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4 days ago · by · Comments Off on Five Women Run Multi-Faith Soup Kitchen To Help Less Fortunate in Montreal

Five Women Run Multi-Faith Soup Kitchen To Help Less Fortunate in Montreal

Five women in Montreal get together once a month to cook for the city’s less fortunate. They call themselves the Shathi Sisters. Shathi is a Bangladeshi word that means togetherness and that is the core of what drives the women to operate their multifaith soup kitchen out of the St. George’s Anglican Church in downtown Montreal. Together, they are helping others and showing that, even in small numbers, you can make the world better.

When COVID-19 hit the world and brought even more struggle to the already difficult lives of those in need, these women gladly ventured on this project. It gave them the opportunity to help others and to see each other. Since December, the Shathi Sisters have spent one Saturday a month cooking 100 meals for those in need and have distributed them around downtown Montreal.

Food costs are kept under $100, but the woman philanthropists have always made sure that the food is “not just scraps of food,” but something they themselves would prepare for their own families: delicious, enjoyable, and healthy, but low cost. They hope to expand their services in the future and eventually do this mission once a week. Besides giving food to the needy, the multifaith soup kitchen project has also brought these women together and they always look forward to it. “We think it’s our duty to do this,” said Irene Mazumder. “Not just because there’s people in need. It’s our duty. If we’re able to help, then why not.”

“The purpose of my engagement, it’s serving the community,” said Sobhan. “When the pandemic was going on, many people lost their homes. They are homeless. So it was great timing for us to start with this. And maybe we started with a soup kitchen, maybe we can do more things. More projects.” Another founder member, Nafissah Rahman, says ““We have a lot of spaces, but it’s not people of colour, there’s no representation. And it mattered to us that the representation of ourselves, so that our future generations can see that we too, we have to do this.”

With the months of public health restrictions, the Shahti Sisters say meeting up every four weeks fulfilled their need to connect in person. The added bonus to their good deed is another great example that anyone of all backgrounds can make a difference in the lives of others and these acts of kindness always inspire others.

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Graduating Class Donates Funds Raised For Class Trip to Island Community

Graduating Class Donates Funds Raised For Class Trip to Island Community

The island of Islesboro lies three miles off the mainland with 700 full-time residents. Graduating classes at Islesboro’s Central School consist of 13-15 students who traditionally fundraise to finance a once-in-a-lifetime class trip at the end of their final semester. Former student destinations include Paris, Iceland, Norway, and Panama.

The Class of 2021 had already garnered close to $8,000 in donations through fundraising efforts from working at concession stands, holding harvest and winter festivals and hosting community suppers before pandemic lockdowns prevented further fundraising. Like classes before them, they envisioned a journey to Greece, Japan, or South Korea before their hopes were quashed by COVID-19 travel restrictions. With their plans curtailed, the group decided to spend the money they’d earned a whole lot closer to home by reinvesting it in their community.

The bulk of their earnings was donated to the Island Community Fund in aid of residents whose livelihoods were broadsided by the COVID-19 pandemic. Another portion was put to good use funding coronavirus vaccination clinics. The rest will go to philanthropic causes as yet to be determined.

The pandemic hasn’t been easy for many and the tight-knit island community has felt the effects keenly. Five of the Islesboro Central School seniors take the ferry from the mainland, while the rest live on the island but the group was accustomed to doing things together. They were also split apart, unable to gather for months, with a three-mile gulf between the island and the mainland.

The seniors kicked off an email chain to discuss what to do about the trip. International travel was a no-go, so Greece, South Korea and Japan were no longer options. They thought about scaling it back to do a regional trip but the world’s struggles weighed on them as they tried to justify salvaging an exotic outing against a backdrop of deaths and economic pain.

One graduate, Olivia Britton said “It felt sort of obvious that it needed to go back to the island community.” Another, Liefe Temple,explained that the group said it would have felt strange to indulge in the luxury of foreign travel when they knew their neighbors were suffering such extreme day-to-day duress. “We could really see how the whole world and the island, too, was struggling. So it felt really good to do that with our money—to give it back to the people who gave it to us.”

