1 day ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on 10 Year Old Rhode Island Boy Cleans Off Cars For Frontline Workers During Winter Storm
As temperatures dipped and snow fell, a 10-year-old boy decided to thank the front-line heroes battling the relentless coronavirus pandemic by clearing snow off their cars outside a Rhode Island hospital. He joined his mother’s friend Abbey Meeker in the bitter cold and cleaned off dozens of vehicles across the hospital’s parking lot as the massive winter storm slammed their state.
Christian Stone said “I was thinking they’ve been helping us a lot through this whole pandemic, and I figured why don’t we help them, you know? All day, every day the nurses here, they deal with the pandemic like COVID and they want to get home from work, so we thought we would make it a tiny bit easier for them by cleaning off their cars for them,” he said.
Meeker said it was Christian who came up with the idea after the last winter storm. “Christian wanted to do something good for nurses about a month ago when it stormed and he said next time it snowed, he wanted to clean cars off for nurses because of COVID. I told him I would come with him.” Meeker said she’s known Christian’s mom since grade school and thinks of him as a little brother. “Christian is wise beyond his years,” she said. “He’s my little partner in crime.”
Meeker said he always likes to help people and had been shoveling neighbors’ driveways for free before they went to the hospital. They headed to the Westerly Hospital at around shift change, when doctors, nurses and other staff members were walking to the parking lot. “We kind of made it a game.” When drivers used their remotes to start or unlock their cars, the duo would rush over to the car and clean it off as quickly as possible.
Christian said the nurses and other workers who came out to find the surprise and free car-cleaning service were really grateful. “It’s been cold but extremely fun seeing how happy they get. Some of them say, ‘Thank you so much,’ and I’m just really happy to see them happy. I feel like I actually helped someone out and that’s a really good feeling, when you know someone has been helped out. We want them to be able go home and see their family after a long day of work.”
Meeker said they ended up cleaning off about 80 cars in four different employee parking lots. Some people offered to pay, but they didn’t want the money. Meeker said Christian did get $20 because two insistent nurses told him they’d be mad if he didn’t accept it. Meeker admitted she really hates the snow and that they had to change clothes twice because they would get soaking wet in the freezing cold but she sucked it up because she knew how much it meant to Christian.
While the frontline workers at Westerly Hospital were blessed with Christian’s kind heart during this past storm, it’s clear Christian is blessed with someone like Meeker who encourages his kind heart and helps him see that even at the tender age of 10, he can make a difference in someone else’s day.
1 week ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on 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.
2 weeks ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Chicago Restauranteur Helping Feed Those With Food Insecurity
Chicago restauranteur Robert Magiet was driving across town one morning when he spotted a shivering tamale vendor braving the frigid January temperatures of the “Windy City”. He made a spur of the moment offer she couldn’t refuse. Rather than let the woman wearing many layers of clothing to keep warm stay in the cold all day—Magiet bought out her entire day’s supply—close to 10 dozen tamales, gave her a big tip, and sent her on her way.
Magiet loaded up the tamales he’d purchased and distributed them to homeless people. Pleased with the outcome of the morning’s events, Magiet took to Facebook to see if he could continue the trend. “Anyone know of any Tamale Cart vendors that will be out this weekend in the cold weather? I went to Yolanda near Humboldt Park and bought her out so she could go home today. I’d love to do the same for other Vendors and distribute the Tamales to our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Let me know of any leads please” he posted.
In the following days, armed with suggestions, Magiet bought up all the tamales from vendors at three different locations. And again, after generously tipping the sellers whose trade had been severely curtailed by both the weather and the lockdown, he distributed the tamales to people in need. Helping the hungry in his community is nothing new for Magiet.
After opening a Love Fridge community food pantry outside his TaKorea Cocina restaurant this past June, Magiet teamed up with the owners of Fatso’s Last Stand and Jack & Ginger’s restaurants to prep and deliver 1,300 Thanksgiving meals for the needy. After Christmas, he also partnered with Jason Vincent, owner of Logan Square eatery Giant, to man a food truck serving breakfast and lunch to the homeless.
