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MySocialGoodNews is dedicated to sharing news about
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Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: November 2014

Adult Survivors of Childhood Eye Cancer Experience Few Cognitive or Social Setbacks

Adult survivors of retinoblastoma, a type of eye cancer that usually develops in early childhood, have few cognitive or social problems decades following their diagnosis and treatment. That’s the conclusion of a study published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. The findings offer good news for patients, but it’s important to continue to monitor for long-term effects as the brain changes throughout life.

While most children with retinoblastoma are successfully cured, little is known about the long-term health of survivors. Given the very young age at which retinoblastoma patients are treated (usually before 5 years of age), and the intensive and multifaceted therapies they receive, survivors are likely at risk for disease- and treatment-related late effects.

To assess links between the disease or its treatment with cognitive and social problems later in life, Tara Brinkman, PhD, of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, and her colleagues studied 69 adult survivors who were an average of 33 years of age and had been treated for retinoblastoma an average of 31 years earlier. After participants completed cognitive evaluations and questionnaires, the investigators found that survivors performed normally on most cognitive and social measures. Whole brain radiation treatment was linked with poorer performance on tasks of short-term verbal memory and long-term verbal memory. Survivors diagnosed before 1 year of age performed significantly better on measures of short-term verbal memory, long-term verbal memory, verbal learning, and verbal reasoning abilities compared with survivors diagnosed after 1 year of age. “This may be because the area of the brain responsible for processing visual information becomes more adept at processing verbal information following reduced visual input early in life. This suggests the potential of the brain to adapt and reorganize following very early insult,” said Dr. Brinkman.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to report on long-term cognitive and social outcomes in adult survivors of retinoblastoma. Importantly, we found that, as a whole, these survivors are doing quite well,” Dr. Brinkman said. Additional research is needed to better understand the mechanisms underlying potential brain changes and changes in cognitive functioning in retinoblastoma survivors, she added.

CANCER is a peer-reviewed publication of the American Cancer Society integrating scientific information from worldwide sources for all oncologic specialties. The objective of CANCER is to provide an interdisciplinary forum for the exchange of information among oncologic disciplines concerned with the etiology and course of human cancer. CANCER is published by Wiley and can be accessed online at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/cancer.

About Wiley

Wiley is a global provider of content-enabled solutions that improve outcomes in research, education, and professional practice. Our core businesses produce scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, reference works, books, database services, and advertising; professional books, subscription products, certification and training services and online applications; and education content and services including integrated online teaching and learning resources for undergraduate and graduate students and lifelong learners.

Founded in 1807, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (NYSE: JWa, JWb), has been a valued source of information and understanding for more than 200 years, helping people around the world meet their needs and fulfill their aspirations. Wiley and its acquired companies have published the works of more than 450 Nobel laureates in all categories: Literature, Economics, Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, and Peace. Wiley’s global headquarters are located in Hoboken, New Jersey, with operations in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Canada, and Australia. The Company’s website can be accessed at http://www.wiley.com.

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Young Professionals Raise Over $400,000 to Grant Wishes of Children with Life-Threating Illnesses

Under-40 Board of Make-A-Wish® Metro New York Hosts Fifth Annual Toast to Wishes

November 21, 2014, New York, NY – Last night at the 5th annual WishNYC: A Toast to Wishes, generous young professionals raised over $400,000, bringing the event’s 5-year fundraising total to over $1.5 million benefiting Make-A-Wish Metro New York. Proceeds raised help grant wishes of children diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of the event’s host committee and the Make-A-Wish Metro New York New Leadership Council (NLC), over 650 guests attended the sold-out event at Marquee NYC, with another 250 attending the after-party at The Raven. Guests were treated to an open bar sponsored by The Patron Spirits Company, Perrier Jouët, and Corona Light, passed food from Luke’s Lobster, Takumi Taco, Eddie’s Pizza Truck, Arancini Bros, and The Treats Truck, with music by Chachi, Tom Macari and B. Mills, and a premium silent auction with 50+ high-end items.

