Making a difference

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Goal Line
GOAL LINE FILM

Goal Line

Directed by Stephanie Wang-Breal
 
John Shinsky was raised in an orphanage, but his gifts on the football field led him to an education and a better life. Now he and his wife Cindy are giving back by running a home in Mexico that provides other children with the same opportunities.

View From the Top

Leslie Crus Vazquez: I met John and Cindy Shinsky at the City of Children’s home in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. When we met I was 14 years old. When I first arrived at the City of Children’s home in Matamoros, I felt very nervous because I had never been in a place like this. But they treated me like one of their daughters without knowing my story and without knowing who I was.

Leslie Crus Vazquez: He told us he was also an orphan. And despite being an orphan and living in a children’s home, he was able to be successful. I learned what it means to be share, to live together, and most importantly, what it means to be a family.

Leslie Crus Vazquez: I think that if they had not built the home in Matamoros, I wouldn’t be here, and who knows what my life would be like?

John Shinksy: I know what it feels like to be abandoned.

John Shinksy: I know what it feels like to not be accepted.

John Shinksy: And for our children to be in those kinds of situations and to know that both Cindy and I can not only give them a home, but to be able to give them a family of someone who loves them and cares for them, it's the most beautiful thing in the world.

GOAL LINE a film by Stephanie Wang Breal TIAA 100 Years Celebrating the difference makers who are shaping the next century.

John Shinksy: Football changed me in many, many different ways.

John Shinksy: First of all, it became my family.

John Shinksy: My name is John Shinsky.

John Shinksy: I got started in football

John Shinksy: In a little league program when I went to my foster family's home, outside of Cleveland, Ohio.

John Shinksy: My junior year in high school, I started excelling in sports.

John Shinksy: I was receiving letters from various universities that were interested in me, and then, in my senior year, I received a full football scholarship.

Teammate: Every time he stepped on the field, every time he put on his pads, every time he went through any drill or element of the game, he was always totally committed to that particular activity that we were doing. This, this big, tough guy, had the biggest heart and was concerned about everybody, and a tremendous teammate.

John Shinksy: This is, this is Parmadale, the orphanage that I went to.

John Shinksy: We all lived together in one floor.

John Shinksy: It was just a whole different culture.

John Shinksy: Toughest kid ruled, you followed the rules, you did what you needed to do.

John Shinksy: But at the same time, you know, I ended up making friends with a lot of these guys here.

John Shinksy: I was born in Lorain, Ohio on November fifth, 1951.

John Shinksy: At age eight, my father passed away, and at that time, that was quite challenging for me.

John Shinksy: But even the more challenging thing that happened was,

John Shinksy: I lost my entire family, because at that point, my mother couldn't take care of me.

John Shinksy: One day, my mom told me that there's going to be a couple of guys picking me up and taking me to a place to stay for a while.

John Shinksy: And there were two men, they came and got me, and I had a little luggage, and I got in the car, and drove away, and that was it.

John Shinksy: When I turned eighteen, I went back to Lorain, Ohio and knocked on my house door to re-meet my mom.

John Shinksy: And I said, "Mom, I need to ask you a question."

John Shinksy: And then I said, "Why did you give me up?"

John Shinksy: And she said, "I gave you up because I loved you more than I loved myself."

John Shinksy: The sacrifice that my mom made to give me up so that I could have a better life really makes this special.

John Shinksy: It isn't something you could script out.

John Shinksy: It's just the way my life unfolded.

John Shinksy: If you're in a good place where you are today, and you've been able to not only become somebody of value but also be able to make contributions with your life, then everything that happened during your life during that time contributed to it, as happy or as sad as it is.

John Shinksy: Oh!

John Shinksy: I chose to go back down to Parmadale, the orphanage, because I wanted to see where I came from.

John Shinksy: I said, "Dear God, I've been so blessed, to be able to have a college degree, to be able to play football, to be able to now be employed."

John Shinksy: I said, "Someday I want to be able to build a home for kids just like me."

Cindy Shinksy: When John told me he wanted to open an orphanage, quite frankly, I thought he was a little crazy.

Cindy Shinksy: But he was very persistent, and it was, you know, "Someday I'm going to open an orphanage."

