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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Can you keep up with George Jedenoff?

Today's crumb comes from an alert reader in Bremen, IN, USA. It's a brief video narrated by George Jedenoff, who is 97 and a half. Before watching the video, let's remember the words of Pope John XXIII, who said, "Men are like wine. Some turn to vinegar but the best improve with age."


Other scholars have observed that youth is a gift of nature, but age is a work of art. Age is not lost youth, but a new stage of opportunity and strength. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. After meeting George Jedenoff in the video linked here, I think you'll agree there are NO WRINKLES on his soul. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueidYCQiSoE

Friday, February 27, 2015

When a snowstorm cancels church

Grace Chapel, in Centennial, CO, cancelled services February 22 because of inclement weather. That meant "The Source" high school class would not meet at 9 a.m. in the Student Ministry Building to learn about spiritual leadership. So seven teenage members of "The Source" were free to sleep late. But they didn't.


Instead, they agreed to wake up at 6:30 a.m., grab shovels, and surprise the residents of South Olive Way by shoveling the driveways and sidewalks of 53 homes. Each homeowner found a note on his door that said "You have been served" with an emblem of a cross.

"We wanted to get out before anyone woke up," said Nick Mirabella. "We felt it was a good idea to serve the whole neighborhood. It was kind of the best way I think we could spend a Sunday."

Like most residents, homeowner Jeff Mostellar was astonished. "They shoveled everything, the whole driveway, the steps, and the whole sidewalk. You just don't see that in this day and age."

When offered payment for their work, the boys all declined, but they could not resist offers of hot chocolate.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

He didn't expect that sort of response

Alan Barnes, 67, who is only 4'6" tall, visually impaired and has lived with disabilities from birth, was afraid to return to his home in Gateshead, England, after he was attacked in January. He was assaulted as he put his trash cans out one Sunday evening. "I was moving my wheelie bin around from the back of the house when a shadow came on my left hand side," he remembered. "It was a lad who said, 'Hand over your money.'" When Barnes had no money, the cowardly lad shoved him to the ground, fracturing his collar bone, and ran away.

Alan Barnes and Katie Cutler

Enter Katie Cutler. After reading about the disgraceful attack on such a frail victim, Cutler, who is a beautician, launched a "Help Alan Barnes" online donation page on the Go Fund Me Web site. "I was so upset that anyone could target a disabled pensioner and be so cruel," she said. Her aim was to raise $800, but the site soon attracted 2,000 donations totaling $431,000. There have also been offers of free help from plumbers, electricians, bathroom fitters and carpet layers, plus offers of furniture. Barnes' family says the funds will be placed in a trust for his permanent benefit.

"I can't wait for him to get it," Cutler said. "I'm over the moon.""I've heard of fundraising for charities," said Barnes, "but I've only got a fractured collarbone. I didn't expect that sort of response."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

It's not how old you get. It's how you get old.

Today's "Crumb" was shared by a reader in Redlands, CA. USA.

It was a busy morning (8:30 a.m.) when an old man came to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry since he had an appointment at 9 a.m. I took his vital signs and asked him to have a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before anyone could see him. But he kept looking at his watch, and since I was not busy with another patient, I evaluated his wound. It was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors and got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.

While caring for his wound, I asked if he had another doctor's appointment, since he was in such a hurry. He said no, he need to go to the nursing home to have breakfast with his wife.  I asked about her health, and he said she had alzheimer's. As we talked, I asked if she'd be upset if he was a little late today. He replied that she no longer knew who he was. She had not recognized him for five years. I was surprised and asked him, "And you still go every morning, even though she does not know who you are?" He smiled as he patted my hand. He said, "She may not know me, but I still know who she is."  Love is not about surviving the storm of life. Love is about dancing in the rain.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"Just build it, child. People will come."

