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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on Michigan Pastor Wins USA TODAY’s Best of Humankind Award

Michigan Pastor Wins USA TODAY’s Best of Humankind Award

USA TODAY’s Best of Humankind Awards honor everyday people who have showcased the highest level of kindness, compassion, and perseverance in 2021. Each Humankind award celebrates an everyday person who is making a difference in their community. Winner of this award, Pastor Heather Boone, has shown a dedication to helping those who need it most in the Monroe community and her efforts are well-documented.

Boone moved to Monroe from Detroit and immediately went to work. She and her husband decided they wanted to stay in Monroe and start their own church, Oaks of Righteousness.
She made the Miracle on E. Second Street a reality by convincing the Detroit Archdiocese to sell her the historic St. Joseph Catholic Church at far below the asking price. It started as a homeless shelter and learning center known as Oaks Village.

She then further developed Oaks Village and formed a nonprofit grocery store, a clothes closet, soup kitchen, free childcare center and a free medical clinic. Her ministry serves as a village in the community. “I’m an unpaid pastor. We’re not a wealthy church and so we just wanted to change our community,” says Boone.

When the winner was announced, Boone was quick to point out none of it would be possible without the efforts of their volunteers. Boone, who lived in the homeless shelter for 2 years until they could afford to expand, said “There is no one road to homelessness. These are people just like you. We are all just a few paychecks away from being in this same predicament.”

When asked about winning the award Boone said “I mean it’s still surreal. When you think about it, across the whole United States, it’s all over the country. And so to be the person of the year… out of the whole country. It feels amazing.” But she says things are really just getting started. Next, Pastor Boone wants to build a tiny house village for those who are ready for permanent housing. This award puts her on the map, which is what she’s been praying for. “I had a lady call me from Chicago who saw it and she was asking me questions because she wants to do something similar in her community and that’s what we’re here for,” said Boone.

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9 months ago · by · Comments Off on Moms Write Book About The Loss of a Child To Raise Money For Charity

Moms Write Book About The Loss of a Child To Raise Money For Charity

A group of moms who have experienced the loss of a child came together to write a book about their experiences and raise money for charity. The book is called “The Last Kiss” and is a tough read but they wanted others going through this to feel like they aren’t alone. A nonprofit known as My Friend Linkin published and released the book recently.

My Friend Linkin was founded by Naudia Greenawalt in 2017. The then third-grader wrote a book about her friend Linkin, who was battling cancer. The two sold more than 500 copies of the book to raise money for Linkin’s care and other childhood cancer funds. They’ve since published several books about childhood cancer written by kids.

Each chapter of “The Last Kiss” is written by a mom who lost a child. Through each chapter, they recount their deeply personal experience. All proceeds will be donated to each mom’s charity of choice. Danielle Biddy, an Atlanta-area mom whose is one of the authors, said “I definitely want others going through this to feel like they’re not alone and to have points where they relate or feel like even when they’re in the depths of that grief initially that there is hope. If you have to go through it alone, or you feel like you are the only one feeling that way, then it can be very isolating,” she explained.

Danielle said sharing her story in print was difficult, but something she felt called to do. “I kind of vowed to be that voice that you will survive. Because it doesn’t always feel that way. You don’t feel like you will. And just to look for the good.” Danielle and her husband are donating their portion of the proceeds to the Miracle Babies Foundation to honor their daughter Carolina and by keeping her memory alive for their new baby boy Jace.

Greenawalt says the book is not only for moms who have experienced child loss, but also helpful for those who want to understand grief better and how to help those going through it. “It was important for us to include that because it was a way to bridge those that have experienced loss and those that have not experienced loss and say this is what we can all do,” she said. “Grief is messy, grief can be extremely ugly, but through that every day that you wake up you have a new day to start off fresh.” The book retails for $14 and can be purchased on myfriendlinkin.org along with several other books they have published.