He also partnered with his friend Taylor Hammond, owner of The StopAlong, a Bucktown pizzeria, to ask if he’d be willing to donate his kitchen once a week to help ease food insecurity for families in need. Knowing how much kids love pizza, Hammond readily agreed. “It’s like, I have a restaurant. I have food. I know people who have restaurants and food. Let’s help people who need food.” Magiet said.
Having seen firsthand the devastating impact the coronavirus pandemic had on his own industry, he feels lucky to be in a position to provide much-needed relief for those struggling to put food on the table. He says on average he purchases 15 dozen tamales for an average price of $16 a dozen. “At first they are in disbelief. They don’t understand why someone would want to buy so many tamales.”
Magiet plans to continue his tamale runs for the remainder of the winter. Pizzas are still on the table as well. “If somebody in our neighborhood is struggling, we all struggle. I’m not trying to save the world. I’m just trying to help people who need food. If I have the ability to go help somebody, I’m just going to go help somebody. To me, it’s literally that simple” Magiet said.
The food Magiet collects will be distributed to several Love Fridges locations around town, Breakthrough Urban Ministries in East Garfield Park, and to Franciscan Outreach’s homeless shelter in North Lawndale. If you’d like to help, donations can be made to Zelle at 773-807-0057 or venmo: @takoreacocina.
3 weeks 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.
3 weeks ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on NYC Restauranteur’s Initiative Keeping Business’s Open by Feeding Frontline Workers
When the pandemic ground life to a halt in New York City, restaurateur Luca Di Pietro had to close four of his five restaurants on March 15. After a friend offered to pay for meals offered to pay for meals prepared by Di Pietro’s restaurant to be delivered to a New York City hospital. He immediately wanted to do the same for the hospital that treated his son years earlier.
After that first delivery Di Pietro thought, “if there is such a need from the emergency room workers, maybe this could help save my restaurant while we do something good for the emergency room workers,” he said. Di Pietro reached out to other hospitals in New York City to continue deliveries and shared his plans with friends. From that point forward, orders for hospital workers began to flood in to his restaurant.
To organize the ordering process and manage donations, Di Pietro created Feed the Frontlines NYC, a for-profit initiative, to raise funds for his restaurant, Tarallucci e Vino, as well as other local restaurants and to provide hospital workers in the country’s hardest hit city with free and delicious food. Di Pietro and his team have become known as the “lasagna guys” among New York City’s frontline workers. Di Pietro and his team have helped deliver more than 157,000 meals to healthcare workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Supported by generous donations, Feed the Frontlines NYC works with local restaurants to prepare and deliver meals to fellow New Yorkers and has enabled many restaurants to rehire employees who had been laid off.
While most of his restaurants remain closed, he was able to rehire 135 of his own workers. Di Pietro partnered with other restaurants in New York City and lower Westchester County, New York-enabling them to pay their bills and rehire employees as well. In partnership with Di Pietro, the restaurants receive a portion of the donations to make and deliver meals to local hospitals. Each restaurant is given a different amount of money depending on how many meals it can make and deliver each week, Di Pietro says. The restaurant owners coordinate their deliveries with local hospitals and send meals themselves.
Feed the Frontlines has been feeding local hospital workers fighting the pandemic while helping to keep participating restaurants running and their workers employed.“We have … restaurants helping us and delivering food so they can keep their lights on,” Di Pietro says. “It’s morphed into something that I didn’t expect, but I’m very happy to be able to put together supply and demand.”
So far the Feed the Frontlines NYC initiative has raised over $1.26 million to pay for meals, and its success has even inspired others to create their own Feed the Frontlines initiatives in other cities. One of Pietro’s family friends started Feed the Frontlines Marin, that services an enclave in the San Francisco Bay Area. The operations team at Divieto Ristorante started Feed the Frontlines Miami after learning of Di Pietro’s initiative. Shawn Wilson, co-owner of Shed’s BBQ and Viga Eatery, started Feed the Frontlines Boston.
One man’s idea had inspired and enabled others to keep their businesses open while helping show appreciation for frontline workers. The pandemic has greatly changed not only Di Pietro’s business but the whole restaurant industry, perhaps permanently. Di Pietro said “This is keeping the lights on for us and others. Otherwise, there would be no business. And with rent due and salaries, for all the personnel basically living paycheck to paycheck, they’re so happy to come in and work on this because everyone is impacted, and they’re happy to be receiving a full salary. It’s been very humbling and it’s been good.”