Six months after her marriage in 1981, Beverly Barutio of Savannah GA was diagnosed with cancer. Doctors predicted she could live less than a year. She started chemotherapy, but it made her ill so she refused to continue. Since she was Catholic, she decided to rely on her faith. She prayed to God and also to St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes. She remembered promising St. Jude that "if I made it, someday I would build a chapel for him." To the amazement of her doctors, her cancer went into total remission. In 1985, after her husband Bill retired, they moved to the tiny village of Trust, NC (30 miles from Asheville) to restore a century-old farmhouse, but soon her unkept promise began to weigh on Beverly.  Since Trust is not easy to find, she feared a chapel would stand vacant and be forgotten. "I sat on our front steps many times and prayed," she said, "and God told me, 'Just build it, child. They will come.'" So she did.


"We had no plans," she said. "We just sketched it out on the back of envelopes as we went along." The tiny cedar non-denominational chapel was finished in February, 1992, with a hand-carved wooden sign in front that says, "St. Jude's Chapel of Hope. Stop. Rest. Reflect."

It's open 24 hours a day and anyone seeking Trust can find it. One visitor named Beth remembers the long winding journey up the mountain to Trust. When she found the chapel, she and her friends sat down inside. "I was suddenly overcome with emotion and began to cry," she said. "The air inside felt holy, charged with a sacred spirit of so many who made their hearts vulnerable there. My friends and I sat there for half-an-hour, silent in memory and in supplication to the Saint of Lost Causes and to God.

During its first 12 months, more than 2,000 people visited the chapel. "They come out smiling, or sometimes couples come out holding hands," Beverly said. "That makes me feel good"

Monday, February 23, 2015

One nation, under God...

Richard "Red" Skelton (1914-1997) grew up in Vincennes, Indiana. Each morning at Harrison Elementary School he and his classmates recited the Pledge of Allegiance, but he never really knew what it meant until 1923, when the Principal explained it word-by-word. Skelton went on to become one of America's best-loved comics in the '40s and '50s, and was admitted to the Clown Hall of Fame in 1989, but he was much more than an interpretive clown. One of his best-known skits was performed on his TV show in January, 1969.


Some Americans were protesting that the word "God" in the Pledge of Allegiance made it a prayer, and therefore illegal to recite in school because of the separation of church and state. Your heart will be touched if you watch Red explain what the pledge really means, linked here.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HGHdFmu5GU

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Don't forget the best

American author and poet Bayard Taylor (1825-1878) once wrote a short parable called The Key Flower. In 1883, it was reprinted for the instruction of children on page 154 of a common school textbook called Swinton's Fourth Reader. Here's the parable, and the questions it asks.


One summer day a young shepherd was tending his sheep when he noticed an unusual flower. As he picked it for examination, he saw a door in the side of the hill. He'd never seen the door before, but it was open so he went inside and down a corridor to a room filled with gold coins and diamonds. He also saw an old dwarf sitting in a chair. The dwarf welcomed him, saying "Take what you want, and don't forget the best." Placing his flower on a table, the shepherd filled his pockets and his hat with gold and diamonds. As he hurried out, he heard the dwarf repeat, "Don't forget the best." Once outside, he saw the door vanish, and his hat and pockets were filled with nothing but pebbles and dry leaves. He was as poor as ever, because he had forgotten the best. The flower he left on the table was the key flower. If he kept it, the gold and diamonds would have stayed so, and the treasure room would reopen to him at any time. How do we define life's treasure? And what is the key flower we must not forget -- in order to make our treasure permanent?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

You can't hire enough police

Today's crumb is a 90-second video message from Dr. Clay Christensen, a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, where he received an Extraordinary Teaching Award from the MBA class of 2010.


He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and has been awarded five (5) honorary doctorate degrees. Sometimes called "the friendliest professor at Harvard," he learned something from a Marxist economist from China that you will want to hear. To listen, click on www.youtube.com/embed/YjntXYDPw44

Friday, February 20, 2015

Paid for in advance

Red roses were her favorite; her name was also Rose. And every year her husband sent them, tied with pretty bows. The year he died the roses were delivered to her door. The card said, "Be my Valentine" like all the years before. She thought he ordered roses in advance before this day. Her loving husband did not know that he would pass away. He always liked to do things early, way before the time. Then if he got too busy, everything would work out fine. A year went by and it was hard to live without her mate, with loneliness and solitude that had become her fate. Then, the very hour, as on Valentines before, the doorbell rang and there were roses sitting by her door.

