Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sports Dad wanted a son, but got daughters

Greg Farnetti played football since he was a kid. After college he started coaching, and after marriage dreamed of a son who would love the game -- in his words, "a little me." He coached at West Blockton High School in Alabama for 25 years, but never got the son he dreamed of. Only daughters, two of them. To compensate, he "adopted" the 40 guys he coached each year, and life at the Farnetti home was all football, all the time. So his daughters were shocked recently when he said he was retiring as coach. He told them he realized they were growing up, and unless he paid more attention to them, he might miss something important. Both girls were touched that he'd end his career for them, and his older daughter, 17-year-old Jodie, repaid his kindness in a way he'll never forget.

                                                                                                                         Photo by Farnetti Family
As a child, Jodie often waited after school until her Dad finished practice. To pass the time, she'd kick the football, again and again and again. When she realized her Dad's last home game was Oct. 16, the Homecoming game, she asked the team if she could kick a field goal. They were all for it, so she arrived in full uniform, but her plans were almost spoiled. She'd been nominated to the Homecoming Court and at the game she was named Queen! She put on the tiara, and waited on the bench until she was called in. Then she took off the crown and ran onto the field to kick the final field goal as fans went wild. Afterward, Coach Farnetti had this to say about wanting a son. "I wouldn't trade anything for my girls, nothing. If I had to go back and do it all over again, I'd say, 'I want them two, right there,'" proving young Dads who want boys can grow up into old Dads who love girls.

Friday, October 30, 2015

As we approach Veterans' Day

There are still a few World War II vets living at the Northwestern Louisiana War Veterans Home, and this month they got a special treat. The Air Force Junior ROTC brought seven of them to see a Friday night football game at Parkway High School in Bossier City. The vets had great seats right on the sideline, where they were greeted by spectators, students and cheerleaders. But the biggest surprise came just after halftime.

                                                                                                                       Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office
Parkway players were returning to the field to start the second half when Chase Hill, #83, paused the game by veering away from a huddle to run over and personally shake each veteran's hand. Boosier Parish Lt. Bill Davis was handling security at the game. When he saw what Hill was doing, he took this photo and posted it on the sheriff's department page, where its been shared over 2,000 times. Several veterans said they felt honored by #83's gesture of respect.

Davis explained why he snapped the picture. "Law enforcement officers deal with teens who do stupid stuff every day. And for this kid to do what he did, which to me was really a class act -- a badge of honor if you will -- that's what you want to see." Hill added, "I've always really respected those who serve."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Can daffodils bloom behind a radiator?

Steve Ritz was a veteran school teacher when his family suffered great personal tragedy, losing two children. He decided to convert his grief into helping other kids, and transferred to one of the most troubled schools in South Bronx, NY, where violence, poverty, and hunger reduced the graduation rate to only 17%. Ninety-nine percent of his students qualified for free lunch and many are homeless. He wanted to help, but wasn't sure how until someone sent him a box of daffodil bulbs. Afraid that students would toss them around the room, he hid them behind a radiator. Later someone noticed the bulbs had grown into beautiful flowers! This "miracle" helped inspire him to start The Green Bronx Machine, a non-profit devoted to growing healthy food. So far, he and his students have grown 30,000 pounds of healthy food on roofs and in classrooms all over New York City.

"My kids can get a handgun quicker than they can get an organic tomato," he says. "When they get involved with nature and learn to nurture, they feel good about themselves. I always tell kids that if they bring their body, their brain will follow. And if they show up, they grow up."

Students get to eat the food they grow and share it with their hungry families. They learn farming and food production, but there's an interesting side effect. The attendance rate in his class went from 40% to 93%, and his students now earn 100% passing rates on New York State Examinations. PS 55 has donated an old library with lots of sunlight to create a learning center for his students. It will contain an indoor teaching farm, a teaching kitchen, a computerized media center and an indoor community farm big enough to send 100 students home with bags of fresh vegetables every week -- 52 weeks a year. All from daffodils that bloomed behind a radiator.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"I have this very strong belief that God must be."

Pok-nam Shin lived in an orphanage in Pusan, South Korea, since she was five. She knew she had a younger sister, Eun-Sook, but the girls were separated. In 1978, when she was nine, Pok-nam was adopted by an American family in Alexandria, VA, and renamed Holly. She told her new family she had a lost sister, and they wrote to the orphanage, but it had no record of a biological sister. Now 46, Holly recalls, "In my heart, I knew she was out there somewhere."

