Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The secret to finding happiness

A teacher once brought balloons to school and told her pupils to blow them up and write their name on one. After the children tossed their balloons into the hall, the teacher moved through the hall mixing them all up. Then the kids were given five minutes to find their own balloon. They all looked hard, but nobody found their own balloon.

Then the teacher told them to take the balloon closest to them and give it to the person whose name was on it. In less than two minutes, everyone was holding their own balloon. The teacher told the children, "These balloons are like happiness. We won't find it when we're only searching for our own, but if we care about someone else's happiness, this will help us find our own."

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Who does not like homemade lasagna?

After Michelle Brenner, 45, was furloughed from her job at a menswear store in Gig Harbor, Washington, she made herself a huge pan of lasagna using her grandmother's recipe. Then she got on her community Facebook page and wrote, "If any of you want some fresh homemade, no calorie counting lasagna, please let me know and I'll gladly prepare it for you.

She set aside her $1,200 stimulus check from Uncle Sam to buy the ingredients. Soon she had a few requests, and before long so many people started showing up, including strangers, that she lost track. Nearly three months at 1,200 pans later, she is still boiling noodles, cooking ground beef, mixing up tomato sauce and layering mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan. She cooks about eight hours a day, seven days a week, helping feed people from hospital workers and first responders to single parents struggling without paychecks.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Grandson runs 218 miles to see Nana

Corey Cappelloni is an endurance athlete. He lives in Washington, D.C. His grandmother, Ruth Andres, 98, lives in a nursing home in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She was sick with COVID-19 but is recovering. Instead of driving to Scranton to see her, he decided to run and raise money for the nursing home where she lives.

The run took him seven days. When he arrived he could only see Nana through a window, but called her on a cellphone. The call was broadcast on public speakers so everyone could hear it. He told her, "Nana, you're a strong person. You're going on 99, and you still have many more miles." She put a sign in her window that said, "I love you, Corey." By the end of the run, he had exceeded his goal of raising $22,000 for the nursing home.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Bill does not care about birds at all

Bill Larkin was a young man in the 1960s. Today he lives alone in a geodesic dome near Loogotee, Indiana. Outside the dome, he yard is filled with thousands of brightly painted birdhouses and stones.  Why? For years before retiring, he was locked in a room with no window writing computer programs. " I don't care about birds," he said. I just wanted to see color.

When drought killed the colorful flowers he planted, he switched to painting rocks, and birdhouses which he builds and gives away. A sign by his driveway encourages visitors to laugh and have fun. The attraction is free, and Bill won't accept any tips, but he gives every visitor a free Bill-painted birdhouse to take home. " In 2019, he gave away almost 5,000 colorful homemade birdhouses, which he builds inside his dome-home.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Sixth-grader donates art to at-risk children

Clelsea Phaire of Danbury, Connecticut, started a charity in August, 2019, to doante art kits to children at risk. She started it on her birthday, asking for art supplies instead of gifts. She continued to obtain supplies through her charity's Amazon wishlist.

She has donated art kits to homeless shelters, women's shelters, and schools impacted by gun violence in 12 U.S. states. Since the current pandemic began, she has managed to give away 1,500 art kits. "I feel good inside knowing how happy kids are when they get their art kits," she said. "I have definitely grown as a person because of this."

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Plants need not wear masks

As an intriguing statement on the relationship between man and nature, a Spanish opera hall will conduct a performance of Puccini's flowery concerto Chrisantemi -- or Chrysanthemums in English -- to a packed house of 2,292 potted plants.

While government-mandated shelter-in-place rules forced society to stay at home, nature crept silently into many vacated spaces. Concert organizers at Barcelona's Liceu opera house decided that as the nation begins to reopen, it should be plants that receive the honor of the first performance within the grand Catalan concert hall.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Teaching teens philanthropy

During the last six years, the VING Project (named after the last four letters of the word "giving") has given teenagers $1,000 each  so they can do something kind for someone outside their family. To receive a check for $1,000, teens must submit a 2-minute video to the foundation explaining why they wish to give money to their nominee.

If the charity accepts the video, the $1,000 check is sent directly to the teen so they can present it to their nominee, sometimes a favorite teacher. In the month of April alone, VING gave away more than $250,000 in checks to teens. U.S.-based teens between 14 and 18 are encouraged to submit their nominations to the VING project Web site.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

A father's day crumb

As reported in The Readers' Digest, Kay Lockridge of Santa Fe, New Mexico had just learned to fly. She invited her dad to be her first passenger, and he agreed. That was more than 40 years ago, but she still remembers what happened.