She brought the roses in and looked at them in shock. Then went to get the telephone and call the florist shop. The owner
answered and she asked him if he could explain why someone
would do this to her, causing so much pain?

"I know your husband died more than a year ago," The owner
said "I knew you'd call and you would want to know the flowers you received today he paid for in advance. Your husband always planned ahead and left nothing to chance."

"There is a standing order that I have on file down here, and he has paid well in advance. You'll get them every year." Inside the card she saw that he enclosed a note. Then as she stared in silence, this is what he wrote. "Please try to find some happiness while living out your days. I know it is not easy but I hope you'll find some ways. The roses will come every year and they will only stop when your door's not answered when the florist comes to knock. He will come five times that day, in case you've gone out, but after his last visit he will know without a doubt. He'll take the roses to the place where I've instructed him, and place the roses where we are....together once again.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The traditional first order

It was July 12, 2003. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan came to Norfolk, VA, to put into commission the aircraft carrier named after her husband, President Ronald Reagan. The 4.5 billion dollar ship was home to 6,000 sailors. It carried more than 80 aircraft, and with two nuclear reactors it could sail for 20 years without refueling.


"I have only one line to say," she said as she waved to the cheering crowd. Then she gave the traditional first order for any active navy unit. "Man the ship and bring her to life!"

Hearing these words reminded me that God spoke only one line to bring us to life. "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." (Gen. 1:26) With the Bible as our compass, our earthly vessel is commissioned into the service of church. And how long can we sail without refueling?

Here may our church Thy cause maintain,
Thy truth with peace and love,
'Til our last earth-born live again
With Thy first-born above.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Integrity is never "off duty"

Since August, this blog has posted almost 200 "crumbs of comfort," and just exceeded 6,000 page views from half-a-dozen nations. Today's crumb is a news release from the Indiana State Police Post in the rural town of Bremen. It was reported with characteristic Hoosier modesty.

A quick shopping trip to a South Bend Walmart last Saturday night for an off-duty state trooper took longer than expected. Corporal Robert Leffert had just parked at the Walmart on Ireland Road and was walking into the store when he noticed a black wallet on the ground in the parking lot. He discovered it contained $179 in cash plus a credit card, and a driver's license belonging to Leonardo Morales. Leffert entered the store and asked to have Morales paged. When no one answered the page, Leffert assumed Morales had left the store. He took the wallet to his car and checked his map to discover Morales address was close by.

Corporal Robert Leffert, ISP

Leffert was able to locate Morales at his residence. He explained where he found the wallet, and Morales offered to thank him with food, but Leffert declined, saying, "I have groceries I need to get home." Leffert has been with the department since 2008.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Where it's cool to be kind

Boroughmuir High School in Edinburgh won a coveted national title in 2014. Kindness UK is a charity promoting decency and goodness. It named Boroughmuir High as "the kindest school in Scotland," and for good reason. All 450 teenagers at Boroughmuir are taught to be gracious and thoughtful to others in their required Religion, Belief and Values course. Older students can enroll in Happiness Class, and the school hosts a dedicated Kindness Week where each pupil must perform a benevolent act.
Boroughmuir's uniform includes neckties.

What made Boroughmuir stand out to the judges? Well, one selfless 15-year-old took time out to read stories to preschool children at his local library each week for a year. Another raised $100 for the Scottish SPCA by sponsoring silence during school hours for three full days. And teacher Jane O'Thy said school kindness is not restricted to single events. It's embedded into the curriculum. "That's why we won the award," she said, "because we do it all the time."

Monday, February 16, 2015

Holocaust Survivor Band

Florida retirees Reuben Sosnowicz and Saul Dreier each survived the Holocaust, and still love music, so last year they started the Holocaust Survivor Klezmer Band. With Dreier, 89, on drums and Sosnowicz, 85, on keyboard, they joyfully play the tunes they learned as youths. Other players are just "kids" but also have Holocaust connections. Vocalist Chanarose Sosnowicz, Reuben's daughter, is only 53. Jeff Black, 64, is a rhythm guitar player whose parents perished at Auschwitz.