Meanwhile, Eun-Sook Shin has only vague memories of an orphanage before she was adopted by an American family from Kingston, NY, in 1976, and renamed Meagan. She became a certified nursing assistant in 2002 and began a career in healthcare. She was hired by Doctors Hospital in Sarasota, FL. last March. Holly had earned her CNA license in 1991, and was hired by Doctors Hospital last January. Both nurses were assigned to the fourth floor.

                                                                                                                   Dan Wagner/Sarasota Herald Tribune
Patients who noticed the two Korean nurses suggested they visit, in case they're from the same town. Soon Holly and Meagan discovered they had the same maiden name. "It was like too good to be true," said Holly when DNA tests confirmed they were sisters. She was excited as she texted the news to Meagan. Clinical nurse manager Julie Bennett was also surprised. "We see people's lives change on a dime up here," she said, "but typically it's with patients, not personnel." Holly suddenly became an aunt with two nieces. "I have this very strong belief that God must be. Whatever I've done, I must have done something good in my life," she said.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

He never expected his gift to be returned

Chris Trokey weighed only 3.2 pounds when he was born in 1981. Doctors gave him a 50% chance of survival but his pediatrician, Dr. Michael Shannon, had other plans. He stayed with tiny Chris around the clock until the baby stabilized and his health improved. Chris never forgot Dr. Shannon, but never expected to return the gift the doctor gave him -- the gift of life.

Now fast forward 30 years. On March 29, 2011, Dr. Shannon was driving on the Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point when a semi-truck hit his SUV, pinning it beneath the truck as it caught fire. Within minutes Paramedic Engine 29 was on the scene. By now Shannon's vehicle was also in flames. Fire crews worked to put out the fire and rescue him using the Jaws of Life. He was rushed to the hospital where it took 45 days for him to recover from internal injuries.

Among those at the rescue scene was Orange County Fire Authority paramedic Chris Trokey. "I didn't know until I went to the hopsital," Trokey said later. That's when he learned the man he helped save was Dr. Shannon.  What did the pediatrician say? "It's amazing to watch them all grow up, but to have one come back into your life, on a day you really need it, that's really incredible."

Monday, October 26, 2015

The nicest moment in 30 years of broadcasting

Meet Bill Palmer. He's 95 and lives in Southampton, Hampshire, England. Last year he robbed the cradle and married Sheila. She's only 85, but they've been friends since 1984, so they figured the age gap wouldn't matter. It didn't until Sheila was hospitalized after a fall, and then moved permanently to a nursing home. Bill visits her every day, but when he comes home, he's crushed with loneliness. He listens to the Alex Dyke call-in show on BBC Radio Solent, and recently the topic was loneliness, so he called in. "Alex, just talking with you has made a difference," he said. "I have lots of friends but unfortunately, when you get old, people don't visit." Then Alex took it up a notch. Would Bill come to the studio and chat on the air?  Bill remembered, "No only did they offer me coffee. They showed me around the whole building and made me feel welcome. I'll never forget it as long as I live."

                                                                                                          Photos by Facebook/BBC Radio Solent
Bill's visit has been viewed 41,000 times on the radio station's Facebook page. Listeners have deluged him with offers, from Sunday lunch to a private concert by a ukulele orchestra. "I've had so many people get in touch, even a chappie from North Carolina," Bill said, adding that his wife couldn't believe it when he told how their story made the headlines. "We're the talk of the nation," she responded, happy to be in a nursing home that cares for her so well.

"I was coming home from the nursing home and I heard my name on the radio!" Bill said. "I just couldn't get over it. I'm overwhelmed by the kindness of people." And what about talk show host Alex Dyke? He believes Bill touched the hearts of thousands of listeners and "it was the nicest moment in 30 years of broadcasting."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

"Some are calling it miraculous"

The Delaware River divides the states of Pennsylvania and New York. Many bridges span the river, but one of the oldest was built in 1904. Crossing from Glen Spey, NY, to Pond Eddy, PA, it has just one narrow lane and a weight limit of only seven tons. Here's the view from the Pennsylvania side. "You can jump on it and feel it shake," says PennDOT spokesman James May, admitting it's tough to drive a car across at 10 miles per hour.
                                                                                                                                      PennDOT Photos
The stop sign (visible across the bridge on the New York side) marks busy Rt. 97, which runs along the river's edge. The hill you see descending toward the bridge is NY 41. Now picture this. Around 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, Bill Baldwin, who hasn't had an accident in 20 years, was driving a three-axle dump truck filled with sand down the hill in the distance. Before he could stop and turn onto Rt. 97, his brakes failed. As his 35 ton truck gained momentum down the hill without brakes, Baldwin thought fast. If he swerved onto Rt. 97, his truck would roll off the road into the river. Or, he could try crossing the fragile, decaying bridge. He chose the bridge, but as his truck accelerated through the intersection at 45 miles per hour, it rolled up the slight grade to the bridge and went airborn! Baldwin landed the 8-wheeler (all 35 tons of it) in the center of the wooden deck and steered dead center all the way across. At the end where this photo was taken, traffic must turn right or left, so he veered right and flipped the truck onto its driver's side against an embankment. Then he crawled out the passenger door without a scratch.