John Shinksy: I was doing some consulting in Texas, and I sat next to a young man on a plane, and I said,

John Shinksy: "What are you doing?" "Oh," he says, "I'm going on spring break, and I'm going to work at this orphanage down in Mexico."

Cindy Shinksy: John said to the young man, "Send me some pictures, send me some information about it."

John Shinksy: I went down and visited that orphanage, and as I was talking to the people, I said to them,

John Shinksy:"What can I do to help you?"

John Shinksy:And they said, "We need a new orphanage."

John Shinksy:And when they said that, I knew that was the calling.

Multiple Children: Home to me is… A blanket to cover myself. Family. Security. Love. Responsibility and work. Home is about sharing it with others. Home is a place where you can be with your family. Home is our family, it’s not just a house. It’s everything we have.

Cindy Shinksy: There's always a constant struggle with getting enough resources to fund the orphanage.

Cindy Shinksy: TIAA has done a wonderful job of helping my husband and I invest our money in a way that we can help fund the orphanage into perpetuity.

John Shinksy: I tell our children every time I see them that education is the equalizer for them.

John Shinksy: They've had challenges in their life, but by having a quality education, that equalizes them to their peers.

John Shinksy: Our children at the orphanage understand that we're not just investing into them for today, we're investing into them for tomorrow, and that they're going to get good quality education, they're going to be able to get jobs, they're going to become productive citizens, and they're ultimately going to contribute back to the orphanage and contribute back to helping children just like them.

This article describes the opinion and experience of one individual. It may not be representative of other TIAA customers and is not indicative of future performance or success. Individual experiences will vary.

Investment, insurance and annuity products are not FDIC insured, are not bank guaranteed, are not bank deposits, are not insured by any federal government agency, are not a condition to any banking service or activity, and may lose value.

TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Teachers Personal Investors Services, Inc., and Nuveen Securities, LLC, Members FINRA and SIPC, distribute securities products. Annuity contracts and certificates are issued by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) and College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF), New York, NY. Each is solely responsible for its own financial condition and contractual obligations.

©2017 Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund, 730 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017

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Dog Years
Dog years film

Dog Years

Directed by Yoruba Richen
 
Dr. Nicola Mason is using a vaccine that helps dogs’ own immune systems fight back against cancer, adding years to their lives. She’s hoping that the same treatment can help children as well.

View From the Top

 Dr. Nicola Mason
When did I know I wanted to be a veterinarian? Probably when I was about six or seven. And I've never thought of doing anything else. I always blame my parents, because we were never allowed any animals. You know, when you're not allowed something you always want it.

Title
DOG YEARS

Caption
A film by YORUBA RICHEN

Title
TIAA 100 YEARS / Celebrating the difference makers who are shaping the next century

Dr. Nicola Mason
My name is Nicola Mason, I'm an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Nicola Mason to dog
Shall we? Shall we?

Dr. Nicola Mason
I run a translational research laboratory, which focuses on cancer immunotherapies, novel treatments to stimulate the immune system to target cancers. And our patient population are mostly dogs.

Dr. Nicola Mason
And the idea is that, not only can we help dogs with cancer, but we can actually spin some of these trials now around to actually help humans with the same types of cancer.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
How are you doing?

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
Good how are you?

Dr. Nicola Mason to Dexter
Hi, big man, how are you? Hello, how are you? Look, he's got his new shoes on.

Administrator to Dr. Nicola Mason
This is Dexter?

Dr. Nicola Mason
It is, yes.

Administrator
So, this is just the tag for Dexter.

Dr. Nicola Mason
Excellent. Thank you.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
What's he got in here?

Prakash Melvani
[Laughs]

Dr. Nicola Mason
Here we go! [Laughs] Who's this?

Prakash Melvani, Dexter's Owner, New Haven, CT
We discovered that Dexter had cancer when we came back from a walk and he had exhibited a bit of a limp.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
Activity level, how's he doing with that?

Prakash Melvani
He always was very active. So we thought maybe it's a torn ACL or something like that.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
Three miles a day?

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
Yeah. Two and a half to three a day.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
Okay.

Dr. Nicola Mason
So he was diagnosed with a very aggressive bone cancer called osteosarcoma. And that was in his right hind leg. And the course of action is amputation, and then follow-up chemotherapy. And even with that, the survival times are about a year.

