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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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5 months ago · by · Comments Off on 60 Year Old Miami Woman Has Been Feeding Thousands Since Start of Pandemic

60 Year Old Miami Woman Has Been Feeding Thousands Since Start of Pandemic

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has left millions with food insecurity but good Samaritans like Doramise Moreau ensure that people in her community don’t go to bed hungry.  The part-time janitor who lives in Miami has cooked over 1,000 meals a week for the hungry since the start of the pandemic.  Moreau doesn’t have a vehicle so she walks or takes the bus to work and prepares the meals at the end of the week to feed between 1,000 – 1,500 people every Saturday. 

Every Thursday and Friday, the 60 year old widow borrows her church’s truck to buy groceries. Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church pays for the food, relying on donations.  Moreau then cooks all day long preparing the meals singlehandedly, while church volunteers serve or deliver them to people in need.  Sometimes cooking until past midnight, people ask if she’s exhausted but she says she is fueled by her faith and her passion for helping others encourages her to wake up early to start cooking. 

Moreau said her desire to feed the hungry goes back to when she was a little girl in Haiti. She’d sneak food from her parents’ kitchen to give to those in need. Despite her mother’s fury, Moreau persisted because it bothered her so much seeing people in need.

Reginald Jean-Mary, a pastor at the church, said this isn’t Moreau’s first time lending a helping hand. She also sends pallets of food back monthly for her family and friends in Haiti. Since the start of the pandemic, every morning before work, Moreau lays out a table with hot teas and other homeopathic remedies for church staff, police, and community leaders to inhale and drink to help strengthen their immune system.  “She takes care of everybody from A to Z. She’s a true servant. She goes beyond the scope of work to be a presence of hope and compassion for others,” Jean-Mary said.

Though she didn’t expect it, Moreau’s selfless deeds were rewarded by community leaders who nominated her to receive a brand new car. As part of a Miami, Florida anti-poverty initiative, community leaders nominate residents known for community service.  The Toyota Corolla was purchased by the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation through a grant, and Moreau will only have to pay $125 monthly for three years before she can own it. It was just a small token of appreciation for a woman who does so much.

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6 months ago · by · Comments Off on Indiana Program Enables Truckers to Donate Rejected Food Shipments to Food Pantries

Indiana Program Enables Truckers to Donate Rejected Food Shipments to Food Pantries

A program in Indiana is allowing truck drivers to donate rejected food deliveries to charity. Truck drivers will often arrive at a grocery store to drop off several pallets of ordered food only to have the products rejected by the supermarkets because there was either an error in the ordering process; the food was cosmetically damaged in transit; there were equipment failures en-route that caused delay; or a variety of other reasons. This often results in tons of edible food being dumped into a landfill.


Instead of letting thousands of pounds of food continue to go to waste, the Indy Hunger Network charity created their Food Drop program which connects truck drivers with nearby food banks that can put the products to good use. In addition to helping to feed the hungry during a time that food banks across the US are reporting record numbers, the program also benefits the drivers by saving them from having to pay expensive landfill fees, providing them with a tax deduction for donated goods, and helping them to offload the cargo.


The program was initially launched in 2017 to operate solely out of Indianapolis and charity workers say that they documented over 90,000 pounds of food donated within the first six months. The program’s success led Indy Food Network to expand the initiative to several more food banks across Indiana. If the Food Drop project continues to prove itself effective, then the charity hopes to expand the program to other states as well.


Drivers are only asked to donate groceries that are still edible, non-alcoholic, and individually packaged with unbroken seals. The Indy Hunger Network works with community centers, food pantries, churches, and schools in the area with the goal of connecting drivers to fill the food shortage needs. They continue to look for new opportunities to improve the food assistance system.


They also run a grant program to award small grants to food pantries in Marion County for projects that would increase capacity, improve operations, and implement best practices. Each year they award grants to over 20 partners involved in the food assistance system.


The National Guard had been assisting Indiana’s emergency food bank system but their temporary deployment will be ending, leaving an urgent need for volunteers. People can visit https://www.in.gov/fssa/dfr/operation-food/ to sign up or go to https://www.indyhunger.org/ to find a list of locations in need of volunteers.

