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Giving thanks to the helpers
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in helpers' LiveJournal:

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Friday, October 14th, 2011
3:50 pm
Girl reunited with 'Daddy Bear' lost on busy interstate
Justice Wadsworth was given a teddy bear when she was little — a gift from her father who is in the military and currently serving overseas. She calls it "Daddy Bear" and says "it makes her feel like she's cuddling with her daddy."

Two days ago, the family was driving back to Sedro-Woolley along I-90. Justice got sick and alongside the road, in the chaos, the bear got left behind.

Current Mood: Bears!
Sunday, September 18th, 2011
11:23 am
One Liter of Light

Many, MANY thanks to filkertom for the link.

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
3:42 pm
Strangers lift 4,000-pound burning car to save trapped, injured motorcyclist
A Utah motorcyclist who was pinned under a burning car after a collision expressed his gratitude Tuesday for the help of strangers who lifted the 4,000 pound vehicle to rescue him.…

Authorities said Wright, 21, was riding his motorcycle Monday near the Utah State University campus in Logan when he collided with a black BMW that was pulling out of a parking lot.

Tire and skid marks on the highway indicate that Wright laid the bike down and slid along the road before colliding with the car, Assistant Police Chief Jeff Curtis said.

The bike hit the car's hood and bounced to the ground, while Wright, who was not wearing helmet, slid under the car and then both vehicles burst into flames, Curtis said.

Wright was trapped beneath the burning car. A group of about 10 men and women rushed to help, tilting the car up to free him and pull him to safety.

"Every one of those people put their lives in danger," Curtis said. "Those people are heroes. You can only speculate what the outcome would have been if they hadn't lifted that car and waited for the emergency service personnel to get up there."

Construction workers from a campus building project also grabbed fire extinguishers to try and put out the flames.

Chris Garff, a media production specialist for the university, caught the rescue on video. The 31-year-old was on the 9th floor of a university building shooting a promotional video for the school when he looked out of the window and saw black smoke billowing from the road.
Full news story available here. The video can be seen here (embedding is disabled).
Saturday, September 3rd, 2011
10:51 am
Monday, August 29th, 2011
12:26 pm
Community Stands Strong to Block an Eviction
From inside Mary Lee Ward’s small and sparsely furnished living room in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, it sounded Friday as if a block party was in full swing in the street below. Cars and trucks honked their horns as they passed and almost 200 voices could be heard cheering and chanting.

But this was no street party; it was not yet 9 a.m. and the crowd outside was there as a line of defense.

Ms. Ward — a tiny, soft-spoken 82-year-old — faced eviction by a city marshal on Friday morning, as the result of a subprime mortgage she took out in 1995. The lender, which filed for bankruptcy in 2007, had subsequently been investigated for predatory and discriminatory practices. And so neighbors, friends, housing advocates and supporters formed a thick human wall outside Ms. Ward’s small, gray house on Tompkins Avenue.

Shortly after 9:30, the local state assemblywoman, Annette Robinson, emerged from the house with news.

“The marshal will not be taking action today,” Ms. Robinson said over a bullhorn, as Ms. Ward stood by her side. Ms. Robinson vowed to negotiate with the deed holder to keep Ms. Ward in her home.

More information here.
Sunday, August 7th, 2011
12:16 pm
Heroism in Norway
I'm sad that I only learned about this now:

Couple braved gunfire to rescue 40 in water at Utoya

By Tony Paterson
Published in The Independent on Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A married couple are being hailed as the heroines of Norway's Utoya island massacre after it emerged that they rescued 40 youngsters from chilly fjord waters as their boat was sprayed by Anders Breivik's bullets.

Norwegians Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen were among dozens of campers spending the summer at the Utviken campsite overlooking Utoya island when Mr Breivik arrived on the afternoon of 22 July and began shooting dead Norwegian Labour Party youth members who were attending a summer camp.

Ms Dalen recalled how the couple were sitting enjoying a meal when they were suddenly interrupted by alarming noises from across the water.

"We were eating, then came sounds of shooting and then the awful screaming," she told Finland's Helsingin Sanomat newspaper. "We saw how the young people ran in panic into the lake."