"There was no stopping," said Baldwin. "I didn't know what was going to happen."

This guy's is a real hero," said May. "He averted any real tragedy." No wonder some folks are calling it a miracle.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Daughter helps Dad do what he loves most

When Brittany Dejean and her little brother were growing up near Pottstown, PA, their Dad often danced with them. But that changed just before Christmas in 1998. Brittany was only 12 when a car crash killed her little brother and left her Dad paralyzed from the chest down. He still enjoyed watching other people dance, but knew he never would again. Seventeen years later, when Brittany got engaged, she asked if he'd dance with her at the wedding. She told him how important it was to her, and he finally agreed. They were helped by a choreographer from an organization called Roll Call Wheelchair Dance, and after Brittany was married last June, she and her Dad took the floor to the music of "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack. Her Dad was smiling.

                                                                                                                                         Courtesy Photo
"We started dancing and it felt like all the choreography went out of my head and my Dad was directing me through" she remembered. We messed up sometimes but it took us a couple movements and the room started cheering and clapping. It was so wonderful."

Brittany's Dad, Paul Martin, 57, wasn't afraid of looking foolish. "I didn't really care," he explained, "because I wasn't there for anyone else but her." To see this precious moment, and learn the blessings that followed, visit

Friday, October 23, 2015

Why is this town called Loveland?

Maybe it's because the residents of Loveland, Colorado, are loving? Take the folks at King Soopers market in the Thompson Valley Towne Center, for example. They noticed one customer, Melody Leach, who brought her daughter when she shopped for food. Little Beatrice, 3, has cerebral palsy, and no longer fits into the standard shopping cart infant seat. Since she can't walk, her Mom has to push her in a wheelchair with one hand with pushing a food cart with the other. It's not easy, as she told assistant manager Mike Myers. Since this is Loveland, Mike sent a request to management to order a special cart. It arrived on October 13, and here it is.

                                                                                                             Jenny Sparks/Loveland Reporter-Herald

As you can see, it has an extra-comfortable child seat facing the person pushing the cart. The child is strapped in with a five-point harness. "The special cart allows (Beatrice) to relax," said Leach. "It's got lots of support." But it has more than that. Although available for any shopper with special needs, store employees have named it Beatrice's Cart. For her first ride, they decorated it with pink ribbons, plastic flowers and six balloons. They also have plans to decorate it for each holiday. Store manager Randy Klatt is grateful Leach brings her daughter shopping with her. "She's certainly the talk of our store because she's so precious," he said. "Everybody that's met her fell instantly in love with her." But what else would you expect in Loveland?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Where are your fellow readers located?

Since "Crumbs of Comfort" began in August, 2014, the number of folks like you who read it regularly has increased. Today there are 255 readers in the United States, 33 in Canada, 26 in Russia, nine in Brazil, seven in Portugal, four in France, four in the United Kingdom, three in Italy, three in Romania and two down under in Australia. The blog is also featured on the Web sites of four newspapers in the United States.  To each one reading these words, and especially to those who sometimes email a "potential future crumb" from their own community, I send this wish.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

He'd apologize to his teachers for his arrogance

Lloyd Granaas and his wife have retired to The Villages, reportedly Florida's friendliest hometown. But before that, they lived 40 years (on and off) in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where he enjoyed a 28 year career with Lincoln Electric. His seven children multiplied into 13 grandchildren and then two great-grandchildren, and his message to all of them was "stay in school." Why? Because his only regret was dropping out of high school at age 17. He did it to join the Navy, but soon realized he'd need more education to succeed in life. If he could turn the clock back, he'd apologize to his teachers for his arrogance. Instead, he earned his GED and enrolled in any Navy schools available to him.

                                                                                                             Jeff Piorkowski/Special to Sun News
While serving on active duty from 1959 to 1970, he fought in the Bay of Pigs and Vietnam. Several times over the decades, he contacted Cleveland Heights High School to request his sheepskin based on life experience, but they declined until his latest request caught someone's attention. He was invited to the Cleveland Heights Board of Education meeting on October 6, where he received a beautifully framed honorary diploma which now fills the empty spot on his wall. "It's the one thing I really wanted to have," he said."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Is age a bane or a benefit?