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6 months ago · by · Comments Off on Former Addict Shares Hope In Philadelphia

Former Addict Shares Hope In Philadelphia

A former opioid addict is giving back through random acts of kindness.  Megan Cohen had been in over 70 treatment centers and found herself homeless in different states.  Cohen also spent time in prison before going clean in 2019.  In August 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Megan started The Grace Project, non-profit that gives back to struggling addicts in the Philadelphia area.

“It was actually complete strangers that showed me kindness when I was out there and it, like, planted a seed of hope,” Cohen said. “I wish that the kindness my family showed me would have done that but it didn’t. It didn’t because I expected it.”  For years, Cohen lived in a perpetual state of hunger, trauma and pain. Eventually, she landed on the streets of Kensington, PA -the largest open-air drug market on the East Coast.  Joshua Santiago, an Uber driver coming off his shift spotted Cohen walking along the interstate in the rain.

“Something in my heart told me to stop, I was about to go home and lay in a warm bed” said Santiago.  When he pulled over, Cohen was skeptical about his intentions but being so cold, she said she didn’t care what happened.  Cohen said “I had no hope or will to live at that point.  I asked him why he would let me in his car when it’s obvious what I am.”  “You are still a person,” Santiago told her.  Not long after Santiago offered her a ride, two other “angels” stepped into her path — one gave her a hot meal and a place to shower; another offered her cold water and encouraging words.

The power of those moments fuels Cohen’s faith in humankind and strengthens her resolve to save others who feel trapped, as she once did, in the throes of addiction.  Every Thursday night, friends and family join Megan to distribute food, jackets, and toiletries in addition to cleaning up the littered streets.  Shane Williams, who became a volunteer following his own recovery said “There’s people openly using drugs. There’s people with serious medical issues being unattended to.” 

Weekly visits will continue as long as the community continues to support The Grace Project with funds and donations. Cohen hopes that the non-profit will evolve into a resource to support entire families who struggle with similar circumstances.  The GRACE Project’s GoFundMe page expands on their vision: “As we continue to grow, we hope to be able to start helping more people in need. This goes beyond those that are homeless. We would like to be able to start offering assistance and organizing events for children out there and in similar areas. We also hope to be able to start assisting anyone else who is in need of a little grace and a little hope. This could look like the person who is just turning their life around and needs some help getting on their feet or the parents who have a sick child and may not be able to work anymore and in turn are facing financial struggles.”

They also take in-kind donations and have a list on their Facebook page of some of the items they are currently taking. Locals who want to donate can message them on Facebook to set up a pick up or drop off.  In-kind donations can also be sent in the mail to 701 Philadelphia Ave Warrington PA 18976.  “We would not be able to do what we do each week if it weren’t for the support of others and we want to thank anyone who has contributed from the bottom of our hearts.

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7 months ago · by · Comments Off on US Oncologist Forgives $650,000 In Outstanding Medical Debt

US Oncologist Forgives $650,000 In Outstanding Medical Debt

A US oncologist gave an extraordinary gift to his past patients by forgiving $650,000 in medical bills for cancer treatments. In February of 2020, the clinic Dr. Atik practiced out of closed due to staffing shortages. At the time, there was close to $650,000 outstanding patient debt on the books. Dr. Atik attributed the large sum to the fact that no patient was ever denied treatment, regardless of whether or not they could pay.


After the clinic closed last year, Dr. Atik attempted to settle the debts. He soon realized that many of the people he’d treated didn’t have the means to pay—especially with so much added financial hardship brought on by the coronavirus pandemic—so with the blessing of his wife, Mehreen, he decided to forgive the outstanding debt.


“My wife and I, as a family, we thought about it and looked at forgiving all the debt… We saw that we could do it and then just went ahead and did it.” Dr. Atik said. It was one final way for Dr. Atik to show kindness and compassion to patients that he had always considered it an honor and privilege to treat. The week of Christmas, Dr. Atik sent out holiday cards to nearly 200 of his former patients that read:


“The Arkansas Cancer Clinic was proud to have you as a patient. Although various health insurances pay most of the bills for the majority of patients, even the deductibles and co-pays can be burdensome. The clinic has decided to forego all balances owed to the clinic by its patients.”


