Sunday, September 30, 2018

Need a tie or purse for a job interview?

The Riverside branch of the New York Public Library has created a "Grown Up Work Fashion Library" where folks of any age can check out a necktie or briefcase or purse for three weeks, provided they don't have any library card fines greater than $15.

The initiative began when a librarian teaching a class about "finding a job" told her students not to wear a backpack to a job interview. They were all very surprised, and said they did not have "any nicer stuff." The goal of the Grown Up Work Fashion Library is to help anyone with limited resources get accessories for interviews, graduations or other "business-like occasions.."

Saturday, September 29, 2018

"You know that somebody loves you

Custodian Herman Gordon has been spreading kindness at Bristol University for more than 11 years. This summer, students of the British university decided it was time to return the favor.
Students launched a crowdfunding campaign to send Gordon, originally from Jamaica, on a weeklong trip to Kingston to see his family for the first time in nearly a decade.
"I started it because I know everybody loves Herman for his happy energy," said medical student Hadi Al-Zubaidi, who had the idea for the fundraiser. "I thought sending him to his home country of Jamaica would be a beautiful way of giving back for all that he does."
    The campaign went viral thanks to Facebook posts on an anonymous campus confessions page. Normally used for gossip, the page quickly became a force for good. Students raised about $2,000 for plane tickets in a matter of days.
    But the contagion of kindness didn't stop with Bristol students. Sandals Resorts came across the fundraiser and invited Gordon and his wife, Denise, to spend two nights at their luxury hotel in Montego Bay -- a belated present for the couple's 23rd anniversary.
    Herman Gordon and his wife at Sandals Montego Bay
    Gordon, who moved to England at age 12 and rarely gets to visit his Jamaican family, was overwhelmed with emotion when students gave him the money for the trip. Expecting nothing, he opened a plain envelope to find hundreds of dollars and a letter that brought him to tears.
      "On behalf of the students at Bristol, we would like to thank you for all the positive energy you have given to us throughout the years," read the note. "You have brightened many of our days and we want you to know that we love and appreciate you."
      In a video capturing the moment, Gordon said, "When you see things like this, you know that somebody loves you."

      Friday, September 28, 2018

      Act of kindness brings tears of joy

      Television station FOX5 in Las Vegas, Nevada, has a group of employees called the Surprise Squad. They go into action when someone deserves recognition, and they were busy one autumn day. That's when Daniel Rivas, 17, tried to get a date for the Shadow Ridge High School homecoming dance. Nobody accepted his invitation, perhaps because he has Down syndrome. Then a 10th grader named Kylie Fronius invited him to the dance. He accepted. Kylie said she didn't ask him out of pity, but because she expected to have a wonderful time. She doesn't see him as disabled, but only as "learning in a different way." When the FOX5 Surprise Squad heard that, they made sure it was an evening the kids would never forget.

      Kylie had just arrived at Daniel's home to pick him up for the dance when the Surprise Squad arrived with TV cameras. Kylie would not need to drive. The couple would go to the dance in a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce, and on the way, they stopped at Bistro 57 for a supper of Daniel's favorite food, spaghetti. Daniel's mom, Tonya, wept as she remembered how often they'd driven past the restaurant but "couldn't afford to eat there." When they arrived at the high school, a red carpet had been stretched to the curb and other students were on both sides, cheering. But the Surprise Squad wasn't done yet. During the evening, FOX5 interrupted  the dance to announce that both Kylie's family and Daniel's family would enjoy free vacations at Disneyland. Then the owner of the local Nissan dealership gave Daniel $10,000 for his continuing education after high school (he wants to be a chef). Finally, the owner led everyone outside to the school parking lot and showed Kylie a  beautiful Sentra wrapped with a bow. "It's yours," he said, as she burst into tears. Everyone agreed it was the best homecoming dance ever, all because of one act of kindness.

      Thursday, September 27, 2018

      Does a two year gap really matter?

      An older gentleman in England named Eric Bogliani had a huge crush on his sister's girlfriend Elaine way back in elementary school. When they met, he was 7 and she was 9-going-on 10. Eric's mom felt that was too great an age difference, so she told him he was not allowed to have a crush on her.

