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CC1
16:35:31 Mon
Apr 30 2007

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Re: It's a Good Thing News:

Thanks for sharing, ATV! :wink:



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"Nothing is so sweet as to return from sea listen to the raindrops on the roof of home." ~ Ancient Greek poem

 
 
CC1
16:36:17 Mon
Apr 30 2007

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He Amplifies Hearing Aids:

By Steve Friess, Special for USA TODAY
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Bill Austin still has Ronald Reagan's ear.
It's sitting on his desk, a curvaceous plaster impression used to create the first presidential ear mold back in 1983 in Austin's Starkey Laboratories here in suburban Minneapolis.
"I really don't know what to do with it," he says with a laugh. Sell it on eBay? "I suppose I could, but I never would. Maybe someone would buy it, but why? I'd be worried about that person."
The Reagan ear is among the artifacts of Austin's career as one of the leading figures of American hearing health. The college dropout became a hearing-aid innovator and the largest U.S. maker of hearing aids. He's a multimillionaire with a clientele that has included five U.S. presidents (current President Bush wears Starkey hunter's plugs) and a list of celebrities such as Sting, Paul Newman, Dolly Parton and the late Mother Teresa.
Yet Austin, 64, is just as likely to notice a waiter having trouble hearing and fly him on a private jet to the lab to be fitted for free hearing aids. He has circled the globe to give free devices to more than 78,000 poor people (in 51 countries) through his Starkey Hearing Foundation. He was honored last spring as Humanitarian of the Year by Variety International, a major children's charity.
"Bill's foundation has done a tremendous amount of work for children, and he himself goes on about 150 charitable missions a year personally at his own expense," says legendary game-show host Monty Hall, Variety International's chairman and a friend.
Among the innovations credited to Austin is the invention of in-the-canal hearing aids in the early 1980s and the introduction in the 1970s of the now-standard 30-day trial period.
"I consider him one of the leaders in the field of amplification and auditory rehabilitation," says Maurice Miller, professor of audiology at New York University and an adviser to the Hearing Loss Association of America. He wears two Starkey hearing aids. "I cannot think of anybody in private practice or in academia who has done more for this field than Bill Austin."
Opportunity knocks
Not bad for a man who isn't an audiologist and whose career was accidental. Austin, the only child of a Georgia-Pacific lumber trader father and a factory-working mother in Garibaldi, Ore., left home at 19 in 1961 to enroll in the pre-med program at the University of Minnesota. To pay tuition, he took a job making ear molds for a hearing-aid dealer in Minneapolis.
Austin sensed his business opportunity as he watched customers grow frustrated by the crude, bulky hearing devices as well as inconsiderate treatment by the hearing-aid dealer for whom he worked.
"After six months in Minnesota, I decided I wasn't going to do medicine. I was going to do hearing," he says.
He left school to start a hearing-aid repair company and read up on hearing-aid literature. He taught himself how the mechanisms work.
By 1970, he had bought a failing hearing-aid firm, Starkey, and in the next decade built it into the nation's largest. His efforts to shrink hearing aids and to offer better customer service led to commercial success. Nowadays, the hearing aids he most often sells are about the size of a wad of gum and loaded with complex digital circuitry he acknowledges he barely understands.
The scale of his philanthropic work is largely the result of an epiphany. He says he was lying in bed in 1977 when he had a moment of clarity: His calling was to help disadvantaged people hear. "It happened in the blink of an eye," he says.
The Starkey Hearing Foundation, which had been established in 1973 to help poor Americans with hearing disabilities, soon went international. Over the decades, Austin has sent teams of audiologists and hearing-aid technicians to more than 150 nations.
He goes, too, and says he's always moved by people he meets, such as a Salvadoran hearing-disabled woman who was barred from school and a Guatemalan woman who sold her only cow for the trip to his clinic so her children could get hearing aids.
"Those are not particularly unusual stories," says Austin, who always travels with his audiologist wife, Tani. "In Vietnam, there are signs outside the places where these children are warehoused that says 'The So-and-So Place for Defective Children.' The children aren't defective; they're perfect. They just need a little help."
The Reagan boost
In some countries, hearing loss is stigmatized. Here, he says, it's the hearing aids that are stigmatized.
That's why Reagan's decision in 1983 to go public with his hearing aids was a boon to audiology, and to Austin's company in particular. Sales of Starkeys quadrupled in the month after that news. Today, Starkey sells about 1 million hearing aids a year through 30 factories worldwide.
Austin's office walls are lined with dozens of photos of celebrities, many with inscriptions thanking him for his hearing aids and his service.
But persuading people to wear hearing aids remains a challenge. At Delores Hope's request, he tried to test Bob Hope's hearing in the 1990s. The entertainer locked himself in a bedroom until Austin left.
"He said, 'I can hear the applause, and that's all I need to hear.' But he had terrible hearing and he missed so much," Austin says. "It isolated him. That's what hearing disability does. And that's what I try to fix. To help people hear is to connect people."
"If I don't do this, who will?"

