4 days ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Missouri Woman Turned Grief Into Hope During Pandemic
A Missouri woman turned her grief into hope after she lost 11 of her family members and friends to COVID-19. Shana Jones, of Maplewood, sets up dozens of tables outside her home six days a week with hundreds of free items for those in need. Jones lost the first eight of her friends and relatives in her home town of Albany, Georgia, in the week before and after her March 25, 2020 birthday. “I cried, and I felt weak. It just became so overwhelming that I became numb” she said. But soon after, Jones wanted to use her grief to do something good for her community, and she began putting a collection of tables on her front lawn, each one full of food and supplies for anyone to take — free of charge.
The tables were stocked with paper products, snacks, canned goods and cleaning supplies — things that a struggling family may have a hard time affording if they have fallen on hard times. Residents only have to drive by and take what they need from the “Grab-N-Go” tables. Although she remains heartbroken from the losses, she wanted the tragedy to be a stepping stone and decided to give back to her community. Since the beginning of the pandemic, she has given away food to more than 300 families a week.
“A lot of people cannot go back to work full time, they’re part-time and they’re still trying to make it, but they are struggling because, you know, they’re home. They can’t work” Jones said. Jones’ generous actions meant so much to her neighborhood that many left notes expressing their appreciation. “Every time I get a note,I feel that the angel of one of my family members or friends is saying, ‘Well done” Jones said.
I have elderly people who come by and say, ‘I’m scared to go to the store, can I get some cabbage off your table?’ People come by and donate. They just put stuff on the table to help the community. That’s all I’m trying to do,” Jones said. The St. Louis County Council awarded Shana Jones with a special resolution “for making a difference in Maplewood.”
Lisa Clancy, the Chairperson of the St. Louis County Council said “I see Shana as an inspiration. “We just wanted to honor her for what she’s doing. I think it’s great.” While some items are donated, Jones has purchased many of the items herself, costing her hundreds of dollars. “Her main focus is improving the lives of those around her,” according to the GoFundMe page set up to accept donations for the effort.
1 month ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Atlanta Nonprofit Raised Millions for Eviction Relief Fund
Marjy Stagmeier started investing in old affordable apartment communities and quickly realized that many of her renter families were low-income single parents who needed services like after-school programs and playgrounds for their communities. She launched her own 501c3 nonprofit that provides free on-site services to families living in affordable apartments communities—and Star-C has since changed the lives of many families.
“Many children have come through the Star-C after-school program, who are now doctors, plumbers, and school-teachers, earning good wages that moved them out of poverty,” she said. “Almost 100 families have elevated from renting to home ownership because we kept rents low so families can save their money.” A chance meeting in 2017 with Bill and Melinda Gates, Mathew Desmond, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book Evicted—opened her eyes: Even with her rents below market, some of the tenants struggled to pay rent, so she began to build an informal resource network for families to get rental assistance. Through Star-C, her renters also have access to summer camps for their children, health care, after-school programs, meals for the children and more.
After COVID-19 struck in March 2020, many of Stagmeier’s tenants were laid off from their jobs or had to manage multiple children that were suddenly at home during the day, which made the need even greater. In April 2020, Star-C launched a $50,000 GoFundMe campaign for eviction relief. When the local municipal government of Cobb County found out about the Star-C Eviction Relief Fund, they quickly voted to donate $1.5 million of their federal stimulus funding. Other municipalities, like Fulton County, followed, and Star-C has now raised over $9 million from governments and foundations, giving the ability to help over 3,000 families avoid eviction.
Marjy’s staff has spoken personally with thousands of Atlanta families through their hotline, and has, so far, partnered with over 330 landlords representing 65,000 apartment units. “The eviction relief fund works with landlords who offer affordable rents for low-income families. Our landlords know their neediest tenants and assists them with their applications” Stagmeier said. The Star-C program has been a game-changer not only for tenants but landlords who have struggled as well. “So many of our tenants and landlords are simply grateful. Our Star-C staff often receives thank you notes and calls from families who have now found work and can pay their rent.”
