services by Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry to entourage assistance, it was all taken care of.

Word spread of the effort to save the wedding and powered by the kindness of strangers, they achieved their goal. . A bellhop volunteered to bartend and a stranger on the street carried the flowers to the new location. In under an hour, the community had banded together and relocated the reception, all while the newly married couple and guests prayed.

“As if this island was not already special enough to us to want to have our wedding there. After what we saw, the ‘Magic of Mackinac’ and its people are so real and we are forever grateful,” Mrs. Landuyt said. To top off their special day, their prayers for those involved in the fire were answered. In the end, no one was hurt and even the building was saved.

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Increase of Fundraising And Donations During Pandemic

Increase of Fundraising And Donations During Pandemic

With millions dependent on unemployment benefits and food bank lines reporting record numbers for turn out during food drops.  The economic crisis set off by the pandemic has widened the chasm between the “haves” and the “have-nots” in the United States in new ways.  The expanded rift has been accompanied by an outpouring of donations to local food banks, crowdfunding campaigns and other aid to financially devastated Americans.

The pandemic has shown that many people care about their neighbors and are willing to help.  Amazon shareholder Mackenzie Scott’s $4 billion in charitable contributions, announced in December, may be the biggest. But there are plenty of Americans who are also chipping in, donating $10 or $20, some for the first time ever.  About 70% of the donations made to campaigns on GoFundMe were under $50 this year, up from 40% in 2019.

Covid 19 Foundations have been established in every state in the US to help communities impacted by the pandemic.  Donations to small and mid-sized charitable organizations were up 7.6% in the first nine months of 2020 over 2019.  Charities received $2.47 billion in donations on Dec. 1, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving known as GivingTuesday, up 25% from 2019.  Woodrow Rosenbaum, chief data officer for GivingTuesday said “People are giving like we’ve never seen before, what we have now is much more collective action.”

America’s Food Fund, started this year, raised over $44 million on GoFundMe, the largest campaign ever on the fundraising website. Long-time programs like the United States Post Office’s Operation Santa, which matches donors with needy families who send letters to a special North Pole address, report unprecedented support.

Across the globe, communities are raising funds for everything from Covid testing sites, necessities for those in need, food banks, helping small businesses, getting medical equipment for front line workers and even transport costs for farmers to get their harvest to hard hit areas hundreds of miles away.  There are even people from different states banding together to help families facing eviction like The 1k Project. 

GoFundMe itself even partnered with several foundations through their own COVID-19 Relief.  They turn donations into grants for people and charities in need.  Millions of people don’t know where their next meal will come from and people, even those who don’t have much themselves, are helping.  Every donation, big or small, is helping others get through the pandemic.

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2 years ago · by · Comments Off on Facebook Adopt A Healthcare Worker Group Started To Thank Health Care Workers

Facebook Adopt A Healthcare Worker Group Started To Thank Health Care Workers

Christine Danderand knows how hard nurses like her mother have been working during the coronavirus pandemic and wanted to do something to let them know how much their sacrifices are appreciated. Danderand, an Omaha, Nebraska, makeup artist, set up a Facebook group last month inviting people to adopt the nurses and health care workers at her mom’s hospital. She only expected her friends to see the group it has grown to more than 12,000 members in just over three weeks and hundreds of health care workers have been adopted.

To participate, nurses and other health care workers can post some information about themselves and a link to their Amazon wish lists. Adopters got busy sending box after box of holiday cheer along with heartfelt messages of thanks and encouragement. The gifts have come from grateful members of the public, doctors, who adopt entire hospital units, and even other nurses. “If you read a lot of the Amazon links, they want compression socks, or a new pair of shoes, or a coffee mug, candy,” she said. “Just little things that kind of brighten their spirits when they get home from work at the end of the day.”

She says she has been spending about four hours a day running the group and has recruited three of her friends to help. Danderand had only planned to run the group for a few weeks, but says it doesn’t feel right to stop now since it’s grown so much. She said she’s heard from a lot of people who’ve made new friends through the group. It’s not just a gifting page anymore, it’s something where they’ve got support from their peers,” she said.

One of her new volunteers is a hospice nurse and was one of the first people adopted by the group. Kris Epps-Martinez said she’s been adopting other nurses to pay it forward. “I deal with death all the time,” Epps-Martinez said. “These other nurses aren’t used to this. It’s hard on them. They deal with death, but not like this.” Epps-Martinez added “It’s simple to do and any health care worker can post and get adopted. We’ve been having them create a wish list on Amazon so that way they get what they want.”

Nurses from states all across the country are now posting and getting adopted. Danderand says it has been uplifting to see the generosity. There are currently about 200 workers waiting to get something from their wish list. Now, there’s a need for people to adopt. You can buy as much or as little as you want. Danderand said anything will mean a lot. “If I could say anything to all the nurses out there I would say thank you,'” Danderand said. Similar groups have been springing up across the country. If you want to join the movement, check your social media for local adopt-a-nurse initiatives—or start an adopt-a-frontline-worker group of your own.