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Therapy Dogs Offer Support Rescue Workers of FL Building Collapse

Therapy Dogs Offer Support Rescue Workers of FL Building Collapse

As rescue efforts turned to recovery in the aftermath of the Surfside Building Collapse, the scope of the loss of life is clearer as search teams work into lower levels of a debris pile that is growing smaller each day.  Rescue crews have been working tirelessly during the search despite the emotional toll but therapy and comfort canines are on the scene to provide support for the rescue crews.

Therapy dogs from Miami Dade County Fire Departments are on the job, which represent a variety of large and small dog breeds. Bonnie Fear, of the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry brought nine golden retrievers from out-of-state to the site of the collapse to help first responders cope.  The retrievers are staying at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church while they wait to be called into action.

“These dogs are here for you,” said Bonnie Fear.  “A lot of times the first responders come up, they’ll fall to their knees, they’ll start crying or they’ll smile. We try not to say anything, we let the dog be the bridge for those people to grieve the loss, whatever they’re feeling.”  Comfort canines work similarly to therapy dogs—their job right now is to help rescuers cope with the emotional toil of the collapse.  Comfort dogs are a strong and well-proven therapy for depression, anxiety, and other forms of distress.  

Capt. Shawn Campana, a veteran of the Miami Dade Fire Dept, said “We are now very well aware that we can potentially be impacted by stress like PTSD, like suicide ideation, and that is what this team was designed to prevent. When a human does what we call friendly petting, which means we get our fingertips into their skin, our bodies release oxytocin.”  Oxytocin is a hormone that creates feelings of comfort and happiness, and as much as these dogs can give to the first responders the better.

The dogs are near the site of the collapse to provide support for rescue crews and family members of those still missing.  As recovery work continues, the therapy dogs have spent time near a memorial site by the fallen tower, as well as at a Red Cross family assistance center donning blue vests that read “Please Pet Me,” and have been met by thankful individuals sporting both smiles and tears.  Fear said  “We’re very concerned about their mental health.  Our prayer is that they make it through, they find what they need to mentally process and to know, in their minds, that they found someone’s loved one, they made a difference for the families. And I hope they hang on to that.”

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3 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Alabama Teen Raised $39K For St Jude’s Cancer Research

Alabama Teen Raised $39K For St Jude’s Cancer Research

An Alabama teen raised $39,000 for kids battling cancer by cutting off his 19 inch Afro. Kieran Moïse, 17, was set to enroll at the United States Air Force Academy which of course required a haircut. Rather than lament the loss of the hair he had been growing since childhood, Kieran decided to turn the rite of passage into a charity event benefiting two causes to which he feels a deep connection-St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and Michigan-based Children With Hair Loss.

He explained on his fundraising page “I have been growing my hair out for many years with the goal of donating it to charity. Now that it is time to shave it, I would like to raise $1,000 per inch for St. Jude’s Hospital. My hair is 19 inches long and that $19,000 will do so much good to help families dealing with cancer. One of my good friends in middle school died from cancer and I know St. Jude’s really helped his family. This is just one way that I feel like I can give back. It will also help make some really good wigs for kids! Please donate and help me reach my goal!”

During an event held at a local Huntsville, Alabama, brewery Kieran submitted to being shorn in front of a crowd of nearly 100 enthusiastic supporters. His lengthy tresses were forwarded to Michigan-based Children With Hair Loss, a nonprofit that provides human hair wigs free of charge to kids and young adults suffering from medically related hair loss will both receive the funds raised. To date, he’s also raised more than $39,000 in support of cancer research at St. Jude.

Kieran’s parents Patrick and Kelly Moïse have chronicled the growth their son’s amazing ’do over the course of his life and understand just how much cutting it off meant to him. “My son has always had a huge heart. He was determined that if he was going to have to get a haircut anyway, then he should pay it forward in a way that would help as many people as possible,” Kelly said.

Kelly added “Kieran hopes his story will encourage others to find ways to offer help and hope to those in need. He wants people to know that if he can donate his hair, then anyone can and he’s hoping that everyone will be encouraged to go out there and commit their own small act of kindness.”

Richard C. Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital said “Charitable giving comes in many forms, from direct acts of kindness to impactful public statements that motivate others to come together to support a cause. Kieran’s simple act of kindness exemplifies the power of younger generations and is something to celebrate, a selfless decision that will make a direct impact on the lives of the kids at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and children everywhere for years to come.”

