Web of Benefit's grants help abused women start over

 

Boston (CNN) -- Johanna Crawford was volunteering for a domestic violence shelter in 2003 when she answered a hot line call she will never forget.

On the other end of the line was a petrified woman who had just arrived in town after fleeing her husband. She said he had abused her physically and emotionally for years.

The woman had her two young children with her, along with two trash bags that carried all their belongings.

"They had gotten on the first bus out of town, and here they were," Crawford said. "They knew nobody. And we had a bed (at the shelter), we had a room. So I picked her up."

The woman didn't have a dollar to her name. And because she left so fast, she didn't have identification or her children's birth certificates -- things that she would need to start her new life.

"She did not legally exist," Crawford said. "She could not get food stamps. She could not get welfare. She could not sign up for health care. She could not get counseling. And (she had) no hope of ever getting housing."

The woman needed $40 to get the documents she needed. Crawford decided to help.

"It is totally forbidden for staff or volunteers to give clients money. But I've never been very good with rules, so ... I gave her the two $20 bills," she said.

Johanna Crawford founded Web of Benefit, a nonprofit that gives money to female survivors of domestic violence.

Crawford gave her a third $20 for mailing expenses and told the woman to treat her kids to McDonald's with the leftovers.

"She was blown away," Crawford said. "And I was thinking, 'I just changed a life -- three lives and many generations of lives, perhaps -- with $40.' And it felt great."

A year later, Crawford founded Web of Benefit, a nonprofit that awards grants to female survivors of domestic violence. The grants, which average $500, allow each recipient to take the first step into her new life.

Some women use the grants toward a security deposit on an apartment. Others buy a computer to access online education and job postings. Grants also help pay for child care, transportation or materials to start small businesses.

"These women (need) to know that they deserve their dream and have the power to create it," said Crawford, 65.

In the United States, 74% of female domestic violence victims have stayed with an abuser for economic reasons, according to the Mary Kay Foundation.

"There is a reality that women go back to abusers because ... the financial hardship is horrific," Crawford said. "What they have left is shattered dreams. ... It (takes) about six months to have the stability and the emotional and psychological well-being to be able to take the next step toward the rest of their lives."

That was the case for Suzie, who sought an order of protection and later a divorce from her husband after months of sexual and physical abuse after her immigration.

These women (need) to know that they deserve their dream and have the power to create it.
CNN Hero Johanna Crawford

"I couldn't speak any English," said Suzie, whose real name is being withheld to protect her identity. "I was just lost. I had no money. I had nothing. I couldn't see the future.

"When I met Johanna, I was so happy. She said she would help me to buy materials and the sewing machine I needed (to) create a small platform for myself, which made me so grateful."

Women are referred to Crawford's group by advocates at dozens of shelters and agencies that serve the survivor community. This ensures that the first and most strictly held grant requisites are met: that the applicant has been free of her abuser and any substance abuse for at least six months.

Applicants and their advocates complete what Crawford calls a "dream proposal," which is the description of the survivor's ideal life. Crawford then meets with each applicant to help her lay out the plan for how to achieve that life, identifying each of the steps required.

Crawford oversees each grant personally, delivering the money directly toward the item, program, school, hospital or landlord it will pay. In all, she has given more than 1,000 grants totaling more than $600,000 to women in Boston, where Web of Benefit is based, and Chicago, where the nonprofit has expanded.

Most of the group's funding comes from private individuals and foundations. Crawford has also put in a lot of her own money.

As a child, she experienced domestic violence in her own home, and she said she once witnessed her father nearly kill her mother. She and her older brother managed to stop the attack, and the family was able to separate from him.

"(My mother) was lucky that she was financially OK, because at that stage, there were no shelters," Crawford said. "Had he kicked us out of the house, we would have been homeless."

Grant recipients in Web of Benefit are required to complete three good works to support other survivors like themselves. Recipients help one another with things such as child care, job training, career guidance and transportation, growing the "web of benefit" community exponentially.

Suzie has already taught another survivor how to sew, a skill she used to build her thriving tailor business.

"Watching Johanna," Suzie said, "made me realize I should be a person who not only receives help but someone that can pay it forward. A person that helps others in need, like how I needed Johanna."

Crawford says she hopes her efforts to empower women can ultimately help stop the cycle of violence.

"One woman can make a difference," she said. "But women working together can change the world."

Want to get involved? Check out the Web of Benefit website at www.webofbenefit.org and see how to help.

 

Berger, Danielle.  "Grants help abused women start over". CNN. 19 July 2012. Web.  