The Starkey Foundation
6700 Washington Avenue South
Eden Prairie, MN 55344-3405

www.sotheworldmayhear.org

MSNBC Video

  
CC1
10:41:45 Mon
May 7 2007

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New Homes from Shipping Containers:

Roger O’Neil
NBC News
May 4, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - This takes a little inside- and a whole lot of outside-the-box thinking. What looks like and lives like a house is actually a shipping container.

"I call it my bunker," says Rosalynn Kearney of her container home.

Used to import almost everything we use and wear, shipping containers are now a new concept in affordable housing.

The containers are claimed to be hurricane-proof, fire-resistant, and there's not a termite to be found.

With America exporting so little, shipping companies face the dilemma of what to do with these 32,000-pound containers. Increasingly too expensive to ship back overseas empty, these steel boxes — which can be as large as 20-by-48-feet — are stacked high, sitting in ports around the country. There are as many as 300,000 containers, by some estimates. And they're cheap — ranging from $500 to $2,000 for an unused container.

In hurricane-prone Florida, more container houses are going up, though when finished you'd hardly know they're different from any other house.

"In the spirit of recycling, we're able to take a product that is just sitting idle and recycle it and put it to a use in a way that helps solve our country's affordable housing crisis," says Askia Muhammad Aquil of St. Petersburg Neighborhood Housing.

Atlanta wants 300 units of multistory housing using the containers, and California wants four stories of them for the elderly. In just one day, a crane and a welder can have a container house ready to finish. If time is money, builders say containers are both.

"We can build it for 65 percent of the buildout cost anywhere in the U.S., and it can be built in half the time," Soren Ludwig with Sustain our World says.

And containers don't have to look like boxes. They can be trendy or affordable, with or without "the look." In fact, the biggest hurdle in having one may be getting used to sleeping in the same box your imported pajamas were shipped in.

accompanying video:

MSNBC Video

accompanying website:

http://www.sustainourworld.com/

  
CC1
01:05:18 Sun
Jun 3 2007

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ONLINE BOOKSWAPS:

Just browsed through these few sites, thought it was an interesting concept, and wanted to share with everyone. If you try one or more of these sites? Let us know what ya think!


www.paperbackswap.com

For every book you ship to a member (on your dollar), a point is added to your account. You use your credits to get books (each title costs a point).

An inventory of about 800,000 books, including best-sellers. A live chatroom and discussion board.


www.bookins.com

Enter your credit card info when you join and you'll be charged a flat-rate shipping fee ($4) for each book you receive.

This site tracks shipment free of charge (the others either don't have a farmal tracking system or they charge a small fee).


www.bookmooch.com

The same as paperbacksway.com. You also get a bonus point for every 10 books you offer to swap.

Easy to navigate.



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"Nothing is so sweet as to return from sea listen to the raindrops on the roof of home." ~ Ancient Greek poem

 
 
CC1
01:26:11 Sat
Jun 16 2007

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Brits American Idol:

I wanted to share this, and with this guy's dreams, decided this thread should be the place to put it. Paul Potts, of South Whales...YOU ROCK!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k08yxu57NA



---

"Nothing is so sweet as to return from sea listen to the raindrops on the roof of home." ~ Ancient Greek poem

 
 
CC1
10:29:39 Sun
Jun 17 2007

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---

"Nothing is so sweet as to return from sea listen to the raindrops on the roof of home." ~ Ancient Greek poem

 
 
CC1
20:51:32 Mon
Jul 2 2007

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Role-model of the best kind:



Kellie Lim was struck with a ravaging bacterial infection that destroys limbs. She became a triple amputee at age 8 and soon faced a life of prosthetics, wheelchairs and often-painful rehabilitation.

