He found out his son had cancer. His coworkers answered with unbelievable kindness.

Andreas Graff, a single dad based in Hesse, Germany, faced one of the most difficult decisions of his life when his now-4-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia last year.

Graff's paid time off wasn't nearly enough to accommodate his son's needs, and he feared losing his job — which would put his small family in an even tougher position.

Fortunately, his company's head of human resources worked with senior management and the workers' union to create a voluntary donation pool of other employees' overtime pay.


Remarkably, every single employee — more than 700 of them — contributed to the fund, donating nearly 3,300 hours so Graff could care for his son.

"Without this great support, I would be unemployed," Graff told local German paper Oberhessische Presse.

Photo by Anna Spiess, used with permission.

Family leave laws often can put people in vulnerable positions.

Germany has largely gender neutral laws when it comes to paternity leave. However, those benefits become less clear when a parent needs to take time off to take care of family needs that aren't directly related to childbirth.

In the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires that some employers allow certain employees to take up to 12 weeks off in a 12-month period for family and medical emergencies. However, that time off is unpaid.

Qualifying employers can't fire an employee during this period, but they aren't required to give them the same position when they return to the job. Some jobs let you combine paid time off (vacation, sick days, etc.) for family emergencies, but employers aren't required by law to do so.

Some states, like California, provide more generous paid time off laws, but even those are fairly limited.

Management and the workers union came together to find a solution this time — which is all too rare.

The voluntary donation system at Graff's job may have been the first of its kind. It's not uncommon for coworkers or communities to raise funds for a friend in need. But the direct pooling and transferring of employee benefits from a group to an individual is newsworthy both for the kindness involved and for the unique approach the company took.

Graff's personal challenges grew only more complicated after he lost his wife to heart disease in 2017. Compounding his family leave with bereavement time would have made his vulnerable situation all the more perilous. The extra time off donated by his colleagues has allowed him to spend more than a year away knowing he'll have his full job and benefits once he returns to work.

"The reaction of our employees was incredible," Seidel human resources head Pia Meier told the paper. "There is no one who has not donated."

Photo by Anna Spiess.

Graff's situation shows the generosity of people but also the need for better family leave laws around the world.

The example set by Graff's coworkers, and his company's management, shows the best of people coming together to help another person struggling through a crisis.

However, his story is still an exception to the rule that most workplaces are not prepared to respond when someone faces a serious illness or a family emergency at home. Until more sustainable family leave policies become the norm, the responsibility will continue to fall on the generosity and ingenuity of those like Graff's company and coworkers.

True

In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

ZACHOR Foundation

"What's 'the Holocaust'?" my 11-year-old son asks me. I take a deep breath as I gauge how much to tell him. He's old enough to understand that prejudice can lead to hatred, but I can't help but feel he's too young to hear about the full spectrum of human horror that hatred can lead to.

I wrestle with that thought, considering the conversation I recently had with Ben Lesser, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor who was just a little younger than my son when he witnessed his first Nazi atrocity.

It was September of 1939 and the Blitzkrieg occupation of Poland had just begun. Ben, his parents, and his siblings were awakened in their Krakow apartment by Nazi soldiers who pistol-whipped them out of bed and ransacked their home. As the men with the shiny black boots filled burlap sacks with the Jewish family's valuables, a scream came from the apartment across the hall. Ben and his sister ran toward the cry.

They found a Nazi swinging their neighbors' baby upside down by its legs, demanding that the baby's mother make it stop crying. As the parents screamed, "My baby! My baby!" the Nazi smirked—then swung the baby's head full force into the door frame, killing it instantly.

This story and others like it feel too terrible to tell my young son, too out of context from his life of relative safety and security. And yet Ben Lesser lived it at my son's age. And it was too terrible—for anyone, much less a 10-year-old. And it was also completely out of context from the life of relative safety and security Ben and his family had known before the Nazi tanks rolled in.

Keep Reading Show less
True

In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

With many schools going virtual, many daycare facilities being closed or limited, and millions of parents working from home during the pandemic, the balance working moms have always struggled to achieve has become even more challenging in 2020. Though there are more women in the workforce than ever, women still take on the lion's share of household and childcare duties. Moms also tend to bear the mental load of keeping track of all the little details that keep family life running smoothly, from noticing when kids are outgrowing their clothing to keeping track of doctor and dentist appointments to organizing kids' extracurricular activities.

It's a lot. And it's a lot more now that we're also dealing with the daily existential dread of a global pandemic, social unrest, political upheaval, and increasingly intense natural disasters.

That's why scientist Gretchen Goldman's refreshingly honest photo showing where and how she conducted a CNN interview is resonating with so many.

Keep Reading Show less
via State of Deleware

Same-sex marriage is legal in America and these days 63% of all Americans support the idea. Ten years ago, it was still a controversial issue among Democrats, but in 2019, 79% say they support same-sex marriage.

The issue played a big role in the Democratic primary for the Delaware's House of Representatives 27th district race. On September 15, Eric Morrison defeated incumbent Earl Jacques in a landslide and gay rights was a central issue.

In 2013, Jaques voted against same-sex marriage and refused to vote yes or no on banning gay conversion therapy in the state. On the other hand, Morrison is a gay drag queen who performs under the name Anita Mann and is very progressive on LGBTQ issues.

Keep Reading Show less