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Last summer, PetSmart Charities responded to the scene of an alleged hoarding situation near Gainesville, Florida. The Humane Society of the United States coordinated a raid on a failed cat sanctuary where the anticipated 450 cats swelled to more than 700.
A 53-foot PetSmart Charities Emergency Relief Waggin’ vehicle stocked with 16-tons of cargo worth $80,000, was dispatched to the scene, carrying pet food, plastic carriers, bowls, fans, generators, battery chargers and lights to aid the rescuers on site. The equipment was used to create a temporary animal shelter in a local warehouse.
PetSmart Charities also provided Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida with additional loads of cat litter, litter boxes and food, along with a $9,950 emergency grant to assist with spay/neuter surgeries.
Students from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida joined an army of volunteers to feed, clean, and medicate the cats, many of whom suffered from infectious diseases and injuries that had been left untreated.
When word came two months after the raid that the cats had finally been relinquished by their owners, the students rallied again. The timing could not have been better, since Dr. Julie Levy, Director of Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, was currently teaching a course on community cat management.
By the end of the week, a total of 672 local strays and alleged hoarding victims had received care at the vet school. The emergency grant from PetSmart Charities supported the medical costs of preparing the cats for adoption.
Today, the future of these cats is bright. PetSmart Charities, along with HSUS and the Alachua County Humane Society, sponsored a three-day community adoption event where nearly 300 cats found their lifelong, loving homes. From emergency relief to spay/neuter surgeries to eventual adoption, PetSmart Charities was there to complete this full-circle success story.
Children who have medical needs are sometimes not insured comprehensively to provide coverage for all of their medical treatments. There are few places for families who have gaps in their commercial health benefit plan coverage to turn to for funding medically necessary services for their children. Children may go without necessary treatment, or, they receive the care and families assume a large amount of debt. The UnitedHealthcare Children's Foundation (UHCCF) understands these needs and is willing to help fill this void.
In 2011, UHCCF provided medical grants to nearly 1,250 children, worth an estimated $3.62 million. Since 2007, UHCCF has awarded more than 3,500 grants to children and families in need, valued at nearly $11 million. These grants have brightened the lives of children like these:
-Camden, Age 7, had cleft lip and plate, which requires a nasoalveolar molding device in order to prepare for his upcoming surgery. His $800 grant will help with the molding of his lip and mouth.
-Kylie, age 5, has down syndrome and has significant delays in language and physical ability. Her two grants for a total of $5200 will help her receive occupational and speech therapies.
-Ethan, age 8, has leukemia and his $5000 grant will assist his family in paying for chemotherapy, medications and regular doctor appointments. Ethan is currently in remission and in the maintenance phase of his treatments.
You can help kids and families like Luke, Blake and Olivia by making a tax-deductible donation that will directly fund medical grants that help children access new or continued medical treatment. Please take time to learn more and/or visit their online store where a portion of the proceeds from sales benefit UHCCF.
And also check back here frequently to read more success stories about these wonderful children and the great work of the UnitedHealthcare Children's Foundation.
Jennifer Eva Emelogu’s mother had seven children by five different fathers. Experiencing neglect and abuse on many different levels, Jennifer and her siblings didn’t quite understood why their mother did what she did until Child Protective Services (CPS) stepped in. By the time CPS stepped in, the oldest two siblings had grown up and were out on their own. The five remaining siblings were placed into care and a psychological evaluation was performed on each family member, including Jennifer’s mother. It was then that Jennifer and her siblings could make some sense of the abuse and neglect they had experienced; their mother was diagnosed as Manic Depressant, with symptoms of Paranoid Schizophrenia.
Immediately upon removal from their home, Jennifer and four of her siblings were taken to an emergency shelter outside of Austin; the first of five shelters they would experience.
Reflecting on her time at the shelters, Jennifer remembers,
“We started to get used to the rules of foster care, the rules of shelters. Every shelter is different -- the environment can range from extreme structure to a dangerous setting, with very little structure. Structure was not something that we were used to, but it was good for us in a lot of ways. A lot of people think that foster care should be a lot easier than living at home, but I beg to differ.”