4 weeks ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on IKEA Group Buys 11,000 Acres of Forest in Georgia to Keep It From Being Developed
IKEA Group has always been environmentally conscious and their latest move of purchasing of 11,000 acres of forest in Georgia that looked like it would be lost to development, shows their continued commitment. The purchase was made to ensure it remains intact and working to suck up CO2 from the atmosphere, the forest was bought by IKEA as part of a strategy to reduce more carbon than it creates through its value chain.
The working forest in the Altamaha Basin is now owned by the IKEA subsidiary, Ingka Group, which has worked with The Conservation Fund, a non-profit that has protected over 8-million acres of forests in the U.S. from fragmentation and development. A working forest is one in which lumber is harvested and regrown—and it’s these forests which often suffer from being broken up into smaller segments and developed, something the Conservation Fund and Inka are ensuring will not happen by creating permanent easements that legally prevent the forest from ever being split up into smaller pieces.
Ingka Group currently owns 616,000 acres of such forests in the U.S. and Europe, while privately choosing to ensure the highest international standards for good forest management. A spokesperson added that “no significant amount” of wood from the forests is currently used in Ikea products.
“Well-managed forests provide essential benefits, including clean water and important wildlife habitat, as well as mitigating climate change. The transfer of these lands to Ingka Investments completes our Working Forest Fund process, through which we identify and buy important, at-risk private forests; develop sustainable harvest and restoration plans; and secure permanent conservation protections to block fragmentation and development,” said Larry Selzer, President and CEO of The Conservation Fund.
Forest stewardship is just one way that the world’s largest furniture outlet is trying to become a carbon-neutral company. They recently announced they would begin buying used IKEA furniture from customers for resale, while electric vans and less carbon-emitting materials are used in both packaging and product. They are also committed to the goal to only use renewable and recycled materials in their products by 2030 and reducing the total IKEA climate footprint by an average of 70% per product, by 2030.
IKEA’s Sustainability Strategy outlines their belief that climate change is no longer a distant threat, but a visible reality and one of the biggest challenges that humanity faces. The IKEA People & Planet Positive strategy describes the sustainability agenda and ambition for everyone in the IKEA franchise system. They say the purpose of the strategy is to inspire, activate and lead others in decision-making and goal setting so that together we can achieve the positive changes we want to see in the world.
1 month ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Former Addict Shares Hope In Philadelphia
A former opioid addict is giving back through random acts of kindness. Megan Cohen had been in over 70 treatment centers and found herself homeless in different states. Cohen also spent time in prison before going clean in 2019. In August 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Megan started The Grace Project, non-profit that gives back to struggling addicts in the Philadelphia area.
“It was actually complete strangers that showed me kindness when I was out there and it, like, planted a seed of hope,” Cohen said. “I wish that the kindness my family showed me would have done that but it didn’t. It didn’t because I expected it.” For years, Cohen lived in a perpetual state of hunger, trauma and pain. Eventually, she landed on the streets of Kensington, PA -the largest open-air drug market on the East Coast. Joshua Santiago, an Uber driver coming off his shift spotted Cohen walking along the interstate in the rain.
“Something in my heart told me to stop, I was about to go home and lay in a warm bed” said Santiago. When he pulled over, Cohen was skeptical about his intentions but being so cold, she said she didn’t care what happened. Cohen said “I had no hope or will to live at that point. I asked him why he would let me in his car when it’s obvious what I am.” “You are still a person,” Santiago told her. Not long after Santiago offered her a ride, two other “angels” stepped into her path — one gave her a hot meal and a place to shower; another offered her cold water and encouraging words.
The power of those moments fuels Cohen’s faith in humankind and strengthens her resolve to save others who feel trapped, as she once did, in the throes of addiction. Every Thursday night, friends and family join Megan to distribute food, jackets, and toiletries in addition to cleaning up the littered streets. Shane Williams, who became a volunteer following his own recovery said “There’s people openly using drugs. There’s people with serious medical issues being unattended to.”