The two women ran to the campsite's jetty where a dozen or so boats were moored. They were among several other campers who took their boats to a patch of water in front of Utoya island, where terrified youngsters were trying to swim away from Mr Breivik's gunfire.

Ms Dalen and Ms Hansen pulled the young swimmers aboard and ferried them back to the campsite. There were so many in the water that they made four sorties. Between runs they were shocked to notice that the side of their boat had been struck by Mr Breivik's bullets. The Utviken campers pulled a total of 150 young people from the fjord. ...

Current Mood: impressed
Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011
2:56 pm
"'I just jumped in,' says 8 1/2-year-old San Jose boy who helped save drowning girl"
When Ishaan Singh was younger, his favorite super heros were Spiderman and Mr. Incredible.

Monday, the 8 1/2-year-old San Jose boy acted like Aquaman.

Ishaan was lauded by the city's fire chief, the county's top health officer, politicians and a gaggle of reporters on Wednesday, two days after the slight fourth-grader helped rescue a friend's 3-year-old sister from a pool, while others rescued the girl's grandfather.

The pair were two of six near-drownings in San Jose over the last week. Last year, 13 people drowned in Santa Clara County, according to the health department.

"I just jumped in," Ishaan said quietly with a shy smile on his face at a news conference at Fire Station No. 14, whose crew was the first on scene at the Park Kiely Luxury Apartments about 1 p.m. Monday. "I was being brave."
More here.

And it's good to remember that drowning doesn't look like drowning.
Friday, July 15th, 2011
12:18 pm
Above and Beyond Boss - KTUL.com - Tulsa, Oklahoma - Coverage You Can Count On:
Owasso's golden arches at 76th street and Highway 169 are about to be dimmed for a while.

"This is the last day that we're going to be open," said owner Tim Rich.

Even so, smiling faces abound. You'd never know that 70 jobs were at stake for the next three months as a new McDonald's is built in it's place.

"We didn't want to lose any of them," he said.

Tim Rich owns two other stores, but there simply isn't enough work for everybody.

"At first I was sad I was like, 'Oh my gosh I love McDonald's,'" said employee Tekeyah Allen.

But then, as genuine as the smile from a happy meal...

"We made the decision, we set $120,000 aside to pay employees to go volunteer in our community," said Rich.

"You're really gonna do this?," asked a stunned Margaret Manley, who was on a lunch break from the Baptist Village Retirement Community.

"When I walked up to the counter they said we got a deal for you," she said.

And it wasn't an Angus Deluxe. It was 17 year-old Daniel Schwartz.

"Well my great grandma lives there and I just really like working with people," said Schwartz.

"What a difference they're gonna make in our residents lives and what a learning experience they'll get from our residents," she said.

"I was so excited," said Amanda Cadwell at the Pregnancy Resource Center. They're getting Tekeyah for three months.

"To be able to have somebody come in and this be treated like a job is a huge blessing to us," said Cadwell.

"I just enjoy helping people, you know?," said Allen.

In all some two dozen employees will be working at various good causes all the while getting their regular pay, after which they'll come back to the new restaurant. I know right? What's the catch?

"Well, the catch is, there is no catch," said Rich.

Sad to report that such a good deed raises skepticism. Happy to report that there are actually people like Tim Rich in this world.

"I think it's important for us as a business to develop strategies that help our communities. I think that helps my business and it helps my community," said
Saturday, June 18th, 2011
1:26 pm
Tuesday, April 19th, 2011
6:27 pm
9-year-old hero
This 9-year-old boy knew what to do when his 2-year-old sister was found unconscious in the swimming pool. The adults were calling for help, but Tristin was already on the scene, performing CPR.

Current Mood: impressed
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
5:01 pm
Hero is as hero does
John Shear, a 90-year-old horse trainer at Santa Anita Park, was injured March 12 after throwing himself in front of a young girl to protect her from a loose horse. Despite sustaining multiple pelvic fractures and a fractured cheekbone, he's still pleased by the outcome. “Could have been worse,” Shear said when the LA Times’ columnist Bill Plaschke paid a visit to the hospital. ”Something could have happened to the little girl.”