As time passed, Jennifer and her siblings were placed in another shelter and then to their first foster home. After two years, they were removed from that home and consequently Austin Children’s Shelter became their place of refuge. Unlike her other siblings, Jennifer had the opportunity to stay at Austin Children’s Shelter on two different occasions.
Austin Children’s Shelter (ACS) was unlike any other shelter Jennifer had been to. The staff at ACS really cared about her interests and helped her achieve her short-term goals. During high school, sports were not just an interest of Jennifer’s; sports served as a form of therapy for her. Involved in both basketball and club volleyball, Jennifer wasn’t sure how she was going to attend practice for the both sports since both took place during the same season. However, each day an ACS staff member was there to pick her up from basketball practice and would take her straight to volleyball practice. After practice was over, the ACS staff would pick her up and have food prepared for her back at the shelter. This was all more than Jennifer could ever ask for, given her original circumstances.
Everyday life at the Austin Children’s Shelter was like a short-lived dream come true for Jennifer. They went on outings to local parks, museums and other special activities that ACS had planned. Around the house, there was always something to do – from endless arts and crafts options to helping out with small tasks in the kitchen (something Jennifer really enjoyed).
Austin Children’s Shelter provided Jennifer with an experience unique from that of other shelters. And it was the first shelter that Jennifer didn’t want to leave when her time was up.
At a crucial time in her life, Austin Children’s Shelter was there for Jennifer. They helped her get to practice for sports during high school and as a result of her participation in club volleyball she ended up receiving a scholarship to play volleyball at St. John’s University in Queens, NY. Completing her college volleyball career at UT San Antonio, Jennifer is now a teacher and a coach at Hawkins High School.
Giving credit to Austin Children’s Shelter for her own personal success and triumph in life, Jennifer says,
“I am not the only sibling out of foster care that has been doing exceptionally well. My older and favorite sister, Caroline, has also graduated from college with a degree in Finance. She is now the Project Manager for the ETV Program. ETV stands for the Education and Training Voucher program, a program that helps former foster youth financially through college and vocational schools. Caroline is so strong and resilient to me, she is one of my inspirations to keep going, to keep pushing in life. We are all successful in our own right.
I don’t believe in coincidences, Austin Children’s Shelter was in my life for a reason. I was more than just a name or a number. The staff cared about my emotional, physical and psychological well-being. That’s more than what a lot of people have done. I am glad to share with you my experiences because they made me who I am today. I look forward to your continued and generous support so other children can have a great experience with the Austin Children’s Shelter as well.”
Jennifer’s story is just one of many stories of triumph and hope. Click here to read more inspiring stories and learn how you can help Austin Children’s Shelter continue providing this truly effective service that provides help and hope for so many.
When 11-year-old Michael "Mikey" Parsons was just five, he and his two sisters lost their mother to cancer. Soon after, Susan and Rick Parsons and their two children from Peoria, Illinois adopted Mikey and his two sisters. In 2009, Susan discovered a lump on Michael's neck, which was initially shrugged off by his doctors as an enlarged lymph node.
Two months later when the lump was still there, Susan took Michael back to his doctor where he was diagnosed with Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma, a specific thyroid cancer caused by a genetic mutation and sadly, the same cancer he had lost his biological mother to just four years earlier. Michael had surgery at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. There was a new drug available; however, Michael's tumors were too small to use the medication.
Michael's medical journey next took them to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, which had what his family prayed would be a miracle drug. The Parsons family was devastated to learn that Michael's tumors were growing at a significantly fast rate. Doctors immediately referred them to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. On May 16, 2011, Susan, Michael, and his youngest sister Cassie, 9, made their first trip to The Children's Inn. Michael and Cassie spent hours in the Playroom and on the playground with other children with whom they became instant friends during their stay.
"In such a difficult time and with a cancer so aggressive, I felt so discouraged," Susan says about that first trip. "But the doctors [at NIH] worked together and gave us so much hope." Michael met someone with the same condition, which gave Susan a greater understanding about his cancer. "The setup of The Inn allows us to be social. I can sit in the kitchen with another parent who is just making coffee and we speak to each other like we are lifelong friends," says Susan. For the Parsons family, The Inn eased their fears and they found comfort in the unique support system that comes from speaking with other families who share similar hardships.