From that suffering, Lim forged a life of achievement. She's just graduated from UCLA's medical school and will begin her residency in Pediatrics, with a possible concentration on childhood allergies and infectious diseases.

She knows how devastating sickness can be, and of all the topics she sampled at med school, only her work with children left her "smiling at the end of the day."

Lim's determination awed her professors and fellow students, and won her the school's top prize for excellence in Pediatrics.

Opting not to use a prosthetic arm, she showed that she can perform most medical procedures with one hand, including taking blood and administering injections. She lives in her own Westwood apartment with no special features for the handicapped and drives a car with only one adaptation: a turning knob on the steering wheel. She is learning to swim, is trying horseback riding and even went tandem skydiving recently.

Lim, whose legs were amputated about 6 inches below her knees, gave up her wheelchair years ago and walks so well that new classmates and patients often don't have a clue for weeks that artificial limbs fill her shoes and pant legs.

She reluctantly will accept a seat during hospital bedside rounds when painful ulcers erupt on the skin that touch her prosthetics. (She has undergone grafts and additional surgeries over the years to help with the fittings.)

Her calmness in a hospital's hectic environment puts others at ease.

"With Kellie, at first you notice her hand is not there. But after about five minutes, she is so comfortable and so competent that you take her at face value and don't ask questions so much. She has an aura of competence about her that you don't worry," said Dr. Elijah Wasson, who supervised Lim during a rotation in internal medicine at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar.

Lim attributes some of her gumption to her dreadful childhood bout with bacterial meningitis. The resulting toxic shock, with internal clotting and bleeding, wrecked her extremities, leading to amputations. She returned to the Michigan hospital to read her voluminous medical file, and found an evaluation stating that 8-year-old Kellie Lim had an 85% chance of dying of the meningitis.

Her parents urged her not to give up during her four months of hospitalization, nor the following years of rehabilitation. Five months after she became sick, Lim returned to regular school in suburban Detroit.

Previously right-handed, she learned to write and do chores with her somewhat diminished left hand, having lost three fingertips on it to amputation, along with her entire right hand and forearm. She has been fitted with prosthetic arms, but does not wear one in public anymore and uses it at home just for rare tasks, such as assembling an IKEA desk by herself.

"I hate failing," she said. "It's one of those things that's so ingrained in me."

Her mother, went blind in her 20s, and, except for not driving, continued as normal a life as possible in raising her 3 children. She cooked, cleaned and walked the youngsters to school.

"She definitely was a great role model for me," Lim said. "It was hard for her to overcome her blindness, and I think she definitely instilled a strength in me."

Just before her mother's death 3 years ago, Lim promised her that she would finish medical school — a pledge she fulfilled, when she and her UCLA classmates took the Hippocratic oath.

"She wanted me to be a pediatrician," Lim said, "and I know that somewhere out there, she knows I am going to be one."

Lim is a soft-spoken, gracious woman, but she can be fierce in resisting being typecast as a disabled doctor who should focus just on rehabilitation medicine. She's reluctant to accept unnecessary assistance, even if it sometimes takes her longer than others to get things done.

Neil Parker, Senior Associate Dean of student affairs at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, recalled how Lim resisted some of his early efforts to adapt or substitute medical equipment for her. "I think at the beginning we were perhaps a little at odds because I wanted to help her a lot with what I felt she needed," he said. "She wanted me to help her, but only with what she was willing to use."

In some cases, that meant finding equipment, such as blood pressure cuffs that seemed better for a one-handed person, or practicing IV insertions.

One hurdle involved percussing, the lung exam done by placing one hand on a patient's chest and using the other hand to tap on it. Parker suggested using a hand-held ultrasound machine, but Lim declined. Instead, Veterans Affairs experts in Westwood designed a short metal-and-plastic extender that Lim straps onto her residual limb to help with the tapping. It is not pretty, but it works.

Lim is not able to perform surgery or intubate a patient by herself. But those skills probably won't be needed much in her likely fields. "There are certain things she can't do, but there are a million things she can do," Parker said.

Lim was assigned, on her final medical school rotation, to the pediatric allergy and immunology division under Dr. Robert L. Roberts. Recently, she did the preliminary interviews and examinations by herself, deftly taking notes, pointing a light into ears, listening to hearts with a stethoscope.

She made no attempt to hide the residual limb, which she skillfully maneuvered to hold down papers; following medical protocol, she briskly washed the right limb and her left hand before touching patients or instruments.