More here.
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
10:47 am
Badass helper of the week (or month - or maybe year): Hideaki Akaiwa
Excerpted from the post on Badass of the Week:
On the afternoon of Friday, March 11th, Hideaki Akaiwa was at his job, dully trudging out the final bitter minutes of his work week in his office just outside the port city of Ishinomaki in Japan's Miyagi Prefecture. What this guy's day job actually is, I honestly have no idea, but based on the extremely limited information I have on the guy I can only presume that his daily nine-to-five routine probably falls somewhere between the motorcycle chase scenes from the movie Akira and John Rambo's antics in the book version of First Blood on the ridiculousness/badassitude scale. But that's only speculation.

The one thing we know for certain is that Akaiwa was at work on the 11th, when suddenly, right as he was in the middle of jumping over a giant Gatling-gun-armed robot while riding on a rocket-powered jetbike he'd MacGuyvered together out of vines, tree branches, and a couple thumbtacks, something terrible happened – an earthquake. And not just any earthquake – a mega fucking brain-busting insane earthquake the likes of which the island of Japan had never had the misfortune of experiencing before. The ground shook, buildings crumbled, lights smashed apart, and the entire population of the country froze in fear as fault line below Japan rumbled for a ridiculous two-plus minutes.

But, amazingly, an 8.9 magnitude earthquake wasn't the worst thing to happen to the town Ishinomaki on that horrible day. No, that was afterwards, when the tremors from the earthquake churned up a raging tsunami that took a bustling city of 162,000 people and suddenly turned it into little more than a ten-foot-deep lake. …

But it gets even worse. Hideaki's wife of twenty years was still buried inside the lake somewhere. She hadn't gotten out. She wasn't answering her phone. The water was still rising, the sun was setting, cars and shit were swooshing past on a river of sea water, and and rescue workers told him there was nothing that could be done – the only thing left was to sit back, wait for the military to arrive, and hope that they can get in there and rescue the survivors before it's too late. With 10,000 citizens of Ishinomaki still missing and unaccounted for, the odds weren't great that Hideaki would ever see his wife again.

For most of us regular folks, this is the sort of shit that would make us throw up our hands, swear loudly, and resign ourselves to a lifetime of hopeless misery.

But Hideaki Akaiwa isn't a regular guy. He's a fucking insane badass, and he wasn't going to sit back and just let his wife die alone, freezing to death in a miserable water-filled tomb. He was going after her. No matter what. …

How the fuck Hideaki Akaiwa got a hold of a wetsuit and a set of SCUBA gear is one of the great mysteries of the world.… Regardless of how he came across this equipment (borrowing, stealing, buying, beating up a Yakuza SCUBA diving demolitions expert, etc.) Hideaki threw on his underwater survival gear, rushed into the goddamned tsunami, and dove beneath the rushing waves, determined to rescue his wife or die trying. …

Surrounded by incredible hazards on all sides, ranging from obscene currents capable of dislodging houses from their moorings, sharp twisted metal that could easily have punctured his oxygen line (at best) or impaled him (at worst), and with giant fucking cars careening through the water like toys, he pressed on. Past broken glass, past destroyed houses, past downed power lines arcing with electrical current, through undertow that could have dragged him out to sea never to be heard from again, he searched.

Hideaki maintained his composure and navigated his way through the submerged city, finally tracking down his old house. He quickly swam through to find his totally-freaked-out wife, alone and stranded on the upper level of their house, barely keeping her head above water. He grabbed her tight, and presumably sharing his rebreather with her, dragged her out of the wreckage to safety. She survived. …

Now, I'm sure you're wondering what the fuck is more intense than commandeering a wet suit, face-punching a tsunami and dragging your wife of two decades out of the flooded wreckage of your home, but, no shit, it gets even better. You see, Hideaki's mother also lived in Ishinomaki, and she was still unaccounted for. I think you all know where this is going.…

So, once again Hideaki navigated his way through the Atlantean city, picking his way through crumbling wreckage, splintered wood, and shredded metal to find his elderly mother. After another grueling trek, he tracked her down on the upper levels of a house – she'd been stranded there for four days, and would almost certainly have died without the timely aid of her son. He brought her to safety somehow as well, as you might expect at this point.