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11 months ago · by · Comments Off on Pregnant Mother of Two Hailed Hero For Saving Girls From Drowning

Pregnant Mother of Two Hailed Hero For Saving Girls From Drowning

A pregnant mother of two is being hailed a hero after saving four kids from drowning during a family outing. As fate had it, Alyssa DeWitt, 27, decided to take her kids to First Street Beach Pier at Lake Michigan despite thinking the winds may be too strong. She soon noticed a group of girls under 15 on the beach who were going into the water.

Alyssa and her two children were the only other people on the beach at the time when the young girls ran into trouble. “I happened to look up and saw one of the girls waving her arms towards me and immediately knew something was wrong,” she said. Rip currents had pulled the girls out deeper and deeper into Lake Michigan, and they couldn’t get out.

“I got up, pulled my kids out of the water and ran out onto the pier. They couldn’t even keep their heads above water at that point. I called 911 immediately but I didn’t know if they could hear me and I didn’t have time to wait and find out,” she said. Alyssa knew she had to act quickly. “I put my phone down with 911 on and laid down over the side of the pier and told them to reach for my hand” she said.

Despite being five months pregnant she began trying to pull the girls over the rocky and slippery pier. “Every time I’d get one of them halfway up, a big wave would come smashing into us and knock them back down or almost pull me over,” she said. Alyssa recalled a moment she said will stick with her forever and still makes her cry when she thinks about it. “My turning point was when one of the little girls looked at me and said, ‘I’m going to die.’ That was it for me and I was like ‘I’m not going to let you die, I’m going to get you out of this water, I promise.’”

She managed to pull all three girls out of the water and over the pier before the group set off back towards the shore to rescue a fourth girl who had managed to get closer to shore but couldn’t stand because her leg was injured. Alyssa said “I honestly do not know how I did it, it was pure adrenaline at that point. Right after I got everybody onto the beach, the ambulance and the police cars came flying into the parking lot.”

Alyssa sustained a swollen wrist but she and the baby were both fine when she went to the hospital to get checked out. The modest hero praised her six-year-old daughter for managing to keep her two-year-old brother safe during the ordeal. “Between me screaming into the phone that I needed help and me screaming to the kids what I needed them to do to get them out, I was also turning around and screaming to my son not to come because it wasn’t safe. He was very scared and repeatedly tried to run to me on the pier” she said “My daughter would pick him up and take him back to the sand and she was so calm and I’m extremely proud of her, she did a great job.”

Manistee City Police Chief Josh Glass said “Thankfully, all parties involved sustained minor injuries, but without the actions of this heroic young lady could have easily turned out differently. Especially being a father of young children, it’s extremely impressive the way this young lady called to action without hesitation and I think it’s pretty obvious what would have happened if she wasn’t there.”

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Humble Hero Who Saved Maryland Toddler Identified

Humble Hero Who Saved Maryland Toddler Identified

Maryland father Jonathan Bauer is being hailed a hero for his heroic rescue of a toddler from Assawoman Bay in Ocean City, Maryland. Bauer was driving home from running errands on the Ocean City bridge with his 13 year old daughter when he was involved in a multi-car pileup on an overpass. He checked on his daughter and got out of his vehicle to help someone trying to get out of the trunk that was hanging over the side of bridge.

That’s when he heard people yelling for help and saw the 2 year old girl who had been ejected from another car involved in the pileup. Bauer said the girl was in the water about six feet away from her car seat floating perfectly on her back, head completely out of the water, arms moving and legs kicking, in a little pink dress. In a matter of seconds the little girl flipped over on her stomach with her face in the water so Bauer jumped 25 feet into the water.

Bauer said he reached her just as she was starting to sink and he lifted her out of the water. Her mouth was open, her eyes were semi-open so he put her against his shoulder and aggressively patted her on the back. Within seconds she spit up a bunch of water, started coughing and took a deep breath. Bauer said “I just kept patting her and she would cough and then spit up a little bit more water.”

