Mother Embraces Baby She Thought Died in Haiti Quake

Seignon is reunited with her daughter Landina at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London six months after the baby was pulled from the rubble of the Haiti earthquake.

Seignon is reunited with her daughter Landina at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London six months after the baby was pulled from the rubble of the Haiti earthquake.

A mother broke down in tears as she was reunited with her baby girl six months after the earthquake that devastated Haiti.  “I had thought Landina was dead and when I heard she was alive I was in shock,” the eight-month-old infant’s mother, Marie Seignon, told Britain’s Channel 4 News. “This is very emotional for me.”

Doctors said the January earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands in the Caribbean island nation actually saved Landina’s life.  Last December, a house fire left Landina seriously injured and suffering burns.  She was undergoing treatment at La Trinite hospital in the capital when the devastating temblor struck and was buried in the rubble for two days.  When Landina was pulled from the debris, she was moved to a field hospital run by Doctors Without Borders. Her right arm was badly injured in the quake and had to be amputated.  Her skull had been so damaged by the house fire that it left her in need of a complex operation to save her life.  Since the operation could not be carried out in quake-ravaged country, the doctor helped to set her up with a British charity that specializes in craniofacial reconstructive surgery.

The charity, Facing the World, did not know where Landina’s family was or if any of her relatives were even alive. With her medical records destroyed in the quake, they didn’t even have names to work with.  Facing the World brought the baby to London, paying for her travel and medical costs and acting as her temporary guardian.  In March, Channel 4 News’ Inigo Gilmore returned to Haiti to help the charity hunt for Landina’s family.  Gilmore interviewed people at the first hospital Landina had been treated at and was told that her mother was possibly living in a slum area of Port-au-Prince called Bizoton. He put out a radio announcement and located Seignon, a 26-year-old mother of four.

Seignon had an admission card from the hospital bearing Landina’s name, Channel 4 News said.  “When the notice was put out on a radio, a friend raced to my house and said, “This may sound like something from the movies but sometimes movies do come true. I need to tell you that Landina is alive.”  Seignon added: “I didn’t believe at first, and even after the reporter came and showed me the pictures it was still hard to believe.”  After a DNA test proved that Seignon was Landina’s biological mother, the charity helped her travel to London to spend six weeks with the baby she hadn’t seen in half a year.



Ten Young Leaders Named 2010 Huggable Heroes in National Build-A-Bear Workshop Community Service Program

After months of evaluation, 10 young leaders from the United States and Canada have risen through the ranks to become the 2010 Huggable Heroes. Build-A-Bear Workshop received approximately 1,000 entries for its seventh annual search rewarding youth for their outstanding acts of generosity, volunteerism and leadership. Each Huggable Hero will receive $10,000 USD ($7,500 USD in the form of an educational scholarship and $2,500 USD from the Build-A-Bear Workshop Foundation to be donated to the charity of the Huggable Hero’s choice).

This year’s class of Huggable Heroes, ranging in age from 8 to 18, is elevating the bar on giving. Collectively, these dedicated young people have raised funds and collected items valued at more than $22.5 million, and they volunteer more than 650 hours of their time each month. These numbers keep rising as they continue to support military troops, advocate for literacy, raise funds and awareness to help medical advances, help build and fund schools and orphanages in underdeveloped countries, inspire and mobilize other youth from all over the world to help make the world a better place and much more.

Alaina Podmorow, 13, Lake Country, Canada

Alaina founded Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan – an organization that raises funds to educate girls in Afghanistan. She has helped raise more than $137,000 through silent auctions, bottle drives, and other events. Alaina also speaks to schools and groups to raise awareness about Afghan issues. Her organization now has nine chapters.

Alison Mansfield, 14, Indiana, United States

Alison has gathered and shipped more than 44,000 items to soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Alison has collected socks, toiletries, snacks, and toys for the soldiers to give to the Afghan children as gestures of goodwill. Most recently, she collaborated with the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and local artists to illustrate a coloring book for the Afghan children.

Ashlee Smith, 11, Nevada, United States

Ashlee created Ashlee’s Toy Closet – an organization that collects toys and books for kids in need in the United States, Canada and Haiti. She has donated more than 100,000 toys, books and stuffed animals and has launched a drive to help re-build orphanages in Haiti. Ashlee also supplies firehouses and ambulances in her community with stuffed animals to give to children in difficult situations.