She had just taken off and was climbing to 1,500 feet when her dad said, "OK, we can land now." She had just earned her pilot's license and planned to circle the Michigan State University campus and return to the university-owned airport. She reminded her dad of this, and has never forgotten what he said. "I'm not fond of small planes. I just wanted you to know that I have confidence in you."

Friday, June 19, 2020

Good news for Target employees

Target stores has announced that it will make its pandemic pay rise permanent. From now on, its starting wage for U.S. employees will be $15 per hour. Additionally, the firm will give a one-time recognition bonus of $200.00 to its frontline store and distribution center hourly workers for their efforts during the pandemic.

Target is also offering a new healthcare benefit that provides access to free virtual healthcare visits through the end of the year, regardless of whether or not employees are on a Target health insurance plan. The company also announced additional extensions of a 30-day paid leave for vulnerable employees, as well as free back-up care for family members.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

A voice from heaven?

Colette Hawley has made it her years-long mission to visit senior centers and sing to residents. The Chicago-based performer hit a snag when the pandemic started spreading, so she brought in some heavy equipment.

With nursing homes across the country prohibiting visitors, Colette rented a 30-foot cherry picker bucket truck to serenade residents from a safe distance: outside the third and fourth floor windows of Chicago Methodist Senior Services. With grateful nursing home residents clapping, waving, and some even brought outside to dance on the sidewalk, the inspiring Memorial Day concert soon went viral.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Drones deliver library books?

The current pandemic may have closed schools and public libraries across the United States, but a librarian in Virginia found a creative way to keep kids reading. Her solution? Drones will deliver books of their choice directly to their door.

Kelly Passek, a middle school librarian in the Montgomery County School District, is an early adapter of drone delivery service for household goods in her town of Christianburg. It didn't take long for her to see how this technology could benefits kids in her district. "I think kids are going to be just thrilled to learn they are going to be the first in the world to receive a library book by drone," she said.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

An encore crumb from 2015

Today's crumb was contributed by a reader in Granger, Indiana, USA. It tells the story of Reggie Ho, a cardiologist at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Ho specializes in electrophysiology, and his expertise is widely respected. But he was respected even before he became a physician.
 Dr. Reggie Ho

At 5 feet, five inches tall and weighing only 135 pounds, he was the shortest and lightest player on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 1988 football team. On Sept. 10, in his first collegiate game, played under the lights in front of a national TV audience, he nailed all four of his field-goal attempts, including a game-winning 26-yarder with 73 seconds left on the clock, to help Notre Dame knock off Michigan and jump-start a championship season. Even today, as he helps heal failing hearts in grateful patients, the modest Ho deflects attention from himself. "It was a team effort," he says. "We all won the game together."  But in Notre Dame lore, it's still called "The Reggie Ho Game." After it ended, the team held a big victory party, but Ho wasn't there. He was in the library, studying, because he wanted to be a doctor.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Young cellist teaching other youth to play

British cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason first won attention at age 17 as the first black musician to win the presitgious BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. But it was his performance at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in 2018 that made him famous.

He's now 21, and thanks to the so-called "Sheku effect" a new generation of young cellists is emerging. Britain's National Schools Symphony Orchestra reports a 68% increase in applications from young cellists. Kanneh-Mason is using his celebrity to lobby for more music education in British schools.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

A crumb from Buffalo, New York

When Antonio Gwynn, Jr. saw the damage from protests in his hometown of Buffalo, New York, he grabbed a broom and some trash bags and began cleaning the streets himself. He's an 18-year-old high school senior, and he knew that Bailey Avenue was covered with glass and garbage, and he knew that people needed to use that street in the morning to get to work. So he started at 2 a.m.

When word spread about how Gwynn single-handedly took action, many were grateful to him. Matt Block decided to give Gwynn his 2004 Mustang convertible. Local businessman Bob Briceland donated a year of car insurance through his agency. After high school, Gwynn planned to go to trade school while saving for college. Medaille College in Buffalo offered him a full scholarship, where he plans to start studying business this fall. He hopes to eventually open a cleaning business. And his already has a long history of kindness. He's a member of Kappa Phi, where he enjoys doing community service and helping out at churches.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

A crumb from New Zealand

Jenny Beck, an attorney who runs a law firm in Dunedin, New Zealand, knew that many small businesses in her area were in trouble because they depended on tourism. So she got an idea. At the first staff meeting with everyone back from lockdown, the mood was anxious. Some feared possible lay-offs. But instead of salary cuts, the law firm owner gave each of her 14 employees $1,000 in cash. Many wept.

The shocked workers were also given a caveat about the money they received -- pay it forward. They were to spend it all on small businesses, so Beck suggested they take a long weekend, paying for accommodation, food at local restaurants, and tourist attractions, to help start the local economy rolling again.