      Now fast-forward half-a-century. They're both in their 60s now, so two years mean nothing. They reconnected on Facebook a few years ago. They hit it off, starting dating, and recently got married, but you'll never guess where. They elementary school they attended together is now a community chapel with a licensed wedding venue. That's where they tied the knot -- the same place they first met almost 60 years ago.

      Wednesday, September 26, 2018

      Dude, we're totally twins!

      Today's crumb comes from the US edition of The Guardian.  Anais Bordier always knew she was adopted. She was born in South Korea but raised in France by parents who look nothing like her. Her adoption papers said she was the only child of a very young unmarried woman. In 2012 Anais was studying fashion in London when a fellow student posted a YouTube video of her on her Facebook page. But she never made the video! As she watched it, she realized it was an American girl who looked exactly like her. Her American look-alike was Samantha Futerman. Sam was also born in Korea, and they had the same birthday. Finally Anais got enough courage to message Samantha to "check out my Facebook page." When Sam wrote back, she enclosed a copy of her adoption records. Both girls were born in the same clinic. Sam wrote to Anais, "Dude, we're totally twins!"

      When a friend, Dr. Nancy Segal, offered them DNA testing, both girls swabbed their cheeks together on Skype and agreed to meet. Sam came to London. They realized they have the same sense of humor and understand each other perfectly. Then Dr. Segal called to say they were identical twins.

      Says Anais, "I had a very happy childhood and never felt anything was missing, but there was one thing I wanted: to look like someone else in my family. What could be better than an identical twin? I'll always have her in my life now."  Thanks to YouTube.

      Tuesday, September 25, 2018

      A gold medal for Korean diplomacy?

      Speaking of the photo below, political scientist Ian Bremmer said, "This is why we do the Olympic games." It shows Lee Eu-ju, 17, of South Korea, and Hong Un-jong, 27, of North Korea, smiling together for a selfie during the training period before the gymnastics games in Rio.

      North and South Korea are technically at war, and political relations have been tense for many years, but Olympic sports bring everyone together. Both girls competed as individual qualifiers in artistic gymnastics. They failed to win the championship in their round, but most who saw this picture agree they earned a gold medal for diplomacy.

      Monday, September 24, 2018

      Vilma Wong is a nurse with a long memory

      Vilma Wong, 54, is a nurse at a children's hospital near San Francisco, California. Last month she met a new resident at the hospital named Brandon Seminatore. He's studying to be a childhood neurologist. When she saw his badge, she remembered his name from almost 30 years ago.

      She knew him because he was once a patient of hers. She even remembered that his father was a policeman. Brandon was born two months premature and weighed only 2 pounds 6 ounces. He spent his first 40 days in intensive care, where Wong nursed him. Brandon's parents told him to be on the lookout for her, because she was their favorite nurse. Vilma says getting to work with someone she helped save is the "best reward a nurse could get."

      Sunday, September 23, 2018

      Lunches for children of South Africa

      Hawley, Pennsylvania, is a tiny town in the Pocono Mountains, but its residents still go to church, and have big hearts. On September 16, members of several congregations met at Hawley United Methodist Church to pack more than 12,000 meals for children in South Africa. Volunteers were told they were not just packing food. They were packing hope.

                                                                                                                          Photo by Katie Collins
      Children will receive these lunches when they attend school. The rise-based meals offer 23 vitamins and nutrients that make an immediate difference in a child's health. Soy and vegetables are baked into the rice. Many who receive these lunches now get no nutrients at all and are malnourished. The meals will ameliorate the cycle of poverty by letting students eat and learn.

      Saturday, September 22, 2018

      Making memories with her grandparents

      About 10 years ago, Mitch and Ann Smith  set aside 3 acres of their 32 acre farm to plant peas for the public. "We started it for older people so they could pick on their own. We have people bring their grandchildren to the fields with them. They'll be laughing and singing. Mitch says, "It's very rewarding. Customers can either buy peas or pick 'on halves.' They get half of what they pick for free, and I get half. Last year we had some ladies using canes who came to pick. We have people 85-year-old out here picking."