The Holocaust Survivor Band

Dreier was inspired to start a band when Alice Herz-Sommer died last year at 110. She was the oldest Holocaust victim at the time, and survived Theresienstadt concentration camp by playing the piano on orders of the Gestapo to fool the Red Cross. When Dreier announced his plan to honor Herz-Sommer's love of music by starting a band, his wife and rabbi both felt it was a bad idea, so "I decided to go for it," he said.

The band plays a variety of tunes including klezmer, joyful Jewish folk music.  Dreier says performing has made him more energetic. Sosnowicz was depressed after his wife had a stroke, but his daughter believes the band restored his good humor. "I haven't seen him happy like this in years," she said.

During its first year,  the band became popular on the southern Florida synagogue/flea market/retirement home circuit. It's currently booked through April. For performance times and dates, call Dreier at 954-868-4742.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

What do you think?

"Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people's suffering. On these lines every religion has more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal." The Dalai Lama

While religions may vary in their practices, the Golden Rule, also known as the Ethic of Reciprocity, is routinely part of their beliefs. It is considered by some to be the most moral teaching throughout history. What do you think?


Saturday, February 14, 2015

A new tie, packaged in kindness

Today's post was submitted by a faithful reader in Redlands, CA, who hoped it might "qualify as as crumb." It surely does.

North Carolina teenager Yasir Moore was prepping for his first job interview last week, hoping to land a job at Chick-Fil-A.  He had a suit to wear, and visited a Target store to buy a clip-on tie. The store didn't sell clip-ons, but when Target employees Cathy Scott and Dennis Roberts learned why he wanted one, they helped him select a real necktie and then taught him how to tie it properly. They helped him tuck in his shirt; showed him how to shake hands firmly, and reminded him to look the interviewer straight in the eye when greeting him. They even asked Moore a few practical interview questions. Shopper Audrey Mark noticed how store employees were encouraging Moore. She took a photo to share on Target's Facebook page and it went viral. As Moore left the store, other store employees started shouting, "Good luck. You're going to do great!"


After his first interview, Moore and his mother returned to Target to thank the employees who helped him. "They could have just sold my son a tie," his Mom said, "but they treated my son with dignity and respect."

A few days later, Moore got the job at Chick-Fil-A after a three-stage interview process. Chic-Fil-A owner/operator David Langston said his store hires about one person from every hundred they interview.

"As soon as I get my first pay check, I will thank the Target workers with a gift," Moore promised.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Returning favors, one step at a time

Tommy Lukrich, 24, of Moscow, Idaho, graduated last spring from the University of Idaho with a BA in theater performance. It wasn't an easy four years financially. He almost had to drop out when he couldn't find funds for tuition, but a professor gave him $2,000 so he could complete his degree. Instead of getting a job after graduation, Lukrich decided to "pay forward" the kindness he'd received as an undergrad. He took five months to walk across America, handing $100 bills to unsuspecting strangers who went out of their way to help him. An online crowd fund campaign helped him raise money to give away. His journey began in late May in Portland, ending in NYC in November.

Walking across America

Why give away $100 bills? Lukrich believes "there's something in a $100 bill that really shocks people. It's enough to be significant, but it's not too excessive. It also makes for a great story for them in their life."

He sought no publicity and avoided telling people exactly where he was at any given time, to avoid folks who might take advantage of him. And he never carried more than $100 on him. "Most of the time, people think I'm homeless," he said, but folks still offered help. In Washington state, Stacy gave him protein bars and $10 despite recently losing her job. She cried when he gave her a $100 bill. In North Dakota, Justin offered him a shower, meal and bed. "In the morning, he treated me to breakfast and told me he'd taken in 15 other hitchhikers that month. The person before me had robbed him, but he took me anyway."