Now, while most people would have been content in the knowledge that their family was safe, Hideaki Akaiwa isn't the sort of badass who's going to hang up his flippers and quit just because he'd taken care of his own personal shit – this guy made an oath to keep going back into the wreckage on his own to find people and help them to safety. Today this 43 year-old Japanese badass rides out every single day, multiple times a day, riding around on a bicycle with his legs wrapped in plastic to keep himself dry. His only equipment – a pocketknife, a canteen, a flashlight, a change of clothes, and a badass set of aviator sunglasses – packed into a trusty trio of backpacks, he rides out in search of people needing rescue, a modern-day, real-life action hero.

Friday, March 18th, 2011
9:40 pm
Samurai collecting donations
Every so often, something reminds me that human beings can be... y'know... GOOD. Amidst all the various charitable activity centered around Japan right now, for some reason this one really touched me.

Friday, February 25th, 2011
10:31 am
For a cat, some kinds of vets are nicer than others

A Chelsea pensioner and armed forces veteran pets a kitty at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London. Besides encouraging veterans to visit, Battersea also takes animals to vets who are disabled or too ill to leave their homes.
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
11:37 am
"I'm just a pizza deliverer, that's all."
Linked on Twitter by Roger Ebert:

For most people, eating a large Domino's pepperoni pizza every day would likely send you into an early grave.

For 82-year-old Jean Wilson, however, her penchant for the Italian meal probably saved her life.
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
3:29 pm
"I just want to be one of the people that helps," he said, "That's all I want, to help."
From an article in the Oakland Tribune.
Not long ago, Ernesto Diaz was locked up at the Camp Sweeney juvenile detention facility on felony assault charges, deemed a "menace to society." Carl Bolds almost joined him there on many occasions during his life as an East Oakland "street hustler."

Now, both are employed at local ambulance companies, and on the verge of becoming certified emergency medical technicians.

Bolds, 21, of Oakland, plans to become a firefighter. Diaz, 18, of Berkeley, dreams of medical school. The only thing both men want to do now, they say, is help.

In a special ceremony earlier this month, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors honored the pair, who have made a remarkable journey in a very short time.

A staff of volunteer EMTs, life coach specialists and mental health professionals from Alameda County public health is helping them achieve their goals. Diaz and Bolds are both beneficiaries of Bay EMT, a unique program that targets at-risk men ages 18 to 24, most of whom have had run-ins with the law, and diverts them to a vocational program that channels them into the health care field. The organization hopes to increase diversity in the health care industry and in the process help young men on the brink of self-destruction. Best of all, it's free.

Bay EMT offers two five-month courses each year, one in June and another in January. Each session is open to about 30 students. If they complete the course successfully, students then are eligible to take the National Registry Exam, which qualifies them to work as EMTs in California and several other states. Since the program began in 2002, nearly 200 students have gone on to successful medical and firefighting careers, often helping the same residents they may have terrorized, robbed or hurt previously as gang members or thugs.
More here.
Friday, February 18th, 2011
1:25 pm
Growing & giving away produce in the heart of Brooklyn
From an article on Grist.org. Note, "Broke-Ass" refers to the writer, who goes by the nom de plume Broke-Ass Grouch:
"You don't eat right, that's your problem," said an emergency room nurse's assistant named James McCrae, a fit, lean dude in his 50s with a vibe no one would mess with. Broke-Ass protested self-righteously. She's got a chicken coop, a vegetable garden, and fruit trees --- all in the goddamned ghetto of Red Hook, Brooklyn.

"Oh, yeah?" said McCrae. "I grew up in Red Hook, Brooklyn, I raised my kids in East New York, Brooklyn, I got a farm on Fountain Avenue on a vacant lot that I've been working on for 16 years, I teach the young kids in the neighborhood how to help out, and I give all the fruits and vegetables away for free to anyone who brings over a brown bag."

And thus Mr. McCrae revealed himself to be possibly the most awesome man Broke-Ass has ever met.

