Deseret News best of 2012: Care for the poor

Published: Thursday, Dec. 27 2012 12:28 a.m. MST

Tom Smart, Deseret News

I am a matchmaker at heart. As a child I was fascinated by the character of Yente from "Fiddler on the Roof." At family gatherings I paired up siblings and cousins and presided over make-believe mass wedding ceremonies to rival those of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon. In college, numerous futile efforts were made to line people up. And during my first year of marriage I spent considerable time and relationship capital in unsuccessful attempts to convince my husband that setting up his single friends with my single friends was a good idea.


So thwarted, I’ve been forced to make peace with the fact that my contribution to the world probably won’t be as a marriage broker. Instead, I play matchmaker in my job as the Deseret News' "Care for the Poor" reporter. I scour the Internet for people and ideas that have the potential to change the world in some way, large or small, and connect them to an audience hungry for ways to do good.


Take, for example, Nancy Rivard, a flight attendant working to stop human trafficking. While the airlines are aware of this problem, they aren’t teaching employees how to deal with the situation. Using her vacation days, Ms. Rivard travels the country teaching other flight attendants how to recognize and report human trafficking.


Although this story was published months ago, I continue to receive emails from people around the world who want to participate in Ms. Rivard’s seminars, help expand her reach, and share their observations and feelings about this modern form of slavery.


The world is full of people like Rivard who are trying to make this world a better, safter place for the poor and vulnerable. New technology created by the nonprofit group One Laptop per Child gives children without access to school or teachers opportunities to learn. Students at Stanford University developed a low-cost incubator that can save the lives of hundreds and thousands of children in the developing world who die simply because their parents don't have a way to keep them warm.


Society is bound together by the ideas and stories that we share. One of the roles of a reporter is to participate in making these connections. For an incurable matchmaker like me, this is a pretty great gig.

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