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This woman sold $20,000 worth of stationery, and it's helping women everywhere.

Your next calendar could do so much more than tell you what day it is.

This woman sold $20,000 worth of stationery, and it's helping women everywhere.
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Facebook #SheMeansBusiness

For Lauren Shuttleworth, the mission of her social enterprise, Words With Heart, is — well — close to her heart.

"I was volunteering at a school in Kenya a couple of years ago and was hugely affected by the number of girls I saw dropping out of school simply because they were unable to afford the school fees," she told Upworthy in an email.

She wanted to find a way to "provide a sustainable funding source to see these women and girls through school." So she came up with Words With Heart, an eco-friendly stationery company that also funds women's and girls education projects.


Image via Words with Heart, used with permission.

Why girls' education?

Image via iStock.

Over 60 million girls across the world are out of school.


Image via iStock.

Two-thirds of the world's illiterate population are women.

Image via iStock.

Just one additional year of school can increase a girl’s earnings by 10% to 20%.

Image via iStock.

And when 10% more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases by 3%.

Convinced? Lauren's future customers were.

After Lauren came up with the idea for Words With Heart, she set off to start a crowdfunding campaign.

A photo posted by Words With Heart Stationery (@wordswithheart) on

They needed to pre-sell at least $15,000 of stationery to get things off the ground. She started a Facebook page and began sharing videos and posts of Words With Heart's crowdfunding campaign.

After 30 days, due in large part to the connections made through Facebook, Words with Heart had pre-sold $20,000 worth of stationery.

Image via Words with Heart, used with permission.

Lauren has come out on the other end of her enterprise with some great tips for anyone starting their own thing.

1. Reach out for help.

"One of the biggest lessons I've learned is the importance of reaching out and connecting with those that can help your business. Its amazing how much support will come your way if you simply ask for it."

A photo posted by Words With Heart Stationery (@wordswithheart) on


2. Tell your own story.

"I've also learned that being authentic, transparent and telling your personal story goes a long way. ... I quickly realised that on the occasions when I shared a bit of my story on our Facebook page, our sales always went up."

A photo posted by Words With Heart Stationery (@wordswithheart) on


3. Remember your "why."

"When things get hard go back to your WHY. When I make a mistake or something goes wrong (which happens A LOT) I go back to my passion for womens' and girls' education. I'll read the stories from our charity partners and remember the reason why I started the business and what its really all about for me."

In love with with this image from our incredible charity partner @onegirlorg. They're currently recruiting for 200 passionate, committed ambassadors to join them in leading a movement in girls education. Check out all the deets via www.onegirl.org.au/ambassador 💪💃📓
A photo posted by Words With Heart Stationery (@wordswithheart) on


For Lauren, the why is crystal clear. As she puts it,

"Life for a girl receiving an education is filled with opportunity. These girls will live longer, healthier lives, get married later, have fewer, healthier children, and earn more than they would have without an education."


Image via iStock

Words With Heart is currently funding primary and secondary education projects (along with some small business training) in Cambodia, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

Working alongside charity partners such as OneGirl.org.au, and Care.org.au, each stationary product funds a specific number of education days for women and girls in the developing world. Each product shows where its funding goes and how many days of education your money will buy!

Words with Heart wants to fund 500,000 education days by the end of 2016. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling like I might need a notebook.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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