  "Old age is no place for sissies," moaned actress Bette Davis. George Bernard Shaw agreed. "Youth is a wonderful thing," he said. "What a crime to waste it on children." But according to a story in today's Wall Street Journal, many studies have found that how we think about age determines how we feel. Thinking in terms of decline and disability impacts our health. We feel better if we see age in terms of opportunity and growth. According to Yale researcher Becca Levy, we have the ability to overcome and resist negative stereotypes and "compensate for the ill effects of automatic ageism." If you still think age is gloom and doom, meet 100-year-old Felimina Rotundo of Buffalo, NY.

She's causing a problem for her son Gary. "I'm 74," he says with a laugh, "and I can't retire 'cause she's still working! She's sharper than me, no question about it." Felimina isn't just working part-time either. She works six days a week, 11 hours a day, at the College Laundry Shoppe on Maine St. in Buffalo. She drives, and handles all the operations at the laundromat. She attributes her longevity to her hardworking nature, claiming it gives her "a reason to always wake up in the morning and a reason to always hustle." She feels 75 is a good age for most folks to retire, if they have health issues, but she hasn't considered it yet. Maybe baseball star Satchel Paige was right when he said age is a case of mind over matter. "If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

Monday, October 19, 2015

"Maybe I need to start going to church."

Today's crumb was contributed by a faithful reader in southern California. On Sunday morning, October 4, Natasha Boyer of Pickerington, Ohio, found an eviction notice taped to her door. The 21-year-old single Mom had missed paying her rent because she was hospitalized a few days with pneumonia. As an assistant manager at Domino's, she only gets paid when she works. Missing one paycheck meant she couldn't pay her rent. On the way to work that morning, she knew she'd have to quit her job and move in with her grandparents (two hours away) unless she got $1,000 immediately. And what are the odds of that?

Meanwhile, down the road at Sycamore Creek Church, congregants had been praying about Christian generosity and random acts of kindness. After taking several offerings, they phoned Domino's and ordered a large pepperoni pizza. They warned the store that whoever delivered it would need to hand it off in front of the entire congregation. Boyer's fellow driver didn't want to go, so she delivered it. Remember, the congregation knew nothing about her as she stood near the alter with her pizza. She was a total stranger to them. What happened next proves God beats all odds. The church captured it on Youtube, and here's the link.

                                                                                                       Sycamore Creek Church/Youtube
Afterward, Boyer told The Washington Post, "My prayers were literally answered in a matter of hours." She admitted, "I've been bitter about humanity in general...maybe I need to start going to church. Maybe God was trying to open my eyes." What are the odds of that?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Pre-teens play classical music in subway for homeless

When Lauren, Ashleigh and Christian Conner moved from New Jersey to New York City last year, they were shocked at how many homeless people they saw on the streets. Lauren is 11, Ashley is 10 and Christian is nine. He felt sad for the homeless and asked his folks to give him money for them. His Mom told him, "If you want to give money to the homeless, then go out there and play your cello." All three children have played instruments since they were toddlers, so they set up music stands in a corner of the Fulton Street Subway Station and played pieces by Beethoven and Bach for two hours while passers-by listened in amazement.
                                    From left: Lauren, Ashley and Christian        Photo by THE CONNER FAMILY

So far they've raised over $500. They expect to raise more before making a gift to the homeless, but Christian wants to help them as soon as he can. "He gets sad if he doesn't have money for the homeless," said Ashleigh. "So he's like 'I really need that money.'"

When they aren't astonishing commuters on the subway, the three siblings play classical music for sick children at Columbia Presbyterian Children's Hospital. Otherwise, except for hours of practicing their instruments, they're pretty much like other kids.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Elderly veteran saves 16 children from knife attack

Morton, a small town in Illinois, is best known for its annual Pumpkin Festival. But pumpkins were the last thing on anyone's mind last Tuesday. About 16 home-schooled boys and girls and a few mothers were gathered at the public library for a chess class coached by 75-year-old James Vernon. He'd just finished his tutorial and was walking around the room checking each child's first move when the door opened and Dustin Brown, 19, burst in carrying a knife in each hand. "I'm going to kill some people!" he yelled, as frightened children crawled under tables. With a spate of school violence across the country, Vernon decided his class would not be a statistic. Even though he has weak knees and a bad shoulder, he remembered his Army basic training.
First he asked Brown if he was from Morton. Did he go to school here? What was his problem? Brown said "my life sucks," but was persuaded to let the children and mothers leave the room. Vernon had already observed Brown was right-handed, so he knew where the first blow would come from. When the children were gone, Brown slashed from the right and Vernon blocked the blow with his left hand. "I should have hit his wrist," he said later. That's how he was trained, but it was 50 years ago. Brown cut Vernon's hand, but Vernon flipped him onto a table and restrained him until a library employee arrived to remove the knives and keep Brown pinned down for police. Speaking later at home, Vernon's wife was not surprised at his courage. "That's the way he is," she said. "That's why I married him.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Follow-up on heroic teen Mom