Charles Rappazzo, 17, New York, United States

Charles started Literacy Education for All People, a multi-year initiative to help reduce illiteracy and increase literacy education and awareness on a local and global level. Through his initiative, he has distributed more than $6 million worth of educational supplies, both in the United States and abroad. In addition, Charles has raised $10,000 to start a library and computer center at the Girls Secondary School in Awkuzu, Nigeria.

Dylan Mahalingham, 14, New Hampshire, United States

Dylan co-founded Lil’ MDGs to help meet the UN Millennium Development Goals. He has rallied more than 20,000 youth volunteers from 40 countries to work together to raise more than $780,000 for tsunami relief. His mobilization efforts also have raised funds to build schools, dorms, libraries, playgrounds and community gardens in several countries such as Uganda, Indonesia, Cambodia, India and Sudan.

Jourdan Urbach, 18, New York, United States

Jourdan is founder and director of Children Helping Children (CHC), an organization that raises funds for cutting-edge research and the eradication of neurological diseases through a national benefit called, Concerts for a Cure. He has inspired 700 young, professional musicians to join him in performances and build satellite chapters of CHC. To date, CHC has raised more than $4.6 million that is being used for a variety of programs for pain management, Multiple Sclerosis and neurological diseases that effect children.

Matthew Armstrong, 18, Alberta, Canada

Matthew has raised more than $300,000 to help kids in need. His organization, Matthew’s Challenge, has raised money through letter-writing campaigns, selling handmade magnetic bookmarks, hosting galas, walk-a-thons and fundraisers.

Melissa Monette, 17, Hawaii, United States

Melissa is president of Kids Helping Kids with Diabetes – an organization that educates, raises funds for research and provides support services to people with Type I diabetes. She works with schools to sell thousands of plastic shoes for her Shoes in the Chute shoe race. Melissa has collected more than $121,000 in funds and grants which she has donated to the Hawaii Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In addition, Melissa also manages A Harvest for Many Inc., a nonprofit that collects food for those in need. She has been able to collect more than 32,000 pounds of food for 295 local food programs.

Riley Carney, 16, Colorado, United States

Riley created Breaking the Chain – a nonprofit organization designed to break the chains of illiteracy and poverty through education, by building schools, creating literacy centers and providing books for classrooms around the world. She has raised money to build schools in Africa; one in Kenya and two in Sierra Leone. Domestically, she created a children’s literacy center at a battered women’s shelter and bought countless books for Read Out and Read and the Heart of American Foundation. Recently, Breaking the Chain launched Bookin’It, a program that works with schools to put books into under-served classrooms. So far, Riley has raised more than $90,000.

Tatiana Grossman, 15, California, United States

Tatiana works with the African Library Project to help increase early literacy in Africa. She has spoken before thousands of people on two continents about literacy and facilitating the creation of libraries. Tatiana has helped create 18 libraries in 27 African villages and schools, and has helped collect 20,000 books for these new libraries.

“These 10 young people prove that we can make a difference to help make this world a better place,” said Maxine Clark, Build-A-Bear Workshop founder and chief executive bear. “Their compassion not only changes the world but also inspires others to follow in their footsteps. They are our next generation of leaders.”

(Build-A-Bear Workshop, Inc. (founded in St. Louis in 1997) is the only global company that offers an interactive make-your-own stuffed animal retail-entertainment experience. The company currently operates more than 400 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide, including company-owned stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and France, and franchise stores in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East, and Mexico.)


On Facebook, Telling Teachers How Much They Meant

People who have been out of school for decades are expressing sentiments on social-networking websites that they dared not express in their youth, reports the New York Times. At a time when public school teachers are being blamed for everything from poor test scores to budget crises, Facebook is one place where they are receiving adulation, albeit delayed. People are using Facebook to re-establish relationships with teachers and express gratitude and overdue respect.