View original article at cnn.com:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/19/us/cnnheroes-crawford-domestic-violence/index.html

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Older fathers may give longevity to their offspring

  • Published in Health

Younger fathers may be able to keep up with their kids in the playground, but a recent study has found evidence that older fathers may pass on longevity to their children.  It has not been proven yet, but the study does show some really interesting evidence.

The study was developed by several professors at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL and University of Washington in Seattle, WA.  This interesting study revolved around "telomeres" which are structures at the end of chromosomes which protect the chromosome from damage.  

Telomeres have been linked to the aging process.  Shorter telomeres have been linked to a shorter lifespan while longer telomeres have been linked to longer lifespan.  These structures become shorter over time in all areas except for within a man's sperm where they actually get longer over time!

This study focused their research on blood samples of over 2,000 people in the Philippines.  The researchers discovered that telomere length was inherited by children AND their children's children!  This means that an older grandfather could pass the longer telomeres to both their son and grandchild!


It's a fascinating study that provides some real good insight into the aging process.  It does NOT mean that men should wait until they are old to have children - there are also mutations that develop over time, but it is a promising study that is potentially unlocking another secret to the world that we live in.

 

Peace & Love,

Jon

 

Research study: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/06/05/1202092109.abstract

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A $500 tip for pizza: Family fulfills man’s dying wish

 

A Kentucky man's family was able to satisfy his dying wish this week and give a local waitress an emotional surprise when they gave her a $500 tip on a pizza.

 

 

"My brother passed away July 7, 2012. His final wish in his will, if he left enough money, was that we have pizza and give the waiter or waitress a $500 tip. Aaron never had much money , and he didn't have enough to make this happen, so I started a website and took donations. On July 10 we were able to make his wish come true for the first time.

SETHCOLLINS VIA YOUTUBE

"My brother passed away July 7, 2012. His final wish in his will, if he left enough money, was that we have pizza and give the waiter or waitress a $500 tip. Aaron never had much money , and he didn't have enough to make this happen, so I started a website and took donations. On July 10 we were able to make his wish come true for the first time.

A Kentucky man's family was able to satisfy his dying wish this week and give a local waitress an emotional surprise when they gave her a $500 tip on a pizza.

Aaron Collins died just three days after his July 7 birthday, and his family says his last request was for them to spread some generosity to an unsuspecting stranger.

“He left us a will full of his personality,” his brother Seth wrote in aJuly 9 post on a tribute website. “He asked that any debt he owed his parents be repaid should he have money in the bank at his death, but also had the following request: Third, leave an awesome tip (and I don’t mean 25%. I mean $500 on a f***ing pizza) for a waiter or waitress.”

PIZZA13N_3_WEB

SETHCOLLINS VIA YOUTUBE

Word spread quickly after the family posted Aaron’s wish online, and by July 11 they had raised enough money to make their first gift, which they captured in an emotional video posted to YouTube.

In the clip, the family surprises a young waitress at a Lexington restaurant called Puccini’s Smiling Teeth, where they hand her a wad of cash when she comes to the table.

"My brother passed away late last week and his last wish ... He didn't have the money to take care of himself, so we took donations,” Seth explains to her in the video. “He asked that we go have pizza and leave the waiter or waitress a $500 tip.”

PIZZA13N_5_WEB

SETHCOLLINS VIA YOUTUBE

"Are you serious?" the waitress exclaims, quickly getting teary-eyed. "Are you kidding me?"

"No, that's what he wanted,” Seth responds.

Clearly in disbelief, the waitress starts fanning herself, repeatedly asking if they are serious about giving her the stack of money.

PIZZA13N_4_WEB

SETHCOLLINS VIA YOUTUBE

"Oh my God, I want to hug you," she says, crying as she wraps her arms around him.

"I'm going to be telling this story for the rest of my life," she says.

Aaron’s family shared the video on his tribute website and called for more donations in his memory, saying they would continue to give them to waiters and waitresses in $500 chunks the way he would have wanted.

PIZZA13N_1_WEB

SETHCOLLINS VIA YOUTUBE

"My brother passed away July 7, 2012. His final wish in his will, if he left enough money, was that we have pizza and give the waiter or waitress a $500 tip. Aaron never had much money , and he didn't have enough to make this happen, so I started a website and took donations. On July 10 we were able to make his wish come true for the first time.

So far they say have received enough to make at least one more donation.

The website does not say how Aaron died, but Seth wrote that he “took great joy in unexpected kindness” and thought a good tip was the kind of thing that could leave “a mark on a person’s life.”

 

 

 

Duerson, Meena Hart.  "A $500 tip for pizza: Family fulfills man’s dying wish". NY Daily News. 12 July 2012. Web. 

View original good news article at NY Daily News:

 

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/omg/a-500-tip-pizza-family-fulfills-man-dying-article-1.1113250

 

 

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