The 2021 federal relief package has provided another $4.1 million so they can give even more assistance. Stagmeier is convinced her property model and brand of caring capitalism can transform communities and still make a profit for its investors. She believes it’s the logical, profitable, moral thing to do.
2 months ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on 60 Year Old Miami Woman Has Been Feeding Thousands Since Start of Pandemic
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has left millions with food insecurity but good Samaritans like Doramise Moreau ensure that people in her community don’t go to bed hungry. The part-time janitor who lives in Miami has cooked over 1,000 meals a week for the hungry since the start of the pandemic. Moreau doesn’t have a vehicle so she walks or takes the bus to work and prepares the meals at the end of the week to feed between 1,000 – 1,500 people every Saturday.
Every Thursday and Friday, the 60 year old widow borrows her church’s truck to buy groceries. Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church pays for the food, relying on donations. Moreau then cooks all day long preparing the meals singlehandedly, while church volunteers serve or deliver them to people in need. Sometimes cooking until past midnight, people ask if she’s exhausted but she says she is fueled by her faith and her passion for helping others encourages her to wake up early to start cooking.
Moreau said her desire to feed the hungry goes back to when she was a little girl in Haiti. She’d sneak food from her parents’ kitchen to give to those in need. Despite her mother’s fury, Moreau persisted because it bothered her so much seeing people in need.
Reginald Jean-Mary, a pastor at the church, said this isn’t Moreau’s first time lending a helping hand. She also sends pallets of food back monthly for her family and friends in Haiti. Since the start of the pandemic, every morning before work, Moreau lays out a table with hot teas and other homeopathic remedies for church staff, police, and community leaders to inhale and drink to help strengthen their immune system. “She takes care of everybody from A to Z. She’s a true servant. She goes beyond the scope of work to be a presence of hope and compassion for others,” Jean-Mary said.
Though she didn’t expect it, Moreau’s selfless deeds were rewarded by community leaders who nominated her to receive a brand new car. As part of a Miami, Florida anti-poverty initiative, community leaders nominate residents known for community service. The Toyota Corolla was purchased by the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation through a grant, and Moreau will only have to pay $125 monthly for three years before she can own it. It was just a small token of appreciation for a woman who does so much.
2 months ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Toyota Replaces TX EMT’s Truck After Heroic Actions During Pile Up
The Texas pile up on February 11th took the lives of 6 people as Winter storm Shirley bared down on many states across the country. Rare wintery conditions had iced over highways all across Texas, including Interstate 35 in Fort Worth. In the early morning hours, 133 vehicles, including dozens of semis, some of them loaded with cars, were involved in the mass accident.
A video of the pileup as it happened is included below. At one point, a white truck is seen crashing into the ever-growing mass of vehicles. Moments later, a semi comes barreling down, smashes into it and the force of the impact sends the now-crumpled vehicle into the opposite lane, over the barrier. The man in the truck, MedStar paramedic, Trey McDaniel, survived. McDaniel said he saw the semi barreling at him at full speed and there was nothing he could do.
But he not only survived both crashes, once he got out of his now crumpled 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser, as he puts it himself, he went into “emergency mode” and started helping out other victims. McDaniel said he started helping other victims as soon as he got his bearings. He was dizzy and in pain but he was able to help out. In fact, he was already in his uniform, since he was driving to work when the accident happened so he was assisting crash victims for quite some time before other medics on the scene realized he was a victim himself.
McDaniel posted about his experience on Reddit, leaving out the details of his heroic behavior afterwards and explaining how his off road tires, as well as the car itself saved his life. “I was launched over the center barrier into the Northbound lanes while still inside. If you slow the video down, I made a full rotation, my roof rack came off, and the FJ landed on top of it, fortunately wheels down. Every airbag deployed, and the cab was a safe cocoon,” he writes. “I was alive. I oriented myself and crawled out of my driver window.”
