Monday, December 02, 2013

CNN Heroes with Anderson Cooper: the mobile computer lab was the best story for me

Sunday, December 1, 2013 Anderson Cooper hosted the 2013 CNN Heroes presentation.  The basic link is here
There’s a tremendous amount of story here, and it isn’t possible for me to react specifically to all of the nominees.
But I found the story of Estella Pyfrom, who addressed the lack of computers and Internet connectivity in low income homes in West Palm Beach, FL.  Broadband access for low income and rural customers has been a stated objective in the Obama administration, but it seemed to take a personal crusade to make it happen. Estalla, a “retired” guidance counselor and now 76, raised funds and arranged a bus to act as a mobile computer lab for low income students. 
Dale Beatty helps build homes for disabled veterans.
Richard Nares developed a service to transport children needing cancer (usually chemotherapy) treatments to medical centers.  There is an informal service in my area, mentioned in a local church, to transport elderly citizens to medical appointments but that would carry some risk.  I did respond to a situation with a substitute teacher who had developed a detached retina a few years ago out of contacts that had come from my own subbing experience.
Kakenya Ntaiya helps girls in Kenya finish educations.
Dr. Geroges Bwelle took hint from an accident in his own life to provide free medical care in Cameroons. But in the US, medical care can’t be free, so we have the Obamacare debate.
Chad Pregracke helped organize a movement to pull waste (especially tires and machinery) and plastic from waterways, especially the Mississippi River.

Robin Emmons (in Charlotte, NC) took custody of a schizophrenic older brother, and then organized a garden green space to feed people who eat only processed food.

Danielle Gletow helps grant the wishes of children in foster care.

Tawanda Jones helped organize a drill team to get kids off the streets in impoverished Camden, NJ.
Dr. Laura Stachel provided midwifery in Nigeria with her “solar suitcase”.
Each story on the CNN web link has several components, one of which is “get involved”.
My personal reaction is that I feel like a live on a different planet form the clients of these volunteers.  I would have no idea how to communicate with them.  I did grow up in a culture that was more segregated or stratified and more sheltered, perhaps.  There is the facile idea, don’t have babies until you’re ready with a job and marriage.  But today, there is more that can be done for people than there was in earlier generations, or at least the Internet makes that apparent.
To become good at serving other people’s causes, do you need to finish the work on your own first?  (One could certainly quiz me in this way about a couple of the items, such as the mobile computer lab.) That’s how it goes socially for me.  There is a level of “judgment” in how a lot of us process and evaluate other people as individuals (the old “personal responsibility” paradigm).  But many people don’t have that “luxury”. 

 Anderson Cooper can certainly host something like this from the psychological comfort of his own status as a journalist, which a lot of us don’t have.  I don’t believe he is a parent.  But he did definitely pay his dues earlier in life, reporting from war zones and impoverished overseas areas as a young man, behaving very discreetly.   That would have proved daunting enough. 

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