Giraffe Heroes Database

Storek, Karen

Storek, Karen

In 1988 Karen Storek had a baby—and a great idea: gather and distribute simple, meaningful parenting advice, make it readily accessible, simple for anyone to understand, and make it all free. As a new mother, Storek had been frustrated by the difficulty of obtaining vital information. Although it existed, it wasn’t in one place and it could be overwhelming for a new parent to collect and organize. Storek realized that, especially for new parents, a single piece of information could mean the difference between the life or death of a child. Storek established a nonprofit called the New Parents Network and began by creating packets to distribute in Tucson, Arizona, hospitals. They gave new parents information on product recalls, poisonous plants, childcare resources, immunization schedules, abuse prevention, and nutrition.

Storek knows there’s no money in serving the poor, but she refused to stray from her mission to help “those most in need and hardest to reach.” NPN materials were neutral, noncommercial, nonpolitical, and nonreligious with no agenda other than promoting childrens’ health and safety. In the beginning Storek worked endless hours for little pay as NPN’s sole employee, selling personal valuables and going into debt to keep it viable. Some people tried to get her to throw in the towel, or at least make NPN profit-driven. But Storek has never wavered from her calling. “I have learned not to give up,” she says.

Storek draws together information from existing social service and government agencies worldwide. In 1991, long before the Internet revolution, she set up an electronic bulletin board so such organizations could submit simple, universally needed parenting information to NPN.

Thousands of parents and professionals used the service and NPN was acknowledged for its “creative and innovative use of technology” to benefit the common good.

In 1994 Storek was determined to reach more parents in Tucson that couldn’t afford computers. She led a team to create software for interactive kiosks strategically located in low-income clinics. The kiosks printed out parenting messages with easy-to-understand text, photos, and graphics. In 2000 she upgraded the technology to a multilingual web site. All over the world, midwives and public health nurses serving the poor can access a wealth of practical parenting advice at the site. Radio stations can download audio from NPN and television stations can access streaming video for public service announcements, reaching thousands of people.

Today Storek is focused on the promise of the future, not the hardship of the past. “We’re on the brink of a quantum leap,” she says. “I believe that NPN will become a window into the largest collection of parenting information anywhere. We will become a global force to help parents around the world.”

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Age when commended: adult (20-64)
Year commended: 2001
Occupation: Homemaker
  
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