Lukrich had a lot of time to think during his five-month odyssey, and the people he met along the way are providing inspiration for a career in theater.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Valentine anniversary

Back in July, 2013, TV audiences were introduced to Lee and Morty Kaufman. Lee, a retired first-grade teacher, was offered Swiffer products to keep her home clean, and demonstrated them on TV with her husband, a retired pharmacist. But how did Lee and Morty, both in their 90s, get hired as Swiffer spokesmen? Morty's daughter Myra knew a casting director seeking an "older, more mature couple" for TV ads. Myra suggested her Mom and Dad. They were interviewed and hired. "It really fell in our laps," recalls Lee. "Quite an exciting event in our lives." Since the commercials ran, Lee and Morty have been contacted by many long-lost friends. "I had a young man work for me when he was 12," says Morty. "He's 81 now and he called and we were rehashing old times."

Morty and Lee Kaufman

But Swiffer got more than it bargained for in Lee and Morty. Not only did they help promote the brand. They also became famous as examples of true love. Both were widowed in their ealry 40s, with three children each. Morty's son Scott enrolled in summer school after first grade, and Lee was his teacher. When Morty arrived at a parent-teacher conference. it was love at first sight. They decided to marry on Valentine's Day, and this week they'll celebrate their 46th anniversary. Both still keep busy with family activities and volunteering. "My full-time job is adoring my wife," says Morty. If you'd like to visit their home and hear them explain what makes marriage happy, visit http://vimeo.com/110819911?from=outro-embed

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A new purpose for birthdays?

Since Gabbie St. Peter and Alice Willette have been best friends as long as they can remember, they decided last year to celebrate their 8th birthdays together. Instead of a party with presents, the second-graders wanted to help their community, but how?  At their George Mitchell Elementary School in Waterville, ME, about 70% of students are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The need is so great that the PTO President started a "No Questions Asked" food pantry in a school closet. Before long, it helped feed over 100 children.

Gabbie and Alice

So instead of gifts at their birthday party, Gabbie and Alice asked for food for the school pantry, and they got a lot of it. "My basement looks like a grocery store," said Gabby. The girls also launched an online fundraising campaign. It has received over $40,000 for the pantry, which has been moved from a closet to a larger space and named for them. Last June, each girl was awarded a Youth Philanthropy college scholarship of $2,500 which they will use to attend Waterville College together.

With their 9th birthday coming up, the girls are now requesting supplies for animal shelters in the Waterville area. They're collecting doggy blankets and toys, pet food and cash. Kids from Forest Hills School in Jackman, ME, collected all winter for Gabbie and Alice and drove 90 minutes to deliver their gifts in person. This year's party will be March 21 at the Waterville Humane Society. "How cool is that?" asked the girls. "We get to party where the puppies live." For more details or to make a contribution, visit gabbieandalice.com

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

From the father of our country

"No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States. Every step, by which we have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency."     George Washington

Washington at Valley Forge

Monday, February 9, 2015

Is everything bigger in Texas?

Kenny Thompson has tutored and mentored students at Valley Oaks Elementary School in Houston, TX, for over ten years. One day last February (2014), he noticed that 60 students, including some he mentored, were eating cold cheese sandwiches for lunch because their lunch accounts were overdue. Many were already eligible for reduced lunch -- a hot meal for 40 cents a day.  Some children actually skipped lunch, claiming they weren't hungry, since a cheese sandwich stigmatized them as poor. "It was horrifying, it broke my heart. These are elementary kids. They're not bankers."

Kenny Thompson

His wife, who teaches at Valley Oaks, encouraged him to help the kids, but warned he would not be able to buy the new pair of Doc Martens he wanted. That didn't matter to him, so he paid off the cafeteria's negative balance -- all $465 of it. "It was the best gift I ever gave myself. I went out into my car and screamed," he said.

Houston residents heard of his generosity when the story aired on a local news station. Someone offered to buy him a new pair of work boots, but best of all, he heard of a woman who went to her school district office and asked to pay off the negative cafeteria balance "just like the man on TV." 