“We appreciate the generosity and passion of young New Yorkers, whose enthusiastic support of Toast to Wishes 2014 will bring joyful smiles to many wish kids as they experience their dreams come true,” said Zach Coopersmith, New Leadership Council President and Toast to Wishes Co-Chair. “When we started this event five years ago, it was hard to imagine how quickly it would grow and we are so grateful to everyone who has made this growth possible.”

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WishNYC: A Toast to Wishes at Marquee NYC

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WishNYC: A Toast to Wishes at Marquee NYC

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Toast to Wishes Host Committee and members of the Make-A-Wish Metro New York New Leadership Council (NLC)

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(l to r) Event co-chairs and NLC members Lauren Goodrich, Zach Coopersmith and Alli Holzberg

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(l to r) Super DJs Chachi, Tom Macari, and B. Mills with Zach Coopersmith

Photo(s) by Stephen Smith – Guest of a Guest

The event has become one of the most talked about of its kind in the New York City area, successfully introducing and engaging under-40 professionals to the Make-A-Wish mission. In fiscal year 2014, the chapter touched the lives of 886 wish children and their families by granting 637 wishes of local children, and by facilitating 249 wish assists for children who reside in other areas, but whose wishes took place in New York.

“We are simply in awe of what Zach, fellow event co-chairs and NLC members Alli Holzberg, Lauren Goodrich and the entire Toast to Wishes Host Committee have accomplished over the last five years,” said Gail Monaco, Senior Director, Corporate Philanthropy, Make-A-Wish Metro New York and Western New York. “Their commitment to bringing hope, strength and joy to the children we serve, combined with their determined efforts to promote and support our cause within the under-40 demographic are extraordinary. We are extremely grateful to them and all who sponsored and attended the event and for their significant contributions to our mission.”

Top sponsors of the event include: Eastdil Secured, Southern Wine & Spirits, Zurich, ABCO HVACR Supply + Solutions, NBC Universal, Holland & Knight, The Patron Spirits Company, Manhattan Beer, Royal Caribbean, HBO, Weil, The Line Group, Wuhl Shafman Lieberman, EisnerAmper, Single Platform, and Rugby Architectural Building Products.

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About Make-A-Wish:

The mission of Make-A-Wish is to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. The Metro New York and Western New York chapter serves a total of 23 counties in New York State, including the five boroughs of New York City. In fiscal year 2014, the chapter touched the lives of 886 wish children and their families by granting 637 wishes of local children, and facilitating 249 wish assists for children who reside in other areas, but whose wishes took place in New York. The chapter is a proud participant of the Better Business Bureau Charity Seal Program, which indicates that the organization has met the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. Make-A-Wish Metro New York and Western New York received 4 Stars – the highest rating – from Charity Navigator in December 2013. For more information, visit www.metrony.wish.org and www.toasttowishes.com.

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OC Food Bank Provides Hope To OC’s Hungry This Thanksgiving

Thousands of OC Families will Receive Much Needed Thanksgiving Meals

GARDEN GROVE, CA [November 24, 2014] – The OC Food Bank, a program of Community Action Partnership of Orange County, is celebrating this Thanksgiving season by ensuring that thousands of families in need will be able to enjoy a healthy, traditional meal this holiday season.

While most Orange County residents are combing through cook books getting ready for Thanksgiving, more than 174,000 others are wondering how they are going to put food on the table this year. Since 1979, the OC Food Bank’s annual holiday effort has distributed nutritious meals to individuals and families in low-income households and neighborhoods throughout Orange County.

With this year’s drought, many families have been unable to pay for the rising cost of fresh produce. The OC Food Bank is dedicated to providing fresh and nutritious produce to Orange County’s most vulnerable families. This holiday season, they will distribute thousands Thanksgiving meals – complete with a turkey, green beans, stuffing, corn, cranberries, and potatoes.

In our county, the number of people living in poverty continues to grow. While many low-income families work or have income, they often do not have sufficient resources to meet basic needs due to low wages, high housing costs, rising food prices, cost of healthcare,and other economic problems that are making it harder for families to make ends meet.

“We are so thankful to our donors and volunteers who helped us serve more than 56,606 unique families last November,” said Mark Lowry, Director of the OC Food Bank. “This time of year, it is especially important to remember those who may not have access to a hot meal. Unfortunately, there are even more families this year that need our help and we need the support of our community now more than ever.”