The Parsons have a sense of normalcy at The Inn. They often have "family movie night" in the Teen Lounge or play in the Game Room together, alive with laughter and no thought of cancer. To Susan and her family, The Inn is a blessing. "You don't need to worry about everything all the time at The Inn." Michael agrees, "There is a sense of family and it is just so fun here."
Florence first went to Miriam’s Kitchen for help four years ago. She was homeless and living under a bridge just a few miles from Miriam's Kitchen.
For the first year or so, Florence would go for breakfast, eat and leave. A debilitating mental illness and a history of trauma left her feeling distrustful of others, and even Miriam’s Kitchen Case Managers couldn't always connect with her.
They knew that having safe, reliable housing would have a big impact on her life though, and worked tirelessly to find a place for Florence to call her own.
After months of hard work, they found an apartment for Florence. Unfortunately, she wasn't ready to accept it yet.
Miriam’s Kitchen Case Managers continued to build a trusting relationship with Florence. They saw flashes of the demons fighting inside of her that kept her out on the streets, but also glimmers of hope that one day she might be ready to accept the apartment that was waiting for her.
Finally, last year - Christmas Eve to be exact - Florence was ready to move inside.
The only hurdle remaining was making sure all of her clothes were freshly laundered. One of Miriam’s Kitchen Case Managers found an open laundromat and spent all day alongside Florence, washing her clothes and preparing her to sleep inside for the first time in four years.
By 5 pm on Christmas Eve, Florence was moved into her new home.
Miriam’s Kitchen has continually checked in with Florence throughout the year and is pleased to report that she is doing well now. It’s been about 1 year since Florence moved into her new home and she remains grateful for the housing that was made possible for her thanks to the help of supporters like you.
It's only with your support that Miriam’s Kitchen is able to serve guests like Florence. There are more than 6,500 homeless men and women living on the streets of Washington, DC on any given night – many in a similar situation as Florence. Thanks for your continued support and helping make their dreams come true.
The UnitedHealthcare Children's Foundation is dedicated to facilitating access to medical-related services that have the potential to significantly enhance either the clinical condition or the quality of life of the child and that are not fully covered by the available commercial health benefit plan. This “support” is in the form of a medical grant to be used for medical services not covered or not completely covered by commercial health benefit plans.
Learn more about the grants
Below are just a few examples of how these grants have changed the lives of many people (check back frequently to see new stories).
Madison, a happy four-year-old girl from Oklahoma, has gone from barely walking to running during the past two years. Born premature and diagnosed at age two with triplegic cerebral palsy, this active youngster can now dance and play soccer. Madison's mom says, "It is wonderful to find help for treatments not covered by insurance and to see Madison progress so quickly.
Six-year-old Blake struggles to get words out, but there is no doubt you will know what he is trying to say. This determined and animated little boy with Down syndrome and communication delay goes for private speech, thanks to grants from the UnitedHealthcare Children's' Foundation.
Olivia is your typical little four-year-old girl. She is very active, loves dolls and pink is her favorite color. Because of a massive intracranial hemorrhage at five months of age, Olivia has developmental speech delay and delays in gross and fine motor skills. The Foundation grant has assisted Olivia with her weekly occupational therapy visits along with orthotics and surgery. "This grant has been a blessing and a huge help," says Olivia's mom.
Jayden, a 3-year-old, is hard to keep up with these days. Diagnosed with three types of congenital heart defects, his fight for life started at birth when he stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated twice. Jayden had heart surgery a few months ago, is recovering quickly, and his energy level has soared! "This grant has meant so much to our family and has allowed us to focus on the recovery of our son," says Jayden's mom.