                                                                                                                                    Adam Robison

      But the field grows more than peas. It also grows memories. Mitch and Ann got their granddaughter Haley into the business when she was only nine. She and her grandparents are as close as "three peas in a pod." Haley is now a sophomore at Shannon High School. Mostly to spend time with her grandparents, she helps plow the fields, hoe the rows, plant the seeds and pick the peas. She is paid for her work, and has used her earnings to buy school supplies and clothes and even her own phone. Mitch says sometimes he drags her to the field, and sometimes she drags him.

      Friday, September 21, 2018

      What is "radical hospitality?"

      Six years ago, Doniece Sandoval realized many people sleep in the streets of San Francisco. For over 2,000 homeless people, there were only 20 shower stalls. Then she read the city was about to replace old public busses, so she bought two of them and converted them into mobile shower units.  The busses visit several areas; hook up to a fire hydrant, and nearby homeless folks take a number. When their number is called, the magic happens.

      Each person receives fresh towels, toiletry products and a hygiene kit including socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and razors. People who have not been able to shower for months say it completely changes their life. "People come out and sometimes they're crying, or they're ecstatic, or they hug us," says Sandoval. "We learn their names. We learn their stories, and we provide extra support. We call it radical hospitality."

      Sunday, September 16, 2018

      She knew she'd make the extra point

      Kaylee Foster is a senior this year at a high school in Biloxi, Mississippi. She recently had a very big night. First, she was crowned Homecoming Queen before the football team's homecoming game. Then she put on her pads and played in the game. She's been the football team's placekicker since her sophomore year, and she's good.

      During the game, she made two field goals. Then it went into overtime, and she kicked the extra point to win it. After the game, she posed for this photo. Someone asked if she was more nervous about the kick, or being Homecoming Queen. She said she wasn't nervous about either one. She was pretty sure she would NOT be Homecoming Queen, but she never doubted she'd make the extra point.

      Thursday, September 13, 2018

      The oldest person to ride a zip line?

      Last April, when Jack Reynolds of Derbyshire, England, turned 106 years old, he made another mark in the Guinness Book of World Records. At 104 he became the oldest person to get a tattoo. At 105 he was the oldest person to ride a rollercoaster. And this year, at 106, he became the oldest person to ride a zip line.

      His zip line ride was covered by ITV on its "Good Morning, Britain" show. He rode it to raise money for the Stroke Association. The line was 197 feet above the ground and 1,312 feet long, and it was fun, as you can see.  Afterward he commented, "It has become somewhat of a tradition that on my birthday I use my new age to help raise money for worthy charities."

      Wednesday, September 12, 2018

      The legacy of Gander. Let's never forget.

      This week, as we mark the anniversary of 9-11, let's remember the legacy of Gander. Many of us know where we were when we heard about the tragedy of 9-11, but some may have forgotten that all U.S. airspace was closed for several days after the attacks. This meant passengers flying home to the States were all diverted to Canada. It was a challenge for big city Canadian airports, but for the airport in Gander, Newfoundland, it provoked a miracle of kindness.

      Gander was a town of 10,000 residents with two police officers. Its airport usually received eight domestic flights daily. On September 11, 2001, 39 airliners carrying 6,579 passengers rapidly landed, one-after-another. Most passengers didn't know why they were diverted until after they landed. All had to spend that first night trying to sleep on their plane as 9-11 news trickled in. Little did they know it would be four days until American airspace reopened, but outside the airport, the people of Gander were opening their hearts.
      As one flight attendant recalls, "Gander and surrounding communities had closed all high schools and meeting halls, converting them into mass lodging areas. Some had cots or mats and sleeping bags with pillows all set up, and high school students were required to care for their 'guests.' A convoy of school busses showed up at the side of our plane and passengers were taken to the terminal for processing. Our 218 passengers stayed at a high school in Lewisport. Families were kept together, while the elderly were taken to private homes. Food was prepared by local residents and brought to the schools. Bakeries stayed open late, making fresh bread for 'the plane people.' Every need was met for these unfortunate travelers. When they came back onboard,  passengers cried while telling of the kindness they received. Everyone knew everyone else by name and exchanged phone numbers and email addresses."

