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March 25, 2013

The New Change Agents

Meet the next generation of social activists — young, passionate, and powered by Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, and you.

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Photo Credit: Jeff Riedel

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IT'S EASIER TO make a difference than ever before. Thanks to social media, anyone with Wi-Fi and a Twitter handle can change the world. "Social media is creating this new breed of activists," says Amanda Rose, a Toronto-based digital strategist who created Twestival, an international day of volunteering. "It empowers people who didn't think they had that kind of voice." Here, six women who used their digital savvy, online networks, and passion for a cause to inspire others to take action.

KIM SHAMOUN

37, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

CAUSE: Hurricane Sandy relief

TWITTER: @BKGIRLSGIVEBACK

FACEBOOK PAGE: Giving Back to Those Affected by Sandy

AUDIENCE: 4,418 Facebook likes

IMPACT: Connected thousands of storm victims with services and volunteers

Backstory: When Hurricane Sandy battered the East Coast last October, Kim Shamoun was in her dry apartment in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, fielding frantic texts. Her brother in nearby Sheepshead Bay had just watched his car float away. Friends in another area had escaped flooded homes. Shamoun, a dental hygienist, felt helpless.

Action plan: The next morning, Shamoun created a Facebook page, which she called Giving Back to Those Affected by Sandy. Her message was simple: Tell me your location and need, and I'll find someone to help you.

Results: That first day, 200 people posted on the page, which soon became a clearinghouse of information for storm victims and volunteers. An elderly woman stranded in the Rockaways in Queens was reunited with her family through the page. Another woman found her missing dog. By the end of the first week, 10 women were helping Shamoun operate the page, using a Twitter handle (@BKGIRLSGIVEBACK) to reach a wider audience.

Today: Sandy victims still use the page to get help. "We're far from over," Shamoun says.


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