“The moment she turned 18, Laura Nunes joined the Marine Corps, looking for an intense challenge but also for any assurance that she would have a place to sleep and food to eat. By then, she was all too familiar with the basic need to survive. Before she became a Marine police officer and fought for her country in Iraq, Nunes fought for her life at home. For years she endured abuse from her father, until the day he walked out forever. Just when she thought she had lived through the worst, her mother's mental illness turned their home upside down. At 14, when Nunes should have been unwrapping Christmas gifts, she was instead locked in a bedroom by her mother. She endured the isolation for nearly a week, without food or water, until police broke into the house out of fear that she and her mother were both dead. Rescued from starvation and her troubled mother, Nunes did not yet have relief. With no one in the family picture, she began a long journey of survival. Fortunately, she wouldn't have to make it alone; Nunes had a CASA volunteer by her side, advocating for her best interests. (Erny, Cameran. "When the Family Portrait Is Empty." Veterans Organizations | The American Legion. The American Legion, 1 Apr. 2011. Web. 14 Nov. 2011.
How can I help?
There are many ways to help:
· Become a CASA volunteer. If you would like to learn more about becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate, the next step is to attend a one-hour information session. Sessions are held twice monthly at convenient locations; 11/19/11 at the Burke Centre Library from 11am – 12pm and 12/5/11 at the Fairfax CASA office from 12pm-1pm. Contact Elisa Kosarin at firstname.lastname@example.org additional dates and times of upcoming sessions.
· Refer a friend. CASA volunteering requires an extensive time commitment that is just not possible for everyone. If you know someone with a love of children and the available time, contact Elisa Kosarin at email@example.com
· Give to Fairfax CASA. As a nonprofit organization, Fairfax CASA must raise the funds needed to support the work of its dedicated volunteers. Please consider making a tax deductible contribution through your workplace campaign (CFC #68151).
Want to learn more?
Fairfax CASA Web Site: http://www.casafairfax.org
Phone: (703) 273-3526
4103 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 200
Fairfax, VA 22030-4107
firstname.lastname@example.org -- for general questions and comments
Elisa Kosarin: email@example.com -- to volunteer
Lisa Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org -- for program and financial/contributions related questions.
Listen to what Fairfax CASA Executive Director, Lisa Banks’, recently had to say in a radio interview:
How effective is CASA?
Last year, more than 75,000 CASA volunteers helped 240,000 abused and neglected children find safe, permanent homes across the country. Of those volunteers, 171 served in Fairfax County alone advocating for 426 abused and neglected children.
Judges have observed that children with a CASA volunteer have better chances of finding permanent homes than those without a CASA volunteer. Preliminary findings have shown that children who have been assigned CASA volunteers tend to spend less time in court, spend less time languishing within the foster care system, do better in school, and are more likely to live a consistent, responsible adult life than those who do not have a CASA volunteer.
Eileen, a Christian Appalachian Project participant, living in a distressed, rented camper that has rotted floors and windows will soon be receiving a new home thanks to the generosity of our donors!
Eileen has special needs and has been unable to work for quite some time. She lives on a meager social security income each month and it’s not enough for her to afford better housing or repairs. She has a small propane cook stove, and an elderly neighbor helps provide her with food and water. Eileen’s neighbor, Mary, brings water to her during the winter or runs a hose from her own house, located nearby. Eileen also uses an electric heater powered by an extension cord from her neighbor, which is a safety concern. Eileen’s camper is unlivable and unrepairable. It has a leaky roof, no running water or electricity, and very limited space.
No person should live in conditions like this, especially a woman with special needs. But now, thanks to the help of caring friends like you, new hope is on the horizon.
The challenge was to raise $10,000 and we have reached $9,353. Though we have fallen just short of our goal, we will still follow through for Eileen.
Soon she will be in a better home that’s more comfortable and free of health and safety hazards. Thank you for caring for people like Eileen!
The crisis in Egypt has heightened concerns about the well-being of the children in the care of Coptic Orphans, according to executive director Nermien Riad.
“I'm sure you have been glued to the news like I have been over the past week, watching the recent events in Egypt unfold. Our country will surely never be the same. But despite the extreme unrest, we still have major work to do,” said Ms. Riad. “We have been trying our best to stay in touch with our staff and volunteers to make sure that our children remain out of harm's way. Communication has been difficult. The internet is still down and mobile phones are intermittent.
The needs on the ground include food, cash, and other essentials because supplies of these are slowly running out in Cairo, Alexandria, and the Suez areas which have been hit the hardest.