First came a 14-year-old boy, who despite severe asthma, allergies, nosebleeds and migraines wants to play more baseball. He displayed the closed-mouthed shrugging of boys his age, but his concerned mother detailed his middle-of-the-night breathing emergencies. Lim soon spotted evidence in his nose of inflamed tissue and recent bleeding. After a consultation with Roberts, the youth was prescribed a trial of new asthma medicine.

The boy's mother, Karen St. Louis, said she and her family talked about the doctor during the drive home as a "phenomenal" role model: "The conversation was that you can do anything you put your mind to."

Lim's next patient that day was a heartbreaker: a 5-year-old girl born with severe immuno-deficiencies and numerous other medical problems.

The tiny child, wearing a green pantsuit, white-and-pink sneakers and thick glasses, is not toilet trained and does not speak, though she seemed to understand what her mother told her in Spanish and English. Her parents, clearly devoted to her, worried about seizures she suffered during a recent vacation. The girl whimpered a bit while Lim examined her but did not resist. Roberts and Lim scheduled more testing.

With everything else going on, the girl's parents seemed almost oblivious to Lim's missing hand.

Out in the world, Lim's partial arm sometimes attracts odd comments and stares, but her patients have shown overtly negative reactions only a couple of times, she said. Some small children were frightened by it and had to be soothed. Lim said she knows that some parents may be wary of her and that she will have to prove her competence.

"I'm not going to force myself on them in any way, but it still affects me personally," she said. "It kind of wears you down a little bit."

Still, Lim clearly identifies with the struggles of families with very ill youngsters.

"It is amazing to see family dynamics like that," she said a few minutes after the girl left. "It's very tragic, but the parents love their kids and will do anything for them and know so much about them."

Her own parents, immigrants from China, loom large in her life. Besides stressing her mother's influence, she thanks her father, a chemical engineer who kept the family going — financially and emotionally — through its unusual burdens.

Lim also credits her sister, Nellie, who was protective of her and supportive of her moves toward independence, such as attending college away from home, at Northwestern University in Illinois.

Lim completed the last assignments for her medical degree and took a 4-day pre-graduation celebratory Mexican cruise with classmates. This spring she began taking swimming lessons at the pool in Westwood, even though she had been afraid of the water.

At first, Lim relied on a blue Styrofoam "noodle" to help her float. Then her coach took it away so Lim could practice a dolphin-like propulsion that used her torso, her one full arm and the remnants of her legs to move up the lane with a force that had some other swimmers doing double takes. It was tough work, but most of the time Lim was smiling.

Having a pity party?...think of Kellie Lim. Are people russafrussin about one of our famous caca-for-brains celebrities or superstars, wasted lives? Tell them about Kellie Lim. There really are plenty of roll-models out there.

Dr. Kellie Lim is one of the stellar role-models.



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"Nothing is so sweet as to return from sea listen to the raindrops on the roof of home." ~ Ancient Greek poem

 
 
CC1
14:10:23 Tue
Jul 10 2007

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Wags for Wishes:

San Diego's 5th annual Wags for Wishes fundraiser, includes 2000 dogs participating in 10 different events, raising money for the Make a Wish Foundation.

It's a win/win situation!:

http://video.syndication.msn.com/v/Legacy.aspx?partner=en-ap&g=e20024dc-589a-4571-9c53-8000457ddee8&f=CADIU



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"Nothing is so sweet as to return from sea listen to the raindrops on the roof of home." ~ Ancient Greek poem

 
 
CC1
16:56:45 Sat
Jul 14 2007

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Woman leaves Wall Street for Prison:

A woman gave up her 6-figure Wall Street salary, to teach the wherewithals of successful business strategies, to inmates in a Texas prison....pretty much finds unbidled wealth in sharing:

http://video.msn.com/v/us/msnbc.htm?f=00&g=56eff651-3b99-42f9-bc2d-4ca42557ceaf&p=hotvideo_m_edpicks&t=m5&rf=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13282721/&fg=



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"Nothing is so sweet as to return from sea listen to the raindrops on the roof of home." ~ Ancient Greek poem

 
 
TeamCar
18:58:26 Fri
Aug 17 2007

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Love all these news pieces.. thanks for sharing!