A friend launched a GoFundMe in his name, in the hope that he might be able to replace the vehicle – an essential item for him, since he needs it for his daily work commute. Toyotausa caught wind of his posting and commented “We’re just glad you’re safe and inspired that you chose to help others in need. We’re happy you’re part of the Toyota family. So, don’t worry about replacing your vehicle – it would be an honor for us to get you a new one!” Toyota doesn’t offer the FJ Cruisers in the US anymore so they offered McDaniel a vehicle of his choice and he opted for a brand new 4Runner TRD Pro.
This isn’t the first time Toyota has offered to reward heroes for their heroic actions. In 2018, the automaker provided a new Tundra to Allyn Pierce, a nurse who burnt his old truck to a crisp helping to evacuate patients and staff in the Paradise, California wildfires before attempting to leave the area himself.
2 months ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Texas Communities Pull Together During Winter Storm Crisis
Amid the pandemic, Texans experienced devastating effects of the recent polar vortex that their state is not equipped to handle. Thousands were left without power or heat for days as temperatures dipped and their roads were left dangerous to travel on. Businesses and homeowners are dealing with the damage of burst pipes and lost wages as many areas shut down. But while many families were literally left in the dark, there are always people finding ways to help others.
Raymond Garcia of Houston, Texas, found himself without power at home and decided to use his time helping others. He visited people in his community and helped fix their burst pipes. Garcia said he was inspired by the teaching of his mother, who died recently from COVID-19. “My mom always taught me, if you help and you give to people, God will always bless you,” he said. “And you know what, I’ve been blessed.” When the power outages meant a Foodarama grocery store in Houston could no longer accept credit and debit card payments, an unidentified man began handing out $20 bills to people waiting in the line. It’s estimated that the man who did not want to be identified, handed out nearly $500 that day. Meanwhile, in San Antonio TX, another good Samaritan at the Martini Ranch bar put on a free grill complete with lobster bisque for anyone in need of a meal. “Just grilling away out front to provide some people with a free hot plate,” he said in a social media post. “Stay safe out there San Antonio.”
Chelsea Timmons was making her last food delivery of the day in Austin TX, when her car got stuck on the frozen driveway of Nina Richardson and Doug Condon after sliding on the incline and hitting a bush. Timmons had planned to return home but when she called AAA, all their tow trucks were busy responding to emergencies. Richardson and Condon, strangers to her, offered her their guest room and Timmons ended up spending five nights there. Richardson and Condon worried that even if she made it home safely, she’d still be struggling upon returning to her home that had no power.
Bonnie Valdez of San Antonio posted to Facebook to say that she had found around $620 put through the door of her store after leaving a stack of around 140 water bottles outside of her store overnight for people to take during the crisis. Another Texan, Ryan Sivley said he didn’t hesitate to help when he spotted hundreds of drivers in need on the side of the icy roads in Austin. Sivley used his four wheel drive vehicles to rescue drivers stuck on the side of roads— all without asking for anything in return. “I’ve seen wreckers turning people away because they won’t pull them out due to liability. You need to stay in your car and just freeze to death? If I was in that spot, I would beg and hope that somebody would help me. So that’s what I did.”
Another Houston hero, Jim McIngvale, better known locally as Mattress Mack- opened two of his furniture stores to be used as warming centers. He urged extreme caution for those travelling to the showrooms, and said COVID-19 protocols would be followed, including mask-wearing, and food would be provided. “Anybody who needs it—whether they’re homeless, whether they lost power, whether it’s just wanting to come in and get something to eat—anybody wants to come in, we’re here for them.” McIngvale also turned over some of his stores to be used as evacuation centers during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 so he’s no stranger to helping his community during times of need.
While power has been restored in nearly two million homes, TX remains embroiled in the aftermath of the worst winter storm to strike the Lone Star State in decades. These are just a few examples of good people in the world who, during times of crisis, seek ways to help others even if they struggling through the same crisis. Even the smallest, self-less act gives others hope in the worst times and encourages others who make not think they can make a difference or have much to offer-realize that they can.
