2011 Wrap Up and WU Appeal for Africa

By: Portlight , 2:22 AM GMT on November 28, 2011


From Jeff Master's blog:

At least thirteen million people in East Africa are in need of food aid. Weather Underground has partnered with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to help the Horn of Africa region during the ongoing famine. With the help of the Weather Underground community, we hope to raise $10,000 that will go toward helping the refugees survive the crisis. Weather Underground will match the community's donation dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000 for a total donation of $20,000. Please visit the International Rescue Committee donation page to help out. Ninety cents of every dollar donated goes directly to the people in need.


2011 Wrap Up

It has been another busy year for us. And, thanks to your continued support, we have been able make a big difference for unserved, under served and forgotten people in the wakes of several natural disasters.

We began the year still engaged in Haiti. Our Christmas in Haiti project was well received by the youngsters at Quisqueya. And we continued to advocate for safe accessible shelter for people there. We spent over a year working in Haiti...and are grateful to all of you for making our work there possible. There is still much to be done in Haiti. But much progress has been made. And there are signs of hope there that things may slowly be getting better for the people of Haiti.

In January, we were able to provide financial and logistical help to people with disabilities after the Great Japan Earthquake. We were supportive of several DPO's (Disabled Peoples' Organizations) who were working there to provide shelter and mobility to survivors. This was a very complex situation. It was a multi-dimensional disaster. And there were cultural hurdles to overcome. But we are proud to have been a meaningful part of serving people with disabilities there.

The Spring tornadoes gave us other opportunities to serve. And clearly illustrated the incredible power of our grassroots movement.

As usual, y'all came out of the woodwork to help those suffering in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina...and, of course, Joplin, MO. Portlight volunteers and contributors came together to deliver supplies, food...and provide financial assistance...to to survivors in all these areas.

We also partnered with other organizations to help with cleanup efforts. And we worked with shelter operators to ensure shelter accessibility to people with disabilities.

After Hurricane Irene struck the East Coast, we again deployed to help. We worked in North Carolina, Delaware and Maryland on cleanup efforts, food and supply distribution...as well as providing financial assistance to survivors. We also provided financial support for a commercial fisherwoman and single mother of two who lost her boat and home in the storm...after having been diagnosed with breast cancer two days before Irene struck.

The Portlight Relief Trailer got quite a lot of use this year. And covered quite a lot of territory. We want to thank our sponsors, The Christopher and Dana Foundation and Weather Underground, Inc., for their support of our work. Their faith in our efforts has enabled us to extend our reach and expand our scope.

This year Portlight has emerged as an important voice on the issue of shelter accessibility for people with disabilities. We plan to spend more time and energy in the near future working directly with shelter operators to ensure that minimal standards of accessibility are met so all may be served.

We are a true grassroots movement...and everything we do is dependent upon our community of supporters. Whether you make a financial contribution, volunteer to drive a truck, agree to work on the website and social media, offer prayers and good wishes....whatever you do, YOU are integral to our efforts. It's an amazing story...and your part in it makes it possible.

Because of your generosity, we are consistently able to make big differences in the lives of those who most need help.

You can use the PayPal button at our website (and above) www.portlight.org

or checks can be mailed to:

Portlight Strategies, Inc.
60 Fenwick Hall Allee #721
Johns Island, SC 29455

Thank you!!

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7. Patrap
6:43 AM GMT on December 25, 2011
Nun famous for kissing Elvis is praying for a miracle
Published: Saturday, December 24, 2011, 9:00 PM
By The Associated Press

BETHLEHEM, Conn. — In the little town of Bethlehem, a cloistered nun whose luminous blue eyes entranced Elvis Presley in his first on-screen movie kiss is praying for a Christmas miracle.

Dolores Hart, who walked away from Hollywood stardom in 1963 to become a nun in rural Bethlehem, Conn., now finds herself back in the spotlight. But this time it's all about serving the King of Kings, not smooching the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

The former brass factory that houses Mother Dolores and about 40 other nuns cloistered at the Abbey of Regina Laudis needs millions of dollars in renovations to meet fire and safety codes, add an elevator and make handicap accessibility upgrades.
Like 73-year-old Mother Dolores, the order's nuns have taken a vow of stability with the intent to live, work and die at the complex. The order was established in 1947 in Bethlehem, a small burg in Connecticut's rolling western hills.