With nearly one in four Orange County residents struggling to put food on the table, the OC Food Bank is calling on the public to support hungry children, working families, and seniors by participating in their Hope for the Holidays Campaign. If you are interested in more information on how you can help end hunger this holiday season and feed Orange County’s low-income children, please contact (714) 897-6670 x 3404, mmorrill@capoc.org, or visit www.capoc.org/h4h. Together, we can eliminate hunger and poverty in Orange County.

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Hookah Smoke Exposure Doubles Dangerous Benzene Uptake

Many believe hookah is a safe alternative to smoking; this study suggests otherwise.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Nov. 21, 2014) — Hookah smokers, as well as nonsmokers exposed to hookah smoke at social events in hookah lounges, showed a significant increase in uptake of benzene, a chemical substance associated with an increased risk for leukemia, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Some people believe that because hookah smoke is filtered through water before being inhaled, it’s somehow safer than smoking cigarettes or other forms of tobacco. But that’s simply not the case, according to Nada Kassem, associate director at the Center for Behavioral Epidemiology and Community Health at San Diego State University.

“Hookah smoking involves the use of burning charcoal that is needed to heat the hookah tobacco to generate the smoke that the smoker inhales,” Kassen said. “In addition to inhaling toxicants and carcinogens found in the hookah tobacco smoke, hookah smokers and nonsmokers who socialize with hookah smokers also inhale large quantities of charcoal combustion-generated toxic and carcinogenic emissions.”

Up in smoke

For the study, Kassem and colleagues analyzed levels of S-phenylmercapturic acid (SPMA), a metabolite on benzene, in the urine of 105 hookah smokers and 103 nonsmokers. They obtained urine samples the morning of and the morning after participants attended a hookah-only smoking event at a hookah lounge or a private home.

Researchers found that SPMA levels were four times higher in hookah smokers and two times higher in nonsmokers after attending the hookah lounge event. Levels of SPMA were also significantly increased in hookah smokers after attending a the private home event.

Curiously, SPMA levels were found to be similarly high for the nonsmoking group both before and after the participants attended the private home event. Kassem believes this may be due to the nonsmokers’ chronic exposure to benzene prior to the study.

No safe levels

Taken together, the results indicate that smoking a hookah is no safer than other kinds of tobacco smoking—and that regulations should reflect that reality.

“In contrast to what is believed, hookah tobacco smoking is not a safe alternative to smoking other forms of tobacco,” Kassem said. “Because there is no safe level of exposure to benzene, our results call for interventions to reduce or prevent hookah tobacco use, regulatory actions to limit hookah-related exposure to toxicants including benzene, and include hookah smoking in clean indoor air legislation.”

The study was supported by the American Cancer Society and Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute.

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Deutsche Bank Partners with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves to Mobilize USD 100 Million in New Investments

Deutsche Bank today announced, in partnership with Bank of America, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, development finance institutions and private investors, a continued commitment to investment in the clean cooking sector through creating a USD 100 million fund to support social enterprises that advance and deploy clean cookstove solutions. To help finance early-stage clean cooking ventures with affordable capital, the Bank’s Global Social Finance Group, together with the Alliance, established a USD 4 million Clean Cooking Working Capital Fund.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves was formed to address the use of traditional cookstoves and open fires, which typically employ coal, wood or other solid biomass for fuel. Relied upon by more than three billion of the global population, these inefficient cookstoves produce toxic fumes and pollutants that are responsible for some 4 million premature deaths each year in developing countries, according to the World Health Organization.

The Alliance seeks to encourage improved and affordable cooking technology, cleaner fuels, and behavioral and structural solutions, such as proper ventilation. However, a key challenge to market growth is the limited access to working capital. Traditional sources of capital are out of reach for many early stage or smaller clean cookstove and fuels businesses.