Here's the story: McCrae always loved gardening and farming, but he never had any land of his own to grow anything substantial. In the '90s, McCrae got sick and tired of the trash heaped up in the vacant lot across from his house in East New York, and got in touch with New York City's GreenThumb division, the country's largest urban gardening program, supporting over 600 gardens reclaimed from abandoned lots throughout the city.

Between help from GreenThumb and donated supplies from people he just happened to meet, McCrae got the Green Gems farm up and running over the course of about five years of hard work. The only money spent out of his pocket has been the few bucks he pays the "drunk guys playing cards on the street" to work the soil while he's working at the hospital. "A lot of them are from the islands, so they grew up farming, and they do a good job -- and they like it." During the spring and summer, he teaches anyone under the age of 11 to farm: "Any older, and they can't get it in their blood." He's also got a small playing field, where kids can blow off steam to play ball. Today, the farm is home to about every kind of bean, squash, green vegetable, fruit tree, whatever you can imagine.

And McCrae gives it all away.

"How are you going to tell someone working 12 hours a day for nothing they should buy some nasty red pepper for $3 at the Fine Fare when they could go to McDonald's and buy a dollar meal?" he says.
Tuesday, February 8th, 2011
4:34 pm
A video about a man who feeds and helps the poor, mentally ill and elderly in his community.
Thursday, January 6th, 2011
8:38 pm
Pediatrician talks airport, TSA, and airline into mock flights for autistic children.

"I'm going to China, but we won't really," said an imaginative Gena Catanese, 5, of North Wales, accompanied by her parents and her sisters, Isabella, 6, and Emma, 3.

Just 18 months ago, Gena had a traumatic travel experience on vacation in Orlando, Fla. She expected to preboard the plane with her family, but the protocol was she could preboard only with one parent.

Gena became agitated and "overstimulated," said her mother, Melanie Catanese. "There was no way she was able to fly home that day."

After receiving a frantic call, Gena's pediatrician, Wendy Ross, at Albert Einstein Medical Center, phoned and faxed letters to the Orlando airport.

"I thought, 'This can never happen to one of my families again,' " said Ross, who sees children with learning disabilities, mental retardation, autism, and attention-deficit disorder. "Gena was saying she would never fly again. It was heartbreaking."

So Ross contacted Philadelphia airport and Rick Dempsey, head of the airport's Americans With Disabilities Act review committee.

"She wanted to bring a simulated airport experience for children with autism and their families," Dempsey said. "The committee thought it was a great idea. The [Transportation Security Administration] bought into it. We even got an airline, Southwest, to buy into the idea."

Current Mood: happy
Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
11:50 am
Preventing suicide among HMO members
For the behavioral health services division at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, zero is the perfect number. In the past 10 quarters, zero is the number of patient suicides the department has reported, a result of the Perfect Depression Care initiative that it started in 2001.

Equally notable, or maybe even more so, is that the nonprofit health system and HMO didn't employ entirely new strategies to produce those results.

Instead, staff members changed the way they thought about what a perfect depression-care program would look like — and refused to accept the idea that patient suicide would be a part of that care model.

The Perfect Depression Care initiative began as a demonstration project sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which granted awards for programs that seek to transform health systems. "The idea was to try to get away from incremental improvement and do something 'breakthrough,' " Coffey said. "It was their idea of pursuing perfection. We were very excited about that; what would 'perfect depression care' look like?"

As Coffey explains, the idea that a perfect depression program meant one without any suicides came from a nurse at Henry Ford who suggested the idea at a meeting. At first, a senior clinician in the room dismissed the idea as "crazy," saying there would be no way to prevent patients from killing themselves if that's what they intended to do, especially because clinicians can't be with patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We came to the conclusion that if someone really wants to do it, we can't stop it," Coffey said. "What must our goal be? If it's not zero, is it eight? Does that include your sister or my mother?"


Within the first four years of the program, the annual rate of patient suicides in the behavioral health services department dropped 75 percent to about 22 per 100,000 — the average rate between 2002 and 2005 — from 89 suicides per 100,000 at the baseline in 2000, according to an April 2007 article in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. In the past two years, or the last 10 consecutive quarters, the department has not seen one patient suicide.
More at the source.
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