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To see what is right, and not to do it, is want of courage or of principle.
Confucius
 
 
ATeamVet
07:18:03 Sat
Aug 18 2007

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The following credited to the Special Forces Message Service:
8.16.07:
VETERANS GUIDANCE ON SALUTING THE FLAG
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla..) today praised the
passage by unanimous consent of his bill (S.1877) clarifying U.S. law to
allow veterans and servicemen not in uniform to salute the flag. Current
law (US Code Title 4, Chapter 1) states that veterans and servicemen not
in uniform should place their hand over their heart without clarifying
whether they can or should salute the flag.

"The salute is a form of honor and respect, representing pride in one's
military service," Senator Inhofe said. "Veterans and service members
continue representing the military services even when not in uniform.
"Unfortunately, current U.S. law leaves confusion as to whether veterans
and service members out of uniform can or should salute the flag. My
legislation will clarify this regulation, allowing veterans and
servicemen alike to salute the flag, whether they are in uniform or not.
"I look forward to seeing those who have served saluting proudly at
baseball games, parades, and formal events. I believe this is an
appropriate way to honor and recognize the 25 million veterans in the
United States who have served in the military and remain as role models
to others citizens. Those who are currently serving or have served in
the military have earned this right, and their recognition will be an
inspiration to others."



  
CC1
11:58:11 Mon
Aug 20 2007

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Dang, AT. Never occurred to me that service persons and veteran's needed a law to make it okay for them to salute the country/flag they love. Thank you for sharing, thank you all for your service, and uhm, it's about time they passed this. :biggrin:



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"Nothing is so sweet as to return from sea listen to the raindrops on the roof of home." ~ Ancient Greek poem

 
 
spectre_
16:55:34 Mon
Aug 20 2007

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Me either...and I don't really understand the point of the law (the rationalization that this was a good idea when implemented).



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Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States. – Noah Webster (1787)
 
 
gasbag
19:13:52 Mon
Aug 20 2007

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Here are two groups and one specific individual's site that I think deserve accolades for their efforts to help those that have no voice. We have been members of Greyhound Pets Inc. for 15 years and I have met some of the best people in my life. We lost our 3 greyhounds to cancer and have since adopted two whippets. These pooches have all have been our best friends and I applaud anyone who gives any effort to help our fuzzy friends.

The group we belong to:
http://greyhoundpetsinc.org

The group we adopted Mehl and Anna from:
http://whippet-rescue.com

This is the individual that let us adopt Mehl and made arrangements for us to adopt Anna. She is the Oregon representative for WRAP. Possibly the nicest person we have ever met.
http://freerangewhippets.com/index.html


  
TeamCar
20:18:40 Mon
Aug 20 2007

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I have been going to the Britains Got Talent .... the Paul Potts story is SO incredibly amazing. I didn't think much when he said he was gonna sing Opera. I am SO not into opera, but his voice is amazing. WOW WOW!~

Teamie



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To see what is right, and not to do it, is want of courage or of principle.
Confucius
 
 
CC1
20:32:37 Fri
Oct 19 2007

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books and blankies, started by a 12-year-old:

USC Trustee Scholar Robyn Strumpf was 12 years old when she gave away her first basket of books and a “blankie,” a hand-made quilt she had sewn herself, to children who were eager to learn how to read.

Today, that simple gesture has turned into an extraordinarily successful literacy program, called Project Books and Blankies, which provides baskets of books and a quilt to needy schools and homeless shelters throughout California. In seven years time, Project Books and Blankies has given away more than 18,000 books and raised more than $120,000 in grants and donations of books, fabrics and supplies.
Strumpf, 19, is a double major in mechanical engineering and political science, but still finds thousands of hours to promote literacy and make colorful quilts. Among those who have received these gifts are Friends of the Family, Project Head Start, School on Wheels, Haven Hills, Boys and Girls Clubs sponsored by the Los Angeles Public Library Literacy Council, after-school literacy programs at several Hollywood middle schools, and O.N.E, which stands for Organization for the Needs of the Elderly.

Last spring, USC’s family of five elementary schools, all located nearby the campus, were the lucky recipients of Project Books and Blankies. Strumpf gave baskets of books and quilts to Foshay Learning Center, Lenicia B. Wemmes Elementary School, Vermont Avenue Elementary School, Norwood Street Elementary School, and 32nd Street School.

As a child, she struggled to learn how to read as a child and said that her experience was very frustrating, especially when she saw her brothers and her classmates already reading fluently.