Prakash Melvani
You know, animals, they become part of your family. So, it was devastating. The outlook was pretty bleak at the time. Do you want to put your dog through an amputation, through all that, and still have only the same amount of time? One day, when I was waiting in the waiting room, they told us that there was a clinical trial going on for osteosarcoma.

Dr. Nicola Mason
The biggest issue, as there is with many of these types of cancers, is that whilst you can get rid of the primary tumor, the problem is the metastatic disease, the cells that have already peeled off the tumor and have gone around the body and are hiding somewhere. And those are the cells that are going to be responsible for relapse, and for cancer elsewhere. The idea of this new immunotherapy is to educate the patient's immune system to actually go and find those tumor cells, recognize them, and then specifically eliminate them. Then the patient should be, ideally, cancer-free.

Prakash Melvani
Every time you're down here for a check-up, you're hoping for the best. And he cleared six months, twelve months, eighteen months. And then he just kept going.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
And he's eleven now?

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
He'll be eleven in January. Christmas Eve will be his five years out.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
Five year "ampuversary." Yeah. No coughing?

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
No.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
No sneezing?

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
No.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
No problems in terms of him being painful anywhere else?

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
No. Part of it is that we check every morning to make sure that all his joints are fine, his spine is fine. He is getting old because, you can see he is getting grumpier as well.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
[Laughs] Getting grumpy!

Dr. Nicola Mason
This is a disease that we see relatively frequently in large and giant-breed dogs like this chap here. But we tend to see it in dogs that are older. And that's actually in contrast to the human situation, where we tend to see this type of tumor in children.

Dr. Nicola Mason
Osteosarcoma in dogs is almost identical to the cancer in children in every way: how it behaves, how it spreads, how it responds to certain chemotherapies. So, we really believe that with these very positive responses we're seeing in the dog, we might be able to translate that over into children. And that would be incredibly important.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Dexter
Come on, then, let's go!

Female Tech
He's a brave Dexter!

Dr. Nicola Mason to Dexter
Stay, stay.

Dr. Nicola Mason
Each patient is telling you something. Luke was a non-amputated dog, survived two and a half years. Scarlet was one of the first dogs on the amputated trial, bless her. She didn't do very well.

Dr. Nicola Mason
Forty to fifty thousand dogs in the United States a year will get osteosarcoma. And that's in stark contrast, fortunately, to children, where we're looking at maybe about eight hundred. It's difficult to study rare or orphan diseases. So that's where this whole idea of "One Medicine, One Health" is important, because we can run these trials in dogs that desperately need new therapies, and we have plenty of these dogs coming in. There's been renewed interest in this idea of "One Health," this idea that we can learn from each other, and if we do learn from each other, we can move forward faster in both human and veterinary medicine. And that's really what we're sort of living every day here.

Allie Lockhart, Research Assistant, Penn Vet
It's breakthrough stuff that we're doing here. There's not very many labs that are doing this kind of thing. And we're seeing results. We're seeing them live out much longer than expected.

Caption
Dr. Mason's groundbreaking trials have generated excitement among researchers developing cancer immunotherapies in both canine and human patients.

Dr. Nicola Mason
I feel very privileged to do what I do. Being here at Penn, I only have to walk a hundred yards, and I can be amongst the major players in cancer immunotherapy in the world.

Yvonne Paterson, Ph.D, Professor of Microbiology, UPenn
I think it's very innovative. She must be in the top five percent, I would think, in the country, in terms of having the wherewithal to do this kind of work and to really be innovative and make a difference.

Dr. Nicola Mason
Certainly, having that job security, financial security, is really important. You know, I can focus on what I do every day and what I love to do, and Penn and TIAA can take care of everything else. And I don't have to worry about it.

Dr. Nicola Mason
This looks pretty good.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
So, we have his results back from his radiographs, and it's good news. We don't see any evidence of spread of the cancer into his chest.

Dr. Nicola Mason
When they get onto these trials, the owners, they come here and they have some hope.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
I'm very, very pleased with him. We're five years out now, and things look really very good.

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
Excellent.

Dr. Nicola Mason to Prakash Melvani
Good news.

Prakash Melvani to Dr. Nicola Mason
Thank you.

Prakash Melvani
Working with Dr. Mason has been great the whole time. Dexter is living life as if he had never lost a leg. That's all we can ask for.