Now, the historically self-supporting nuns have launched a fundraiser for the $4 million renovation project dubbed "New Horizons." They don't have much money, but they have Mother Dolores: a starlet-turned-supplicant whose unique story might lure the attention and donations of generations of movie fans, particularly those who adore all things Elvis.

"This work may not be in my lifetime that it's finished, but we're sure trying," Mother Dolores said of the upgrades, which are budgeted to run about $2 million for the fire code and accessibility compliance work and another $2 million for improvements to the housing and other facilities.

They hope to break ground in January.

They're not in imminent danger of needing to move out, but many of the older nuns can no longer navigate the narrow steps to the main building's third floor and must live in another building. And without adequate fire escapes, the monastery has caught the eye of local inspectors, though they've worked closely with the nuns on the improvement plans and haven't ordered them to close the building.

For Mother Dolores, the monastery has been home since she was a 24-year-old actress in 1963 and walked away from Hollywood for a life of contemplation and prayer as a postulant.

The abbey's chapel, workshops, livestock pastures and other features are part of her soul now, and its wood-paneled monastery is the only home she's known for 50 years. Its theater holds a special place in her heart, harkening to the former career that landed her on talk shows, in magazines and twice as Elvis Presley's co-star.

Dolores Hart was a vivacious, quick-witted blond starlet when she charmed Hollywood in the 1950s and early 1960s. She shared a kiss with Presley in the 1957 Paramount film, "Loving You" — a modest liplock over which Mother Dolores still fields frequent questions about whether the King was a good kisser.
"I don't know why they ask me. It's right there on the screen to see; it's right there for the looking," she said Thursday.

Hart acted in 10 movies alongside stars including Montgomery Clift, Myrna Loy, Connie Francis and Anthony Quinn.

She said she was engaged to be married before joining God's service and leaving the acting world behind. She broke off her engagement, though her fiance remained a close friend and was a frequent visitor and supporter of the abbey until his recent death.

The nuns also received support and help over the years from Mother Dolores' longtime friend and fellow actress Patricia Neal, who was buried at the abbey after her death in August 2010.

Mother Dolores is still a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, receiving copies of movies to watch in her small room — or cell, as they're known in the order — to help select yearly Oscar winners.

Her own movies, including the highly popular "Where the Boys Are," were made before stars routinely could negotiate to collect later royalties, she said, so that's not a potential source of income for the upgrades to the abbey.

The abbey is financially independent from the Archdiocese of Hartford and supports itself through the sale of everything from artisan cheeses and hand-crafted pottery to recordings of its choir. Mother Dolores even recently signed autographs at a New Jersey convention, a rare foray out of cloistered life as a favor for a friend, and one that helped boost the fundraising efforts.

Sister Angele Arbib, a coordinator of the New Horizons renovation and fundraising efforts, said the order is applying for grants and the nuns are trying to spread the word among the abbey's supporters, but are not disclosing publicly how much they've raised so far.
Unlike some orders, the Abbey of Regina Laudis has retained a steady number of nuns and new postulants, including two starting in the next few weeks — but that can't continue if the housing and other facilities keep eroding with age.

"We have focused on building our community, which has been wonderful, but now it's time that we really have to address our space," said Sister Angele, 63, who left a thriving career of managing opera singers when she was 50 to join the order.

"None of this, not one single thing we're doing, is an extravagance," she said of the upgrades. "It's to make it possible for us to grow, for the elderly among us to live with as much independence as possible and to allow us to live together in surroundings that let us continue our service."

Sister Angele said the nuns are not in any imminent danger of needing to move out, though she acknowledges they'd be in dire straits if they had not anticipated the problems early enough to prepare the upgrade plans and launch the fundraising efforts.

As word has spread of their needs, supporters of the nuns and those who've visited the abbey, prayed in its chapel and picked up items in its gift shop have tried to help in ways of their own.