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4 weeks ago · by · Comments Off on Food Donations Pour In For Rescue Crew of Florida Building Collapse

Food Donations Pour In For Rescue Crew of Florida Building Collapse

As crews continue to search through the rubble of the building collapse in Surfside Florida for those still missing, a growing army of volunteers has been offering everything from water and energy drinks to pizza and deep-fried Oreos to firefighters, police officers and other rescue workers working 12-hour shifts at the site. The crews have been searching since the huge section of the Champlain Towers South building fell to the ground at around 2am on June 24th.

The community has been dropping off cases of water and food to nearby churches for distribution to the hundreds of search-and-rescue workers since the day of the collapse. At Casa Church near the disaster site, Pastor Ezequiel Fattore began with handing out a few bottles of water. His congregation pitched in and within hours he was at Costco buying $600 worth of water and food with the first donations. The donations have been flowing in ever since and the church has a side room now packed with cases of water along with a large assortment of energy drinks, bottled iced coffees and bags of chips and other snacks. As volunteers pack coolers to distribute among police and emergency crews in the area, more donations keep coming in. Fattore said he’s had heartbreaking conversations with loved ones of those dead and missing. Some members of his church have friends still unaccounted for but the outpouring of donations reaffirms his faith.

Members of the community and businesses have been steadily dropping off large orders of food to crews and some line the nearby streets handing out water and snacks to police, fire and rescue crews as they pass by. Nicolette and Patrick Daniel and her husband traveled from Texas to Florida to offer whatever assistance they could to victims’ families and emergency workers. They hired a food truck to cook 350 meals that were distributed in a parking lot of another nearby church. Daniel said she felt compelled to give back after the outpouring of support she received when her mother died suddenly a year ago. “It was the doorbell that kept ringing and the people who kept calling that kept me going,” she said.

The outpouring from the community has also been for families and victims affected by the collapse. The Shul, a community center located blocks from the scene, created a central fund to disperse money to families and victims affected by the collapse. The organization said they are overwhelmed with emergency supplies for families and has asked those who would like to support survivors to make a monetary donation. The American Red Cross is helping displaced residents find shelter and is providing them with food. The Miami Heat and several local organizations have launched a hardship fund for the victims: https://supportsurfside.org/ Neighbors 4 Neighbors along with the City of Surfside and F.R.I.E.N.D. Miami-Dade’s Long Term Disaster Recovery Group has set up a fund to assist the victims in the long term with unforeseen costs and things not covered by insurance. https://neighbors4neighbors.org/surfsidefund

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Wisconsin Man Hopes To Raise Awareness For Living Organ Donation

Wisconsin Man Hopes To Raise Awareness For Living Organ Donation

Wisconsin man, Mark Scotch, is biking cross-country to raise awareness for living organ donation. He and his crew are making the 1,500-mile trip down to Louisiana to meet up with the man who inspired him to donate a kidney last year. They are starting with some 100+ mile days to get themselves south to warmer weather and spread the message of the importance of living organ donation.

Scotch, of Plover, Wisconsin met Hugh Smith at a brewery in Louisiana in early 2020 during a vacation. The two men struck up a conversation at Cane River Brewing Company in Natchitoches. Smith mentioned he needed a kidney transplant. “He said he was on dialysis and in stage five kidney failure. I just said hey, if you need one, I’ll give you one of mine. And one thing led to another, and here I am!” Scotch said. Scotch didn’t end up being a match for Smith but could donate a kidney in Smith’s honor, through the National Kidney Registry.

“So I went online, got registered. They found a match for my kidney, the best match for my kidney was in New York and that was last September 30,” Scotch said. That donation by Scotch bumped Smith to the front of the transplant waiting list and he was able to receive a new kidney from another donor in February 2021. Smith was a professional jockey for 17 years and battled with pain but didn’t know that the pain medicine he was taking would lead to kidney failure.

For a year, both men went through constant medical appointments to make sure they were okay after their surgeries. Then Scotch decided to show the world that even without a kidney, you can still live a full life. On April 24th, 2021, Scotch started The Organ Trail bike ride from Madison, WI to Natchitoches, LA. The ride ended at the same bar both men met in 2020. “This is absolutely amazing what he did, and he saved my life,” Smith says.