Two good samaritan boaters, Joe and Alayna Oertel, had seen the accident and headed to Bauer when they saw him jump into the water. When the Oertel’s reached Bauer he handed the toddler to the boaters and she was airlifted to a local hospital for treatment. The Oertel’s recalled pulling Bauer and the girl to safety during a Today show appearance. “He didn’t say anything. He was just so shocked of what happened.” said Alayna. Joe added that Bauer “was in some tremendous shock himself. It says a lot about some people’s demeanor, just doing the right thing when you got to do it.”

Police say the girl is expected to make a full recovery. Seven others in the crash have since been treated at hospitals and released. Initially after the accident, Bauer did not want to be identified. Ocean City emergency responders met with Jonathan Bauer, who shared his story publicly for the first time since the crash May 2.

Ocean City Mayor Richard W. Meehan and Ocean City Fire Chief Richard Bowers called Bauer a “humble hero” for putting his own life on the line by plunging into the shallow water from that high up. “What he did was without question a heroic thing, and very courageous thing to jump over the railing, down 25 to 30 feet into open water,” Bowers said.

Bauer’s wife said “I can’t say how proud I am of him. It doesn’t surprise me. If you know him, that is something he would do.”

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on NJ Moving Company Sparked Initiative to Help End Hunger

NJ Moving Company Sparked Initiative to Help End Hunger

A simple question asked by a New Jersey moving company in 2009 has sparked an initiative capitalizing on the amount of food left behind in clients’ fridges in order to help increase supply to local food banks. Over 1,050 moving companies and 22 million pounds of food later, Adam Lowy—founder of Move for Hunger—has turned unwanted food items into enterprise-level charity.


Lowy said “When people move, they throw away a whole bunch of stuff: food, clothing, furniture, you name it. And what bothered us was the perfectly good, nonperishable food that was getting left behind in the pantry, or simply thrown in the trash. So we started by asking a very simple question: ‘Do you want to donate your food when you move?’” In the first month of Lowy’s idea, he managed to collect 300 pounds of food. He wondered if one moving company could make this kind of impact in their local community, what an entire network of moving companies could do.


That question, led to the creation of Move for Hunger, which links moving companies with food banks in their area, and these pairings with apartment offices, corporate housing, relocation management companies, real estate agents, and other entities to reach as many tenants and homeowners as possible about the impact they can make by donating their food before they change addresses.


Once one of these partners gets word that someone wants to move, Move for Hunger provides a pamphlet about local hunger problems, a large plastic bag, and a cardboard box—all to help people donate any food they don’t feel like bringing along with them. Then a local moving company will bring those packed-up pantry staples to a local food bank, helping ensure nothing gets wasted.


Hunger affects one in six American children, and it’s only gotten worse during the pandemic as government-mandated business closures have ravaged the economy, destroyed jobs, and disrupted supply chains. Move for Hunger operates across the USA and Canada. They try to hold special events—such as food drives and holiday-themed collections as well. Their February 2021 Spread the Love event received 16,000 meals donated across 300 separate food drives, and 20,000 pounds of peanut butter and jelly being used.


Rental property owners or managers, moving companies and real estate agents can help by signing up on the moveforhunger.org website and encouraging others to do so too. Anyone with an upcoming move can also find moving companies in their area on the website who will deliver their donated food. Move For Hunger’s mission is to mobilize the relocation industry to reduce food waste and fight hunger. Rescuing and donating meals for communities in need is so important because millions of people need help today.

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Wisconsin Restaurant Owner Helping Local Restaurants With Gift Card Raffles

Wisconsin Restaurant Owner Helping Local Restaurants With Gift Card Raffles

According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 110,000 restaurants across the country have closed temporarily or for good as a result of the pandemic. One Wisconsin restaurant owner is well aware of the effects the pandemic has had on the restaurants in his community and he decided to help. He is using his own money to help other struggling local restaurants. Adolfo Melendez, owner of a Tex-Mex restaurant El Mezcal in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, has bought more than $2,000 in gift cards to restaurants in his community to raffle off to his customers. “If you help one person and another person helps another-that will help a lot. There’s probably 35% of the restaurants that keep struggling here.”