Liz Carpenter, a Watertown resident who owns the Children's Dance Workshop, said its children have raised $600 to help through a raffle. She's been a grateful supporter since the nuns helped her through a cancer battle about 10 years ago and now volunteers to clean the church once a week.

"I wanted to teach the kids that it's important to give back," she said of their fundraiser, "especially for a place that does as many wonderful things as this one does."

By Stephanie Reitz, Associated Press
Tax-deductible donations to New Horizons may be sent to the Abbey of Regina Laudis, 73 Flanders Road, Bethlehem, Conn., 06751.

The order also plans to soon offer online donation services through its website, www.http://www.abbeyofreginalaudis.com.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
6. Patrap
6:43 PM GMT on December 20, 2011

Yemen and 3 others Growing Fear at Plight of Stranded Ethiopian Migrants in Yemen as Funds to Assist Them Run Out

Report— International Organization for Migration
Yemen - There is growing concern and fear at IOM over the fate of many thousands of Ethiopian migrants stranded for several months in northern Yemen in desperate conditions as funds run out to assist the most vulnerable among them.

Since November 2010, IOM has been providing critical humanitarian assistance including shelter, health care and return and reintegration assistance to thousands of migrants stranded in Yemen who want to return home, with the Organization so far having provided 6,169 Ethiopian migrants with return and reintegration assistance.

IOM operations to assist more migrants would have run out but for some emergency stop-gap funding from Saudia Arabia and Japan which will allow the Organization to help a group to return home to Ethiopia soon.

IOM is urgently appealing to donors to fund an appeal of USD 2.6 million. The funds would allow it to assist 6,000 Ethiopian migrants, many of them unaccompanied minors and women in a highly vulnerable situation from a horrific ordeal that shows no sign of ending without humanitarian intervention.

Nearly 18,300 Ethiopian migrants have been registered in the northern town of Haradh on the border with Saudia Arabia in the past 12 months, many of them migrants returned from Saudia Arabia due to their irregular status.

In addition, 2011 has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Ethiopians arriving in Yemen from the Horn of Africa – up from 34,422 in 2010 to more than 65,000 so far this year. It is likely that about 100,000 Ethiopians and Somalis will have crossed the sea into Yemen by the end of 2011, with many having been driven by the drought and famine that struck the Horn of Africa this year.

In Haradh, the vast majority of the migrants are living in open, unprotected spaces in the urban centre without access to food, water, sanitation, shelter or means to earn money. The long period of instability in Yemen which has had a great impact on the population at large, has further marginalized destitute migrants, made further vulnerable by allegations that they are being recruited by opposing factions to fight.

An IOM departure centre for migrants in Haradh with a maximum capacity of 150 is now hosting 350 migrants, the majority of them unaccompanied minors and medical cases.

Having left their poverty-stricken lives in Ethiopia in search of employment in the Gulf and beyond, Ethiopian migrants embark on a life-threatening journey across the Horn of Africa, through the Gulf of Aden and through conflict-ridden Yemen by using smuggling networks.

Those lucky enough to survive this long, dangerous journey either find themselves stranded at the Saudi border unable to progress further or returned from the Gulf country after having been detained there as irregular migrants and are invariably assaulted by smugglers and traffickers. Women and unaccompanied minors are the most vulnerable as they are often kidnapped, exploited and assaulted by smugglers.

Their exhausting ordeal and that of all the migrants in general means many migrants are suffering from illnesses including diarrheal diseases, malaria, respiratory tract infections, snake bites from sleeping in the open, or are suffering from broken limbs, gunshot wounds and other signs of mistreatment from human traffickers and smugglers. A clinic run by IOM in conjunction with the Yemeni Red Crescent is currently overflowing with severe medical cases with IOM and partners including the Charitable Society for Social Welfare (CSSW) carrying out about 2,300 medical consultations each month.

At least 30 migrants in Haradh have known to have died in the past month, though that figure is likely to be higher as there is no clear data available on the deaths that occur at the border and other areas.