On September 19, "Crumbs of Comfort" told about Ashley Aldridge, a 19-year-old mother of two from Auburn, Illinois, who saved an elderly man when his wheelchair became stuck on a railroad track as a train approached at 81 miles per hour. Two motorists drove across the tracks as he yelled for help, but neither stopped. So she ran past the lowered crossing gate and pulled him to safety two seconds before the train hit his empty wheelchair. One week later, Sen. Dick Durban (D-IL) honored her on the floor of the U.S. Senate. To refresh your memory, watch his presentation here.

Since then, we've learned more about the teenage mother. She lives in a mobile home near the noisy tracks. With two toddlers, she's a stay-at-home mom. Her husband works at a local pizza restaurant, but his hours were cut to three days a week. "We've been struggling pretty much since we moved here," she said. Before the rescue, someone broke into their home and stole money meant for bills. "We try to stay positive about it," she said. "We don't want to stress out in front of the kids." Ashley never expected anyone to notice her heroic deed, and was surprised when the Country Market in nearby Chatham offered her a free three-minute shopping spree. An employee pushed her cart as she sprinted from aisle to aisle.

"I got mostly meat," she said. "That was the first thing I went for. Now I can actually feed my kids some real meals instead of macaroni and cheese and ramen noodles." She gathered $187 worth of groceries in three minutes, and the market threw in an additional $50 gift card.

If you'd like to honor Ashley with a modest gift, visit

Thursday, October 15, 2015

What our grandson taught us this summer

Like his parents, grandson Lucas makes the Energizer Bunny look lazy. Unlike his parents, his first eight years have been uniquely "gifted." Beside playing soccer and lacrosse in Raleigh (with away games in Philadelphia and Williamsburg), he's surfed waves along the coast of Mexico and skied in the Alps.  (yes, the Alps) When he completed second grade last spring with almost perfect grades, he was voted "Most Athletic." Can this third grade Charles Atlas make grandparents tired? You bet, but this summer he taught us the secret of bounce-back-ability. Here it is.

                                                                                                      Photo by Evelyn Horn
A grandson is like a sponge. He absorbs all your strength and leaves you limp. But give him a squeeze and you get it all back.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Would you slow down to avoid stopping?

When I commuted to Boston on the Mass Pike, the unofficial speed limit was 80 miles per hour, even past police barracks. Commuters justified speeding because "they can't catch us all." Sometimes officers would drive four cruisers side-by-side at the legal speed limit, piling up traffic behind them. But these rolling road blocks were rare. Of course there was a simple way to enforce the speed limit. Simply program each toll both to print on the ticket the exact time it was taken by a driver. At the exit booth, the toll-taker could scan the ticket and determine the minutes needed to drive the distance legally. If the driver arrived sooner, he'd pay his toll and a speeding ticket all at once. This policy was never considered, because it eliminates any chance of not getting caught, and speeding without being caught is an American birthright.

Since motorists can't be forced to drive safely, the Indiana Department of Transportation is offering a deal. Thanks to a new Green Light project,  northbound drivers on SR 37 near Waverly will see two signs. The first warns SIGNAL 2 MILES AHEAD. The second is like the one shown above, with the number changing according to traffic density. It is radio controlled and it works perfectly, but will drivers buy it? Would you take the pedal off the metal to guarantee a green light?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Why did this teen eat so many bananas?

Elif Bilgin, 16, lives in Istanbul, Turkey. Ever since fourth grade, she's been in a school for gifted children where she excelled in her classes. As a teenager, she studied environmental climate change and became determined to find an alternative to petroleum produced plastics.  She knew potatoes and mango peels are already used to make bio-plastic, but what about bananas? After all, Thailand discards 200 tons of banana peels every single day. Could those peels create bio-plastic?

