May 20, 2015

Cancer charity fraud

Government says four cancer charities are shams:

In a rare joint action with attorneys general for each of the 50 states, the Federal Trade Commission says four cancer charities run by extended members of the same family conned donors out of $187 million from 2008 through 2012 and spent almost nothing to help actual cancer patients….

the charities spent about 97% of donations they received either on private fundraisers or on themselves. Only 3%, she says, went to help actual cancer patients…..

[D]onated funds were used to pay for vehicles, personal consumer goods, college tuition, gym memberships, Jet Ski outings, dating website subscriptions, luxury cruises, and tickets to concerts and professional sporting events," the complaint says….

The Cancer Fund of America
The Breast Cancer Society
The Children's Cancer Fund of America
Cancer Support Services.

Shame on them all.  Don't give money unless you check first with Charity Navigator

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

March 9, 2015

The poorer people are, the more they give to charity

Poorer conservatives more generous than wealthy liberals – new study

Less well-off families from red states donate a relatively higher – and growing – proportion of their money to charity, while those at the top have been giving a smaller share as their income has increased, a new extensive study has revealed.

Respected non-government sector newspaper The Philanthropy Chronicle collated the itemized charity deductions on the tax returns of hundreds of millions of Americans between 2006 and 2012, the latest year available. While only about a third of all givers write off their charity expenses, the sums included about 80 percent of all donations in the country.
Several explanations have been posited for the findings.

“Lower and middle-income people know people who lost their jobs or are homeless, and they worry that they themselves are a day away from losing their jobs. They’re very sensitive to the needs of other people and recognize that these years have been hard,” explained Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Meanwhile, the wealthier donors, who had been able to afford largesse during the fat years through the 90s and early 2000s, became “nervous and cautious” as the financial crisis struck in 2008, threatening their incomes, property and shares.

 Giving Trends By Income

Wealthy Give Smaller Share of Income to Charity While Poor and Middle Class Digs Deeper

As the recession lifted, poor and middle class Americans dug deeper into their wallets to give to charity, even though they were earning less. At the same time, according to a new Chronicle analysis of tax data, wealthy Americans earned more, but the portion of the income they gave to charity declined.
overall donations from the wealthiest Americans have gone up by $4.6 billion, adjusted for inflation, to $77.5 billion between 2006 and 2012, showing that they are giving more in absolute terms, just not as a proportion of their growing pay packets.
In an even starker finding, the study shows that the religious and conservative states are the most generous givers. Seventeen of the most generous states, in relative terms, voted for Romney in 2012, while 15 of the 17 least generous ones picked Obama for re-election.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:26 PM | Permalink

December 20, 2013

Giving it all away

Hats off to the Canadian man who won $40m on lottery… and who will give it all away to charity in memory of his wife he lost to cancer

When Tom Crist's mobile rang on his way to play golf in May, the last thing he was expecting was a call to say he'd just won $40million (£24.5m) on the lottery.

Not knowing what to do with the money, Crist kept the win a secret even from his own four children, hung up the phone, and finished his round.  But yesterday 64-year-old went public, saying that he will donate every single cent to cancer charities after his wife Jan died from the disease in February last year, aged just 57.

Speaking to CBC News, the former company CEO said: 'I’ve been fortunate enough, through my career, 44 years with a company.  'I did very well for myself. I’ve done enough that I can look after myself, for my kids, so they can get looked after into the future. I don’t really need that money.'

He added that his wife would be ecstatic to know he was donating the win, and says he will start with the Tom Baker centre who helped treat Jan during her illness.

The family, who are backing Crist's plan, will then set up a trust fund which will parcel out the rest of the money to various cancer causes over the years.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:32 AM | Permalink

November 19, 2013

Philanthropy for show

In City Journal, The Philanthropic Spectacle by Guy Sorman.  When giving is more about show than result.

The Bill Gates Foundation is offering a $100,000 prize for a better condom.   

The latex industry has pursued the same goal for decades and devoted many millions of dollars to the effort. What’s the point of a philanthropist trying to do what the market is already doing?

Call this philanthropy for show, a kind of celebrity giving designed for a mediatized age, based on grand gestures, big dollars, and heartwarming proclamations—but too little concern with actual results, which often prove paltry, redundant (as with the condom initiative), or even destructive. The American media often revel in controversy, so one might expect that the gap between expansive promises and disappointing outcomes would prompt intense journalistic interest. But for the most part, would-be statesmen-humanitarians—such as Bill Clinton, Gates, and Al Gore, along with entertainment- world benefactors like Oprah Winfrey and academic superstars like Columbia development economist Jeffrey Sachs, have gotten a free pass for their good philanthropic intentions. They and their cohorts deserve closer scrutiny.