Most of the families Coptic Orphans work with live in poor areas where supplies were already low. For what is left of supplies, prices are steadily climbing. Riad said that staff in Egypt has been in constant contact with volunteers to make sure our children still have the essentials; however, they have not been able to reach anyone in Suez.
Another rising concern for the charity officials is that there has also been widespread looting and crime as many criminals are taking advantage of the lack of police presence.
“Our biggest concern at the moment is for all of the widows and orphans who are without a male defense or protection during these unstable times,” said Ms. Riad. She noted that the protests have united neighbors of all faiths to pull together to protect each other and their property against looters. Our staff has been taking shifts to vigilantly protect our Cairo office with sticks and stones.
Even before the uprising began, despite the hope that the Coptic Orphans program can provide by assuring that the basic needs of these families are met, there is little that can be done to change the economic conditions in the country where unemployment is high and the prospects of getting a job once out of school are very slim. Despite the grim economic outlook, Egyptian society puts great pressure on young people to move out of their parent’s home, establish a household, become independent and get married.
Thankfully, with the hardships surrounding these families and many more, Coptic Orphans volunteers and staff bring hope and help to these families who truly need assistance to contend with their living conditions and to build a better life in the future.
Derick Walk, a seventh-grader at Thomas Johnson Middle School in Lanham, organized a community cleanup of Bald Hill creek in Lanham. Volunteers worked with him to clean up a much needed segment of the river. They pulled a wide variety of trash from the creek's bank.
Sen. David C. Harrington (D-Dist. 24) of Cheverly contributed gloves and bags for the cleanup and arranged for Prince Georgia's County to pick up the trash. Community First member, the Anacostia Watershed Society, provided all of the other needed supplies.
The mission of the Anacostia Watershed Society is to protect and restore the Anacostia River and its watershed communities by cleaning the water, recovering the shores, and honoring the heritage.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and its co-counsels, who are suing Signal International, LLC, along with its co-conspirators and other entities for human trafficking and racketeering, asked a federal judge today to include hundreds of additional Indian guestworkers in the lawsuit. If class status is granted, the lawsuit would be the largest human trafficking case in U.S. history.
The SPLC, American Civil Liberties Union, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Louisiana Justice Institute and the law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP filed the original, proposed class action lawsuit on behalf of the seven individuals, who seek to represent a class of approximately 500 former guestworkers. These guestworkers were lured to work in the U.S. after Hurricane Katrina and subjected to racial and national origin discrimination, forced labor, and other abuse by Signal and its agents and co-defendants, including labor recruiters Sachin Dewan and Michael Pol and immigration attorney Malvern Burnett.
Today’s filing urges the court to certify the class.
"This case illustrates in shocking detail the abuse occurring within the nation’s guestworker program," said Dan Werner, deputy legal director for the SPLC. "These workers only wanted the American dream but instead were bound to an abusive employer and forced to endure horrific conditions."
Signal, a marine and fabrication company with shipyards in Mississippi, Texas and Alabama, is a subcontractor for several major multinational companies. After Hurricane Katrina scattered its workforce, Signal retained labor contractors who used the U.S. government’s guestworker program to import employees to work as welders and pipefitters. Between 2004 and 2006, hundreds of Indian men paid defendants as much as $20,000 each for travel, visa, recruitment and other fees after they were told it would lead to good jobs and permanent U.S. residency for themselves and their families.
However, when the men arrived at Signal in late 2006 and early 2007, they discovered that they wouldn’t receive the green cards as promised, but rather 10-month guestworker visas. Signal also forced them to pay $1,050 a month to live in overcrowded, unsanitary and racially segregated labor camps where as many as 24 men shared a trailer with only two toilets. When the guestworkers tried to find their own housing, Signal officials told them they would still have the rent deducted from their paychecks. Visitors were not allowed into the camps, which were enclosed by fences. Company employees who stood guard at the camps regularly searched the workers' belongings. Workers who complained about the conditions were threatened with deportation.
The Humane Society of the United States was called in by the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department to lead the rescue of 97 dogs and one cat from a Lewisburg, Tenn. property. The dogs were being housed in unsanitary conditions and lacked proper socialization and medical care. All of the animals have been surrendered by the owner to the custody of the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department.