                                                                                                                                 Google Science Fair
To find out, she had to buy LOTS of bananas. Vendors became her friends as she visited them often, always looking for bananas that were exactly the right size and skin color. After experimenting with the peels, she used the fruit to make very unique banana splits, cupcakes and other desserts. But her research appeared fruitless. The plastics she created were too weak and decayed too fast. Months went by but she kept experimenting until, after TWO YEARS, her persistence paid off. She obtained the result she was seeking, and her discovery won the Science in Action award of $50,000 at the 2013 Google Science Fair. If you'd like to meet Elif, who is fluent in English, and hear her describe her project (with lots of smiles), visit

Monday, October 12, 2015

Michigan firm gives lawyers a "good name"

Mike Morse of Southfield, MI, owns his state's largest personal injury law firm. With the promise of "No fees until we win your case," he defends victims of everything from car accidents to dog bites. But recently he took on 23,000 new victims -- poor kids from Detroit. It began last May when when his firm purchased 400 backpacks for K-5 students at Edison Elementary School. Morse learned it was only a drop in the bucket. There are about 23,000 K-5 students in all 65 Detroit public elementary schools, so this September his firm partnered with the Kids-in-Need Foundation and donated about $250,000 to buy each student a new backpack for school, containing markers, erasers, crayons and notebooks.
                                                                                                                             Mike Morse Law Firm
Many of these students would have come to school carrying books and supplies in plastic bags. Some would have nothing to carry. "The supplies that were given to us today have leveled the playing field (for students), said Karen Russell, a first-grade teacher. "They feel like they're part of the team." Morse explained why his law firm opened its wallet so wide. "I think it teaches (students) that there are people out there in the community that care about them, people who want them to win."

Sunday, October 11, 2015

How many coincidences equal a miracle?

Today's crumb was contributed by an alert reader in Redlands, CA. Imaging how you'd feel if you were a grandmother, entrusted to care for your granddaughter, and she died in your arms? That's what almost happened this week in Montgomery County, MD, except for some  amazing coincidences. Montgomery County police officer Jim Herman was done for the day. The computer in his cruiser was switched off as he drove home, but he saw someone speeding on I-270 and pulled them over. As he stepped from his car, a man ran toward him screaming "help" and holding a 9-month-old girl. "She's not breathing," the man said, handing Herman the baby. Holding the limp infant in one arm, Herman could find no pulse, so right there, on the shoulder of the northbound lane, he gave the baby chest compressions using two fingers. He was quickly joined by a passing fireman who took the child so Herman could signal "infant code" on his radio, meaning a child in cardiac arrest.

Montgomery County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stephan Mann heard the call and rushed to the scene. After learning the baby was traveling with her grandparents when she stopped breathing, he praised them for having the wisdom to stop their car and ask for help from officer Herman.
The baby would not have survived if Herman had not been there to give her his immediate attention. "If that child makes a full recovery, it's only because of the quick actions of that officer and the wherewithal of the family to stop," Mann said. The baby, Kenzlee Cushman, is recovering well.

As for the driver who Herman had pulled over for speeding? She got away with a warning not to drive so fast. "I'm glad I stopped her," he said.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

University offers unofficial major -- kindness

The small town of Elon, North Carolina, is best known for it's university, where 450 full-time faculty teach 60 majors to 6,600 students. Kindness is not listed in the catalog as a major, but is taught by example. This month, for example, students Taylor Zisholtz and Lucy Smith-Williams were at the Acorn Coffee Shop on campus, where grandmotherly Kathryn Thompson has served food to students for more than ten years. Thompson is thankful for her job on the night shift. She seldom takes a sick day. Best of all, she greets everyone with a warm welcome and actually loves her young customers. When Thompson learned that Lucy Smith-Williams was from Florida, she began asking questions. How much would it cost to take her children and grandchildren to Disney World? "I want that so badly," she confessed. "I've never been anywhere but here."

                                                                                                                                     Elon Local News
The girls knew they had to make Thompson's dream come true, so they got busy. Within a few weeks, Elon raised almost $7,000 to send Thompson and four of her family members to Florida's Magic Kingdom. This is how Thompson looked when the girls returned to give her the unexpected good news. All she could say was "Thank you" and "I love you." If your son or daughter wants to major in kindness, maybe they'd like Elon University.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The path to political unity

As Congressional politics boil over with angry finger-pointing and frustration, "Crumbs of Comfort" honors Rep. Jack Kemp (R-NY) who loved reaching across the aisle to create progress through negotiated compromise. After years as quarterback for the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills, Kemp switched easily from passing balls to passing bills, and when Republicans nominated war hero Bob Dole for President in '96, Kemp was his running mate.

Kemp (1935-2009) called himself a bleeding heart conservative, and one of the speechwriters who helped craft his vice-Presidential acceptance speech was former White House wordsmith Michael Gerson. In a recent issue of the Washington Post, Gerson argues that Kemp's Christian Science background left him largely incapable of believing in evil, so he viewed every opponent as a potential ally.What would Kemp do if confronted by the mean politics of today? Gerson is sure he'd "take the hopeful, unifying, generous path, which remains open, though not busy." To see three minutes of the acceptance speech Gerson helped write for Kemp, visit

Thursday, October 8, 2015

It all grew from one seed

Katie Stagliano of Summerville, SC, was in third grade when she got an unusual homework assignment. She had to grow a cabbage from just one seed. She planted the single seed near her house and every day she watered it. She also fertilized it, and as it grew, her Grandpa helped her build a cage so it was safe from deer. When fully-grown, it weighed 40 pounds, and she donated it to a local soup kitchen. After helping serve her cooked cabbage to 275 people, she had an "aha" moment. If one cabbage can feed 275, would would a garden do?