The saddest example is about the relief for Haiti

In January 2010, after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake decimated Haiti, hundreds of charities around the world raised $4 billion for relief. United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon named Clinton to preside over a Haiti Reconstruction Commission to coordinate the relief effort and ensure that the money was well spent. The commission met three times at a luxury hotel in Port-au-Prince before disappearing without a trace. A year after the earthquake, the American Red Cross, which had received most of the donations, disclosed that it had spent only 20 percent of relief funds “for lack of satisfactory programs on site.” Last year, the organization reported that, while it had raised nearly $500 million for Haitian recovery, hundreds of millions remained unspent. The Red Cross invested these reserve funds in interest-bearing accounts, which finance its administration—a common practice in the humanitarian world.

Nearly four years after the quake, it remains impossible to sort out what philanthropic institutions have spent in Haiti and what the groups have kept for themselves. To visit Haiti today is to see how donations have evaporated. Sure, some Haitian intermediaries and certain ministers have benefited—as have numerous employees of foreign NGOs, who live comfortably in one of the world’s most impoverished nations. Yet though he was supposed to coordinate relief and guard against waste and corruption, Clinton visited Haiti only twice before returning in January this year to commemorate the catastrophe’s third anniversary, partaking in the usual photo ops. CBS News reported on that occasion that only half of all the donated money had found its way to Haiti.

Sorman concludes:

Ego has often been the fuel for efforts that delivered great advances for humanity—improved medicines, new technologies, profound works of art. Philanthropy for show, however, has frequently served as an ego gratifier, without much in the way of compensating benefits. Often undertaken from a distance, too easily escaping evaluation and criticism, it tends to deliver wonderful photo ops but improve few lives. Those who genuinely wish to alleviate suffering in the world should look past its dazzling presentations to more proven, if less glamorous, remedies.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:18 PM | Permalink

June 13, 2013

Blind to Terror

Obama's Snooping Excludes Mosques, Missed Boston Bombers

The White House assures that tracking our every phone call and keystroke is to stop terrorists, and yet it won't snoop in mosques, where the terrorists are.   That's right, the government's sweeping surveillance of our most private communications excludes the jihad factories where homegrown terrorists are radicalized.

Since October 2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents. No more surveillance or undercover string operations without high-level approval from a special oversight body at the Justice Department dubbed the Sensitive Operations Review Committee. Who makes up this body, and how do they decide requests? Nobody knows; the names of the chairman, members and staff are kept secret.
The FBI never canvassed Boston mosques until four days after the April 15 attacks, and it did not check out the radical Boston mosque where the Muslim bombers worshipped.  The bureau didn't even contact mosque leaders for help in identifying their images after those images were captured on closed-circuit TV cameras and cellphones.

This is particularly disturbing in light of recent independent surveys of American mosques, which reveal some 80% of them preach violent jihad or distribute violent literature to worshippers.  What other five-alarm jihadists are counterterrorism officials missing right now, thanks to restrictions on monitoring the one area they should be monitoring?

Barry Rubin explains how this came to be in Why Expanded Government Spying Doesn’t Mean Better Security Against Terrorism

Isn’t it absurd that the United States — which can’t finish a simple border fence to keep out potential terrorists; can’t stop a would-be terrorist in the U.S. Army who gives a PowerPoint presentation on why he is about to shoot people (Major Nidal Hasan); can’t follow up on Russian intelligence warnings about Chechen terrorist contacts (the Boston bombing); or a dozen similar incidents — must now collect every telephone call in the country?

Isn’t it absurd that under this system, a photo-shop clerk has to stop an attack on Fort Dix by overcoming his fear of appearing “racist” to report a cell of terrorists?

That it was left to brave passengers to jump a would-be “underpants bomber” from Nigeria, because his own father’s warning that he was a terrorist was insufficient?

Isn’t it absurd that terrorists and terrorist supporters visit the White House, hang out with the FBI, and advise the U.S. government on counter-terrorist policy, even while — as CAIR does — advising Muslims not to cooperate with law enforcement? And that they are admiringly quoted in the media?