“My parents really helped me when I was struggling with reading by having me sit down with a book and a cozy quilt and just get comfortable with the whole thing,” she said. “It worked. Today I love to read, and I want kids to know that if they do the same thing and stick with it, they’ll learn to read.”

Strumpf, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley, struggled with reading until she was in third grade. Her first “books and blankie” donation was to Head Start, using books she had persuaded Borders Books in Valencia, CA, to donate. She remembers the very first boy she ever helped.

“His name was Joel and he was in preschool, but he was so excited to be able to hold a book and read out loud,” Strumpf said. “When I gave him a book, he held it up every which way but the correct way, and then he began to pretend he was reading.

By junior high school, she was beginning to give books away to kids who had trouble reading or who simply lacked resources and positive role models. She devoted weekends, summers, and semester breaks to making book baskets and quilts. At Viewpoint School in Calabasas, she recruited some of her friends to help with the baskets. By her senior year, the baskets had become such a hot item that she secured a pro bono attorney to set up Project Books and Blankies as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

The requests for book baskets and quilts started flooding in as word spread. The USC undergraduate was contacted by an international relief organization in South Africa, which wanted to distribute books through the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. Since that initial inquiry, she has donated “well over 1,000 books internationally.”

In 2004, Strumpf received the 2004 National Caring Award, which gave her an opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. and be inducted into the Hall of Fame for Caring Americans in the Frederick Douglass Museum. And in 2005, Bank of America named her a Local Hero for her literacy work in the greater Los Angeles area.

Strumpf’s strong academic record and phenomenal success with Project Books and Blankies earned her admission to USC and a trustee scholarship. With longstanding interests in “building things” and in American politics, she chose a double major in mechanical engineering and political science. One of her passions, she said, is to be able to design and build science exhibits “like the ones you see at the California Science Center” across the street from USC.

In addition to taking a full load of classes this semester, she partnered with USC ReadersPlus in September to sponsor an International Reading Festival on the USC campus to spread cultural awareness and literacy.

As an athlete and student for several years, she was able to manage her time effectively between lectures, books and blankies. Her passion for her organization also motivates her. "I can't let go of what I started. I only want to expand it," Strumpf said. Strumpf believes that her hard work has paid off.

The budding engineer has been written up in Points of Light: A Celebration of the American Spirit of Giving, by Robert Goodwin and Thomas Kinkade (Warner Books, 2006), which features exceptional volunteers across the country who have accomplished amazing feats. If her name is familiar, it’s because she’s also been written up in many newspapers and magazines.

“It has gotten so much bigger than I ever thought possible,” she said. The efforts have attracted substantial media attention, with photo spreads and articles in Teen Magazine, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times. Strumpf has received many awards and honors as well as special commendations from President George H.W. Bush, his son and President Clinton.

For more information about Project Books and Blankies, visit Strumpf’s website at www.booksandblankies.com.



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"Nothing is so sweet as to return from sea listen to the raindrops on the roof of home." ~ Ancient Greek poem

 
 
CC1
21:14:00 Wed
Oct 31 2007

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Re: It's a Good Thing News:

Y'all should watch this. A lot of lessons in here, and so inspiring. Thank you for sharing, Shades!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0aO64aKqek



---

"Nothing is so sweet as to return from sea listen to the raindrops on the roof of home." ~ Ancient Greek poem

 
 
CC1
01:17:37 Tue
May 13 2008

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Without Legs or Arm, Boy, 12, Thrives
By EMILY FRIEDMAN
May 12, 2008

Nick Santonastasso is a pretty talented kid: He can play the drums and the piano, has mastered two types of skateboards and is learning how to swim. And in April, Nick won a New Jersey art contest for a poster he drew.

And while these may all sound like typical accomplishments for a 12-year-old boy, Nick is special for other reasons.

Born without legs and with only one arm and one finger, Nick says he can do everything other kids his age can do.

"I'm capable of what everyone else is," Nick told ABCNEWS.com.
When asked how he skateboards with no legs, Nick replied simply, "I just jump on."

Nick is only the 12th person to be born with oromandibular limb hypogenesis syndrome or Hanhart syndrome type II, according to his mother, Stacey Santonastasso. She said doctors explained to her that the condition is not genetic or environmental, and just simply "happens."