[music]

This article describes the opinion and experience of one individual. It may not be representative of other TIAA customers and is not indicative of future performance or success. Individual experiences will vary.

Investment, insurance and annuity products are not FDIC insured, are not bank guaranteed, are not bank deposits, are not insured by any federal government agency, are not a condition to any banking service or activity, and may lose value.

TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Teachers Personal Investors Services, Inc., and Nuveen Securities, LLC, Members FINRA and SIPC, distribute securities products. Annuity contracts and certificates are issued by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) and College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF), New York, NY. Each is solely responsible for its own financial condition and contractual obligations.

©2017 Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund, 730 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017

326498
Against the Tide
Against the tide film

Against the Tide

Directed by Michèle Stephenson
 
Jennifer Bolstad and Walter Meyer are using innovative design principles to protect and improve hurricane-ravaged communities in places like New York City and Puerto Rico.

View From the Top

[music]

Caption
Puerto Rico / 7 weeks since Hurricane Maria.

Caption
Over 50% of the island is still without power.

Walter Meyer
We are here in Aguadilla airport. A charter flight came in with 2,125 panels for our effort with Resilient Power Puerto Rico to bring free solar systems to the most needy communities on the island. We have raised nearly half a million dollars in cash donations, and a little more than half a million dollars in raw material donations.

Walter Meyer
Every layer of culture and governance on the island is talking about solar in the future. All the politics aside for a second, let's focus on a visionary thing.

Title
AGAINST THE TIDE

Caption
A film by MICHÈLE STEPHENSON

Title
TIAA 100 YEARS / Celebrating the difference makers who are shaping the next century

Caption
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Walter Meyer, reads
"And he had a big hurricane. There was no windows, and he was blown away."

Caption
Walter Meyer and Jennifer Bolstad are an urban designer and landscape architect who focus on sustainable and resilient design in coastal communities.

Walter Meyer
Let's see. See those strawberries? How many do you count?

Walter Meyer
In high school I went through the eye of Hurricane Andrew in South Florida. I ended up, you know, in the bathroom with my brother and sister with mattresses covering us, and the house was breathing in and out and about to explode. My sister's best friend at 12, she lost her life that night. After living through it, you don't want people to be affected by them as bad. Maybe it's a form of therapy, to like, minimize or at least share knowledge of, you know, here's what's gonna happen next and here's what to expect.

Speaker at Rally
Five years have come and gone since hurricane Sandy. We remember those who died and so many who lost everything.

Walter Meyer
We know the weather is changing, we know the sea level is rising. This year we had category five storms, back to back. The federal funds are on their way out. So it depends on the community to lead with political will. Thanks for your time, guys.

Crowd
Rockaway strong, Rockaway resilient! Rockaway strong, Rockaway resilient!

Walter Meyer
These dunes were artificially constructed. We organized with Army Corps of Engineers to increase the volume of sand and plant them out. But they're only one part of a multi-layered system to protect the neighborhood. You need groynes, and you need reefs offshore, and this multi-layered system is the only way to manage the vulnerability that exists out here.

Jennifer Bolstad
Thinking about how green technologies can show a better return on your investment than building in traditional ways, it's been the work of this practice, you know, ever since Walter and I met each other. We've been really lucky. We've basically been able to craft our dream jobs for ourselves.

Walter Meyer
Whether it's government contracts that shape the city's future for sea level rise, or buildings gardens that protect residents that can't afford gardens, doing the projects that pay the bills allows us to do the projects that really matter, from the ground up.

Jennifer Bolstad
This idea about the preserve actually just being, like, hands off nature...

Jennifer Bolstad
Teaching will always be something that we balance into the mix. Knowing that we have that stable source of income has allowed us to take the kind of risks that we have. You know, added into that is that I'm a nine-year breast cancer survivor, so you know, that adds to our financial worries. So knowing that we have access to resources and advisors through TIAA has been a big burden off of us.

Student
This is where I've started to build the moment where the architecture here starts moving into the nature preserve.

Jennifer Bolstad
We've run the studio every year in this format where we take a project that's actually ongoing in our office and let the students come up with their own agenda.

Walter Meyer
One of the larger projects is redesigning a whole new neighborhood in New York City. This is right on the beach. It's in Rockaway, and it's a public-private partnership. So we've been master-planning this neighborhood.