3 months ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on San Antonio Community Rallies To Repair WWII Veteran’s Home
A San Antonio TX community has rallied behind a 94 year old veteran, Alfred Guerra, after his home fell into disrepair. Guerra’s son and daughter had been able to keep up with home repairs but it became uninhabitable after his son, who had torn out much of the interior during the remodel, suddenly passed away from cancer last summer. Hoping to harness the power of social media, his daughter, Maria, reached out via Facebook to ask for help. It wasn’t long before a variety of veterans groups heard about the man who had earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for acts of bravery in World War II.
First to answer the call was the Military Order of the Purple Heart, followed soon after by Broken Warriors’ Angels, a local nonprofit serving San Antonio veterans and their families, along with the VFW Post 76, and the city’s Department of Human Services and Department of Military Affairs. “As combat warriors, we leave nobody behind. And as veterans, we leave no veteran behind,” Tony Roman, of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
Mr. Guerra had moved in with Maria and was thrilled that the repairs were underway once again—but then the COVID-19 lockdown put the project on hold. Thankfully, this month, work on the house has resumed. Veteran volunteers who had served in three foreign conflicts—Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam—arrived on the scene and worked as a team to gut the home’s interior and prep it for the next phase of the home makeover.
A new roof had been donated by the SRS Raise the Roof Foundation, and the electrical and plumbing systems are on their way to being updated. They are still in need of an HVAC system and the family is hoping for another guardian angel to come through there as well. They’ve set up a GoFundMe page with a modest $5,000 goal to help finance the much-needed repairs.
It may take another month or so to complete the project but more than anything else, Guerra yearns to move back into his home. He longs to tend the roses he named in honor of his late wife, Emma, in their garden. “It’s a wonderful thing,” said Maria Guerra, his daughter. “It’s a mission of mercy.” She said her father, who has been living with her for the past several months, has missed his home so much that at times, he cries.
Tony Roman said what’s been done has taken the generosity of all those who donated their time and skills to the effort, and he hopes that a company will do the same by donating heating and air conditioning for the small home.
5 months ago ·
by Health Insurance 4 Everyone ·
Comments Off on Anonymous Donors Pay Off Layaways Across the US
This time of year, generous donors have anonymously paid off layaways to unsuspecting residents but this year that act of kindness seems far more profound given the uncertainty of the pandemic. But Christmas came early for families across the country who learned that their layaways were completely paid off, a surprise totaling tens of thousands of dollars.
Many families in Tennessee received a Christmas gift they will always remember when donors paid off layaways at multiple locations. A Walmart in Madison TN had $21,000 worth of layaway items paid for by a partnership between Pay Away the Layaway and Cottonelle Brand. The national charity makes it their mission to pay off layaway balances of children’s gifts, clothing and essentials. Lee Karchawer and Ian Bel, founder and co-founder of the organization Pay Away the Layaway, a nonprofit to which people can donate to help pay off layaway accounts at stores around the world. Karchawar started Pay Away the Layaway in 2011 after he read a story about an anonymous man who paid off $25,000 in children’s gifts and toys on layaway.
Another anonymous shopper donated $64,995.51 to pay the balance of items placed on the store’s layaway in Bristol TN. Recipients of this act of kindness received notifications that their items had been paid off, but a manager soon let them know about the magic behind it. In the nearby city of Oxford, an anonymous donor paid off the remaining $25,000 in layaway balances at a different Walmart. It was unclear if the money was donated by the same man. The donor’s primary motive “was to positively affect as many people as possible.” The Christmas cheer spread to other Walmart locations in Tennessee as well. Another location in Oak Ridge, TN had the remaining balances of 114 layaways, totaling around $29,500 paid off. According to the company, the money was provided by a check and layaway orders with toys were given first priority.
Twenty-three families at a Burlington department store in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood were surprised to find that their layaway balances were paid after a donor paid $25,000 worth of items. Servicemen and women from the Naval Station in Norfolk gathered with their families at the local Navy Exchange store to learn which one of them won a raffle to have their holiday layaway plan paid in full. Instead, the 62 families were surprised with the news they would all have their layaway plans paid off, taking home nearly $15,000 worth of items.