Meanwhile, a documented, detailed revelation of this behavior in MERIA Journal by Patrick Poole – ”Blind to Terror: The U.S. Government’s Disastrous Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Middle East Policy” — a report which rationally should bring down the government, does not get covered by a single mass media outlet?

Rubin wrote earlier this month,  Make Room for Islamistgate: The Obama Administration’s Newest, (Biggest?) Scandal

For the last four years, the Obama administration has conducted a major “outreach” program to Islamic groups in the United States and in the Middle East. In a comprehensive article, investigative journalist and PJ Media contributor Patrick Poole now presents the full scoop and scope of what’s been going on. His article — “Blind to Terror: The U.S. Government’s Disastrous Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Policy” — appearing in the new Summer issue of the MERIA Journal is a game-changer.

The majority of these groups and individuals promoted by the Obama administration have been radical Islamists, particularly Muslim Brotherhood cadre, and more than occasionally were people involved in terrorist activity.

Actual moderate Muslims have been neglected and isolated by this project, which has helped the radicals, Islamists, and pro-terrorists gain hegemony in the Muslim community in America.

Blind to Terror:  The U.S. Government's Disastrous Muslim Outreach Efforts and the Impact on U.S. Middle East Policy

Why has the U.S. government called certain Islamic groups supporters of terror in federal court, and then turned around and called these same organizations “moderates” and embraced them as outreach partners? In a number of cases from the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, the leaders of these organizations (some of whom are now in federal prison) were under active investigation at the same time they were meeting with senior U.S. leaders at the White House and the Capitol and helping develop U.S. policy.

Now these same Islamic organizations and leaders have openly encouraged a purge of counterterrorism training that have effectively blinded law enforcement, homeland security, and intelligence agencies to active terror threats as seen in the inaction of the FBI concerning the Boston bombing suspects and other terror cases. This study poses serious questions as to the efficacy and even security concerns about U.S. government outreach to Islamic groups, which often turn out to be Islamist militants, enemies of Islamic moderation, and even supporters of terrorism.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:23 PM | Permalink

December 7, 2012

"Without the churches, people would be starving in the street"

That's Who's feeding the starving people who don't have, won't apply or used up their government benefits.   

They are the ultimate safety net for countless people.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:30 PM | Permalink

March 20, 2012

No donated food for the homeless

Nanny Bloomberg sinks to new lows as the mayor bans all food donations to all government-run facilities that serve the city's homeless.

In conjunction with a mayoral task force and the Health Department, the Department of Homeless Services recently started enforcing new nutritional rules for food served at city shelters. Since DHS can’t assess the nutritional content of donated food, shelters have to turn away good Samaritans.
DHS Commissioner Seth Diamond says the ban on food donations is consistent with Mayor Bloomberg’s emphasis on improving nutrition for all New Yorkers. A new interagency document controls what can be served at facilities — dictating serving sizes as well as salt, fat and calorie contents, plus fiber minimums and condiment recommendations.

The city also cites food-safety issues with donations, but it’s clear that the real driver behind the ban is the Bloomberg dietary diktats.

Diamond insists that the institutional vendors hired by the shelters serve food that meets the rules but also tastes good; it just isn’t too salty. So, says the commissioner, the homeless really don’t need any of the synagogue’s food.
The ban on food donations is the direct result of work by many city agencies, all led by a mayoral task force.
The Bloomberg administration is so obsessed with meddling in how we all live that it’s now eating away at the very best that New York citizens have to deliver.

Well, if you believe government can do it all, you can eliminate all charity like City Harvest and Meals on Wheels and all the groups at city churches and synagogues.    City Harvest for example rescues food from all segments of the food industry including restaurants, wholesalers, greenmarkets, bakeries, caterers, hospitals and corporate cafeterias, as well as canned food drives.  No more says Mayor Bloomberg.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:24 PM | Permalink

"Creative, daring, life-giving healthcare for women and children"

Timothy Cardinal Dolan on Protecting Health Care for Women and Children

When it comes to the health of women, their babies, and their children, the Catholic Church is there, the most effective private provider of such care anywhere around.
I could go on and on:  if you want to see creative, daring, lifegiving healthcare for women and their children, look at what the Church is doing.
We’re on the offensive when it comes to women’s health, education, and welfare, here at home, and throughout the world.  We hardly need lectures on this issue from senators.