Friday, June 12, 2020

You never walk alone

Shawn Dromgoole, 29, has lived in the "12 South" neighborhood of Nashville, Tennessee, all his life. As a young man, he watched his neighborhood gentrify. Black families moved out and white families moved in. With each passing year, he felt less welcome. On an app that connects neighbors, he saw frequent postings to look out for "suspicious black men." Afraid to walk outside his yard, he finally shared his own concerns. "Yesterday I wanted to walk around my neighborhood but the fear of not returning home alive kept me on my front porch."

Unexpectedly, responses from his community poured in. Neighbors who Dromgoole did not know asked if they could join his walk. Finally he posted when he'd take his next walk, and anyone who wanted to join him was welcome. At the meeting spot, he found 75 neighbors waiting for him. "I was so overwhelmed," he said, "I still can't find the words."

Thursday, June 11, 2020

A crumb from England

More than 45 homeless have been staying at upmarket Fownes Hotel in Worcester, England, since pandemic restrictions were put in place in March. The 60-room hotel, which normally charges guests up to $200/night, opted to stay open to provide shelter to people living on the streets. The three hotel bars have been closed and no alcohol is permitted on the hotel grounds.

48-year-old Peter Swinbourne, homeless for 25 years, said the hotel "saved" him. "I have never slept in a double bed before," he said, "This is a five-star hotel putting up homeless people." 55-year-old Terence Marriott has been staying at the hotel for six weeks. He said, "The food is excellent. I feel a lot healthier than when I came in." Hotel management has been maintained by a skeleton crew of 11 people while 15 staff have been furloughed.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

A crumb taken entirely from Facebook

John Rinn is a police officer in Dedham, Massachusetts. Here is a post and photo which appeared recently on his Facebook page. He writes, "So I am sitting in my cruiser typing a report and this woman just came up to me and asked if she could talk to me for a second. I said 'absolutely," and got out of my cruiser and spoke with her. The very first thing she said was she told me that my life matters to her. She told me she does not see me as a white cop. She seems me as a human being and that we're all human and we're all the same. She then asked me if she could give me a hug, which I accepted.

I told her that her life mattered to me as well, and we continued to chat for about 20 minutes about all that is going on in the world. During those 20 minutes, it wasn't a cop and a citizen (or a cop and a black citizen) talking. It was just two humans having a conversation. Before she left, she gave me a small Bible and told me she will be praying for me. We need more people in the world like this woman."

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

A heartfelt reunion

In 1983, when Deirdre Taylor was only 4 years old, she was rescued from possible death in a burning apartment building by a New York City firefighter. She still has the front page news article about it, complete with a picture of her rescuer, Eugene Pugliese. When Taylor, now a nurse, went to New York City for two months to help battle the pandemic, she would not help but wonder if Pugliese was nearby.

During one of her shifts, she told her story to a local fire fighter, and it only took him one phone call to the Fire Department of New York to find Pugliese. After all these years, the two of them finally connected. "She turned out to be a magnificent woman with a magnificent life," Pugliese said. And they're both die-hard Yankees fans.

Monday, June 8, 2020

An encouraging crumb from Hawaii

The Hawaii Department of Human Services does not plan to make the "old normal" the "new normal" after the end of the pandemic. It recognizes the current crisis as an opportunity to build a new economic system based on gender equality. The state's plan calls for a universal basic income, and free publicly provided child care for essential workers.

The plan also calls for a nearly $25/hour minimum wage for single mothers, plus public emergency funds for undocumented women and domestic workers. It calls for a reinvestment in midwifery services as hospitals became strained by the pandemic. And it calls for a 20% pro-rata share of the state's COVID-19 response funds to go immediately to Native Hawaiian communities, with no strings attached. This will result in a new normal -- equality for women.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

He's more than a baker. He's a neighbor.

When bakery owner Bill Hanisch heard traditional high school graduation ceremonies would be cancelled this year, he decided to sweeten the day for disappointed teens. He made a free, personalized, cake for each of the 220 seniors graduating from his alma mater, Red Wing High School in Red Wing, Minnesota. It's about an hour southeast of Minneapolis.

As soon as the owner of Hanisch Bakery and Coffee Shop posted his plan on Facebook, business owners and school administrators and parents in surrounding towns like Cannon Falls, MN and Plum City, WI, asked if they could send him donations to make cakes for graduating seniors at their schools. So far he's filled at least 800 orders.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

You'll want to meet Jyoti the lionhearted

Mohan Paswan lives in the rural village of Bihar, India, but in order to find work, he went 750 miles away to New Dehli, where he was a rickshaw driver until last month when he was badly injured. His daughter Jyoti Kumari, 15, dropped out of school and went to New Dehli to care for her dad. When the lockdown happened, they had no income and the landlord cut off their electricity. That's when Jyoti suggested they return to their faraway village. At first, Mohan was aghast at his daughter's suggestion that she take him home. "It's 750 miles!" he said. "How shall we go?"