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2 years ago · by · Comments Off on Atlanta Entreprenuers Pay For $40K In Groceries Inspiring Others To Help Community

Atlanta Entreprenuers Pay For $40K In Groceries Inspiring Others To Help Community

A group of local entrepreneurs in Atlanta paid for over $40,000 of groceries just before Thanksgiving. The group surprised shoppers at the Kroger on Wesley Chapel Road in Decatur on Tuesday. Video posted by entrepreneur Brad Giles’ Instagram pages shows customers dance for joy and tear up as they go through the checkout lanes — only to find their bills taken care of. The generous benefactors worked the registers and delighted customers with the news.

The social media post read “This is the season of giving and it’s more important than ever to give back to those in need! We had the Kroger at Wesley chapel in Atl on fire by giving out free groceries and paying for everyone for over 2 hours! Well over $40,000 of purchases given back to our community! I’m so proud to be a part of an incredible group of successful entrepreneurs that banded together to make this happen! Not only did we shut down the grocery store, we helped inspire the community by showing them that Entrepreneurs can give back to the community just as big as any celebrity and it was so much fun helping so many people this holiday season! “We literally took up all 12 registers for two hours at the grocery store and family after family would go through,” Jason Lobdell, one of the benefactors said.

As many still suffer from the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, spreading food insecurity across America, it is important for people to help others where they can. Millions are still without jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic and according to Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, more than 54 million more people in the country could soon face food insecurity. That is 17 million more than before the coronavirus outbreak.
Local churches across the country have been trying to keep up with communities’ food distribution and are experiencing record turnout with car lines miles long in some areas. Brad and Tronda Giles, along with several of their fellow entrepreneurs took notice and wanted to give back. “We’ve always had that love for giving back and helping individuals who have never had help before, and all the people we help in our work translates to who want to help in our communities,” Brad said.

The Giles’ said that after their group’s show of giving went viral, other entrepreneurs reached out to them to learn how they could give back. “Every little bit counts. Giving is something we all have to do as a community, and if we can all give to each other, it’s going to make everybody stronger,” said Giles.

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2 years ago · by · Comments Off on East Idaho News Secret Santa Giving Away $500,000 In Gifts This Year

East Idaho News Secret Santa Giving Away $500,000 In Gifts This Year

Every year, a Secret Santa brings joy to people in need in East Idaho through an anonymous donation and with the help of East Idaho News. The anonymous “secret Santa” has been giving out gifts to people in the East Idaho community for the last five years. This year, more than $500,000 will be given to area families. The news station created a program to nominate people that are in need. They are still seeking nominations for this year and they still have about $150,000 along with several cars left to give away.

It all started in 2015 when Nate Eaton, news director of East Idaho News, received a call from a person wanting to give away $100,000 in gifts to local people in need and the Secret Santa just needed the news site to find the people first. The idea was an immediate hit and their email server almost crashed from the number of nominations they received the first year. The program has grown rapidly since then and people love watching the gifting every year. They now have more than 33,000 followers on their YouTube channel.

Eaton wanted to be sure people know it’s not an organization or business giving the money away but a very generous individual. “Secret Santa looks for people that just need a break,” Eaton said. “They’ve run out of luck, they’ve run out of money, they don’t ask for a handout, they’re working hard, they have specific needs, [and] they just need something to get ahead in life.”

Families across the Eastern Idaho region have been fortunate to be the recipients of gifts from the mysterious and generous “Secret Santa,” who for the past six years has worked in secrecy. Since the “Secret Santa” is anonymous, Eaton has become the face of the entire operation. He’s the one showing up on doorsteps handing out the presents. “It is a local person here. I think if you were to meet him on the street, he might deny it,” said Eaton, who is the only one on his team who knows Santa’s true identity.

This year some gifts will be bigger than ever and will include money towards a prosthetic leg, a pickup truck and a 15-seat passenger van. “The key is you don’t want to have somebody receive a large gift and then [they] have to pay the taxes on it or any fees or things like that,” he explained of how it works. “So Secret Santa covers all of that. If somebody gets a car, the taxes have been paid for. The only thing the person has to pay is the registration and he gives them a check to take care of that.”

Film and production crews will go out to sometimes several places each day during November and December to hand out gifts. Sometimes those situations can be so heartbreaking or personal that East Idaho News elects to not air the footage from giving the gift away.

“The people that maybe you haven’t read about in the news, but have quietly suffered for years and years that don’t think they’ll ever get a break—this might be their year when they can know someone is thinking about them and they can get a gift that will actually change their life,” the news director explained. To nominate someone (you can’t nominate yourself) for the Secret Santa program, you just need to fill out an application on their website.