We just want to be left alone to live out the imperatives of our faith to serve, teach, heal, feed, and care for others.  We cherish this, our earthly home, America, for its enshrined freedom to do so. Those really concerned about women’s health would be better off defending the Church’s freedom to continue its work.

A couple of years ago I visited a woman’s prison. The warden asked me if I wanted to visit the expectant and new mothers’ healthcare center. It then dawned on me that, of course, some women would enter prison pregnant. I was so happy to see the expectant moms, getting good health care for themselves and their unborn babies, and to see the moms with babies under two getting classes in childrearing and parenting skills, with the babies receiving tender care right next to their moms. When I told the warden how grateful I was to see such excellent care for these women and children, he replied, “Thank yourself. Catholic Charities runs it.”

We can not grasp the degree of social chaos that will result if Catholic schools, hospitals and charities are forced to shut down because of the HHS mandate.

The Anchoress comments

The lie that the church “hates” women and wants to keep them down is an an old one and a lazy one and a convenient one, and — unsurprisingly, it’s the lie the media and folks with an agenda will run with. Reality, of course, is quite different and can’t be explained in a slogan or with a bumper sticker:
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:51 AM | Permalink

March 5, 2011

Round-up of love and its counterfeits.

Too often love is thought of as warm feelings.  Yet, true love is willing the good of the other and doing something about it.  All of these articles from last week spoke to me of love or the lack of it.

More Civilians Killed Last Year in One Mexican Border Town Than All Afghanistan

There were 3,111 civilians murdered in the city of Juarez in 2010 and 2,421 in the entire country of Afghanistan.

On a per capita basis, a civilian was 30 times more likely to be murdered last year in Juarez, ... than in Afghanistan.

Yet, our border agents forced to face down bullets with bean bags.

Border agent  Brian Terry, armed with beanbags,  is killed with guns smuggled into Mexico by our Agency for Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)

Guidelines drawn up by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) for doctors, nurses and counsellors involved in terminations, state that "women should be advised that abortion is generally safer than continuing a pregnancy to term."   

Except for the baby.

Startling Infographic, Exploring America's Addiction to Porn  Is there a surer way to destroy the capacity to love?

"Discovering online sexual material was the worst thing that had ever happened in their life"

The Secret to a Happy Marriage: Do the Dishes, Put Out, Don't Talk So Much
Five somewhat regressive, not very romantic, yet extremely effective lessons from economics for a happy marriage with long-term prospects:

When You Feel Loved, You Love Stuff Less
A new psychology study  by UNH psychology professor Edward Lemay and colleagues at Yale ratifies common sense.

Looking at a Loved One's Photo Takes Away Pain as Well as Drugs
A study by Stanford University found direct evidence linking feelings of emotional attachment with the soothing of pain. Image of a partner dulls pain 'as much as cocaine'

Maybe you hate your political opponents more than you should for your own good    The Hate that Feels like Love

A teacher was giving me the business yesterday, and the teacher told me she hates me because it makes her feel good”
“Hatred,” says psychologist Robert Enright, “has a long shelf life. Once it enters into the human heart, it’s hard to get it out. It breeds destruction, discouragement, and hopelessness.”
Anyone who has ever been targeted by a pack of bullies understands. Venting hatred, especially under the righteous cover of a “cause,” gives one a sense of belonging and purpose and—quite unlike love—it does so in an expeditious and rather painless way. Mob-supported hatred removes openness from the social equation, and that in turn takes away vulnerability, leaving one with a powerful sense of communal well-being that can serve as a reasonable facsimile of being loved by others.

What love looks like In a backwater town of only 800 residents Twenty five people take it in turns to perform CPR for 1.5 hours to keep man who collapsed after heart attack alive.  Rescuers gave him no chance of survival but Howard Snitzer, 54, has made an almost complete recovery. He said

I love them. I love those people. What can I say? It's pretty overwhelming to be in a room full of people that are not going to walk away and give up on you.

' And I had nothing to do with it. It's just one of those things. They're all angels as far as I'm concerned.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:59 PM | Permalink

June 22, 2010

"Giving is the most potent force on the planet and will protect you your whole life"

Giving is the most potent force on the planet and will protect you your whole life," says Dr. Stephen Post.