'One Day at a Time'

Santonastasso found out about her son's condition while she was still pregnant with him and told ABCNEWS.com that her doctors had a "grim" prediction for her son's future.

"Nick didn't have any of the afflictions that the doctors thought he would other than the physical stuff," said Santonastasso. "[They said] he'd be on feeding and breathing tubes and have organ failure."

Nick, who is expected to live a full life, is otherwise perfectly healthy.

"Where we thought we'd have huge issues we did not," said Santonastasso, who also has three older children. "The biggest fear I had was that we wouldn't know how to do the right things for him, but basically my husband and I just said 'we're going to love him like our other children.'"

"We take it one day at a time," said Santonastasso.

Simple, everyday tasks are definitely a bit more complicated for Nick, but the family said there has yet to be anything he cannot do.

To eat, Nick uses a spoon made for people with arthritis that wraps around his arm.

To run, he uses his one arm to scoot his body forward.

And while learning to swim, he does what every other kid does and uses floaties to give him buoyancy.

At one point, Nick's parents gave him prosthetic legs, but they have since been abandoned; Nick moves faster without them.

"Where there's a will there's a way ,and Nick's got more than enough will," said Santonastasso.

Award-Winning Artist
Nick will spend his upcoming 13th birthday May 20 at the New Jersey governor's mansion being honored for a poster he drew in a statewide competition intended to promote family values.

Chosen from more than 100 finalists, Nick's drawing shows a tree with roots spelling out the word "love."

"It says what makes family strong is deep rooted love," Nick explained.

And love, said Santonastasso, and their faith in God, is what helped the family get through the toughest days.

"We would get some looks and stares." said Santonastasso of trips to the store with her son. "When he was younger and I didn't know he'd be able to accomplish so much [I'd get down] when I'd see other children running around and think 'Wow, I wonder how he's going to fare.'

"But I would have to say we've had more good days than bad as time goes on," said Santonastasso.

Nick has a lot of friends -- and even a few of the female variety -- said his mom, and he attends a regular public school.

"Nobody is mean, nobody teases me," said Nick of his peers, adding that he's getting A's and B's in his sixth grade classes.

He has a good sense of humor, too.

"One time I told my mom that I thought I had broken my ankle and she flipped out," said Nick, giggling. "I was like, 'calm down!'"






---

"Nothing is so sweet as to return from sea listen to the raindrops on the roof of home." ~ Ancient Greek poem

 
 
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May 31 2008

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Re: It's a Good Thing News:



Amazing Won't Hide
By Michelle Esteban May 30, 2008



KIRKLAND, Wash. -- It will take thousands of dollars and several surgeries to reconstruct a local man's face.

James O'Neal compares himself to the Elephant Man. A genetic disease left his face horribly disfigured, but that could soon change.

O'Neal knows his deformity shocks people. He knows others with the same genetic disorder would rather hide than work, but for 7 years James has proudly worked the registers at the Kingsgate Safeway on 124th Avenue NE in Kirkland.

"I just tell people this is who I am, it's the way I am. If you don't like me, you don't like me," he said.

His customers don't like him -- they love him.

"He is an amazing man and we love him. He's the kind of person that makes your day," said customer Aubrey Richins.

"I really love James," said shopper Katie Knopf.

All of them say they were stunned at first when they saw his disfigured face.

"I have to admit I was a little taken back, but when I walked through his line I felt this spirit come over me, this man is out here, not hiding," said long-time customer Cindy Peay.

Every shopper said the same thing: O'Neal is an inspiration. If that wasn't enough, he's lightning-fast on the register.

Knopf has put her money where her mouth is.

"We want to change his life," she said.

She knows O'Neal's insurance likely won't cover all of the costs of difficult and extensive surgeries. So she's launched a Web site asking for donations for reconstructive surgery.

Knopf also got Kinkos to donate a thousand fliers and plans to distribute them to local schools and the registers at the Kingsgate Safeway.

Her generous heart tugged on Safeway's heartstrings. The grocer decided to kick in the first $10,000.

"James is our employee, he is one of us and we absolutely think the world of him," said Cherie Myers, Safeway's director of public and government affairs. "This is just a bonus, this our bonus to him. He never asked for it, he's never said 'woe is me.' He's proud to be who he is."

That's why customers flock to him. Knopf says she'll stand in line just to have him ring her up.