A Walmart Supercenter in Henrico County, Virginia had a donor pay off $50,000 in outstanding layaway balances for around 100 people. Walmart shoppers in Charlotte, NC were blessed when a donor paid off. Walmart has not officially announced the total cost of the layaway pay off but customers were told they can pick up their paid for layaway items at the Wal-Mart at 7735 N Tryon St in Charlotte. Another anonymous donor reached out to the Walmart in Hazard, KY through the Pay Away the Layaway organization and paid off the $21,000 layaway balance for 96 families.
Pay Away the Layaway is a registered 501(c)3 non profit organization. Their mission is to inspire hope and help families pay off layaway balances that include gifts for their children, such as games, toys, books, backpacks, clothes and coats. When you make a donation you become a Layaway Angel! Collectively, the foundation crowd funds donations and visit stores across the country to surprise families and make a real difference.
6 months ago ·
by Health Insurance 4 Everyone ·
Comments Off on Fourteen Year Old Named America’s Top Young Scientist For Work On Potential Covid 19 Cure
A 14-year-old girl from Texas has discovered a molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2. Eighth grader Anika Chebrolu has been named the winner of the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge—America’s premier middle school science competition. She received a $25,000 gift for her award-winning work and a one-of-a-kind 2 day/1-night destination trip.
The Young Scientist Challenge is a youth science and engineering competition administered by Discovery Education and 3M for middle school students in the United States. Students apply by creating a 1-2 minute video detailing their idea for a new invention intended to solve an everyday problem. Ten finalists are chosen annually to work alongside a 3M scientist during a summer mentorship and receive a trip to the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, to compete for $25,000 and the title of America’s Top Young Scientist.
Anika’s winning invention uses in-silico methodology to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Binding and inhibiting this viral protein would potentially stop the virus entry into the cell, creating a viable drug target. As part of her research, Anika screened millions of small molecules for drug-likeness properties, ADMET properties, and binding affinities against the spike protein using numerous software tools. The one molecule with the best pharmacological and biological activity towards the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was chosen as the lead molecule that can be a potential drug for the effective treatment of COVID-19.
Initially, her goal was to use in-silico methods to identify a lead compound that could bind to a protein of the influenza virus. She was inspired to find potential cures to viruses after learning about the 1918 flu pandemic and finding out how many people die every year in the United States despite annual vaccinations and anti-influenza drugs on the market.
“After spending so much time researching about pandemics, viruses and drug discovery, it was crazy to think that I was actually living through something like this,” Anika said. “Because of the immense severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic impact it had made on the world in such a short time, I, with the help of my mentor, Dr. Mahfuza Ali, changed directions to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
Anika said winning the prize and title of top young scientist is an honor, but her work isn’t done. Her next goal, she says, is to work alongside scientists and researchers who are fighting to “control the morbidity and mortality” of the pandemic by developing her findings into an actual cure for the virus. Chebrolu also received the “Improving Lives Award,” according to a release from Frisco ISD.
“I am extremely humbled at being selected America’s Top Young Scientist as all of the finalists had amazing projects and were extremely well-rounded individuals,” Anika said in the Frisco release. “Science is the basis of life and the entire universe and we have a long way to go to understand it fully.” While she hopes to be a medical researcher and professor in the future, she is already doing grown-up work and inspiring a generation to reach for the stars.
2 years ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Nearly 1 Million Children Could Lose Free Lunch Under Rule Change
Roughly half a million children in the U.S. could lose their eligibility for free school lunches under an administration proposal. Children whose families qualify for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, can automatically get free breakfasts and lunches at school, but the administration’s new proposal would tighten eligibility for SNAP. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released an analysis this week showing that nearly 3 million people could lose access to food stamps under the proposed rule, including almost 1 million children.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released an analysis that says as many as 982,000 children could be affected by the change. Children whose families lost SNAP benefits would have to submit an application to determine if they qualify for free or reduced-priced school meals. About 45% of them — some 445,000 kids — would still qualify for free meals but about 497,000 kids who currently get free meals — would have to start paying a reduced price of 40 cents for school lunch and 30 cents for breakfast, since they come from families with an annual income of between 130% and 185% of the federal poverty level. Another 40,000 kids who currently get free meals would need to pay the full price because their family won’t qualify for the program anymore.