Her school, Pinewood Prep, donated a football field-sized lot which has been cultivated by students. Today it donates over 3,000 pounds of produce annually to soup kitchens and directly to families in need. Katie is 17, and her organization, Katie's Krops, has raised over $300,000 to enable kids between the ages of nine and 16 to grow vegetables and feed the hungry in their own communities. Other kids were eager to follow her example, and today Katie's Krops has 80 youth-run gardens in 29 states.  All from one seed. To learn more, visit

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Do little girls dream of becoming "sexy" cops?

Halloween is coming soon, and kids are deciding what they want to be when they go trick-or-treating. Some boys and girls dream of being police officers, and retailer Party Time, with 850 stores nationwide, has both costumes in stock. Here they are.
 Party Time describes the boy cop as a "protector of the peace who has it all under control." They describe the girl cop as "sassy and sweet." Her uniform features handcuffs, fingerless gloves, a short skirt, black stockings and boots with  high heels. At least one Mom, attorney Lin Kramer of Savannah, GA, protested on Party City's website, "I am absolutely appalled that your business reinterprets girls' innocent and well-intentioned dreams into this costume." Her complaint went viral, and the company replied, "we appreciate the insight and will consider your feedback for the future,"but then removed their comment. Later, she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "The underlying message, intentional or not, supports the antiquated gender stereotype that girls are to be seen and not heard, as well as the inappropriate suggestion that girls are to be valued only for physical and sexual appearance." Hope your Halloween is free of gender stereotypes!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

American scholars embrace homeless youth near Harvard

Ralph Waldo Emerson would be delighted. Back in 1837 he addressed Harvard's brightest students in the new First Parish church near Harvard Yard. He described the American scholar as someone "who raises himself from private considerations and breathes and lives on public and illustrious thoughts. He is the world's eye. He is the world's heart."

Believe it or not, the old gray, wooden church where Emerson spoke still stands (see below), and two Harvard scholars have raised themselves "from private considerations" by raising enough money to convert its spacious basement into an overnight shelter for homeless youth, age 18-24.

Sarah Rosenkrantz and Sam Greenberg, from the Harvard class of 2014, spent their undergrad years volunteering at a local homeless shelter for adults. They noticed a need for a separate shelter for youth, and did the exhaustive research necessary to establish one. City officials said the initiative, called Y2Y (Youth to Youth) is long overdue. The 24-bed student-run emergency shelter will open next month following a $1.1 million renovation of the church basement.

Harvard Square is often awash with homeless youth who need different help than adults. Many have aged out of foster care, or run away because of violence at home.  Rosenkrantz and Greenberg found a willing partner in First Parish, where senior minister Fred Small called Y2Y "a natural extension of the core values of my congregation -- unconditional live, equality and justice." If you'd like to meet the co-directors of Y2Y and hear them tell how they created the unique shelter, visit

Monday, October 5, 2015

Don't forget the question mark!

Seventeen years ago, Adrian Franklin of Charlotte, NC, had a problem. He was five, and agreed to be ring bearer at the wedding of a family friend. Then came some bad news. The flower girl was Brooke. She was also five, and he knew she had a crush on him, and he hated it. How could he ever walk down an aisle with her? It would be awful. But he did it anyway, and then they started elementary school. Whenever Brooke tried to play with Adrian during recess, he'd run and hide, but she never gave up, and recalls that "he really started to come around in middle school." By now Adrian was becoming romantic. Using his finger, he wrote a question on her back. Would she be his girl? She never answered, because (she explained later) he forgot the question mark.
                                                                         Then....and now.                           Courtesy photos
On September 19, Adrian and Brooke walked down the same aisle again, this time to be married. That's because Adrian wasn't forgetful when he proposed. After pointing out a sign that said, "Will you marry me, Brooke" he got down on one knee and handed her a question mark. They both feel their marriage is God-ordained. "We know our steps have been ordered by the Lord," said Adrian.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Learning a very important lesson

Aiden Wright, 7, was playing on the sliding board at a park in Salem, MA., recently when he noticed a check book with an envelope tucked inside. He showed it to his uncle, Danny Wright, who recalled on Facebook that "I peeked into the envelope and immediately told Aiden, 'Buddy, we're going to be learning a very important lesson today." The envelope contained $8,000 in cash. After taking this picture to remember the discovery, they turned everything over to local police.
                                                                                                        Photo by Danny Wright
The officer took down Aiden's contact information and the boy left, only to be called back to the station 20 minutes later. The checkbook's owner had arrived and wanted to thank Aiden personally.