Melendez said he got the idea to help his fellow restaurant owners after a local realtor company helped his restaurant at the beginning of the pandemic. “They did something where people voted for their favorite restaurant and I got second place so they bought $300 in gift cards from me,” he said. “Right after that I was like I’ll probably do something similar.”


Melendez opened his restaurant just weeks before the pandemic hit so he felt first hand, the devastating effects of the pandemic grinding the restaurant industry to a complete halt. Despite a harsh beginning for his restaurant, the one generous act of another local business sparked his determination to pay it forward when he was able to. He said it’s important to help keep small businesses open during the pandemic because they are the staples of the community. “That’s part of what keeps us alive. You can go to Applebee’s, or you can go to Pizza Hut but it isn’t the same like when you go to this little diner or pizza joint. The whole idea is just to give other opportunities. I think it’s important to support a small business, that’s what makes this little town so strong, you know? Because big companies come and go.”


At the end of 2020, he began to buy gift cards from local restaurants in his community and raffling them off to customers on his restaurant’s Facebook page. Winners received $20 gift card to a local restaurant. The receiving restaurants said they were thankful for Melendez’s generosity and they know that surviving the pandemic means working together. One owner, Pete Ananiadis of Olympia Family Restaurant said “It’s a smart idea, we appreciate what he has done for our community. In these Covid times, it’s very important to eat local, small mom and pop shops. He understands that, and for all of us right now it’s a tough time.”


Selling gift cards and offering food for take-out have been some of the only ways local mom-and-pop restaurants have been able stay in business throughout the past year as the pandemic has limited their opportunities. Even one gift card purchase can help the restaurant and the recipient push through another day of this pandemic. Imagine the effect if others pay it forward and keep this kindness going. Small acts of kindness like this is how communities support each other and get through a crisis. As for Melendez, he plans to have two more gift card giveaways on his restaurants Facebook page because he isn’t done inspiring others that they can help too.

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on Toronto Bar Saved After Facebook Plea Goes Viral

Toronto Bar Saved After Facebook Plea Goes Viral

When a popular Toronto bar, called Swan Dive posted that it was struggling to pay the rent through the pandemic, customers came out to help. Owner Abra Shiner was trying to keep her pub going through lockdown by operating as a bottle shop, strictly limited to curbside pickup and delivery due to Ontario locking down again. But it was becoming very clear that the costs of trying to run that way were just too high.

She decided to be honest about her predicament on social media and her post went viral. “We were blowing through our savings and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pay rent towards the end of the month. So, I wrote on Facebook asking people to come buy the beer we had in our stock room… and it worked. The post went viral” Shiner said. Shiner’s social media plea soon had over 20,000 views, and people from all over the Brockton Village neighborhood were showing up to save beer, and their beloved bar. “Like really, if you guys don’t come buy all this beer we won’t have enough to pay our rent, YOU LIKE BEER, COME GET SOME!!!” Shiner wrote on the bar’s account while informing her customers that the bar would be closing down for a spell.

Within a few days, the Swan Dive had off-loaded almost all of its stock of craft beer. “People just started coming out of the woodwork, customers we hadn’t seen in a long time were driving in from out of town,” Shiner said, noting that more than half of the customers were new faces. “We’ve been saved, I was afraid we were going to have to go out of business,” Shiner said.

The Swan Dive carried about 35 different craft beers. The bar usually has two or three cases of each in stock. According to Shiner, she was able to sell off more than 90 cases of beer. In the end, she was left with only two in her stock room. Combined with a government rent subsidy, the money the community provided in recent beer sales will keep them going until spring when it can safely open its doors once again. “You guys are pretty darn great,” Shiner posted to the Swan Dive’s Facebook fans. “What wonderful people you all are.”