Scotch said “Hey if I can do it on one kidney, an old kinda fat guy, why can’t anybody consider it at least?” He said he hopes the trek generates interest so people learn more about living organ donation. He knows not everybody can be a living donor like he was but everybody can be an advocate and educate themselves. Then if the opportunity ever presents itself, maybe they can help somebody else with some good information or lead them somewhere to the National Kidney Registry or National Kidney Donation Organization.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Michigan Community Saves Couple’s Wedding Day

Michigan Community Saves Couple’s Wedding Day

A couple’s wedding was like a fairytale until tragedy struck. Elizabeth and Jake Landuyt’s reception was interrupted just minutes after Elizabeth’s father began giving his speech because the cottage next to their wedding venue caught fire on Mackinac Island, Michigan. The newlyweds had to abandon their reception and without a plan of where to go, headed back toward the church they had just married in.

Guests piled back into the church and began to pray for everyone’s health and safety. While they were in the church praying, unbeknownst to them, angels were at work trying to save the day. Mission Point Resort and other nearby businesses saw everything unfold and immediately sprang into action to save the wedding. The resort staff immediately started getting tables and chairs set up to host the reception.

The chef at the venue took all 120 meals — which were only partially prepared — and instructed the staff to bring them to safety at the restaurant next door. What they didn’t have, another restaurant provided. Other obstacles that were overcome were that Mackinac Island doesn’t have cars, so the migration of the wedding had to be done manually. From catering and supplies by the Island House Hotel kitchen and the Pink Pony, bartending led by Mission Point’s head bellman, late evening ferry services by Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry to entourage assistance, it was all taken care of.

Word spread of the effort to save the wedding and powered by the kindness of strangers, they achieved their goal. . A bellhop volunteered to bartend and a stranger on the street carried the flowers to the new location. In under an hour, the community had banded together and relocated the reception, all while the newly married couple and guests prayed.

“As if this island was not already special enough to us to want to have our wedding there. After what we saw, the ‘Magic of Mackinac’ and its people are so real and we are forever grateful,” Mrs. Landuyt said. To top off their special day, their prayers for those involved in the fire were answered. In the end, no one was hurt and even the building was saved.

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Wisconsin Father Breaks Push Up Record for Charity

Wisconsin Father Breaks Push Up Record for Charity

A Wisconsin father of three, broke the Guinness Book of World Record for most pushups in a year. Nate Carroll launched his mission on June 14, 2020 with two goals in mind, to teach his children a lesson in the power of perseverance by offering them an example in real-time and to raise money for the families of fallen first responders.

In order to claim a new Guinness World Record—ousting the current titleholder after an almost 32-year run—Carroll has been diligently documenting his accomplishments both in a logbook and with time-lapse video throughout his year-long odyssey. On June 6th, Carroll completed the countdown to his record-breaking goal with a special 50-yard line halftime ceremony during the 48th annual Fun City Bowl at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

When he completed his 1,500,231st pushup, he broke the previous record set by Paddy Doyle in 1989. After the record was broken Caroll said he wanted to finish his year in a number that included 9-11. He finished his 365-day period with a total of 1,500,911 pushups. It seems fitting since he was raising money for the Stephen Siller Tunnels to Towers Foundation.

The foundation’s Fallen First Responder Home Program pays off the mortgages for families of fallen first responders, so they don’t have to worry about losing their homes. The program, which has paid for 250 mortgages since 2014, is named for a New York City firefighter who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

Carroll has a full time job as a social worker and shared parental custody so finding the time during his busy schedule to clock thousands of push-ups per day was one of Carroll’s biggest challenges. “To set aside time to do 4,000 push-ups is impossible,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal. “You have to really make it a priority and be willing to commit to it and embrace the fact that you have to weave that into your day.”

Carroll said he wanted to show his children that it’s possible to achieve their goals if they’re willing to put in the work. He also wanted to show his children the importance of first responders in the community. “I wanted to demonstrate to my kids what goals that seem impossible look like when they are broken down into daily manageable chunks.”

