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People living in an American city like Philadelphia don't necessarily realize that they, too, can influence the lives of those living in the Third World. But for the past several years, Judy Wicks, owner of the White Dog Cafe, has been demonstrating that it is possible for anyone to help people all over the world. Wicks and the White Dog were honored Monday by the U.S. Agency for International Development, receiving the body's third Lessons Without Borders Partnership Award. This distinction is given to institutions or persons who are committed to improving the lives of others while increasing awareness about the importance of U.S. foreign assistance. USAID -- a 30-year-old independent government agency based in Washington, D.C. -- works to improve the lives of people living in poverty all over the world. Officially launched by USAID in 1994, the LWB program aims to improve the standard of living in Third World countries by bringing people around the world together as they try to solve similar problems, such as teen pregnancy. The LWB project's staff works with nurses, farmers and small businesspeople in developing nations to help raise the standard of living. Additionally, LWB programs based in U.S. cities work to increase awareness of Third World issues and raise funds for USAID. As a result of winning the award, the White Dog is now officially a part of the LWB program. The LWB award was given to recognize the cafe's international "Table for Six Billion Please!" project. The restaurant, working with several non-profit educational groups, is helping to send customers and employees to its sister restaurants in developing countries such as Nicaragua, Lithuania and Indonesia. Tourists experience each nation's culture and are exposed to its economic and political systems, gaining a better understanding of the important issues facing each country, said USAID spokesperson Laura Gross. "We wanted to honor an institution that has a reputation around the world [and] not just because of the cuisine," said USAID administrator J. Brian Atwood. Atwood presented the award to Wicks during a luncheon at the cafe. He began by praising Wicks' work, noting that there "are similarities between what she does and what we do on a larger level." Atwood also addressed the issue of decreased U.S. foreign aid, as well as USAID's own decreasing budget. "We have to wake up the American people, or our own [life] style is going to be affected by this," he said. Everyone at the restaurant agreed that it would take a considerable amount of effort to raise world awareness about the importance of fighting poverty. Still, officials said, events like Monday's can help make a difference. "Getting press is important," said Liz Notman, a special assistant to USAID's chief of staff.

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