Many businesses are struggling right now and the holiday season is here. Supporting your local favorites with gift card and goods purchases may just be what keeps them running and you never know how much those sales could matter.

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1 year ago · by · Comments Off on 81 Year Old Customer And Dunkin Donuts Staff Bond Amid Pandemic

81 Year Old Customer And Dunkin Donuts Staff Bond Amid Pandemic

A Dunkin’ Donuts crew in Concord, California, has adopted an 81 year old customer separated from his family and friends as their unofficial “Grandpa”. Gilbert “Gil” Walker, a retired high school teacher of almost 40 years, began making daily coffee trips to the local Dunkin when the pandemic interrupted his regular breakfast get together with friends. After he left them a $280 tip, the staff was so touched by the gesture that they have all adopted him as Grandpa ever since.

Walker began visiting as a way to safely get out of the house during the stay at home orders. Walker and owner Matt Cobo had a conversation that left Walker wanting to help. “I asked … if he had to lay anyone off and he said he had 14 employees and wanted to keep them but had to cut their hours,” Walker said. He started to think of ways he could help, and a little movement was born. On his next visit, Walker presented Cabo with an envelope of $280 cash, or $20 for each staffer. They were so moved by his gesture of kindness, they started calling Walker “Grandpa,” and adopted him as one of their own.

Cobo said that when the first shelter-in-place orders went into effect, “There was this feeling, this emptiness, this uncertainty of what was going to happen. We all felt it. We were scared,” he explained. “What Grandpa did that time was so much more than a gesture of kindness. He made us feel like things were going to be OK.”
Since then, there is a kindness shared between the staff and “Grandpa Gil.” They have signs posted throughout that jokingly read: Anyone who lets “Grandpa” pay is terminated immediately-The Management. “It became a contest of how I could convince them to take my money and them not taking it,” Walker laughed. “We’ve had a lot of maneuvering just to try to get money inside the door.”

Walker’s family even tips the staff off about upcoming events like his birthday or anniversary with his wife, Virginia. When Walker and his wife celebrated 62 years together, the staff set them up with a Dunkin’ smorgasbord in honor of the anniversary. “Holy cow, they’d set up a whole table inside the building, pictures of our wedding, a dozen white roses and food,” Walker said. “They had maple bars in the shape of a heart, it was crazy.”

In September, for Walker’s 81st birthday, the staff surprised him with a party, a sign and gifts in honor of his big day. “They were just all teary-eyed, and when you see that, you’re just like man, our work here is done,” Cobo said. “No one can deserve it more than him … it’s been really fun.” Walker, who has three kids, 13 grandkids and 20 great-grandchildren, said his closest family lives hundreds of miles away. The staff at Dunkin’ Donuts, mostly teens and young adults — have been there for him through this pandemic. “Those kids kind of remind me of my family,” he said. “They’re really nice and just treat me well every single day.”

Cobo said they consider Walker part of their family and the staff are always rushing to the drive-thru window each morning to say hi when “Grandpa” rolls up. “He doesn’t have any grandkids around and that’s part of why I think he’s developed this relationship … Maybe not technically family but we’d love to kind of fill in as his local grandkids. We all just think he’s incredible. There’s people that just have this smile and warmth — you say, ‘This guy is just goodness,’” Cobo explained. “That’s what he is. People catch that and they share that.”

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2 years ago · by · Comments Off on Mazda To Gift Fifty 100th Anniversary Edition Miatas to Hometown Heroes

Mazda To Gift Fifty 100th Anniversary Edition Miatas to Hometown Heroes

Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) is giving away the 100th Anniversary Special Edition Mazda MX-5 Miata cars to 50 hometown heroes who have made a lasting impact on their respective communities. MNAO’s “Mazda Heroes-Honoring the Human Spirit spotlights first responders and others across the country who have selflessly uplifted those around them throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Mazda is taking submissions now through October 25.