“Many of these dogs were so filthy and uncared for it was difficult for us to even tell what breed they were,” said Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director of The HSUS. “This is the perfect example of the squalid conditions dogs in puppy mills are forced to endure. The Humane Society of the United States is thankful to the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department for standing up for these animals and enforcing Tennessee’s animal cruelty laws.”
This case began when the sheriff received an anonymous tip concerning the welfare of the dogs. The Tennessee Department of Health’s Animal Welfare Division also found alleged violations of cruelty laws at the facility during a routine inspection. When responders arrived on scene they found nearly 100 dogs, mostly poodles and other small breeds, living crowded amongst their own feces in small wire enclosures.
The HSUS has safely removed all of the animals and transported them to an emergency shelter set up and staffed by The HSUS and United Animal Nations. Once at the emergency shelter the dogs and cats will be examined by a team of veterinarians and receive any necessary immediate medical treatment. UAN and The HSUS will provide the animals with daily care until they are transported to partner shelters for evaluation and adoption. PetSmart Charities ® donated much-needed sheltering supplies for the rescued animals.
"The Marshall County Sheriff's Office will continue to fight against puppy mills, cock fighting, dog fighting and any other cruelty to animals,” said Marshall County Sheriff Norman Dalton. “We ask that pet owners treat their animals kindly, and they will receive that pet’s unconditional love in return.”
The HSUS' Maddie’s Fund Puppy Mill Task Force, which participated in this action, investigates and assists law enforcement agencies across the country with case development and rescue of animals from puppy mills. The task force is able to assist these animals thanks in part to a generous donation from Maddie’s Fund.
As many as 1,300 dogs and cats in Scottsdale, Arizona will be saved every year, thanks to a one-of-a-kind partnership between Maricopa County Animal Care and Control and nonprofit PetSmart Charities, Inc.
I climbed up a narrow set of concrete stairs in a dark stairway that led into the small flat. Ramy's mother and his sisters were waiting for us. His mother began telling me about her sleepless nights and how Ramy had made a dramatic turnaround only a few months earlier. She said that she often stayed awake crying inconsolably after his father died, wondering where she would get the few pounds needed to feed Ramy and his sisters.
Then, hope seemed to evaporate utterly when Ramy dropped out of school; he had never learned to read despite going from grade to grade, and finally just gave up.
After his first year in the Not Alone program, Ramy became literate and rejoined school with the help of Coptic Orphans. But because the Not Alone program is holistic, we were not content to rest with Ramy simply going back to school. We wanted to make sure that Ramy and his family had the opportunity to become self-sufficient and reach their full potential. Before he died, Ramy's father had a plumbing business. He had a small storefront facing a dusty village alley that he used as his shop. After passing, it sat unused for several years. That's where Ramy was standing as I talked with his mother. Ramy had cleaned, painted, and opened it once again, but this time for a different use. He had purchased three computers and set up an internet café with the help of his sponsor from the U.S. through Coptic Orphans. Now he makes enough to ensure that his family has food on the table and his sisters can stay in school. While running his new business, Ramy has also learned a lot about how to operate and repair computers. While other school children in Egypt rarely even touch a computer in their computer classes, Ramy is getting the hands-on experience that will open doors of opportunity once he graduates. Today Ramy's mother says that she no longer lies awake at night worrying about how she will feed her children. "God sent this at just the suitable time" she told me. Her children now have access some of their basic rights, and have become an example of self-sufficiency for their entire neighborhood.
Support from the City of Philadelphia Employees, like you, have made our work possible. The Native American Rights Fund believes in empowering individuals and communities whose rights, economic self-sufficiency and political participation have been systematically eroded or undermined.
At its inception in 1970, NARF believed that the best hope for Indian survival and development rests with the maintenance of the tribe as an institution. The inherent sovereign powers of a tribe to hold land, to govern tribal members and to command the respect of other units of government are essential to an Indian nation concept. Throughout its history, NARF has held fast to this hope and through its work has insured that this concept has become a reality. For the past 40 years, NARF has represented over 250 Tribes in 31 states.