“We are very proud to support the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. Not only will clean cooking solutions improve the lives of millions of women, but thousands of new jobs will be created by the companies designing, manufacturing and distributing them,” said Jacques Brand, CEO of Deutsche Bank North Americas and Chairman of the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation. “By realizing our goal to bring clean cookstoves to 100 million households by 2020, we’re also helping to finance small businesses that are driving environmentally sustainable economic development in our most underserved communities.”

Since the launch in September 2010, the Alliance and its partners have driven approximately $50 million in investment to clean cookstove and fuels enterprises. Through the help of this partnership, the Alliance hopes to reach its goal of enabling 100 million households to adopt clean and efficient cooking solutions by 2020.

For more information on the Cookstoves Future Summit taking place Nov. 20-21, 2014, in New York City, please visit: http://www.cleancookstoves.org/media-and-events/events/cookstoves-future-summit.html

Learn more about the Clean Cooking Working Capital Fund: https://www.db.com/cr/en/concrete-cookstoves.htm

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St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Unveils Marlo Thomas Center For Global Education And Collaboration

St. Jude National Outreach Director Marlo Thomas to be Honored, Hillary Rodham Clinton Attending Dedication Event of Newest Addition to Global Leader’s Expanding Campus

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (November 20, 2014) – Today, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is dedicating and opening the Marlo Thomas Center for Global Education and Collaboration on the St. Jude campus. The new center, which will sit atop the world’s first proton therapy center designed for and dedicated solely to the treatment of children, is critical to St. Jude in leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

The center is named for St. Jude National Outreach Director Marlo Thomas, and in recognition of a lifetime spent working for St. Jude to raise awareness and funds for the research and treatment of childhood cancer. Ms. Thomas was joined at today’s ceremony by former United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Secretary Clinton previously attended the dedication and opening of St. Jude’s Patient Care Center in 1994 when she was First Lady of the United States.

The Marlo Thomas Center for Global Education and Collaboration is a key piece of a new $200 million, LEED Gold certified building on the St. Jude campus to usher in a new era of research, education, collaboration, care and treatment for children with cancer. In addition to sitting atop the world’s only first proton therapy center dedicated solely to the treatment of children, the 38,000-square-foot center will become the hub for the St. Jude International Outreach Program, which aims to improve childhood cancer survival rates worldwide through 25 official partner sites in 17 countries. The center also will support the training and education of St. Jude’s postdoctoral and graduate fellows on their way to becoming tomorrow’s scientific and medical leaders. Other unique features of the center include a state-of-the-art medical library, two auditoriums, seating 75 and 400, and meeting rooms where doctors and researchers can work collaboratively, consulting on cases, sharing information and research with health care professionals around the globe.

“This building is the celebration of a generation,” says Marlo Thomas, “and I am proud to stand as a symbol for all of us who heard the stories as children about how our immigrant grandparents came to this country and carved out a life for their families with their own hands. And how they stood shoulder to shoulder with my father as he envisioned this great hospital and became, as he called them, an army of ‘proud beggars’ for the world’s sickest children. That this new center bears my name is a tremendous honor to me, and in accepting it, I vow to continue to be a proud beggar on behalf of children around the world.”

Marlo has worked tirelessly for the mission of St. Jude, which was founded by her father, the late entertainer, Danny Thomas. She has created a legacy as a champion for children at St. Jude and around the world as she has appeared in public service announcements, on national television programs and at fundraising events across the country to advance the St. Jude mission. Along with siblings Terre and Tony Thomas, she created the St. Jude Thanks and Giving® campaign that encourages holiday shoppers to support the lifesaving work of St. Jude. Over the past decade, the campaign has raised nearly $500 million for St. Jude children and families.

Marlo’s body of work, including her advocacy for patients and families battling childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases, recently earned her the nation’s highest civilian honor. She is one of 19 individuals who will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a ceremony at the White House on November 24, 2014.

“This is a historic day for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as we celebrate the opening of this wonderful facility and honor our most dedicated volunteer and advocate, Marlo Thomas,” said Richard Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude. “Marlo’s tireless efforts to share the St. Jude mission have reached millions of supporters and have impacted the lives of countless families and children who have turned to St. Jude in their hour of need.”