Dr. Atik said “We thought there was not a better time to do this than during a pandemic that has decimated homes, people’s lives and businesses and all sorts of stuff. I just hope that it gave them a little sigh of relief and made it easier for them so they could face other challenges they may be facing in their lives.”


Originally from Pakistan, Dr. Atik founded the Arkansas Cancer Clinic in Pine Bluff in 1991, providing treatments including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and CAT scans. He is now a professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. In 2013, he was named president of the Arkansas Medical Society. Five years later, he became chairman-elect of the board of governors of the American College of Physicians. He credits much of his success to being in the right place at the right time. “I believe the opportunities that have come my way are, in part, because of where I am,” he explained.

David Wroten, executive vice president of the Arkansas Medical Society advocacy group, said that Dr Atik had called him “to make sure there was nothing improper” about his idea of forgiving patients’ debt. “If you knew Dr Atik, you would better understand. First, he is one of the smartest doctors I have ever known, but he is also one of the most compassionate doctors I have ever known” Wroten said.

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7 months ago · by · Comments Off on Six Year Old Leukemia Survivor Delivers Gifts To Kids Fighting Cancer

Six Year Old Leukemia Survivor Delivers Gifts To Kids Fighting Cancer

A young leukemia survivor spread holiday cheer to kids battling cancer by delivering toys throughout the D.C. area. Six-year-old Summer Grace Cernoch and her family drove around the region with the gifts. Summer Grace battled leukemia for two years, spending holidays in the hospital, had several surgeries and countless painful treatments. She finished her last treatment in February.

Two Christmases, 79 port chemos, 10 blood transfusions, and a countless number of pills later, Summer Grace beat cancer. Per her request, the night she took her last chemotherapy pill the Cernoch family set off fireworks in celebration. The fireworks, however, were just the beginning of their celebration of Summer Grace’s hard-fought battle – in September they started the Summer Grace Foundation in her honor.

December 21st marked three years since she was diagnosed. “I’ve dreaded this day every year as it … just brings back a lot of bad memories for our family,” said Summer Grace’s mother, Jessica Cernoch. The Cernoch family started the foundation to help kids like her and many of the toys delivered Monday were donated by the community.

The foundation’s mission is to raise awareness, raise funds for pediatric cancer research in hopes of finding better and less toxic treatments, and support the childhood cancer community. 1 in 5 kids diagnosed with cancer will not survive. On average, 43 kids are diagnosed with cancer every day, and 7 kids die every day due to cancer or because of the effects of their harsh treatments. “We remember very vividly how awful this journey is, and so we want to do everything we can to give back and support the childhood cancer community,” her mother said.

The world changes in an instant, and things are never quite the same ever again after a cancer diagnosis. Childhood cancer effects every aspect of family life. In addition to the physical aspect of cancer, there’s often a huge financial burden, and an indescribable level of worry and stress. Life becomes physically and emotionally draining, and there’s often little energy left to focus on anything or anyone other than the child. Marriages may become strained and siblings may be left feeling disconnected from the family.

Every year, the foundation also partners with various businesses to offer relaxing, overnight retreats. Donations to the foundation can sponsor a retreat for families battling cancer. Summer Grace and her family also plan to start a music scholarship program for cancer patients.

You can support the Summer Grace Foundation through AmazonSmile. At no cost to you, you can find the same selection of products and low prices! Upon checkout, Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase price to us. Simply go to smile.amazon.com, sign in, and choose the Summer Grace Foundation as your charity. Amazon will donate .05% of all eligible purchases.

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8 months ago · by · Comments Off on College Hunks Moving Company Donates Services to Domestic Violence Survivors

College Hunks Moving Company Donates Services to Domestic Violence Survivors

A moving company announced this month a new commitment to provide free moves to victims of domestic violence and those currently living in abusive situations. Since the recent launch of the program, College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving has already completed over 100 free moves for those who are fleeing an unsafe situation in the U.S. and Canada.
This new program was launched after a rise in domestic violence reports across the country during the lockdown. College Hunks co-founder Nick Friedman explained that their company purpose is to make a positive impact on the lives of the people they help. Friedman and his team were motivated to start the domestic violence initiative when they sat down to discuss how the COVID-19 crisis might be affecting those negatively by stay-at-home orders.