Happiness is a byproduct of living generously. People who are self-described as being people of generosity and self-giving love, people who are concerned for others in their actions or in affect are happier than people who don't fall into these categories. The chief predictor of self-reported happiness is not material wellbeing. It is not the power we hold over others, the accumulation of accolades or prestige. The single most important predictor of happiness is whether a person is living as much for others as for self.
caring for other alcoholics, the disinhibition of self-giving love, doubles the likelihood of recovery during this one-year period. That's big news, especially since there are probably 350 to 400 12-step groups based on the 12-step paradigm.
A remarkable fact is that giving, even in later years, can delay death. The impact of giving is just as significant as not smoking and avoiding obesity.

A remarkable essay "Do Good Things Happen to Good People?"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:22 PM | Permalink

June 2, 2010

57% of children who lost a parent in childhood would trade a year of their lives for a day with their parents

Too little attention is paid to the psychological and emotional toll on  children who lose one or both of their parents at a young age, so kudos to the Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation who are helping terminal parents and their children build memories on a last vacation.

Families With a Missing Piece by Jeffrey Zaslow
A New Look at How a Parent's Early Death Can Reverberate Decades Later

When polled, 57% of adults who lost parents during childhood shared Mr. Herman's yearnings, saying they, too, would trade a year of their lives. Their responses, part of a wide-ranging new survey, indicate that bereavement rooted in childhood often leaves emotional scars for decades, and that our society doesn't fully understand the ramifications—or offer appropriate resources. The complete survey of more than 1,000 respondents, set for release later this month, was funded by the New York Life Foundation on behalf of Comfort Zone Camp, a nonprofit provider of childhood bereavement camps.

Among the findings: 73% believe their lives would be "much better" if their parents hadn't died young; 66% said that after their loss "they felt they weren't a kid anymore."
In the 2009 memoir "The Kids Are All Right," four siblings from Bedford, N.Y., orphaned in the 1980s, described the risks in harrowing detail. They wrote of
"growing up as lost souls," and turning to drugs and other troubling behaviors as coping mechanisms.

It's a common story. Gary Jahnke, 31, of Hastings, Minn., was 13 when his mother died of cancer. "I gave up on my good grades and dropped out of high school," he says. "I didn't do anything except drink, do drugs and be depressed. I was confused and angry, and adults didn't know how to help me. I had a good relationship with my dad, but he was also grieving."
Donica Salley, a 50-year-old cosmetics sales director in Richmond, Va., understands well the ramifications of losing a parent. When she was 13, her 44-year-old father drowned while on vacation in the Bahamas. "That was the onset of my depression," she says. "My mom tried to fill the void and the hurt by buying me things."

Two years ago, Ms. Salley's husband died after falling off the roof of their house while cleaning the gutters. He was also 44. Their 17-year-old son has since attended a Comfort Zone camp. "It's a safe haven for him," Ms. Salley says. "There's something about being with people who've been through it. When my father died, I didn't know anyone who'd lost a parent. I was alone."
Some activists say it's vital to start helping young people even before their parents die. To that end, the Georgia-based Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation provides free vacations to families in which one parent is terminally ill. The organization was founded by Jon and Jill Albert, shortly before Jill's 2006 death to cancer at age 45. Their children were then 11 and 13.

"When Jill passed away, people who lost parents when they were young told me it would be a 30-year impact for the kids," says Mr. Albert, 48. His organization, with the help of corporate sponsors, has sent 300 families on vacations.

"These trips allow families to build memories, and to take a lot of pictures and videos together," says Mr. Albert.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:51 PM | Permalink

May 4, 2010

It's Electron Boy

The best story you'll read all day.

 Superhero For Day

Erik Martin, who is living with liver cancer, has always wanted to be a superhero. On Thursday, the regional chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted him that wish with an elaborate event that involved hundreds of volunteers in Bellevue and Seattle.

Local boy with cancer turns into a superhero for a day

Like any good superhero, Electron Boy kept his innermost thoughts to himself. But he did have one important thing to say:

"This is the best day of my life."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:33 AM | Permalink

April 20, 2010

If only the United Nations were what we wish it to be

If only the United Nations were what we wish it to be.    But it's not.

A group of 40 auditors from around the world examined the United Nations climate change report and gave it an F.

The team, recruited by the climate-change skeptics behind the website, found that 5,600 of the 18,500 sources in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Nobel Prize-winning 2007 report were not peer reviewed.

"We've been told it's 100 percent peer-reviewed science. But thousands of sources cited by this report have been nowhere near a scientific journal."
According to Lafromboise, much of the scientific research published by the U.N. cited press releases, newspaper and magazine clippings, student theses, newsletters, discussion papers, and literature published by green advocacy groups.