One particular story is of Darci Hemleb Thompson.  She had been on the lookout for Alice D’Addario for many years. From her home in Hampton, VA., Ms. Thompson, 49, who is married and has a 12-year-old daughter, was determined to find Ms. D’Addario on the Internet. She tried every search engine and networking site she could find.  About 18 months ago she hit the jackpot.  “Nice to see one of the greatest teachers of all time on Facebook!” Ms. Thompson wrote on Ms. D’Addario’s wall. “I love to go to your page just to see your smiling face. Even your eyes still smile. You are an amazing person!” Ms. D’Addario was Ms. Thompson’s Advanced Placement history teacher at Walt Whitman High School in Huntington Station, on Long Island, in 1977.  “She had such a huge impact on my life as a young adult,” Ms. Thompson said, describing her tumultuous teenage years living with two alcoholic parents and experiencing early symptoms of multiple sclerosis.  “I was depressed and so sad and so isolated, and she reached out and saved me,” Ms. Thompson added. “Facebook gave me the chance to tell her, ‘You’re the one who pulled me through.’

The tributes underscore what researchers have identified as a major force in adolescents’ lives, said Jacqueline Ancess, a researcher at Teachers College at Columbia University. “The most powerful factor in transforming students is a relationship with a caring teacher who a kid feels particularly connected to,” said Dr. Ancess, who added that many students had told her that if not for a particular teacher, they would not have graduated or would not have taken a certain direction.

Some former students have tried to recreate old roles, using Facebook messages to draw a teacher who had nurtured them back into their lives.  Lisa Nielsen, 41, a former library media specialist at Public School 175/Intermediate School 275 in Harlem, which she said was for troubled students, logged on to Facebook one day last year and saw this message: “Hey Ms. Nielsen, I had to find you because you made a wonderful impact on my life. If people only knew how great of a teacher you are.” The message continued, “I know it’s been at least 10 years since you took me under your wing,” and added, “Let’s talk, got a lot to say!”

Bill Chemerka, 64, who was a history teacher at Madison High School in New Jersey for 29 years, said he did not know what Facebook was until a student pointed him to the 455-member “Mr. Chemerka Fan Club” page. He found this message: “Your love of history and teaching oozed from your pores and allowed every student to absorb your knowledge and passion for life and history.”

Sheldon Jacobowitz, 68, said he was delighted about his Facebook connection with roughly 200 former students from New Utrecht High School in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn (the school that inspired the 1970s television series “Welcome Back, Kotter”) where he taught math for 37 years.  “I think it’s amazing; it’s a great feeling,” Mr. Jacobowitz said. “How they make you feel that you were so important in their lives – it makes everything worthwhile.”


Ultra-Runner with Prosthetic Leg Conquers Running World

“Running was something that was always there,” said Amy Palmiero-Winters, who is missing her left leg below the knee and who is the first amputee to be named to the USA Track and Field team.

Amy ran competitively in high school in Meadville, PA. She ran the day before delivering her son Carson. When she was five months pregnant with her daughter Madilynn, she tackled California’s Silver Strand Marathon and came in second place in her division.  Two months after Madilynn was born, Amy competed in her first triathlon, placing third in her division. In 2006, two days after a hospital stay for anaphylactic shock, she set a new world record for a female below-the-knee amputee, finishing the Chicago Marathon in 3:04:16.

But for three years following her amputation, Amy didn’t run at all.  Amy, now 37, was 21 when she severely damaged her left foot in a motorcycle crash. Doctors performed 25 operations over the next three years, but in the end, she lost her left leg below the knee.  Later, the bone in her left leg grew infected, and doctors had to remove another portion.  Eventually, Amy found prosthetist Erik Schaffer of A Step Ahead Prosthetics and Orthotics in Hicksville, N.Y. He became an immediate ally in her quest to conquer the running world.  “I told him, ‘I want to run 100 miles,'” Amy said. Schaffer, whose challenging client base includes numerous Paralympic athletes and members of the U.S. Special Forces, didn’t bat an eye. “He said, ‘OK, let’s get to work.'”

Amy experienced a psychological shift at that moment, from an individual mentality to a team mindset.  “One of the hardest things in life is to believe in yourself. When you step into a situation where someone else believes in you and your abilities, it makes things so much easier.”  Amy took on the running world. On New Year’s Eve 2009, she ran 130 miles in 24 hours during Race to the Future, qualifying for a spot on the national 24-hour team. In April, she received the prestigious Sullivan Award, naming her the country’s top amateur athlete.  What Amy has accomplished with admission to the Track and Field team is historic.  “It’s sort of like Jackie Robinson breaking the racial barrier in professional baseball,” Roy Pirrung, president of the American Ultrarunning Association and the U.S. team leader for worlds, told USA Today.  “I think it’s that high of an impact.”

