04/10/2013 02:33 pm ET Updated Jun 10, 2013

What's Working?

We are all too aware of what's not working. A constant barrage of bad news greets us daily. Unemployment. Financial collapse. Health care woes. Scandals. Political games. Climate Change. Corruption. Greed. Abuse. War. Now, more than ever before, we crave meaning and substance. We need to know what is working.

Turns out, the U.S. is the most philanthropic community on the planet. Europe and Asia are only beginning to understand our culture of giving, and giving back. And statistics show women are the most involved when it comes to charitable giving and volunteer activity.

In this blog, "What's Working?" I profile the individuals, corporations and non-profits/NGO's who are change agents in their community, their country and in our world. These examples inspire us, as readers, to take action and instill a greater sense of optimism in our future. There is so much that is working. Let's rejoice in this news.

Elizabeth Alderman, Stay At Home Mother, President of the Peter C. Alderman Foundation.

September 11. No one will forget where they were on that date, least of all Liz Alderman. Liz lost her youngest son Peter in the Twin Towers. After nine months of bed-ridden grief, Liz decided that she had to do something. At her kitchen table, with no knowledge of the non-profit world or significant resources to back her, she created the Peter C. Alderman Foundation (PCAF). PCAF builds clinics and trains indigenous clinicians around the world to treat those suffering from the aftermath of violence and terrorism. Now partnered with Harvard Medical School, PCAF is about to open its 10th clinic in Sierra Leone. Liz had a choice. Stay in bed, wallow in her grief for the rest of her life or take a horrific event and turn the hurt into the well-being for thousands of others around the world.

Maggie Doyne, New Jersey college student, Founder of Kopila Valley Children's Home in Nepal.

Maggie took a gap year, and ended up in a Himalayan village. There she bonded with a small local girl and decided to pay for her education ($7 for fees, $8 for a uniform). Maggie became addicted. If she could do it for one, why not more? Soon she had her parents wire her baby-sitting money saved while in high school. Since that time she has raised thousands of dollars more. The Kopila Valley Children's Home opened with 220 students and will soon expand to 300. She offers the children health care and dental care, too. Maggie could have left the village, returned to the United States and forgotten about the hundreds of needy children she'd met. But she didn't.

Brian Hansen, Father, Entreprenuer, CEO Smith Electric Vehicles

Smith Electric Vehicles (SEV) has a long history of reliability and success in Europe. Brian, an innovative thinker and entrepreneur, brought SEV know -- how to the United States to produce the first zero emissions commercial trucks in our nation. This means 75 percent reduced fuel usage than a traditional diesel-powered commercial vehicle. And with zero emissions, anyone who has driven behind a truck lately can appreciate this remarkable improvement on a personal and global level. As an added benefit SEV are quiet -- gone is the rumble of big diesel, and with a simpler engine there's less maintenance, saving businesses down time and repair costs. Brian exemplifies the American can-do spirit by making changes that improve our economy and our world.

Social norms are powerful. If we want people to do something, we first look to what others are doing before taking action. So what are you doing?