      But the passengers on this flight did not forget the people of Gander, as you'll see if you watch the heartwarming 5-minute video linked here.

      Tuesday, September 11, 2018

      Stolen "police car" replaced

      Conner Burton, 6, visited the Circle K gas station in Taylorsville, IN, on Aug. 22. Conner left his car on the sidewalk as they went inside for a snack. When they returned, it had vanished. Valued at about $300, it has not been found. Conner cried himself to sleep the night his toy car was stolen. He kept asking if deputies had found it yet. By then, news of his loss had reached three police departments in south-central Indiana, and they prepared a surprise for him.

      When Walmart learned police wanted to replace Conner's car, they donated a gift card to purchase it. Conner was then invited to tour the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department in Columbus, IN. First he was sworn in as a Junior Deputy. Then he received a badge and a hat. Finally he was led to the department garage, where his shiny new vehicle was waiting. Asked how he felt, Conner said, "happy." An officer said the department received so many donations for Conner that "we could have bought him 20 cars." As the family left, the Sheriff called after Conner. "Hey, you've got a badge, a hat and a car. I expect you to report for work at midnight."

      Monday, September 10, 2018

      A sculptured word to the wise...

      Christopher Hughes is a metal sculptor in Hawley, a small town in the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. One of his recent sculptures was recently featured in the Hawley News-Eagle, and is shared below, since it contains such an important message.

      Sunday, September 9, 2018

      Simply doing what anyone else would do?

      Aaron Allen and Jolisa Jones are brother and sister. They both work for Ashley Furniture in Tampa, Florida. Recently they were driving a delivery truck on I-75 when they saw a car side-swipe and SUV that was driving in front of them. The SUV tumbled off the road and landed upside down in a nearby creek. Without hesitation, Aaron and Jolisa went into rescue mode.

      As they approached, they saw water seeping into the passenger area where Thomas and Diana Windsor and their 11-day-old baby Azara were belted in. The siblings managed to turn the SUV right-side-up. Then Aaron wrapped his T-shirt around his fist and punched out the windshield. They both helped the family to safety. The Windsors and their baby were unharmed, but Aaron needed 14 stitches in his arm. "If I was in that situation, I would want someone to help me," he said.

      Saturday, September 8, 2018

      The best birthday gift ever!

      Paige and Daniel Zezulka live in Athens, Georgia. For the past three years, they've been foster parents to three children. All are under 10, and had a rough life until Paige and Daniel became their foster parents. The eldest child, Ivey, hoped and prayed that one day Paige and Daniel would adopt her, since she considers them her only mom and dad.

      Adoption is a very slow process, but recently the couple got the good news they were waiting for. Best of all, they could tell Ivey with a surprise birthday gift. After the party, Paige and Daniel told Ivey she had one more gift, a white box. She opened the box, unwrapped the tissue paper and started to cry as she read the plaque which said she was adopted. Best of all, the couple also adopted her little brother and sister. Bottom line? Home is where the love is.

      Friday, September 7, 2018

      A reminder to teachers everywhere

      Jeanne Santomauro Schnupp is a muralist in Holtsville, NY. She painted this motto on the wall of an elementary school classroom. It's a beautiful, artistic reminder.

      Thursday, September 6, 2018

      They call him Forest Man

      Jadav Payeng is a man from India who lives on Jajuli, the world's largest river island. As a boy, he noticed animals dying from drought amid dwindling greenery on the island. So when he was 16, he planted one tree. He's planted one tree every day since then, for almost 40 years. His trees have grown into a 1,360 acre forest larger than New York's Central Park, which is now inhabited by hundreds of elephants, tigers, rhinos, boars, deer, reptiles and birds.

      "It was not as if I did it alone," he said. "You plant one or two trees and they have to seed. Once they seed, the wind knows how to plant them, the birds know how to sow them, the cows know, the elephants know, even the river knows. I see God in nature. Nature is God. It gives me inspiration. It gives me power. As long as it survives, I survive."