They already have a program to help disadvantaged youth in vulnerable situations get access to food. For every completed job they have been donating 2 nutritious meals to Feeding Children Everywhere—with over 1 million meals donated since the program began. They decided they needed to extend their services to domestic violence victims. Friedman said “I definitely think our Free Moves for Survivors of Domestic Violence program sheds light on a really important issue that is not often talked about. As a purpose driven, socially-conscious organization we’re always looking for ways to positively impact our communities—in this case, particularly for those who feel powerless in unhealthy home situations.”

This idea was done 20 years ago, by another moving company, Meathead Movers who began offering free moves to people in abusive homes. Last year, Meathead Movers donated more than $150,000 worth of moving services, partnering with eight domestic violence shelters in Central and Southern California.

Now, College Hunks Hauling is extending the same kind of help across their 131 franchise locations in the U.S. and Canada, offering the use of trucks and labor at no cost. People who need this kind of help should first contact their local domestic violence-prevention shelter to notify them of their situation. A certified domestic violence-prevention shelter will then need to approve and coordinate the no-cost move requests through College HUNKS to ensure that the victim is supported throughout the entire transition.

Once qualifications for the free move are confirmed, the approving shelter works in partnership with College Hunks to execute the move in coordination with their local franchise owner and the local authorities, as needed, for the safety of both the victim and the assisting College HUNKS team. College Hunks has also provided trucks for transporting COVID-19 testing supplies and other medical equipment, for relocating beds and goods from one hospital to another, and delivering water to healthcare workers.

College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving was originally founded in 2003 by two college buddies, Omar Soliman and Nick Friedman who began using a beat-up cargo van to haul furniture. H.U.N.K.S. becoming an abbreviation for Honest, Uniformed, Nice, Knowledgeable, Service. Now, it has over 100 franchises supplying full-service, tech-enabled residential and commercial moving, junk removal, donation pickups, and labor services in the United States and Canada.

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8 months ago · by · Comments Off on Celebrity Chef David Chang Wins $1 Million For Restaurant Industry

Celebrity Chef David Chang Wins $1 Million For Restaurant Industry

Celebrity chef David Chang, founder of the successful Momofuku restaurant brand, is donating his $1 million dollar “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” winnings to the restaurant industry. Like the other celebrity contestants on the show, Chang had been playing for the charity of his choosing, the Southern Smoke Foundation, a Houston-based crisis-relief organization for hospitality industry workers experiencing debt or other hardships.

“I’m so honored that Dave chose Southern Smoke as his charity,” founder Chris Shepherd said. “Now, more than ever, with indoor dining shut down in many parts of the country and temperatures dropping to prohibit outdoor dining, food and beverage industry employees are desperate.” Southern Smoke was established in 2017 and COVID-19’s impact on restaurants, bars, and catering companies in 2020 has made the need for financial crisis intervention all the more urgent. According to their website, the Southern Smoke Foundation has distributed more than $5.7 million, both directly to people in need via the Emergency Relief Fund and to organizations that represent the needs of people in our industry.

Chang has seen first-hand how the spread of covid-19 has cost the hospitality industry hundreds of billions of dollars and put many people out of work. When Chang reached the $500,000 mark, host Jimmy Kimmel cautioned him that no celebrity contestant had ever taken home “the big check.” Chang seriously considered walking away, but trusting his luck, he decided to go all in. “I’m a gambling man and shame on me if this is wrong, but I’m doing this because having a million dollars right now, in this moment, is a game-changer for many, many families.”

Unless you’ve been lucky enough to work from home the entire time, it’s likely your industry has been affected in one way or another by the pandemic. Across the globe people have faced tough decisions on how to navigate a socially distanced life. From teachers creating and maintaining virtual AND in-person curriculums to drivers and delivery people, as well as healthcare professionals on the brink of burnout. Millions who work in the hospitality industry, including food and drink service, have seen unemployment since early into the pandemic in March. Thankfully, many people, like Chang, have found ways to help others through this and inspire others to do the same.