And then his story went viral. Within days he received donations from Australia, Europe and South America to help more kids. He quickly created a non-profit called Feed the Future Forward. Its purpose is to GIVE EVERY KID EQUAL STANDING IN THE SCHOOL LUNCH LINE. In the past year it has assisted 150,000 students in 141 schools. "They say everything's bigger in Texas," he said. "That means our hearts, too."

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Marc had some good ideas

Today's crumb comes from a reader in Redlands, CA, who believes that "Marc had some good ideas."


Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Love Box

John and Helen Hakanson have been in love for 68 years. Before they were married, during WWII, John sent Helen a gift from Japan in a tiny wooden box. One of their sons kept the box, and when their children and grandchildren wanted to celebrate the couple's 60th anniversary with gifts, he suggested they put their gifts into the tiny historic box. Eight years later, one of the grandchildren made a professional video called The Love Box. If you have six spare minutes to watch it, your heart will be touched and you will understand better what the word "family" really means. To see the video, just click these blue letters.  http://vimeo.com/101927025

Friday, February 6, 2015

"What did I do wrong?"

Sinai Miller, a third-grader at Fox Hill Elementary School on the north side of Indianapolis, Indiana, tries to do things right. She earns A's and B's at school; helps her younger sisters with their home work and is outgoing and kind. So naturally the first thing Sinai (pronounced sih-NYE) wanted to know on the afternoon of February 3 was "what did I do wrong?"

She'd been waiting all day to get her hands on her Girl Scout cookies so she could start selling them door-to-door around her apartment complex. She talked about cookies when she woke up, and was still talking about them when she got home from school. After finishing her homework, she told her Mom it was 4:30 -- time to meet at the apartment clubhouse with the other girls to pick up cookies and start knocking on doors. But she never got there.

"What did I do wrong?"

Just as she took a few steps outside her apartment with one of her little sisters, the gunfire started. Her Mom, Shanita Miller, rushed out and pushed both girls back inside, and Sinai started yelling, "Mama, Mama, it hurt!" She'd been hit in the leg with a stray bullet. Luckily it missed bone and artery, and she was treated and released from the hospital to recover at home, but she can't sell any cookies.

To help, the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, which has troops in 45 counties, created a Web page so Sinai can continue to meet her cookie goals while recuperating. Here's the link. http://www.girlscoutsindiana.org/cookies/cookiesforsinai

By visiting this site, you may purchase cookies from Sinai for yourself, or for Operation Cookie Drop, which gives free Girl Scout cookies to active duty and retired servicemen from central Indiana. And the good news? As of late Thursday, more than 2,000 boxes of cookies have been purchased in Sinai's name. She hopes the earnings will fund a trip for her troop. But on the first night home after being shot, she jumped out of her sleep at noises as common as her sister going to the bathroom, which proves that some wounds aren't fixed with a bandage. 


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Always drink upstream from the herd

Today's crumb comes from a reader in California. She's too young to personally remember humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935), but believes his best-loved "sayings" can still make us smile. Rogers was an American cowboy, vaudevillian, social commentator, newspaper columnist and movie actor. He was among the best-known celebrities in the 1920s and 1930s. Here are some of his comments.


Never miss a good chance to shut up.
There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither works.
Always drink upstream from the herd.
The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back in your pocket.
Good judgement comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgement.
The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.
When you're dissatisfied and want to go back to your youth, remember algebra.
One thing nobody says about aging is that it's such a nice change from being young.
If pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of Congress?

And my personal favorite:  "Some people try to turn back their odometers and look younger. Not me! I want people to know 'why' I look this way. I've travelled a long distance, and some of the roads weren't paved."

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A true love note

Billie Breland taught school for 40 years, and she always wrote notes. Every photo on the walls of her home was documented with a note. She noted funny things that happened, or things she wanted to remember, all in the perfect cursive handwriting of a school teacher. Her devoted husband Jim was a minister who had preached in almost every Baptist church in the Mississippi Delta. They were newlyweds for sixty years, and when Billie took a fall after Thanksgiving last year, Jim stayed by her side in the hospital to take care of her, right up until the night she died.