      Wednesday, September 5, 2018

      Donald and Daffy Duck can go to college free. Mickey too!

      The Walt Disney Corporation now offers free tuition for all hourly employees in the United States. It will be available to about 80,000 employees nationwide starting this fall. It will help staffers (Disney calls them "cast members") earn high school diplomas, college degrees and trade certifications, all for free.

      Disney will cover 100% of tuition and reimburse application fees and required books and materials. they expect to spend $50 million initially. The courses will be offered through Guild Education, which also provides education for employees at Walmart, Lowe's and Taco Bell. Guild Education guides workers to online courses offered by trustworthy, accredited schools, instead of dubious for-profits.

      Tuesday, September 4, 2018

      Remember your favorite teacher?

      Most of us remember a favorite teacher, but does that teacher still remember us? Here's a reminder that they probably do. LaShonda Carter is a teacher in Chicago. A few weeks ago she couldn't sleep and started scrolling through Facebook. She ended up messaging a former student from a few years back named Larresha Plummer.

      Larresha is now 18, and recently had a baby. She mentioned that she wanted to go to a job fair the next day but did not have a baby-sitter or a car. So she'd need to take her newborn with her on a bus. Hearing this, her former teacher rearranged her whole day and drove Larresha to the job fair the next morning. Then she sat in the car and watched the baby while Larresha went inside to look for job leads. Bottom line?  Larresha found a job, and she's going to college this fall.

      Monday, September 3, 2018

      Remember your 6th grade science fair project?

      Mya Chau and Eve Helman will never forget theirs. They were sixth graders in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, when they began researching disposable coffee cups for a science fair project. They discovered that billions of Starbucks single-use coffee cups are destroying forests around the world. "There's a plastic and wax lining inside that's really stuck to the paper, and we wanted them to make a recyclable cup," said Eve.

      Even though they were only 12-years-old, the girls launched a #BetterCup campaign. Their petition gathered 300,000 signatures and the attention of Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. He invited them to attend a shareholders' meeting in Seattle, Washington, where the company announced it would invest $10 million to develop a fully recyclable and compostable NEXTGEN cup. And best of all, (we assume) they got an A for their science fair project.

      Sunday, September 2, 2018

      Three brief videos worth watching

      Inspirational videos like these may be worth sharing with those you love. 

      1) As a lad, comedian Red Skelton was a student at Harrison Elementary School in the small town of Vincennes, Indiana.  Hear him describe how a very wise teacher at that school explained the Pledge of Allegiance.

      2) During WWII, thousands of young men, many still teenagers, rode troop trains across America to the west coast, where they were shipped into combat to fight the Japanese. Most had never been away from home, and were scared. Late at night, the conductor would announce "Next stop, North Platte. You have ten minutes." Little did they know angels were waiting for them there. Learn more at

      3)   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is remembered for "Song of Hiawatha" and "Paul Revere's Ride," but he also composed the most touching tribute to ones own children that we have in our literature. Father of five, he writes of his three surviving daughters. He describes the broad hall stair that can still be descended at the Longfellow National Historic Site. His verse originates our phrase "the patter of little feet."

      Saturday, September 1, 2018

      Bride and groom had no Plan B

      Mr. and Mrs. Vansiedright walked down the aisle recently to take their wedding vows. About 150 friends witnessed the ceremony, and afterward formal pictures were taken. Now it was time for a wedding meal, but where was the caterer? He had marked the wrong date on his calendar, and never showed up. The newlyweds had no Plan B. In desperation, they went to a nearby by restaurant to ask for help. It happened to be the Sonder Farm to Table Restaurant in Hudsonville, Michigan, where they got more help than they ever expected.

      When Sonder owner Nick Ruesticus heard about their problem, he said there was no way he could turn them down. He and his staff agreed to close the restaurant all day. Then, in just 90 minutes, they put together a cocktail hour and wedding feast for 150 people. They even made sure there were vegetarian and vegan options and a choice between beef and chicken. The newlyweds were in awe of the restaurant's kindness. They received a refund from their absent caterer, but say they don't know what they would have done if Sonder's compassionate staff had not stepped in to help.