The U.N. is spending $732 million for peacekeeping in Haiti.    Two-thirds of the money is going to pay for the salary, perks and upkeep of its own personnel of which the U.S. pays 27%. This is over and above the $733 million in humanitarian aid given by countries and individuals and in addition to the $15 billion pledged by the international community.

They are apparently ineffectual on the ground as Haitian corruption creates a nightmare where police and bureaucrats hold American vehicles hostage for exorbitant fees and starving refugees wait for water.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:52 PM | Permalink

February 9, 2010

"I had the feeling I was working as a slave for things that I did not wish for or need."

The Millionaire who gave away the fortune that was making him miserable.

"My idea is to have nothing left. Absolutely nothing," he told The Daily Telegraph. "Money is counterproductive – it prevents happiness to come."

Instead, he will move out of his luxury Alpine retreat into a small wooden hut in the mountains or a simple bedsit in Innsbruck.

His entire proceeds are going to charities he set up in Central and Latin America, but he will not even take a salary from these.

"For a long time I believed that more wealth and luxury automatically meant more happiness," he said. "I come from a very poor family where the rules were to work more to achieve more material things, and I applied this for many years," said Mr Rabeder.

But over time, he had another, conflicting feeling.

"More and more I heard the words: 'Stop what you are doing now – all this luxury and consumerism – and start your real life'," he said. "I had the feeling I was working as a slave for things that I did not wish for or need.

I have the feeling that there are lot of people doing the same thing."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:43 PM | Permalink

December 6, 2009

Thanksgiving in Zimbabwe

Shumuley Boteach travels to Zimbabwe with Dennis Prager and about seven Christian volunteers. 

No Holds Barred
Indeed, of the hundreds who came to our feast, only a few were young mothers and fathers; the vast majority had already been lost to AIDS. We saw scores of young children strapped to their grandmothers' backs in the African way. An entire generation has been wiped out by this killer disease, which is still met by denial in Africa. Most of the people we spoke to who lost relatives to AIDS told us that "they got sicker and thinner." They knew exactly what caused the ailment but would never pronounce it. Strict moral codes govern life in southern Africa, so a sexually-transmitted disease is rarely acknowledged.

BUT AMID these serious challenges, the people exhibit unbelievable warmth. Are they happier than we in the West? I can't say. I have never believed in the supposedly ennobling effect of poverty, and I will not glamorize a life with so little. But what is undeniable is that they seemed far more satisfied, grateful and content than us. We in the West who are fortunate to be able to translate so much of our potential into something professionally and personally fulfilling are more often than not plagued by insatiable material hunger, rarely finding the inner peace which they seemed to possess.
Most memorable were the children, who were wondrous in every way. Gorgeous, extremely polite and exceptionally well-behaved. They exhibited none of wildness that is becoming common among Western kids. Hundreds of them sat in perfect rows on the floor, grateful to have a hot meal. They too sang and danced for us, and we danced with them.

The most moving part of the day was when we distributed the corn seed. The chief called out the names and as the families came forward, they were glowing. Many of them kissed the bags as they collected them. A few bags broke open and their recipients searched for, and found, every last seed as if it were a diamond.

It should be mandatory to take Western kids to Africa for at least one humanitarian mission. It would help wean them from the corrosive materialism that is suffocating us all, and it would lead them to appreciate their blessings and share more with others.

One woman volunteer particularly impressed him.

...she is not a household name and she will never be as famous as Britney Spears. But to me she was a small reminder that the suffocating selfishness of Western material culture can indeed be transcended.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:12 AM | Permalink

July 24, 2009

Hats off to Robert Lappin

Robert Lappin, 87, donated $5 million to restore the retirement savings of about 60 employees of various family enterprises that had been wiped out when the Ponzi scheme run by Bernard Madoff collapsed.

One man's imperative to give

“I am absolutely thrilled,’’ said Amy Powell, a former publicist for the foundation and one of the employees whose savings were restored. “I really knew in my heart, all my heart, that Mr. Lappin would do all he could do for his employees.’’ 

Lappin had invested so heavily with Madoff that it cost him much of his personal fortune. The foundation lost $8 million when Madoff’s assets were frozen last December, and for a time was forced to shut its doors. Lappin said that now, after Madoff and the payment to employees, his personal net worth is less than $5 million, about a tenth of what it was before the scandal broke. 