Alexis Smallwood, Community Organizer, Far Rockaway, New York
I actually live in that tall building right there, this is Arverne View. When Sandy happened, I left, and we didn't return until a year later. It was like a war zone here. Like, you would have thought that we had had a war.

Walter Meyer
We worked on that project. See the solar on the roof?

Alexis Smallwood
Yes, I remember we all advocated for that, Rockaway Wildfire and the Upward Coalition.

Walter Meyer
Yeah, you guys were awesome.

Alexis Smallwood
Walter and Jennifer helped do the green resiliency planning, and the new developments coming up in Rockaway. Them being a part of the projects makes it better, because we want somebody that's going to be involved and invested.

Jennifer Bolstad
The expertise that's inherent in just living in a community for a few years, a few generations, that in itself is equally valuable to the design process.

Alexis Smallwood
A lot of the tenants don't know that this is government money to help resiliency. They think that it's being beautified for other people to come in here and think that it's so beautiful and wonderful, but they don't realize that it's here to save our lives.

Walter Meyer
Post-Sandy, the amount of need in Rockaway was really vast, and so we just went back and started fundraising and getting as much money as we could. Starting with 30,000 and then ending up with 3 million from the city of New York to, you know, deliver solar for free in Rockaway to underserved areas.

Jennifer Bolstad
Which helps them recoup their financial losses from Sandy, but then hopefully also helps them to grow their business and reinvest those resources in the community and continue to help.

Caption
PUERTO RICO

Caption
CIMA HOSPITAL, ISABELA

Caption
Gisselle Van Derdys / Hospital Administrator

Gisselle Van Derdys (In Spanish)
Since the hurricane, we have had to close the department for 40 days due to lack of power. The hospital runs on an electric generator but every time it needed maintenance, we couldn't see patients and had to close the emergency room. If the generator breaks, we'd have to shut the hospital down. That's not an option for us.

Walter Meyer
So, what we're doing is powering the emergency room. Things like the dialysis fridge, some of the smaller x-ray machines, the computers, the communications. This is the only stable, uninterruptible power. Once we set this up, we can generate thirty years of power for the emergency room.

Caption
THE ROCKAWAYS, NEW YORK

Walter Meyer
So, this was the height of the water in Hurricane Sandy. And so, this whole neighborhood was all this height. So every single house was about five or six feet under water. So, we are slowly repairing, five years later, one paycheck at a time.

Walter Meyer
Do you see the water?

Elias Meyer
Yeah.

Walter Meyer
'Cause we elevated it up, and now it will protect us, when there's a hurricane and there's a surge.

Elias
It will protect us when there's a hurricane and a surge?

Walter Meyer
Yeah.

Walter Meyer
I think everyone at some point will deal with these disturbances, because they are coming more frequent and they are the new normal. You don't want people to be catastrophically impacted, economically or emotionally. Being resilient is helping people to build forward after these disturbances.

[music]

This article describes the opinion and experience of one individual. It may not be representative of other TIAA customers and is not indicative of future performance or success. Individual experiences will vary.

Investment, insurance and annuity products are not FDIC insured, are not bank guaranteed, are not bank deposits, are not insured by any federal government agency, are not a condition to any banking service or activity, and may lose value.

TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC, Teachers Personal Investors Services, Inc., and Nuveen Securities, LLC, Members FINRA and SIPC, distribute securities products. Annuity contracts and certificates are issued by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA) and College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF), New York, NY. Each is solely responsible for its own financial condition and contractual obligations.

©2017 Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund, 730 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017

320529
More stories

Real people, Real change

In honor of TIAA’s 100th anniversary, we are recognizing customers who inspire us. These are just a few of the many customers working to bring about real, lasting change in the world.
The articles/stories describe the circumstances and experiences of a specific participant from one or more of the companies in the TIAA organization (“TIAA”). It may not be representative of other TIAA customers and is not indicative of future performance or success. Individual results and experiences will vary.
This material is for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation or investment advice in connection with a distribution, transfer or rollover, a purchase or sale of securities or other investment property, or the management of securities or other investments, including the development of an investment strategy or retention of an investment manager or advisor. This material does not take into account any specific objectives or circumstances of any particular investor, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made in consultation with an investor’s personal advisor based on the investor’s own objectives and circumstances.
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