“One of the guiding principles of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has always been to share discoveries with the global research community to speed progress against childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases,” said James R. Downing, M.D., St. Jude President and Chief Executive Officer. “This center is a brick-and-mortar extension of that philosophy, offering researchers at St. Jude and around the world an innovative space to learn, to share, and to develop the next big advances in science and medicine.”

To learn more about St. Jude, please visit stjude.org. You can also “like” St. Jude on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital:

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other deadly diseases. St. Jude has the world’s best survival rates for the most aggressive childhood cancers, and treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since we opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90 percent in the next decade. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs we make, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Join the St. Jude mission by visiting stjude.org or following St. Jude on facebook.com/stjude and twitter.com/stjude.

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Freebirds World Burrito Kicks off Nationwide Partnership with the USO to Support Military Families with $15,000 Check Presentation on Veterans Day

Freebirds’ charitable arm World Works expands commitment to helping communities and inspiring others to make positive changes

Austin, TX – On Veterans Day, Freebirds World Burrito announced a nationwide initiative with the USO (United Service Organizations) to offer support in the form of in-kind sponsorship, volunteerism and fundraisers across its more than 160 locations nationwide. Freebirds kicked off this new partnership with the presentation of a $15,000 check from proceeds raised during its Burritos for Good campaign at the USO Fort Hood Operation Telethon broadcast on Central Texas NBC affiliate KCEN-TV last week.

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Freebirds presents $15,000 check to USO on Veterans Day

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Freebirds Tribe taking calls during USO Fort Hood Operation Telethon broadcast

“We are honored to expand our partnership with the USO to help those who have sacrificed so much for our country,” says Bobby Shaw, Freebirds’ senior vice president of operations. “This partnership signifies Freebirds’ larger commitment to social responsibility companywide through World Works,” Shaw adds.

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Local support from USO South Texas who set up a table outside Freebirds’ Corpus Christi location.

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The Freebirds Tech Ridge Tribe showing off their T-shirts.

The Burritos for Good campaign was created, in partnership with the Tavistock Restaurant Collection, to honor both the families of the Boston bombings and those affected by the tragedy at Fort Hood. Fifty cents of every burrito sold over Easter weekend in 2014 went to USO families and chapters across the nation. USO chapters nationwide joined in support of the Burritos for Good campaign by setting up volunteer stations at several Freebirds locations to help spread the word about its programs and services.

The success and goodwill generated from the Burritos for Good Campaign, as well as with other in-kind, volunteer and event successes with the USO, has led Freebirds to engage in an ongoing commitment to serve military families by elevating its relationship with the USO on a nationwide basis. Freebirds aims to meet the needs of each USO chapter by working directly with the organization on a local basis.

Freebirds World Works is the charitable arm committed to social responsibility and operating with a conscience. The goal is to give back to the communities Freebirds’ serves while building relationships that provide opportunities for those in need. The first initiative on the docket for Freebirds World Works and the USO will allow Freebirds fanatics to donate their loyalty points, which will then be turned into meal cards for USO chapters to use for military families.

“When the military community at Fort Hood needed support, Freebirds did not hesitate to answer the call,” said Paula Myers, USO Regional Director of Development. “They didn’t ask anything other than ‘How can we help?’ In times of need, communities lean on each other for support. USO is grateful for the comfort Freebirds helps us provide our troops, their families and our communities.”

Freebirds World Works continues an ambitious social responsibility mandate with other community driven programs such as:

  • 7th Annual Adopt A Family, which kicked off Monday, November 17. Every year, Freebirds restaurants across the country “adopt” local families over the holiday season, rallying community members to volunteer and donate gifts and necessities in partnership with Arms of Hope, the Salvation Army, Sunshine Kids, Generation Rescue, Boys & Girls Club and other non-profit organizations.
  • Freebirds Freebikes encourages youngest Freebirds Fanatics to express themselves and make healthy choices. Local students can enter an essay contest in which they’re prompted to share ways they can change the world. The winning boy and girl from each grade receives brand new Freebirds bikes.

For more information about World Works and our partnership with the USO, stop by your local Freebirds restaurant or visit Freebirds.com.