Chang won over several front-line workers in this season of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” which also featured celebrities Tiffany Haddish, Julie Bowen, Ray Romano, Rebel Wilson and Joel McHale. The restaurateur, author and television personality is known for founding the Michelin-star winning Momofuku restaurant group as well as Netflix original series “Ugly Delicious” and “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.” Southern Smoke Foundation immediately celebrated the win on twitter with the tweet “WE WON A MILLION DOLLARS!!!! #TAKINGCAREOFOUROWN

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9 months ago · by · Comments Off on Couple Loans Cottage To Single Dad During Pandemic

Couple Loans Cottage To Single Dad During Pandemic

Families around the globe have had to adjust to the stresses of the pandemic and it’s always comforting to hear of instances of people helping one another during this unprecedented time. When a single dad in England, Sam Smith, appeared on the BBC Breakfast Show to talk about what it’s like to be confined in a very small living area during the pandemic, Ken and Sheila Sims decided to help.

Everyone has faced challenges during the pandemic but many don’t realize there are families with children out there who are living in small spaces with little to no space to run around. Since lockdown began in England, Sam Smith, 6-year-old Lysander and 3-year-old Zenduel, have been confined to their one-bed apartment on the 15th floor of a high-rise in East London. During the interview, Smith described what it was like sometimes being confined in the apartment 23 hours a day with just 12 steps from one side of the main room to the other—and with local parks closed.

Ken and Sheila Sims were watching the interview from their home on the Devon coast. Ken grew up in a high-rise apartment building as a young boy, and felt especially saddened seeing the difficulties the Smiths were going through. Ken knew all too well the challenges of growing up in a small apartment but he didn’t have to live through a pandemic. Luckily, he knew just how to help and he wasted no time in offering the Smiths a week at their cottage on the English seaside so the family would have some space to play, explore and run.

Sam immediately said yes to the offer and he was touched by the kindness of strangers. “I can’t find the words… ” Sam said at the beach on his family’s Devon vacation. Motioning at the sky and water all around him, at his young sons making sandcastles, he exclaimed, “It’s beautiful!”

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9 months ago · by · Comments Off on NJ Man Mows Lawns For Free To Help Seniors During Pandemic

NJ Man Mows Lawns For Free To Help Seniors During Pandemic

With many unemployed during the pandemic, it’s uplifting to hear about those that have found a way to help others during this stressful time. Brian Schwartz, an advertising executive who lost his job due to the pandemic founded the nonprofit I Want To Mow Your Lawn to help seniors, veterans and the disabled with their lawn maintenance for free.
Schwartz started out small, covering areas in northern New Jersey but he has a vision of helping people on a scale beyond his own part of the country. While he is using his own knowledge to market this idea, he is looking for volunteers from all over to join his crusade. Schwartz welcomes any and all help ranging from kids in school up to professional landscapers.

Schwartz said “It may sound like a bumper sticker, but it’s true: it just feels good to help out, to do something tangible that people need done and can’t quite do themselves, something straight-forward and clean-cut as newly mowed grass. It really is helpful, it makes an immediate difference that people can see, and people are so appreciative because it is free, no strings, no small print, no paperwork at all. We come, we mow, we go.”

The volunteers are the backbone of this non-profit, some also found themselves out of work and looking for some way to give back to their community. Volunteers can have their own shareable profile URL, custom email alias and phone # extension. Any and all help is welcomed, ranging from kids in school up to professional landscapers.
There is no better feeling than helping out someone in need and kindness is contagious. Schwartz is looking to keep growing nationally. Volunteers must have their own landscaping equipment, be able to transport it and be willing to travel within a 5-10-15 mile radius. To volunteer or request free mowing services you can find more information at IWantToMowYourLawn.com or check out the Facebook page.

Schwartz refuses to accept payment or tips, and he says there’s no fine print to this good deed. “I believe in putting some good into the universe. I see what’s going on in the world, and I just want to help.” His decision to not wallow in the loss of his job in a grim job market and instead, find a way to help others is a testament to who he is. He has helped many in his area and given those that want to help those in their community a way to do so.

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