Yet giving his own money to the employees was simply the right thing to do, he said. “At least from the feedback, they feel very grateful and happy, which makes me feel very happy,’’ said Lappin. “So far no kisses, but I have had some hugs.’’

Family and friends said Lappin feels an imperative to give. Over the years, that led him to sponsor 17 education, interfaith outreach, and family development programs under the umbrella of his namesake foundation. He has given more than $30 million to Jewish causes on the North Shore. After the Madoff scandal, he raised $450,000 to restore the foundation’s Youth To Israel travel program. It sent 82 Jewish teens on pilgrimages to Israel just last Sunday.

“He’s among moral giants,’’ said Rabbi Yossi Lipsker of Swampscott, director and founder of Chabad-Lubavitch of the North Shore, which runs Hebrew schools and other programs. Lappin, who helped the rabbi fund his center, “embodies the highest ideals of our traditions,’’ said Lipsker. “He’s a lover of his people. He’s a lover of the land of Israel.’’

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:05 PM | Permalink

March 12, 2009

Thanking them in public

A heart-warming story from Blackfive, Spring Training and the Wounded Warriors.

As they filed up the stairs out of the stadium, in a single file line, spontaneously the crowd again all stood up and gave the Marines a standing ovation until the very last one reached the top of the stairs. Had to take 3-4 minutes. It was loud.  It was crazy.  The players on the field were even clapping.  It was truly a proud moment for me. When the Marines got to the top of the stairs, several were crying.  It was very, very emotional. Emotional for them, for me, for the crowd.

My hat is off to Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants who paid for the airfare and hotels for 17 wounded Marines,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:22 PM | Permalink

May 14, 2008

Saving the world in study hall

When teen-agers, high-schoolers as well as college students, can show us how savvy and constructive they can be as they engage in practical and useful community service at home and around the world, we have more cause to be hopeful about the future.

What can we do but applaud the Staying Alive campaign organized by a 16 year-old Allyson Brown to raise money to buy mosquito nets at $10 each to protect an African family from malaria.

The aim of Stayin’ Alive, which is run by a group called Malaria No More, is to buy enough bed nets to protect two million children. Allyson, who remains very involved in the program, will have saved more lives as a student than many doctors save in a lifetime.

A lot of people say that teenagers aren’t thinking about the greater good,” Allyson added, just a hint of protest in her voice. “But when you give teens a chance to help, and they know their contributions will make a difference, then they help a lot.”

Saving the world in Study Hall

The habit of giving starts early.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:09 AM | Permalink

April 9, 2008

Morrocan bus stop

One person can make a big difference in any community.  Look at what Jane Tinsley did in Cornwall

           Morrocan Bus Stop

Mum-of-three Jane launched her TV-style makeover in a bid to stop vandals attacking the dilapidated building near her home.

Now the bus stop in Fowey, Cornwall, provides a distinctly African feel for people waiting to use public transport and take shelter from the rain.

Jane said: "It was scruffy and horrible and the seat was broken and it is one of the first things people see when they arrive here.

"All the bits of furniture and paintings have been donated by lots of different people who all wanted to see the bus stop improved.

"We had plastic chairs at first but now they have been replaced by better quality wooden ones that people no longer needed in their homes."

Fed up with vandals, she made over her bus stop

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:33 PM | Permalink

March 25, 2008

Give and be happy

A study confirms what we already know: it's better to give than receive.

Money can buy happiness but only if you spend it on others say researchers.

Give and Be Happy

most people seemed unaware of this hidden key to happiness, the researchers said.

From Science magazine, The Secret to Happiness? Giving.
Dunn says the results "confirmed our hypothesis more strongly than we dared to dream." The effects of altruistic spending are probably akin to those of exercise, she notes, which can have immediate and long-term effects. Giving once might make a person happy for a day, but "if it becomes a way of living, then it could make a lasting difference," she says

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:43 PM | Permalink

February 26, 2008

One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time

When the world seems its most discouraging, I search out stories of ordinary people whose lives can inspire me.

Greg Mortenson is such a man.  A former US Army medic, he's made it his mission to build girls' schools in an area known as Baltistan, "Little Tibet" in the far north of Pakistan.