The owner, Elias Santos, had taken his two children to the playground after being paid for a contracting job. He didn't realize the money was missing until police called him. "I'm so grateful," he said, "because we don't have people like this (anymore)." As a reward for honesty, he gave Aiden $100. His uncle said Aiden is a naturally caring boy. After he and Santos hugged at the police station, as Santos was leaving, Aiden called after him, "Be careful going down the slide."

Saturday, October 3, 2015

"a little child shall lead them"

Joseph's House in Syracuse, NY, is a non-profit home for women who have no place else to live while facing unplanned pregnancy. You can visit the house and meet some residents at It will touch your heart.

New mothers at Joseph's Houses are assisted by many volunteers. One is 13-year-old Erin Byrnes, who comes each Thursday to cuddle babies and do chores.

When she was 12, Erin learned that Joseph's House needed more money, so she spent a year collecting and recycling cans and bottles found in her neighborhood. After she raised $1,000, she asked her parents to use part of the funds to buy $200 worth of tickets (that's 60 tickets out of a total of 26,000 sold) in the annual Joseph's House car raffle. "We never dreamed in a million years that Erin would win," said her Mom, Jeanie Byrnes.

This year's car was a 2015 Chevy Tahoe LTZ worth nearly $70,000. Erin's Dad drives a 2008 Honda Civic, but agreed she could decide what to do with her winnings. After she won the car, she astonished the crowd by donating it back to Joseph's House! The audience could hardly believe it, so the emcee asked Erin to repeat her intention into the microphone. Soon news of her generosity spread across the nation and offers began arriving to help grow her gift.

A local business wants to help Erin give Christmas gifts to Joseph House mothers, and a central New York jeweler wants her to pick gifts for mothers from his stock room. A school class has offered to help, and lots of ordinary folks are donating to make this Christmas at Joseph's House merrier than usual. Erin is a good fundraiser, but her first love is child care. After winning the car raffle, the eighth-grader was eager to return to the babies after a day at middle school.
                                                                                                             Courtesy photos

Friday, October 2, 2015

Mom taught him to "get up and go"

Today's crumb was contributed by a faithful reader in Apex, North Carolina.

When Mike Flowers, 59, was a kid, he never missed a day of school because of illness, except for measles in first grade. Otherwise, his attendance was perfect because his Mom always made him get up and go. He kept following her advice as an adult, and this week retired from the Tuscaloosa Police Department's east precinct after 35 years of perfect attendance.
                                                                                                                                           Photo by AP
Studies show the average worker takes about five days of sick leave each year, but Mike never took one, not even in 1980 when he was a motorcycle officer. He was in a wreck, and had to have his arm in a splint for a week. "So I came to work and rode my motorcycle with a splint on my arm," he said. Somehow we suspect his Mom is mighty proud of him.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Let's all be more like Nyfesha Miller

On her Facebook page, Becky Garvison tells of a flight she made recently with baby daughter Rylee. She said she was "stressed about flying alone with Rylee and all of our stuff to lug around with no help." She boarded her plane at 5:30 a.m. and the nearly-full flight was very quiet.  The couple sitting next to her looked annoyed having a baby so close to them. Rylee started crying when the plane began to taxi, so Becky asked a flight attendant if she could move two rows ahead where two of the three seats were vacant. The attendant agreed, but in Becky's words, "Rylee wouldn't stop crying no matter what I would try to do, but now I was sitting next to this amazing woman. I'm not sure if she could tell how upset I looked, but she asked if didn't mind if she tried to help, and of course I let her. As soon as she had her, Rylee was looking out the window and stopped crying. When we got in the air, Rylee fell asleep and slept in her lap the whole flight until we got to our gate.
                                                         Nyfesha Miller with Rylee       Facebook

The lady's name was Nyfesha Miller. In Becky's words, "She kept saying it wasn't a problem at all and was actually a comforting feeling for her. She even carried her off the plane and held her so I could get the stroller and car seat put back together. Nyfesha Miller, you could have rolled your eyes and been irritated like everyone else, but you took her and held her the entire flight and let me get some rest and peace of mind. It brought tears to my eyes while I sat there and watched you and Rylee. I just couldn't believe how caring you were too us. Thank you SO much."