NARF continues to work on priority areas: (1) the preservation of tribal existence; (2) the protection of tribal natural resources; (3) the promotion of human rights; (4) the accountability of governments to Native Americans; and (5) the development of Indian law and educating the public about Indian rights, laws, and issues. Our legal work has resulted in several significant victories and accomplishments in the last year. After 32 years of NARF assistance the Shinnecock Indian Nation of New York received a favorable Final Determination from the Office of Federal Acknowledgement. NARF secured the right of a Native student to secure wear an eagle feather at graduation to honor her spiritual beliefs. In partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union, NARF won a settlement with the City of Bethel and ultimately the State of Alaska to provide additional language assistance for Yupik speakers securing voting rights. NARF also supported Indian Child Welfare Act issues in Alaska, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
Chronic pain is a condition that afflicts some 86 million Americans, in forms ranging from low-level discomfort to disabling agony. Chronic pain presents a major challenge to health professionals, since by its very nature it is a problem that will not go away and all too often responds with only mixed success to current modes of treatment.
The mission of the Arthritis & Chronic Pain Research Institute is to find solutions for those who suffer from chronic pain. By providing financial support for biomedical research on understanding chronic pain, its causes, and possible therapeutics, we hope to make a difference in the lives of pain sufferers and their loved ones.
One research project funded in part by the Institute involves the development of new synthetic compounds to understand the pain mechanism. The approach involves using peptide neurotoxins discovered from venomous cone snails as templates for designing synthetic molecules that selectively modulate pain through nicotinic receptors. There are many different types of nicotinic receptors in the central and peripheral nervous systems that perform different roles, including pain transmission. As such, specifically blocking these subtypes of nicotinic receptors may help alleviate pain in people that do not respond well to traditional medications such as opiates. However, a major problem for researchers lies in identifying the specific role that each subtype of nicotinic receptor plays in the nervous system. One particular class of cone snail toxins, the α-conotoxins, can distinguish between different subtypes of nicotinic receptors. The scientist then uses the unique molecular structure of α-conotoxins as templates in the design of synthetic combinatorial libraries that accelerate the discovery of selective and potent new nicotinic receptor ligands. Conducted in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen, this research has resulted in the development of new selective compounds which have been shown to be 15 times more potent than the native conotoxin and are being further studied to improve the understanding of the interaction at the molecular level of α-conotoxins and nicotinic receptors. This research project has exciting potential for unraveling the function of these receptors with profound implications in the development of more effective analgesics.
For 25 years, Terry led what she calls a “mere existence” not a life. Suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, she was nearing 50 years old when she decided to turn her life around. She entered rehab and was ready to make a new start. For years, Terry had struggled to hold down a job due to her addition. She participated in the Employment Program for Recovered Alcoholics and through the program was introduced to Dress for Success when she reluctantly agreed to an internship with the organization.
Terry was nervous about interning at Dress for Success because it had been so many years since she had worked in an office setting. However, she gained self-esteem and realized that she could get satisfaction from doing her job well.
Going to Dress for Success was one of the best decisions she ever made. Since her first visit, Terry has been pursuing a career as a medical assistant. As she continues her training, her professional goals keep expanding. Terry plans to return to school to become a Licensed Practical Nurse and ultimately wants to become and RN. "My goal is to help people to realize it is never too late to turn your life around, to make if productive and worthwhile.”
On March 3, 2010, Feed The Children distributed eight semi tractor-trailers full of food and personal care items to New Light Church, located at 7317 E. Houston Rd. in Houston. And on April 28, 2010, the charity brought two semi tractor-trailers full of food and personal care items to The Family Church, located at 800 E. Whitewing Ave. in McAllen. These distributions were the latest stops on Feed The Children’s Americans Feeding Americans Caravan. Since its inception in February 2009, the caravan has helped more than 60,000 families across the country in cities that have been affected by the economic downturn. Feed The Children is planning similar distributions in more than 20 major American cities this year, with a goal of helping at least 200,000 families by the end of 2010.
