Albert’s Kids:  A Shining Light at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

Albert’s Kids: A Shining Light at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

Albert Lexie shined the shoes of staff and visitors of Children’s Hospital Pittsburgh UPMC twice a week from 1981-2013, giving all of his tips to the hospital’s Free Care Fund, a program designed to help provide medical care for children in need.  The Free Care Fund he dubbed “Albert’s Kids” usually made more money than he did.  “A shoe shine costs $5 and anything that goes over $5 goes to the Free Care Fund”, said Albert.

For over 30 years until his retirement in 2013,  Albert made the long journey by multiple buses to the hospital, leaving at 5:50 am every Tuesday and Thursday to make sure to be there on time and ready for work.   “He’s a selfless giver. He does everything, he thinks every minute of the day about ways of getting money for the children who need it for their care. He’s given a third of his life salary to this fund”, Dr. Joe Carcillo, Critical Care Medicine Physician.

Albert never made very much money for himself, the hospital states that only about $10,000 was earned annually by him, the rest he gave away.  Giving his tips was his way of giving back to a community he loved.  Upon his retirement Albert told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “I wanted to see the kids get well, to see they got well and got better and things like that.”

This past October Albert passed away but the love and admiration for him lives on at Children’s Hospital and beyond.

“He’s a perfect example of how just small, incremental acts of kindness can have a really significant impact over time.”  reflected Hospital President Christopher Gessner in an interview with the Post-Gazette.

You can DONATE to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh UPMC Free Care Fund.  Every little bit counts.

be peace

Helping an Elephant’s Stride

Helping an Elephant’s Stride

This week’s Peace Post is such a beautiful lesson in how we all can use our talents and gifts to serve the world.  Mosha the elephant lost a leg from a landmine when she was 2 years old while living along the Thai-Burmese border.  She is now in Lampang, Thailand at Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital, the world’s first elephant hospital where Orthopedic surgeon Therdchai Jivacate has been providing his services and talent to create the first ever elephant prosthetic for Mosha.  This act of kindness and compassion to Mosha has created a unique bond between doctor and giant.  Watch this video to see what I mean.

Since the elephant hospital was opened more than 4,000 sick or injured elephants have been treated.

  • Learn more about how you can help Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital by giving a DONATION.
  • Read More about Dr. Therdchai’s compassion and good works for both humans and animals.


A Mama to Many – Taking Action To End Violence In Her Neighborhood

A Mama to Many – Taking Action To End Violence In Her Neighborhood

Diane Latiker was tired of seeing violence and danger increasing for the children and citizens of her South Side Chicago hometown of Roseland,  Illinois.  The city’s gang and gun violence had reached epidemic levels so in 2003 she decided to do something about it.  Creating Kids Off the Block (KOB), a 501(c)3 nonprofit originally set up in her home, Diane set out to provide a ‘safe place’ for local kids.  With KOB she offers them homework help, mentoring, and healthy activities.  KOB’s Mission Statement is To provide at-risk, low-income youth positive alternatives to gangs, drugs, truancy, violence, and the juvenile justice system .  She is now in the process of expanding out of her home and into a new building that will one day hold a computer lab and academic and creative resource areas.  Diane is an Angel here on earth.  Please watch this video and be inspired!

Click here to learn more about how you can help Diane continue to grow Kids Off the Block.

To make a DONATION – click HERE

In the Wake of Disaster People Rally ~ The heroes of Hurricane Florence

In the Wake of Disaster People Rally ~ The heroes of Hurricane Florence

I want to dedicate this post to the heroes of Hurricane Florence.

From the brave members of our United States military and national guard, to local police, fire, rescue, paramedics, etc … THANK YOU for your continued service and efforts. From the municipal and county utilities and government workers laboring around the clock to provide services and aide; to the medical staff, emergency facilities, and hospitals charged to saving lives … THANK YOU.   To the churches, synagogues, mosques, and community centers offering their time and love to provide shelter and food to those in need …. THANK YOU. To the animal shelters, kennels, and rescues who are taking in strayed and abandoned animals … THANK YOU.

There are simply too many to list here, and the crisis is still going on so this list will most certainly grow, however I wanted to profile a few stories I have found that have moved me.

Amber Hersel (pictured above) is a civilian Volunteer from Indiana who came to find herself in North Carolina, along with a group of 20 volunteers. She is apart of the Civilian Crises Response Team, an Indiana-based volunteer group that responds to natural disasters and local emergencies and accidents. Hersel and the other volunteers in her group rescued 75 people. See story links below.

Florence Was Volunteer’s 1st Hurricane; She Became Face of Heroes
By Beth Dalbey / Patch National Staff


With Florence’s death and destruction came acts of bravery and selflessness
CNN Wire

Learn more about the Civilian Crises Response Team:

Another such civilian group participating in the heroic rescue efforts in Florence’s wake include the Louisiana Cajun Navy who rescued stranded residents in New Bern and other cities as storm surge waters rapidly filled the roadways and flooded homes. The Louisiana Cajun Navy’s Mission (as stated on their website): RESCUE, RELIEVE, REBUILD. “From the under privileged, the homeless, and all veterans in this country, we won’t stand by and watch another person suffer, struggle, and fight for their lives, while the world passes by”.

Learn more about the Louisiana Cajun Navy:

Southern hospitality doesn’t stop in times of crisis.  The owners of Good Boy Hotdogs of Delco, North Carolina set up a roadside stand under the protection only of their umbrella to provide a hot meal to anyone traveling by in need of food.