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About Freebirds World Burrito

Freebirds World Burrito is the fast casual burrito joint with an unapologetically independent approach to serving burritos, tacos, nachos, quesadillas, bowls and salads that feed both the belly and the soul. We provide great food and engaging service in a high-energy atmosphere, standing for freedom of choice both in expression and at mealtime. Through our charitable arm, Freebirds World Works, we’re also here to help the communities in which we serve and encourage others to lend a hand, too. Freebirds World Burrito is owned and operated by Tavistock Group. For more information on Freebirds World Burrito, please visit www.freebirds.com.

About Tavistock Group

Tavistock Group is an international private investment organization founded by Joe Lewis. With investments in hundreds of companies across 15 countries, Tavistock Group’s investment portfolio includes: life sciences, sports teams and sporting events, hotels, manufacturing and distribution, oil, gas and energy, financial services, restaurants, commercial properties, private luxury residential properties, resort properties and master-planned real estate developments. For more information, visit www.tavistock.com.

About the USO

The USO lifts the spirits of America’s troops and their families millions of times each year at hundreds of places worldwide. We provide a touch of home through centers at airports and military bases in the U.S. and abroad, top quality entertainment and innovative programs and services. We also provide critical support to those who need us most, including forward-deployed troops, military families, wounded warriors, troops in transition and families of the fallen. The USO is a private, non-profit organization, not a government agency. Our programs and services are made possible by the American people, support of our corporate partners and the dedication of our volunteers and staff.

In addition to individual donors and corporate sponsors, the USO is supported by President’s Circle Partners: American Airlines, AT&T, BNSF Railway, Clark Construction Group, LLC, The Coca-Cola Company, Grand Canyon University, JCPenney, Jeep, Johnson & Johnson, Kroger, Northrop Grumman Corporation and TriWest Healthcare Alliance and Worldwide Strategic Partners: BAE Systems, BIC, The Boeing Company, ConAgra Foods, FedEx, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft Corporation, Procter & Gamble, TKS Telepost Kabel-Service Kaiserslautern GmbH & Co. KG and Wawa Inc. We are also supported through the United Way and Combined Federal Campaign (CFC-11381). To join us in this important mission, and to learn more about the USO, please visit uso.org.

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Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation For Cancer Research Announces Selenis Leyva As Angel Ambassador

New York, NY (November 20, 2014)Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research announced today that actress and star of the hit Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, Selenis Leyva will serve as the organization’s newest Angel Ambassador. Leyva joins the current group of Angel Ambassadors that includes Alan Cumming, Brittany Daniel, Estelle, Suleika Jaouad, Erin Zammett Ruddy and Ethan Zohn.

The Angel Ambassadors help Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation spread the word about the importance of funding cancer research. They engage, educate and inspire others to help fulfill the Foundation’s quest for a cancer-free world.

It was when Selenis was just 8-years-old that she first experienced the devastating effects of cancer. Her 3-year-old brother, Arnol Leyva was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma which later led to his diagnosis with the secondary cancer of the thyroid. XX recently joined Selenis at the 2014 Angel Ball in New York City. Selenis hopes she can help others by sharing her personal experience with a special focus on the Foundation’s pediatric cancer research programs.

“We are one of the lucky families, my brother is a cancer survivor” said Leyva. “My goal as an Angel Ambassador is to continue supporting all efforts going towards cancer research and give support to all who are currently fighting this awful disease. I am honored and deeply moved to join this extraordinary foundation.”

Born and raised in the Bronx, Selenis Leyva currently stars as “Gloria Mendoza”, head of kitchen and head Latina in charge, in the Netflix hit series, Orange is the New Black.

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The Adventure Project Announces Holiday “Coal For Christmas” Campaign Aiming To Improve The Lives Of 10,000 People In Kenya

Each stocking stuffer “lump of coal” provides a family in Kenya with a charcoal-efficient stove and supports local job creation

NEW YORK, NY – Today, The Adventure Project, a nonprofit organization creating entrepreneurial jobs in developing countries, announced a holiday campaign selling “Coal for Christmas” gifts to support local entrepreneurs in the construction and distribution of life-saving charcoal-efficient stoves in Kenya. The campaign will officially launch on Giving Tuesday, December 2nd, but the gifts are available for pre-sale now.