During an interview Carroll said “Set a goal, and get after it. Make it who you are, not something you do. That way, when it gets hard and life throws obstacles in your way and offers you convenient excuses to stop or says it’s too difficult, you find a way to endure and persevere and keep after it. Winning those mini-battles each day builds strength and shapes one’s perspective of what is possible.”

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1 month ago · by · Comments Off on Florida Bride Donated Kidney 2 Days After Wedding

Florida Bride Donated Kidney 2 Days After Wedding

Just two days after her wedding, a Florida bride donated a kidney to her new husband’s former wife. Debby and Jim Strickland have been a devoted couple for a decade. Jim maintained a cordial relationship with his ex, Mylaen Merthe for the last two decades since their divorce. Around the same time their daughter announced she was expecting their first grandchild, Mylaen, who has long suffered from kidney disease, received some devastating news.

Her kidneys were functioning at just 8% of normal capacity and without a transplant, her odds of survival decreased every day. The hunt for a donor match was on. Mylaen’s brother wasn’t a viable candidate—but miraculously, Debby was. Debby said that she imagined Merthe’s daughter giving birth and her mother not being there to greet her granddaughter and that thought is what made her decide to volunteer. “I just couldn’t not try to change that. God told me, ‘You’re a match and you need to do this. When somebody needs an organ, if they don’t get it, they’re probably not going to make it. I know it’s something that you do quickly” Debby said.

Having lost a brother to cystic fibrosis while waiting for a lung transplant, she knew time was of the essence. With a green light on the tissue sample and blood tests, Debby willingly scheduled the life-saving surgery for just 48 hours after her previously planned nuptials. “It was the most amazing day of my life, until two days later. That was also the most amazing day of my life” she said. Mylaen and Debby have bonded and now refer to one another as “kidney sisters.”

Debby said that she asked to see Merthe straight away after she regained consciousness. She said she could immediately see Merthe was healthier already: the dark circles under her eyes had gone and she had regained a little color. “We had our masks on, too, so we’re crying, and of course, our stomachs were hurting because of the incisions,” Merthe said. “We kinda laughed and cried.”

Since the successful procedure, Merthe moved in with her daughter and son-in-law and her new grandchild to recuperate. Debby recuperated at home with Jim and their family of six foster children. The family has grown to include grandkids and Merthe and her family into their brood. The entire family has a summer trip together planned to celebrate. “This is what the world is about. Family. We need to stick together,” Merthe said. “She saved my life.”

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2 months ago · by · Comments Off on Waffle House Staff Rally to Get Co Worker to Graduation

Waffle House Staff Rally to Get Co Worker to Graduation

When Timothy Harrison, 18, showed up for a shift at the Waffle House he worked at on the day of his high school graduation, his co-workers were confused. When his manager Cedric Hampton asked why he was there he explained that he couldn’t get a ride across town and he hadn’t been able to secure tickets for his family to attend so he decided to come into work.

Hampton, along with several co-workers, got to work putting together everything Harrison needed to attend the event. The staff made a list of what needed to be done to get Timothy there and divided it all up. Cedric and two others headed to a clothing store to buy Timothy a sharp new outfit, while another coworker, Shantana Blevins, drove Timothy to the high school to collect his cap and gown.

Once they had gathered what they needed, everyone took turns helping Timothy get ready so he could celebrate his accomplishment. Shantana stepped up again to drive Timothy to the ceremony, waiting outside the whole time until he was finished taking pictures and celebrating with his friends. She then drove the teen home and made sure he knew he had the whole night off to enjoy the momentous occasion.

Cedric said he was happy to help Timothy because he’s a good kid — and because it was the right thing to do! “He’s a fine young man,” Cedric added. “He’s a hard worker, very polite. It’s the least we could do for him.” Harrison said “I had people want to see me succeed, so it kind of made me excited. When I put on the clothes, it was a different feeling, I don’t even know the words. A million dollars? It was the best feeling.”

Their wonderful gesture even inspired Lawson State Community College to offer Timothy a full scholarship, even covering books, and he will start taking classes in the fall. “To know that I have a path to go somewhere? That’s something new,” Harrison said. Harrison’s co workers said they are going to continue to lift Harrison up. “Now he can go to college and figure out what to do in his life, and we’re gonna help guide him,” Hampton said.

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