To nominate someone you know, visit the Mazda Heroes website, where you’ll be asked to make a short 1 minute video explaining how your nominee has selflessly uplifted the community. Upload the video to YouTube and set it to public or unlisted. Complete the entry form and provide a link to the video to enter. Mazda will choose the 50 most outstanding examples and the honorees will be announced starting Dec. 2. All nominees must be 18 years or older.

“From teachers going the extra mile to enhance distance learning, to community activists sourcing PPE for others, there are countless examples of people across the country going above and beyond to support others without expecting anything in return. Mazda wants to honor these important acts of kindness, resilience and empathy,” Mazda’s announcement said.
In April, the car maker launched their Essential Car Care Program to give free oil changes and car cleaning to healthcare workers across the U.S. The program ran from April through June 2020. Throughout the initiative their dealers and employees were grateful to be a part of giving back to those selflessly giving back every day. The feedback that received inspired them to develop the Mazda Heroes program, which will honor individuals supporting communities and share their stories in a moment when people desire inspiration in their lives. Mazda North America President Jeff Guyton said he hopes the Miata giveaway will lift spirits during a time when good news seems scarce.

“We had hoped this time would be filled with moments of celebration and appreciation for our fans, employees and partners for the 100th Year Anniversary. But given the many tragic events of 2020, we decided to express, in another way, our brand’s unique heritage of trying to make things better” he said. “Mazda is looking for people who have demonstrated “selfless acts, creative approaches, and contributions to community.”

The Miata 100th Anniversary Special Edition features many cosmetic upgrades including a white paint job paired with red accents, including a red interior. Special badging can be found on the front fenders, key fob, floor mats, and headrests. Normally, starting prices for this special edition are a good deal higher than the top Grand Touring trim. Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic, as well as the soft top and RF variants.

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2 years ago · by · Comments Off on Portland Violence Continues As Judge Extends Order Against Federal Marshals

Portland Violence Continues As Judge Extends Order Against Federal Marshals

 

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A U.S. district judge in Oregon has extended a restraining order against the U.S. Marshals Service and agents with the Department of Homeland Security, ordering them to stop attacking journalists and legal observers at Black Lives Matter protests in Portland. The ruling came over the objections of the federal government, who argued that the restraining order issued against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service was now irrelevant.
That order barred federal officers from using physical force, arresting, or dispersing anyone they should “reasonably know” was at the protests as a journalist or observer. Attorneys for the federal agencies argued the circumstances had changed with the federal presence in Portland supposed to wind down — and that the order should therefore be allowed to lapse.
Judge Michael Simon sided with attorneys working with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, who argued that the threat of violence remained even as the federal officers became less visible. The ruling comes as part of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Oregon, alleging local and federal law enforcement have been targeting and attacking journalists during more than two months of nightly protests against racism and police brutality. Two weeks ago, Simon issued an initial restraining order on the federal officers, following mounting accounts of officers injuring journalists and observers on the ground.
Protests in Portland continue for the 11th straight week as the city’s mayor pleaded for protesters to stay off the streets, saying those who barricaded the doors to a police precinct the night before and tried to set it ablaze were not demonstrators, but criminals. The majority of sit-ins and marches have been peaceful with no police interaction. A smaller element continues to violently clash with police after most of the several hundred peaceful demonstrators have cleared the streets.
Within a week of the restraining order being extended, police declared riots as a march turned violent. Police repeatedly blocked marchers as they made their through neighborhoods. The tactics prevented people from gathering outside local police buildings, which have been the recent focus of raucous demonstrations. Portland police pushed people, shot them with impact munitions and set off smoke devices after people threw water bottles and paint toward officers. As protestors left the area to make their way down another street they were repeatedly met by police blocking the march.
Each time protestors marched a different street another standoff with police ensued. Videos have circulated of the confrontations showing objects being thrown at officers from a crowd and others of officers advancing on protestors, knocking people to the ground as they walk down the street. The incident drew immediate criticism, including from Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, the council’s leading advocate for police reform.

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