"The situation is dire to the extreme. We need to be able to provide assistance on a much larger scale and to get those migrants who want to return to Ethiopia back to the safety of their homes and families now. We cannot stress enough the urgency of this appeal to donors," says Nicoletta Giordano, IOM Chief of Mission in Yemen.

IOM staff in Yemen say at least 1,000 migrants have been ready to travel immediately for some time and at least another 3,000 keep gathering in front of the IOM centre in Haradh for help, but that the lack of funds has left the Organization hamstrung in the face of such suffering.

Operations to help most of the 1,000 travel-ready migrants return to Ethiopia are due to resume in the coming days. Among the 275 migrants about to leave Haradh are 19 unaccompanied minors as well as eight migrants being given IOM medical escort following the physical torture they endured at the hands of human smugglers.

A further 550 migrants will Haradh in the next couple of weeks after which evacuation funds run out.

It will mean that without a speedy response to IOM's appeal of USD 2.6 million, many thousands of migrants will be left at a great and unacceptable danger.

For further information, please contact:

Brian Wittbold IOM Yemen Tel: + 967 736708812 E-mail: bwittbold@iom.int
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
7:08 PM GMT on December 16, 2011
Ready to roll into 2012!!! Happy Holidays to all those at Portlight and all those who have contributed all efforts this last year!! Let's move foward and continue to make sure that no person affected by disaster is left without assistance.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
4. Patrap
12:38 AM GMT on December 13, 2011
A VA promise: No veteran dies alone

By Bill Whitaker

CBS News) FRESNO, Calif. -- The Department of Veterans Affairs says its mission is "to fulfill President Lincoln's promise ... 'To care for him who shall have borne the battle.' "
At 14 VA hospitals around the country, that includes the special care veterans need when their final battle is coming to an end. CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports.

A flower on the door at the VA hospital in Fresno ... A sign the veteran inside is near the end of life. There's a flower on Richard Murley's door.

"I'm in here for good. They don't know how long," says Murley.

Some 1,800 veterans die at VA facilities each day. Many die alone. Korean War veteran Richard Murley is dying from internal bleeding and his family lives some distance away. Here at the Fresno Veteran Affairs hospital, the staff has made end-of-life care a priority military mission.

The sound of gentle harp music soothes one dying veteran.

"That was beautiful," whispers the dying man.

Volunteers step in when family can't.
"A dignified death is one of the most precious gifts anyone can give," says Dr. Wessel Meyer, chief of the medical staff. He oversees the end-of-life program aptly named "No veteran dies alone."

It's a very important part of the general care offered by the VA, said Dr. Meyer.

"No veteran dies alone" is an all-volunteer effort. Barbara Stadler, a secretary at the VA during the day, donates much of her spare time -- and all of her compassion -- to make sure the veterans here have a human hand to hold till the end.

"Hello Mr. Murley," says Sarah Koser, an environmental engineer at the VA who also volunteers.

"This is a great facility. I guess I'm going to miss it ... Hate leaving it ... When the time comes,'' says Murley.

"We will miss you, too," says Koser, "And remember you."

"I appreciate it," says Murley.

Volunteers dismiss the idea they're doing something extraordinary.

"It's just a person helping another person out. People do remarkable things every day," Koser told Whitaker.

"It's a blessing to be able to sit there with them and let them know they're not forgotten," says Barbara Stadler.

"In the spirit of no man left behind, the 'No veteran dies alone' program really embraces the concept of being there, saying 'Thank you,'" says Dr. Meyer.

Back in Murley's room, Stadler asks him "are you getting sleepy?"

"A little," says Murley. "These last several nights have been really strange and I feel kind of odd ... something's up."

Says Stadler: "Something's up. You're calm. Everything will be the way it's supposed to be, you know that."

"Sure,'' says Murley.

Richard Murley, who served his country as an Army private first class, passed away a few days later.

He was not alone.
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3. Patrap
7:28 PM GMT on November 30, 2011
2. presslord
7:25 PM GMT on November 30, 2011
Tag from the truck which pulls the Portlight Relief TrailerLink
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1. Patrap
3:01 AM GMT on November 28, 2011
A Big "Thank You" to all who make our work possible.

Your gift is their gain.

Happy Holidays

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