Here rural schools are rare, girls' schools even rarer, as the education of girls is condemned by religious extremists as un-Islamic. The Jafarabad school, along with 63 others in equally poor areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, exists thanks to the efforts of a brave foreigner the locals call 'Dr Greg', who has been described as 'a real-life Indiana Jones' and spoken of as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.
His key allies include clerics, warlords, military officers, foreign mountaineers and several former members of the Taliban - one of whom is now a teacher at one of his schools in Kashmir - and an army of ordinary villagers desperate for their children to receive an education. 'What I'm good at is putting together a team, finding the right people,' he says. He has no pretentions to any other ability except willpower. 'I'm just an average guy. I had to work really hard in school. Learning never came easy to me, but I've got those Midwestern ethics that force you to persevere.'

      Greg Mortenson-Girls

A trauma nurse and former mountain climber, he was climbing Mt Everest when a buddy came down with altitude sickness and Greg stayed with him, probably far too long because he became sick himself.  On his way back, he became separated from his group and wandered sick into a tiny village where they nursed him to health.  Only when he recovered did he realize how generous they had been and how poor they were.  He promised to come back and build a school and he did, with no great plan, winging it all the way.

He's set up more than 60 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 
In May 2005 riots broke out in Baharak, the gateway to Afghanistan's Wakhan province, after Newsweek magazine erroneously reported that a Koran had been flushed down a lavatory at Guantanamo Bay. Every building with any connection to foreigners was burned by furious mobs, including the offices of the UN. But Mortenson's CAI school was left untouched - protected by village elders who saw it as their own.

His book has now sold over 850,000 copies. 

"Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time" (Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin)

You can read more of this most inspiring story at Free to Learn.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:19 PM | Permalink

November 9, 2007

Good things come to those who wait

It's the best Rube Goldberg contraption I've ever seen.

I wish I could embed it but I can't so click on the link.

  Guiness Rube Goldberg

Good things come to those who wait.

Especially if they love their Guinness.

via Scribal Terror

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:03 AM | Permalink

February 28, 2007

Patient Advocates - Your Attorneys in the Court of Medicine

Dr. Jonathan Fine is organizing some of his retired colleagues in a new venture called Bedside Advocates to provide one-on-one support and comfort to people in hospitals, an educated ombudsman as it were.

From retired caregivers, a spoonful of compassion.
The volunteers with Bedside Advocates will not practice medicine. Instead, they aim to provide comfort and compassion while helping fragile and elderly patients navigate the increasingly complex medical system by accompanying them to the doctor's office, the hospital, and the nursing home. They hope to help patients get better care by empowering them to ask questions, follow their medication regimes, and get prompt attention to problems.

And most of all, they plan to be there when no one else is, providing relief for tired caregivers and support for patients without families, according to Dr. Jonathan Fine, who is leading the effort.

Fine, 75, of Cambridge, envisions a cadre of retired doctors, nurses, physician's assistants, and trained lay people who would provide one-on-one support to thousands of patients, seeking to humanize healthcare while reducing medical errors, complications, and hospitalizations. He has already recruited about 20 doctors and secured some start-up funding from the Legislature, and he plans to launch the program in a pilot phase this spring. The organization expects to find needy patients through practicing doctors, senior centers, and people who call asking for help.

Said one man whom Dr. Fine helped deal with a "litany of specialists".

It's like having your own attorney in the court of medicine. A man like Jonathan, the US needs millions like him."

If it works, it could be a national model.  It's how I envision solving the health care crisis of  boomers getting older  - boomers helping each other.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:52 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

January 26, 2007

Using dogs to aid wounded vets

A wonderful new program called Canines for Combat Veterans has been started in Massachusetts using selected prison inmates to train dogs to become assistants to wounded veterans.

Trained to serve others
An inmate, a soldier and a dog share a bond.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:04 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 20, 2006

Who Really Cares

I predict that this book is going to cause of lot of arguments among people who just can't believe it, liberals and conservatives.

"Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism" (Arthur C. Brooks)

Author Arthur Brooks, once a registered Democrat now an independent, is a professor at Syracuse University and a behavioral economist.

From Beliefnet: Philanthropy Expert: Conservatives Are More Generous.

The book's basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.

Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone's tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don't provide them with enough money.
"These are not the sort of conclusions I ever thought I would reach when I started looking at charitable giving in graduate school, 10 years ago," he writes in the introduction. "I have to admit I probably would have hated what I have to say in this book."

Still, he says it forcefully, pointing out that liberals give less than conservatives in every way imaginable, including volunteer hours and donated blood.

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