Three years ago Amy moved from Meadville to Long Island to head up A Step Ahead’s junior sports program, which matches young amputees with elite athletes such as herself. Through sports, she hopes to instill in children a sense of self-confidence they might lack as a result of losing a limb at such a young age.  “I set up activities for them, whether it be climbing or skiing or doing a triathlon,” she said. “They might not want to do it, but at the end of the day, they decide who they are, not the loss of their leg.”  The children learn to choose their own path, rather than deferring to their disability. And they might just find a passion that pulls them through, as running has pulled Palmiero-Winters.  “Everybody has something that makes them happy and makes them feel good,” she said. “If you can focus on that when you go through tough times, it helps you take the steps to keep moving forward.”


NYC Will Recycle Clothing: 50 Collection Bins Coming This Fall

Starting this September, New York City will be installing 50 clothing-collection bins around the city to make recycling outgrown or unwanted clothes, shoes and fabrics easier than ever.

Here’s the truth about fashion: It changes quickly. So what do you do when you’re stuck with a closet full of barely worn shirts, dresses and shoes?

Starting in September, New York City will launch one of the largest textile recycling initiatives in the nation. The aim is to make it easy to donate clothing, almost as easy as throwing it away.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, each American trashes almost 10 pounds of socks, jeans, shirts and sheets per year. In New York (where 190,000 tons of textiles entered the city’s landfills in 2008 alone) the plan places 50 collection bins in high-traffic areas.

The city is taking bids for a 10- to 15-year contract with a nonprofit company that will be responsible for the bins. Goodwill Industries International is one of the companies bidding on the contract.

Start of something big?  Officials say that if New York’s campaign is successful, it could lead to a nationwide movement to recycle clothing.  Not only would that clear up some room in the nation’s landfills, it could also create jobs, said Brenda Platt, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance based in Washington, D.C. She profiled 20 textile recycling companies and estimates that the industry creates 85 times more jobs than landfills.

Wearable Collections (

THE PROBLEM. According to a recent study, 386 million pounds of textiles enter the NYC waste stream annually, representing close to 6% of total waste.

THE SOLUTION. Wearable Collections provides a no cost, turn-key solution to recycling clothing within residential buildings in NYC. We handle all the logistics from placement of bins and promotion within the buildings to scheduling weekly pick-ups.

THE BENEFIT. Through our established network we distribute your discarded clothing around the world to people who need it, enabling us to raise money for charitable organizations.


Scientists to Whisk Some 70,000 Turtle Eggs Away from Oil Spill in Rare Effort to Save Species

Loggerhead turtles to be removed from dangerous oil spill.

An effort to scoop thousands of turtle eggs from their nests to save them from death in the oily Gulf of Mexico will begin in the coming weeks in a desperate attempt to keep an entire generation of threatened species from vanishing.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will coordinate the plan, which calls for collecting about 70,000 turtle eggs in up to 800 nests buried in the sand across Florida Panhandle and Alabama beaches.

“This is an extraordinary effort under extraordinary conditions, but if we can save some of the hatchlings, it will be worth it as opposed to losing all of them,” said Chuck Underwood of the U.S. Fish andWildlife Service. “We have a much higher degree of certainty that if we do nothing and we allow these turtles to emerge and go into the Gulf and into the oil … that we could in fact lose most of them, if not all of them,” he added.

Dozens of workers are fanned out across the coast marking turtle nests, most of them threatened loggerheads, which nest largely along Florida Panhandle and Alabama beaches. The eggs will be carefully placed in specially designed Styrofoam containers, like coolers, along with sand and moisture to mimic the natural nest. The containers will then be trucked about 500 miles east to a temperature-controlled warehouse at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.  There, the eggs will remain until hatchlings emerge, and they will be placed one-by-one on Florida’s east coast, where the turtles can swim oil-free into the Atlantic Ocean.