On a larger scale Chef Jose Andres set up his World Central Kitchen shop in Wilmington. Their kitchen is full of volunteers cooking food around the clock to be delivered to shelters and emergency workers in flood-stricken areas.
Famed Chef Jose Andres Rallies ‘Heroes’ to Cook Amid Florence’s Floods
By Asher Klein / NBC Chicago 5


Hospitality and charity has spread throughout the region as many people in neighboring areas have been offering shelter and lodging to evacuees.   Robert Riker, Leah Van Buren Bolten, Jim Gregory, and Mary Jackson – four such households outside the flood zones are providing refuge to families in need. “We’ve fled our share of Hurricanes. And we know the cost of staying in a hotel and having to eat out can quickly add up at a time when anxiety, fear and uncertainty is high,” Riker told CNN. He and his family live in Waynesville, North Carolina – in the western part of the state.  “We just want to offer some relief to someone who has greater worries going on in their life than I do. We’re all in this life together. And we only have each other to rely on,” he added.

Read More:
These People are Opening their home to Hurricane Florence evacuees
By Gianluca Mezzofiore / CNN

As people fled for their lives they were faced with the conflict and challenge of where to take their animals.  Many shelters, animal hospitals, and kennels outside the flood zones have been offering their spaces to provide temporary homes for pets in need.

Camp Bow Wow South Asheville: “We have capacity for another 40 and 50 dogs,” the camp said. “We have already received one request from a nursing home from the North Carolina coastal region for 10 dogs or so.”

Another group of animal rescuers arrived in North Carolina from Big Fluffy Dog Rescue of Nashville, TN. They have saved about 30 dogs and cats from shelters in the path of the hurricane. “We got back in at midnight. It was about 24 hours round trip, so not too bad. Luckily we had some awesome volunteers meet us at our kennel facility to help unload, walk, feed and settle all the fur kids in,” Tiffany Carol Fintel, a Nashville vet technician, told CNN.



Here are a few more Uplifting Stories of Every Day Heroes:

The Heroes of Florence Go Beyond Faces We Expect
By Spectrum News Staff / Spectrum News Charlotte

Hurricane heroes: People helping each other through Florence
By Greenville News / USA Today Network

Meet the Heroes making themselves known during Florence
CBS Evening News (Video)


American Red Cross – Hurricane Florence Relief Fund

I join the masses in thanking all of the people who are stepping forward to assist, provide, donate, and care for others in their time of need. YOU embody the spirit of humanity and the strength of love.


La Mama de East L.A.

La Mama de East L.A.

On May 13, 2018, in the Los Angeles Times writer Steve Lopez posted this Mother’s Day story of Juana Jauregui, also called ‘Mom’ and ‘Grandma’ by many of the children she cares for in her home daycare in East L.A.  Juana found a need in her community to help provide a safe and secure place for children to seek refuge, support, and love.  “Every child that enters her home is fed, clothed, bathed, cared for” said Daniel Noriega, Juana’s son and a student of Steve Lopez at Cal State L.A.  In a paper Daniel wrote about his mother, “La mama de East L.A.” he tells the story of his sister and her former boyfriend named Mario.  Mario came from an abusive home and struggled with drug addiction.   The more Juana found out about the abuse of Mario and his siblings she was determined to try to help him straighten out his life.  “I never gave up on him because I don’t think it’s fair for kids to have to go through this, and I’m learning there are a lot of kids like him.  There are gaps in the system that these kids fall into, and nobody cares.  Nobody cares,” says Juana.

When Mario and Juana’s daughter broke up Juana continued to be a support to Mario, helping him with food and counsel whenever he reached out to her and she keeps a letter Mario wrote her saying he believed that he would one day be the man she told him he could be.  “I want to thank you,” Mario wrote, ” for always being there when I had no place and no one to depend on”.   Sadly Mario’s life ended in August 2014, the circumstances of his death are still unclear.  Juana was the person contacted by the County morgue and it soon became her task to locate Mario’s mother to discuss funeral arrangements.  Mario’s mother was located but was only able to raise a small amount of money to help pay for her son’s funeral costs.  Juana in turn paid several thousand of her own dollars to purchase a coffin and arrange for the services;  Donating one of her four family plots so Mario could be laid to rest.

During the process of handling Marios funeral arrangements she saw how families facing such tragedy are often struggling to pay for the most basic of burials.  To that end Juana decided to start a nonprofit called Mario’s Caskets to raise money for such familes and donate caskets to them.

Mario’s Caskets Mission Statement:
As an organization, we believe that every person deserves to be buried with dignity and respect, regardless of their situation or lifestyle.

Our mission is to donate a casket to low-income families of individuals that, at some point in their life, have been in the foster care system, have experienced homelessness, and have struggled with alcohol, drug, sexual or physical abuse.

​We pledge ourselves to provide a standard blue casket; the same model that was used for the burial of Mario, whom this organization is named after, without regards to gender, race, ethnicity, immigration status, religion, physical or mental ability, gender expression, marital status, or sexual orientation.

Please find the links below if you’d like to help support Juana Jauregui/Mario’s Caskets:
Mario’s Caskets Website

To Read the full story by Steve Lopez/ Los Angeles Times:
East L.A.’s patron of souls lost and found donates coffins to families who can’t afford them

Photo credit:  Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times


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