Weekly visits will continue as long as the community continues to support The Grace Project with funds and donations. Cohen hopes that the non-profit will evolve into a resource to support entire families who struggle with similar circumstances. The GRACE Project’s GoFundMe page expands on their vision: “As we continue to grow, we hope to be able to start helping more people in need. This goes beyond those that are homeless. We would like to be able to start offering assistance and organizing events for children out there and in similar areas. We also hope to be able to start assisting anyone else who is in need of a little grace and a little hope. This could look like the person who is just turning their life around and needs some help getting on their feet or the parents who have a sick child and may not be able to work anymore and in turn are facing financial struggles.”
They also take in-kind donations and have a list on their Facebook page of some of the items they are currently taking. Locals who want to donate can message them on Facebook to set up a pick up or drop off. In-kind donations can also be sent in the mail to 701 Philadelphia Ave Warrington PA 18976. “We would not be able to do what we do each week if it weren’t for the support of others and we want to thank anyone who has contributed from the bottom of our hearts.
1 month ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Atlanta Homeless Man Hailed Hero For Saving Shelter Animals From Fire
Heroes come in all walks of life and are often created just by being in the right place at the right time. That is the case for Keith Walker, a homeless man in Atlanta who made the split second decision on Dec. 18, 2020 to rush into W-Underdogs Shelter and rescue 16 dogs and cats trapped inside. WWhen Walker saw the flames, he urged another homeless man named Mike to call 911. Then he rushed inside and started pulling out animals as fast as he could.
Walker, 53, has been homeless since he was 13 years old and the nonprofit frequently shelters his dog. One of the nonprofit’s signature programs, The Rescue Team, teaches at-risk kids about compassion and responsibility through rescuing and rehabilitating homeless dogs and cats. Walker has done odd jobs for W-Underdogs for several years and was heading there to walk his pit bull, Bravo.
It’s fortunate the two homeless men arrived at the scene when they did because the organization’s founder happened to be on an outreach mission at the time. Celebrity dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, founder of the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior and member of the advisory board of W-Underdogs said he saved every single one, and they’re all perfectly fine.
“It could have been really bad,” she said. “If they hadn’t done that, the fire could have spread and we would have lost all our animals. The act that he did was incredibly brave and he is a true hero. He is the guardian angel that was watching over W-Underdogs.” Officials deemed the blaze an electrical fire and the shelter was left uninhabitable but all of the animals were taken to a new facility.
Walker told news outlets that he was “nervous” to run into the burning building but that he knew he had to save the trapped animals. “I was really scared to go in there with all that smoke. But God put me there to save those animals,” he said. “If you love a dog, you can love anyone in the world. My dog is my best friend, and I wouldn’t be here without him, so I knew I had to save all those other dogs.”
Walker is now being hailed a hero and a GoFundMe set up to help him with a $5,000 goal has raised almost $85,000. “We received a flood of requests on how people can help Mr. Keith Walker, the hero who saved our animals from the fire. Rest assured we have Mr. Walker’s best interests at heart, and are exploring how to best manage donations that have come in on his behalf,” the facility said on their Facebook page.
In addition to teaching at-risk youth to rescue, care for and train pets for forever homes, W-Underdogs fosters empathy and leadership in young people with programs like planting trees, building dog houses and distributing pet food for those in need. Youth also help with their program to trap, neuter and return of community cats. “We’re not an animal rescue and we are not just a youth program; we’re actually a youth program that empowers you through animal rescue and that’s where the connection lies,” Stilwell explained.
1 month ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Inmates Work Together To Raise Scholarship For Student’s Tuition
For the past seven years, students from the Palma School in Salinas, California have been part of a book club at Soledad State Prison. Jim Micheletti and Mia Mirassou founded the book club called “Exercises In Empathy” with a focus on compassion, empathy and restorative justice. Teaming men who have been given life sentences with private school students to discuss themes found in literature has led to raw emotions and candid discussions between youths and inmates.
“The students would go into the prison afraid but would leave with a new perspective on the incarcerated men. “They go in thinking monster … and they come out thinking a man. A human being … they’ve done bad things, but there are no throwaway people here,” Micheletti said.