Jyoti had cycled a lot in their village, and they had just enough money left ($20) to buy a bicycle. They rode the entire distance with Joyti pedaling as her dad riding on the seat with his heavy bag. It was not a glamorous journey. They often lacked food and slept at gas stations. The pair travelled nearly 100 miles per day. On borrowed cell phones, Jyoti would reassure her worried mother, "Don't worry, I'll get Papa home good." True to her word, she got him home. Since then, the Indian media has dubbed her "Jyoti the lionhearted." The teenage girl has been contacted by the chairman of the Cycling Federation of India, urging her to try out for the national team.

Friday, June 5, 2020

South Korea sends masks to the Navajo Nation

When the government of South Korea realized that the Navajo Nation in the United States was suffering the same pandemic infection rates as New York City, it shipped them 10,000 masks and other PPE in gratitude for their service 70 years ago. During the Korean War, about 800 Navajo used their native language as an unbreakable code for radio messages, securing 100% secrecy around any military movements by the United States. South Koreans have never forgotten this.

According to the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans affairs in South Korea, about 130 of these "Code Talkers" are still alive today. Korea hopes its gifts will console the veterans in the midst of the pandemic. Spokesman Kim Eun-gi said, "The government remembers those who made a noble sacrifice to defend a strange country 70 years ago, and we hope they will proudly tell their posterity about the choice they made so many years ago."

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Mayor of Detroit in tears

Stefan Perez is only 16 years old, but he began marching in downtown Detroit, Michigan, recently with 15 people. More and more joined until he became unwitting leader of a large crowd. He vowed to keep everyone in line and get them home safely. At the end of the march, after no looting or fights, he urged protesters to obey the city's 8 p.m. curfew. With a megaphone someone thrust into his hand, he kept the protesters calm even though some of them tried to defy his peaceful intentions.

"I tried to keep everyone together," he said. "I'm surprised people listened to me. I'm glad they did because they're not hurt right now." While a reporter was interviewing the young activist, Mayor Mike Duggan called on someone's phone and the call was broadcast via speakerphone on Facebook Live. He said, "Son, I was watching the video and I saw your leadership. I have tears in my eyes. You are everything that's special about the City of Detroit. We're going to fight injustice because of people like you."

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

What kind of people are we, really?

In the aftermath of George Floyd's death, flames raged through the 3rd Precinct police station in Minneapolis. Neighborhood stores were ransacked and closed. School food services and public transportation were suspended across the city, affecting 970 students enrolled at Sanford Middle School. About 60% of these students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Principal Amy Nelson and her staff emailed friends and others in the community, asking for a total of 85 food kits to be donated in the school parking lot on Sunday morning. They asked for staples like cereal, bread and applies. What do you think happened next?

An hour before people were supposed to drop off donations, the loading docks were already filled with food. "There were miles of cars holding food," said Mara Bernick, family liaison for the school. "The line of cars wrapped around our city blocks." Soon the school property was covered with about 29,000 bags of groceries. By the end of the day, about 30,000 food kits were delivered, and more than 500 families and individuals were able to stock their pantries and fridges. That's who we are, really.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Protesters to police: "Walk with us!"

In the photo below, Johnie Franklin of Flint, Michigan, takes a selfie with Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson as he marches with protesters against police brutality recently in Flint Township. Sheriff Swanson spoke with demonstrators who were met by police officers in riot gear. He said, "The only reason we're here is to make sure that you got a voice."

"These cops love you," he said. "That cop over there hugs people." The crowd responded by chanting, "Walk with us!" So he did. "Let's go. Let's go," Swanson said as he and the cheering crowd proceeded. "Where do you want to go? We'll walk all night."

Monday, June 1, 2020

Police and protesters unite

Ryan Ao was trying to get to his car in downtown Portland, Oregon, recently, when he saw a peaceful protest was happening. He heard a lot of noise and went to investigate. He captured an inspiring moment on camera as Portland police took a knee with protesters. Some of the protesters got up to shake hands and high-five officers.

Ao said, "I'm hearing a lot of cheering and all the sudden I see some people hugging a police officer, and I'm like, 'What?" So I come running down here to document this and I was just blown away. All kinds of protesters were hugging police officers who took a knee with them."