The National School Lunch Program serves roughly 30 million students, including about 20 million free meals daily. For those who don’t qualify for free or reduced price meals, the average price of lunch was $2.48 for elementary school students in the 2016-17 school year, according to the School Nutrition Association, which represents cafeteria employees and vendors.
According to the USDA, the proposal could cut $90 million annually from the cost of its school lunch and breakfast programs. They noted that the number of children being affected by the proposal could be less because some schools offer free lunches to all students regardless of eligibility. But the schools that offer this program requires 40% of students to be eligible for free meals, and the rule change could mean some schools no longer meet that threshold.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has said tightening access to SNAP would close a “loophole” that allows families receiving temporary assistance benefits to automatically get food stamps too. The USDA is not proposing changes to the income rules for the program. It says it is addressing a loophole that gives eligibility to people who would not have otherwise qualified.
The USDA released the details of its analysis after it was criticized for failing to report the impact its SNAP rule change could have on children’s access to free school meals. The agency has said the change is intended to make eligibility rules more consistent across the country, since states can grant people eligibility if they were enrolled in other assistance programs. Critics argue that the change will increase food insecurity among low-income families and add to states’ administrative costs.
2 years ago ·
by Health Insurance 4 Everyone ·
Comments Off on Two Men Admit Role in Minnesota Mosque Attack
Two members of an Illinois militia group admitted to bombing a Bloomington mosque in 2017 in a bid to terrorize Muslims into leaving the United States. Michael McWhorter and Joe Morris rented a truck and drove more than 500 miles to bomb a Minnesota mosque. Both men pled guilty to five counts related to the mosque attack, as well as the attempted bombing of an Illinois abortion clinic and other crimes. A third suspect, 47 year old, Michael Hari, whom prosecutors said directed the bombing, remains in federal custody.
Hari is a former sheriff’s deputy from Illinois who runs a security company and submitted a bid to build President Trump’s border wall. The plea agreements portray Hari as the ringleader of a militia group called the White Rabbits, which included Hari, McWhorter, Morris and at least five other people. Hari’s trial is set for July. The plea agreements say the men targeted the mosque to interfere with the free exercise of religion by Muslims and to let Muslims know they were not welcome in the United States.
According to the plea agreements, the men were headed toward Minnesota when Hari told McWhorter and Morris that he had a pipe bomb in the vehicle and they were going to bomb a mosque. When the three men arrived at Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington on Aug. 5, 2017, Hari gave Morris a sledgehammer and told him to break a window. McWhorter then lit the fuse on the pipe bomb and threw it inside. Morris then threw the gasoline mixture inside, causing an explosion, fire and extensive damage. No one was injured in the attack, which happened just as morning prayers were about to begin, terrifying members of the local Muslim community.
Hari allegedly picked Dar al-Farooq because it was far enough away from the White Rabbits’ central Illinois hometown that he thought they wouldn’t be suspected. He also allegedly believed it was a focal point for terror recruiting, a claim that law enforcement has not substantiated. Morris’ attorney, Robert Richman, said Morris merely followed the lead of Hari, a man he’d known as a father figure since he was 9. “Hari essentially weaponized Joe Morris,” Richman said.
McWhorter and Morris also pleaded guilty to their roles in a failed attack on a Champaign, Illinois, abortion clinic in November 2017. A pipe bomb that Morris said he and Hari threw into the clinic did not explode. Court documents also state that Hari, McWhorter, Morris and others also participated in an armed home invasion in Ambia, Indiana, and the armed robberies or attempted armed robberies of two Walmart stores in Illinois. Morris and McWhorter also admitted to attempting to extort Canadian National Railway by threatening to damage tracks if the railroad didn’t pay them money. Morris and McWhorter could each face at least 35 years in prison. A fourth man, Ellis Mack of Clarence, already pled guilty to two counts in Illinois and is scheduled to be sentenced in April.