"James will always be the person he is inside. I'm hoping with this he'll have a new lease on life," said Knopf. She hopes to raise $50,000, but guesses the costs could add up to be much more.

"It makes me feel honored and proud," said O'Neal, who was stunned to learn his employer is not only kicking in $10,000, but is committed to helping him navigate through all the insurance paperwork.

O'Neal has lived with his disability since birth. Like the Elephant Man he has neurofibromatosis, not elephantiasis. The tumors stopped growing when he stopped growing. Surgery would rid him of the deformity for good.

"I think it's amazing what they want to do for me," he said. And it's clear they're doing it because of what O'Neal has done for them.

In July, Safeway stores in four states will kick off a three-week Canister Campaign, collecting donations to help O'Neal. Those who want to contribute can also donate online through KOMO News.



---

"Nothing is so sweet as to return from sea listen to the raindrops on the roof of home." ~ Ancient Greek poem

 
 
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Re: It's a Good Thing News:

Local soldier honored as medical hero

Matt Perkins/Morrison County Record




Two weeks ago, Memorial Day meant a lot to PFC Kelly Molitor, a Little Falls native currently stationed in Baghdad, Iraq.

But following a roadside bombing May 11, which killed a fellow medic in Molitor's unit, the holiday means even more.

"The loss has hit very close to home for all of us here in Iraq," Molitor, who serves as a medic in the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault out of Ft. Campbell, Ky., said. "Now it brings a lot more meaning to Memorial Day."

The same could be said for the Molitor family - Kelly's parents, Kevin and Cindy, and her brother and sister, Barry and Kristi.

"You sit back and think every day about her and where she is and the situation she is in," Cindy said. "I really think about Memorial Day now because we are taking flowers out to the cemetery to honor the soldiers who put their lives on the line just as Kelly does."
But while people across the nation honor those who have fallen, Cindy said her family is "fortunate" to be able to also celebrate someone who has lived.

In early February, Kelly's unit was returning from an escort mission in southwest Baghdad when the first vehicle in its convoy was hit by a roadside bomb, injuring the five passengers inside.

Three of the passengers sustained minor injuries and returned to duty the next day, one injured his back and was recovering for about one month.

For the fifth soldier, injuries resulted in the loss of his right leg from below the knee.

But his injuries could have been fatal.

"The medical aid which I performed on the fifth soldier was said to have saved his life by the medical personnel at the hospital," Kelly said. "The soldier went immediately into surgery to save the limb, but they were not able to."

Kelly said the soldier has since returned to the states to receive further care and begin physical therapy.

To honor her heroic effort, Gen. David Petraeus presented Kelly with a coin of excellence.

Kelly said every level in the chain of command has a coin, and the higher the level you receive it from, the more honorable the coin is.
So receiving it from a four-star general, the highest rank in the Army, and the MNF-I (Multi-National Force Iraq) commander, makes receiving the coin usually "kinda hard," Kelly said.

"My job the day of the accident could only be accomplished by everyone doing their part to make our evacuation from the scene quick and safe," she said. "It was not only I who played an important role that day, it was everyone working together to get the job done."

And that serves as evidence for Kelly's mom, who called her daughter, and every soldier serving in the military, "selfless."

"I don't know if there are words that can express how proud I am," Cindy said. "It's just amazing to think how she got here."

Kelly is a 2006 graduate of Little Falls Community High School.

During the summer between her junior and senior year, she told her parents she wanted to join the military. In fact, she even asked them to sign a form which would allow her to complete basic training that summer, as a 17-year-old.

Kevin and Cindy refused, thinking their daughter might be getting ahead of herself. But soon they realized "there was no changing her mind," Cindy said.

"We went to look at several colleges with good softball programs, because she loved softball," Cindy said. "But when, during her senior year, things hadn't changed, we finally listened to her when she said, 'This is what I want to do.'"

Kelly said her decision wasn't easy for her parents to take.

"Like all family and friends of someone joining the military, they were scared of the idea of me being deployed," Kelly said. "But, in the end, they could see that my mind was already made up; that I wanted to join the Army and start pursuing a career in medicine."
And that decision may have saved the life of at least one of her fellow soldiers.

"She is a hero, but they are all heroes," Cindy said. "We thank everyone for their prayers and support and we give our prayers and support to everyone else."



---

"Nothing is so sweet as to return from sea listen to the raindrops on the roof of home." ~ Ancient Greek poem

 
 

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