Former inmate Jason Bryant who participated in the book club said that the discussions went beyond plot lines and protagonists. When he was 20 years old, Bryant was sentenced to 26 years to life for his involvement in a 1999 robbery that resulted in a shooting death. Behind bars, Bryant was looking for ways to be of service. It was at the book club that he heard about Ernest Gordon’s “Miracle on the River Kwai.” In the book, prisoners of war created a culture of sacrifice and they called it “mucking” for each other.
“It was incredibly refreshing to have young men come into a space with us and see us as what we are, which is people,” Bryant said. Inspired by the POW’s stories, Bryant and his co-defendant Ted Gray decided to “muck” for a young man. They made a plan to raise money from other prisoners to create a scholarship fund for a Palma student in need.
The base pay for incarcerated people in the state of California is eight cents an hour. Those with an industry job make $1 an hour, which can get you to $100 a month. The inmates made the money working jobs like sweeping, clerking and making furniture. Over the course of 3 years, almost 800 inmates raised $32,000 for the scholarship.
When they learned about the inmates’ plan, Micheletti and Mirassou knew exactly who should receive the scholarship. Before his sophomore year at Palma, Sy Green’s father had a heart transplant and his mother lost her vision in an accident. They both lost their jobs and the family was burdened by medical bills. Green was not part of the program so he was shocked to learn inmates, who he’d never met, had come together to pay for his tuition so he could continue going to private school. “I was mind-blown. … And then immediately, I was just grateful,” he said. Green plans to pay the good deed forward.
As for Jason Bryant, California Governor Gavin Newsom granted Bryant clemency and a second chance at life after 20 years behind bars. Bryant plans to use his freedom to continue to mentor students like Green. Bryant is the Director of Restorative Programs at CROP, a nonprofit that’s working to reduce the rate of recidivism through training, career development and stable housing. “I don’t know about redemption. … I can say this, I know that those of us who have truly transformed our lives are committed to adding value in any way that we possibly can,” Bryant said.
2 months ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Two Young Entrepreneurs Donating to Animal Shelters
Two 12 year old entrepreneurs have donated thousands to animal shelters from their sales on a successful invention, the Ornament Anchor. Brothers Ayaan and Mickey Naqvi, who live in Shelton, Connecticut, were decorating their family Christmas tree last year when one of their favorite ornaments succumbed to the forces of gravity. The beloved family dog, Zara, whose tail Ayaan describes as an “ornament missile,” may have played a part as well.
While the decoration couldn’t be saved, the brother decided to find a better way to hang ornaments so they’d be truly secure. Using a loop and toggle system, Ayaan created the prototype and presented it for a school project. The reception was overwhelmingly favorable—so favorable in fact, the boys quickly decided to turn their invention into a potential money-making proposition. “My brother and I worked together to design the product, patent it, create an awesome website, calculate profit margins and did our own market analysis.” Ayaan said.
This wasn’t the boys’ first commercial invention attempt. A previous gadget landed the pair and their family on an episode of Shark Tank. While they didn’t cut a deal, it was a true learning experience. From $1,000 in sales in six hours at a local Christmas trade show, the Ornament anchor went on to be showcased on Good Morning America as well as being featured on QVC and Amazon Launchpad. In one year, the brothers’ invention has raked in more than $250,000.
Ayaan and Mickey are determined to pay their good fortune forward by donating 10% of their profits to local animal shelters. “Ever since I was super young, I’ve had a fascination with all of life’s creatures,” Ayaan explained. “My goal is to help as many animals in need as I can.”
While they’re enjoying their well-earned windfall, the boys admit that starting a new business in 2020 has had its challenges. “Running a business with your brother has its pros and cons. But, we make it work and we’re the best of friends always,” Mika’il said. “It’s an amazing journey,” Ayaan said. “With my brother especially. Just to go along and just us together selling our product is really cool.”
Adjusting to distance learning and other constraints of the coronavirus lockdown wasn’t easy. Through the turbulent times, they say they’ve just tried to take things one step at a time and keep a positive attitude because that—along with the love and support of their family—are what keeps them anchored.