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2 years ago · by · Comments Off on Iconic Strand Bookstore Sounds Call For Help

Iconic Strand Bookstore Sounds Call For Help

Like many independent businesses across the country, the beloved NYC book store the Strand is in trouble. A Greenwich Village fixture since 1927, known worldwide for its “18 miles of books,” the Strand is the single remaining establishment out of 48 bookstores that once ran the length of 4th Avenue’s famous Book Row. Unfortunately, with the Covid-19 pandemic reducing crucial foot-traffic, store proprietor Nancy Bass Wyden, granddaughter of the store’s original owner, posted a cry for help on Twitter.

In a last-ditch effort to save her beloved family business, Bass Wyden reached out to her customer base with a plea for help. “I’m going to pull out all the stops,” she tweeted, “to keep sharing our mutual love of the printed word. But for the first time in the Strand’s 93-year history, we need to mobilize the community to buy from us so we can keep our doors open until there’s a vaccine.”

The response from the Strand’s loyal clientele came in the form of an avalanche of 25,000 orders over the course of a single weekend that crashed the store’s website and brought in approximately $200,000 in sales. One patron ordered 197 books. That was followed up by round-the-block lines at the store’s flagship location on Broadway and East 12th Street in lower Manhattan when the store opened.

Having suffered heavy financial losses earlier in the year, even with the amazing outpouring of love and a much-needed boost in revenue, the Strand isn’t out of the woods just yet, but Bass Wyden is determined not to give up. Revenue was down 70% since this time last year, the business’ cash reserves had depleted, and the $1 million to $2 million loan the Strand received in government emergency relief in April is running dry.

Bass Wyden started working at the Strand in the mid-’70s, when she was 16, and inherited full ownership of the business, including the building at 828 Broadway, from her father, Fred Bass, after his death in 2017. The bookstore has withstood the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the 9/11 terror attacks, but the pandemic could be its downfall. “As the 3rd generation owner,” she said, “I have tried to imagine what my dad and grandfather would do right now after they spent their entire lives—6 days a week—working at the store. I don’t believe they would want me to give up without a fight.” Bass Wyden said.

“Never did I imagine that the store’s financial situation would become so dire that I would have to write friends and devoted customers for help,” owner Nancy Bass Wyden said in an open letter. “It hurts to write this, but that is the predicament that we are in now.” For the first time since her grandfather founded the store 93 years ago, Bass Wyden said, the time had come to ask customers for help. She’s asking all loyal lovers of the written word to start the holidays early and Shop the Strand to save the Strand.

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2 years ago · by · Comments Off on MI Teacher Saves Student’s Grandmother During Virtual Lesson

MI Teacher Saves Student’s Grandmother During Virtual Lesson

Michigan elementary school teacher Julia Koch is being praised for her quick thinking after she helped save the life of a student’s grandmother while giving a virtual lesson. Koch was teaching her first graders remotely at Edgewood Elementary School in Muskegon Heights late last month when one student began experiencing technical difficulties. Koch called Cynthia Phillips, the student’s grandmother, to solve the problem — and that’s when she realized something was not right.

When Koch spoke to Cynthia Phillips, who was having trouble charging her granddaughter’s school tablet, the teacher noticed something was off in the grandmother’s voice. “It was clear there was something very wrong. Her words were so jumbled, and I couldn’t understand what she was trying to say,” Koch told CNN. “She didn’t sound like herself.” Koch quickly alerted the school principal Charlie Lovelady who had a staff member call 911.

Lovelady said “I noticed her speech was impaired and I asked her if she was alright. She was stumbling over her words and it was getting worse by the minute. I knew the symptoms of a stroke because I lost my father from a stroke so I told her hold on and immediately got her help.” With an ambulance on its way to Phillips, Lovelady asked two of his employees to drive to her house to check up on her and the young children under her care.

Phillips remains hospitalized and is slowly recovering. “I would have died if it weren’t for the teacher being so quick and fast about getting me help,” Phillips said from her hospital bed. “It made me so close to the staff and the principal, even the secretary who hurried to get me on the phone with the principal. They showed up at my house to make sure I’m OK,” she said through tears. “I thank God I didn’t die in front of my kids.”

Koch’s quick thinking helped a life and while Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System Superintendent Rané Garcia said he is immensely proud of both Ms. Koch and Mr. Lovelady, Koch feels she did what anyone would have done. “I don’t think one can truly be a good teacher and not care about the students and their families. In the environment we’re in especially, it’s too hard to do this without actually truly caring. Out of all this, what I’ve learned being part of a community that cares is so important. Paying attention to people and listening to them, always thinking of how to help. It’s great to know I’m part of a team like that.” Koch said.

Principal Lovelady said he is “blown away” by how quickly his staff worked together to save Phillips’ life. “I’m so proud of my team, it just shows that we have wonderful people here who didn’t think twice about calling for help and jumping in the car to check on them,” he said. “I’m a very, very proud principal.”

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