The caravan deliveries in Texas helped 3,200 families in Houston and 800 families in the McAllen area. In both cities, Feed The Children’s partner agencies helped pre-identify the recipient families. Each family received a 25-pound box of food, a 10-pound box of personal care items, and a box of Avon products. The boxes were supplied with enough food to help a family for up to one week. “The Americans Feeding Americans project is geared toward families who are suffering during this economic downturn,” said Tony Sellars, spokesperson for Feed The Children. “Many of these families were considered middle class a year ago. The rules have now changed. A lot of these people for the first time in their lives are not able to provide for their families. We appreciate our partner agencies in Houston and McAllen and the teamwork that helped make these distributions possible.”
Feed The Children is a Christian, international, nonprofit relief organization with headquarters in Oklahoma City, OK, that delivers food, medicine, clothing and other necessities to individuals, children and families who lack these essentials due to famine, war, poverty or natural disasters. Founded in 1979, Feed The Children is consistently ranked as one of the 10 largest international charities in the United States, based on private, non-government support. Employees throughout the state of Texas give generously to Feed The Children each year through the Texas SECC. This generosity plays an important role in helping Feed The Children to continue its mission.
Students from low-income communities often face big obstacles in attending, much less graduating from, college, but organizations nationwide are using innovative strategies to help students achieve their goals.
Some approaches, like espousing the power of high expectations and sending teams of students off to college together, may sound simple on their face. But the results of organizations like the “I Have a Dream” Foundation and The Posse Foundation Inc., both of New York, along with College Track, with headquarters in Oakland, Calif., are anything but ordinary.
All three organizations participated in the Emerging Trends & Innovations in Urban Education Conference, co-hosted by Summit 54 at the Aspen Institute in Colorado in September 2010.
Omar Butler, a site director for College Track, says the big talk in education is the “achievement gap.” But he prefers to think about it as an “opportunity gap.” And when you look at graduation rates in an under-resourced San Francisco community that College Track serves, you can see why.
Bayview-Hunters Point is located in the extreme southeastern part of San Francisco, and includes some of the city’s only remaining affordable housing. In 2008, in one of the community’s high schools, only four African American and six Latino students graduating were eligible to attend a four-year state university. This represented less than 10 percent of the graduating class.
College Track — an after-school, college preparatory program — looks to break that cycle through programming that establishes clearly-defined student goals and expectations in the areas of academic affairs, student life, college affairs and college success.
And it appears to be working.
“If we can keep students in our program past ninth grade,” Butler said, “it is highly likely they will succeed in high school and in College Track.”
College Track has served 700 students. All of its seniors graduate from high school, 95 percent of seniors are admitted to four-year university and 90 percent have either earned or are still pursuing a college degree.
Camper Stephen was in the fourth grade when he learned that he had cancer. He went through chemotherapy, lost all of his hair, couldn't go to school and, as he puts it, "I just basically felt rotten for an entire year." He goes on to explain, "I could barely run, could barely play sports, . . . heck, I could barely eat my food half the time. The medicine tasted disgusting and there was a chance that I could die. A small one, granted, but I knew what I was up against. Cancer was, without a doubt, the single worst experience of my life."
The first time that Stephen went to The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, he was still in treatment. “It was the best week of my life,” he says. “I met kids going through the same hardships I was . . . kids taking the same medicine, bearing the same scars, living the same lives. More importantly, thought, I also met kids that were going through situations that, in my mind, were ten times tougher than my own. Kids that had AIDS, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia . . . diseases that may never be cured. It really made me realize, my gosh, I got off easy.”
Camp became more than a place in Ashford, Connecticut for Stephen. “It’s now a place in my heart,” he explains. “It is a place of refuge. A place I can hide from the rest of the world and forget unhappiness, stress, sickness and death. Nobody there cares what disease you have. No matter who you are, what type of family you’re from, how sick you are, you will find pure, all-encompassing, no-holds-barred love waiting to greet you. Illnesses are left at the gate. While you’re there, anything and everything is possible.
Talk to any camper. You’ll get the same answer. It can’t be described, but there’s a magic to Camp, and it doesn’t rest in Ashford. It’s the magic of belief – the belief that things aren’t as bad as they seem. The belief that you’re the best dancer in the entire dining hall. The belief that you can eat all the Lucky Charms you want and never get sick. The belief that you can beat your counselor in basketball every single time you play him. But most importantly, the belief that you are not sick. The belief that you are normal. That… that’s magic.