The “lump of coal” is actually a black, unscented soap, delivered in a beautiful gold-foil-stamped box with a booklet about the specific impact of the gift and the opportunity to include a personalized message on the gift note. For the price of $35, each stocking-stuffer gift provides a family in Kenya with a charcoal-efficient stove. The Adventure Project’s goal is to sell 2,500 boxes, which would improve the lives of 10,000 people in Kenya.

“These charcoal-efficient stoves are compact and yet have enormous impact on entire communities by creating jobs for artisans and sales people, reducing the amount of toxic smoke women and children inhale while preparing food, and cutting emissions into the atmosphere,” said Becky Straw, Co-Founder and CEO of The Adventure Project. “We are incredibly proud to offer a holiday gift with such meaning and impact.”

Why Stoves?

  • Almost half the world’s population still cooks food, boils water, and warms their homes by burning wood, animal and agricultural waste, and coal in open fires or rudimentary cookstoves. The smoke from these cookstoves kills 1 person every 8 seconds.
  • Everyday, 3 billion people in developing countries are exposed to toxic smoke – one of the world’s biggest killers – when preparing meals over open fires.
  • Cooking over open fires is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes per day.
  • Traditional stoves and open fires used for cooking emit more black carbon into the environment than all the cars and trucks in the world.
  • The average woman in Kenya walks ten miles a day collecting wood, totaling 30 hours per week.

Charcoal-efficient stoves drastically reduce toxic smoke from cooking fires.

“An estimated 15,676 children in Kenya die each year from household air pollution. That is why our long-term goal is to get a charcoal-efficient stove into the hands of every mother – and this is a crucial first step,” Straw added.

Through this program, stoves are being produced in factories in Kenya and local men and women are being hired to sell them in the local market at a subsidized rate villagers can afford.

For more on the Coal for Christmas campaign, visit http://theadventureproject.org/coal.

About The Adventure Project:

The Adventure Project, founded in 2010 by Becky Straw and Jody Landers, is a non-profit creating jobs in developing countries by investing in positive social enterprises around the world. Straw and Landers, who met while traveling through Liberia, West Africa, joined forces with the shared vision to end extreme poverty through low-cost, high-impact solutions.

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SUS’ Annual Benefit Raises Record $450,000 For Housing Services

New York, NY – Services for the UnderServed (SUS) hosted its 2014 annual benefit on November 18 that raised a record $450,000 to help expand housing services that have helped make SUS the third largest supportive housing organization in New York State.

Held in the Rainbow Room in New York and hosted by affiliate group Women for SUS, the gala honored Peter Magistro and Samantha Magistro of Bronx Pro Real Estate Management for their commitment to developing and building quality affordable housing.

Actress and New York Times bestselling author Annabelle Gurwitch, who served as master of ceremonies, told guests: “I was amazed by the community when I had the opportunity to visit an SUS site. There is a spirit of generosity and humility that I felt in every individual I met. I’m new to the SUS family, but already feel like I’m a part of it.”

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Guest speaker Gail K. McCallion, attorney at law, shared the story of how her 32-year-old daughter, who has autism, has flourished after 10 years of living with SUS. “SUS has provided Meghan with a home, which is a lot more than simply a place to live,” she said. “Because of SUS Meghan is living her life to the full potential that she was given. That is quite an incredible accomplishment and no parent can ask for more.”

“Not everyone starts at the same starting line,” noted Donna Colonna, CEO of SUS during her remarks. “Some people need a little more support than others. Some people have challenges that derailed their life plans. Some people are born into a life with challenges and never really get started. Enter SUS… here we are in real time trying to make the world a better place.”

Guests walked away with jars of honey produced through SUS’ Urban Farms, giving a small taste of the goodness SUS programs and services can produce (more info here: http://sus.org/tag/urban-farms/).

Watch this brief, embeddable video that benefit guests were shown to get a snapshot of how SUS is creating more affordable housing opportunities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Long Island: https://vimeo.com/112219113

Services For The UnderServed: Housing Is A Human Right from Services for the UnderServed on Vimeo.

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