Hundreds crowded into the funeral home on the night of visitation, to celebrate a life well-lived. But Jim still had to wrestle with the loss of his sidekick for over six decades. Little did he know that Billie, always thinking of others before herself, had found a way to ease his pain.

A few days later, when he opened her checkbook, he found she'd left him a note. Here it is.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A blizzard of unselfishness

New York City is sometimes called unfriendly, almost uncaring, but that wasn't true during the recent snowstorm named Juno. Warmth is the best defense against an icy storm, and folks in the Big Apple proved it. How?

First of all, it's really hard to hail a cab in a snow storm, so members of the Greater New York Taxi Association chose to give free rides to the elderly, people with disabilities, and emergency responders during the blizzard. Eligible passengers called 311 and a free cab showed up as soon as one was available.


The New York City fire department asked residents to be sure hydrants were cleared of snow and ready for hose hookup in an emergency. Volunteers answered this call, using social media to share and coordinate their efforts.

Everyone knew police and firemen would be working long shifts with little access to food since restaurants were closed. So staff at the Omni Berkshire Place Hotel opened their employees cafeteria to law enforcement, offering free meals to anyone on duty during the storm.

The Bowery Mission provided free emergency shelter for almost 200 homeless during the blizzard, plus free breakfast to hundreds the next morning. The mission chapel remains open for anyone needing protection from frigid weather.

Members of the Coalition for the Homeless hiked through the Bronx and uptown and downtown Manhattan, bringing food, water, sleeping bags, socks and coats to people living on the streets. "Regardless of the weather, we're out and about," said Juan De La Cruz, program manager of the coalition's Grand Central Food Program.

Finally, my personal favorite. "Today Show" correspondent Jeff Rossen has worked the bad weather beat for years. Usually he goes out with a cameraman and points a microphone at the face of some tired New Yorkers and asks how they plan to shovel their snow. For this storm, he quit asking that question. Instead (along with workers from Expectation Snow Plowing), he rang the doorbells of unsuspecting Long Island residents and offered to plow their driveways for free. Now that's what I call "breaking news."

Monday, February 2, 2015

A flight one passenger will never forget

Imagine the grumbles of passengers on an American airline flight when young parents came aboard with twin baby boys. But worried flyers were soon placated by the behavior of the new parents, who gave a Ziplog bag of sweets to each passenger with a note enclosed.


"Brilliant and thoughtful parents handed these out to everyone on my flight," a passenger wrote on Reddit, posting the picture above. "The parents were fantastic and the kids were better than would be expected. Mom was obviously tired but still extremely nice to everyone. Not a frustrated word from the Dad either. Saw them after we landed, meeting his parents at baggage, who were seeing the babies for the first time, and I got a bit teary."

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A homeless heart of gold

One night last December, 22-year-old Dominique Harrison-Bentzen came out of a nightclub in Preston, England, and discovered she didn't have money for a taxi home. She also didn't have her bank card, and her cell phone battery was dead. She was stuck, until a homeless man known as Robbie approached to ask if she needed help. He offered her all the money he had in the world, $4.60, so she'd get home safely.

Dominique Harrison-Bentzen

Dominique, a student at the University of Central Lancashire, declined his offer and found another way home, but she couldn't forget Robbie. For the next four nights, she and her Mom drove the streets of Preston looking for him. As she inquired, she learned from other homeless folks that he was well-known for helping strangers. He returned lost wallets untouched, and even offered one lady his scarf on a cold night. Eventually she found him, and was able to thank him in person for his kindness. Then she decided to launch a fund-raiser to help him get an apartment. She spent a night on the streets, and asked friends to "sponsor" her for $4.60, the amount Robbie offered to help her. She dreamed of raising $780, but her story went viral. Within a week, she'd raised almost $50,000.00. "The fund-raising site keeps crashing," she said, "because everyone wants to get on it."

Some of the money will provide Robbie with a home, but he suggested the rest be used to help other homeless people in the Preston area and she agreed.