In 1992, at age 14, Holly Austin Smith became the victim of a child sex trafficker.  She got to know the man while hanging out in her local New Jersey shopping mall. Over time, he convinced her that he could help her become a model and actress.  The youngster naively believed him, ran away from home, and was forced to work as a prostitute. Smith was soon rescued by a policeman who saw she was underage.  She is now a… Read more

Will Jimeno, a former Port Authority police officer, was one of the last people pulled out alive from the rubble of New York’s Twin Towers after their fatal collapse on September 11, 2001.  In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Jimeno was honored at Citi Field during a Mets-Marlins game. Jimeno was trapped under the tower rubble for over 10 hours before he was rescued. It took him three years to recover from severe muscle and nerve damage, but… Read more

Mohamed Sanu, a rising college football star at Rutgers University in New Jersey, credits his mother, Aminata Koroma, for providing an example of strong moral character.  Koroma left war-torn Sierra Leone in 1975 to pursue a better life in the United States.  She became a successful businesswoman, and gave birth to Sanu in 1989.  Years later, Aminata felt called to return to Sierra Leone to help her people there.  Sanu remained behind in the U.S., cared for by his older… Read more

In 2007, Gretchen Holt-Witt of Califon, New Jersey, was a working mother of two when she learned that her two-year-old son, Liam, had cancer.  Though the war on cancer has received a lot of publicity, potential cures for childhood cancers have received little funding, so the boy’s treatment options were limited. Holt-Witt decided to make a small effort that would help raise money for pediatric cancer research: she would bake and sell cookies through a website that a friend created… Read more

In today’s Facebook and Twitter-driven world, most of us are familiar with the online realm of social networking.  But how many of us seek to form close ties at church? If we haven’t tried to make friends at our houses of worship, research shows we should.  Studies by Harvard professors Robert D. Putnam and Chaeyoon Lim indicate “the more church friends a person has, the happier he or she is.” “Church friends are super-charged friends, but we have no idea… Read more

Joe Binder hasn’t let age slow him down a bit. The 102-year-old works as the booth attendant at Mario’s Restaurant in the Bronx, just renewed his driver’s license, and loves to go dancing. “My secret?” Binder told the New York Post. “I’ve been very nice to people in my life.   I got hurt along the way, but I turn the other cheek and forgive those who have wronged me.” He has many fond memories, ranging from watching returning World War… Read more

Completing one’s education can be a challenging but fulfilling endeavor.  A selection from My Orthodox Prayer Book offers hardworking students some much-needed spiritual comfort on their individual academic journeys: “Christ my Lord, the Giver of light and wisdom, who opened the eyes of the blind man and transformed the fishermen into wise heralds and teachers of the gospel; through the coming of the Holy Spirit, shine also in my mind the light of the grace of the Holy Spirit. “Grant… Read more

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was an outspoken advocate for peace throughout her life.  She realized that to create peace in the world, it has to start close to home. In her book No Greater Love, Mother Teresa writes, “If we really want peace for the world, let us start by loving one another within our own families…We must love those who are nearest to us, in our own family.  From there love spreads toward whoever may need us. “It… Read more

Baseball fans know Clayton Kershaw as a gifted young pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  But those who read a report by Karen Crouse in The New York Times know that he returned from a visit to the African nation of Zambia as a man forever changed. Kershaw can thank his wife, Ellen, for the trip. As a college student, she had been to Zambia, and was taken by the plight of the orphans she met—victims of the AIDS epidemic… Read more

Raul Bravo was a failing high school student who wasn’t going to class. He even thought about dropping out of school and following his friends, who were making fast money dealing drugs in his Chicago neighborhood. Then he met automotive teacher Clairene Terry. Although counselors warned her about Bravo, she thought, “I’ll take a shot at it.”  She watched him do nothing during the first weeks of class, and then gave him an ultimatum: “Do what you said you would… Read more

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