Redmond coffee stand customers still pay it forward - $5 gift keeps getting passed on through Easter Sunday
REDMOND, Ore. - In Redmond, Three Peaks Coffee stand is a usual stop for many. But over the last three days now -- the latest Easter Sunday -- the shop has not only offered customers their usual drinks, but a chance to pay it forward.
"I got here at 6 (Friday morning) and my very first customer pulled up, and she randomly just gave me five extra dollars to pay it forward to the next customer," said Three Peaks barista Ashley McNeill said Saturday.
"Really, she was just anticipating one person get their free drink -- and all day, every single person just paid it forward,"she said.
McNeill said every customer she had Friday passed on the money. She was so inspired, she left a note for her co-worker to make sure the act would continue into the next day.
And it did.
When she came in for her afternoon shift Saturday, the five dollar bills were still there on the counter.
McNeill said customers continued to pass on the money all day Saturday -- and one customer even added $2 to the cause.
And then, we're told, the same thing continued throughout Easter Sunday's hours, so the coffee stand will be keeping up on Monday morning.
"It feels so good to be a part of something that's contributing to others," McNeill said. "Because its so easy to get stuck in your ways, and just do your own thing for yourself."
Fellow Three Creeks barista Sheri Lin McGarry agreed.
"Everyone is really happy to go along with it," said McGarry. "You know, they are excited to pay it forward. It makes them feel like they're a part of something bigger."
The shop says they will continue to pass the money on until someone takes the gift. But for now, they are happy to help carry out such an inspiring act of kindness.
"I think it brightens everyone's day just a little bit, to know there's still so many good people out there," McNeill said.
"That's what it's all about," added McGarry. "It has to start somewhere, and if it can start here and spread to other areas and other places, then we've done something good."
Rebecca Constantino Brings Books to Disadvantaged Schools
Back in 1999, Rebecca Constantino was doing research for her Ph.D. about what happens in schools when kids have access to luxury. That's when she saw boxes of brand new books stacked up in the hallway of a school in Brentwood, an affluent section of Los Angeles.
"I asked the librarian what she was doing with the books," says Constantino, 49, a Reno native who now lives in L.A.. "She said, 'Well, we just don't have room. I'm throwing them away.' I said, 'Really? Can I have them?' She said, 'Sure.' "
So Constantino packed up all the books and drove them to an elementary school in Compton, an underprivileged section of the city about 15 miles away where schools were shuttering their libraries, unable to afford new books.
"A few days later, someone from Brentwood called me and said, 'I hear you collect books,' " she says. "I told her, 'I don't really but you could bring them to me if you'd like.' The next day I took them to another school." After that she began getting calls from other schools and parents. "My car could fit about 4,500 books," says Constantino, "I was really cramming them in there!"
Fourteen years later, Constantino has donated more than 1.3 million books through the non-profit she eventually created, called Access Books. She's also helped to refurbish more than 200 libraries. "In California, there is absolutely no state funding solely designated for school libraries," says Constantino, "But access to books changes a kid's life."
The schools she has helped agree. "When these kids are given books, they light up, they beam," says Chris Stehr, principal of Vine Street Elementary School, where Contantino has supplied books and refurbished the library. "For a lot of low socio-economic communities, books are a luxury. They view these books as treasures."
With the help of volunteers and donors, Constantino spends her Saturday afternoons making deliveries and renovating run-down school libraries. "It only takes a day," says Constantino, "We paint and give each library a rocking chair, a reading rug and a couch."
An adjunct professor at the University of California-Irvine and UCLA, Constantino says the kids she serves are truly grateful. "People think that kids aren't reading and they aren't interested in books," she says, "but they love books. They're so excited to get them."
And they need them. One young boy, who was being raised by his grandmother while his parents were imprisoned, requested books on Martin Luther King. His grandmother later told Constantino that the books were keeping him off the streets. "Now he's up in his bed reading," the grandmother told her. "He's up all night. Reading and reading."
So Constantino asked the little boy what he liked about the books. "He looked up at me and said, 'Oh, Miss Becky, they take me to a world I've never known," she says.
"It's the best thing anyone's ever said to me."
Hearing-impaired boy lives every kid's dream: becoming a superhero
New York (CNN) -- Five-year-old Anthony Smith didn't think superheroes wore hearing aids, until he became one.
His mother, Christina D'Allesandro, says the epic journey began in May, when her superhero-fanatic son, who is deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other, refused to wear his blue hearing aid because "superheroes don't wear hearing aids" either.
Desperate, she decided to consult the experts. She found a general e-mail address on the Marvel Comics website and sent a message "into the ethers," asking if there were any hearing-impaired superheroes.
A few weeks later, the mother of two was shocked to get an overwhelming response from Marvel, including comic book art that honored her son.
"When he first saw the comic book cover, he said, 'Oh my God, it's me,' " she told CNN. "He was very excited."
"We decided to make him an honorary Avenger," a member of the Marvel Comics superhero crime-fighting team, said Bill Rosemann, a Marvel editor.
Two artists, Manny Mederos and Nelson Ribeiro, sent the D'Allesandro family comic book covers featuring their very own versions of honorary Avenger Blue Ear, inspired by Anthony, whose blue earpiece gives him the power to hear a pin drop from the other side of a state.
One cover features a younger Anthony and his buddy Hawkeye ready to fight crime. The other shows an older version of Blue Ear perched on a rooftop, tapping into his superpower and listening to a faraway call for help.
On Tuesday, the young New Hampshire boy is being welcomed as a special guest at an event at the Center for Hearing and Communication clinic in New York City, where he will get to meet a fellow crime-fighting partner in the Marvel universe, Iron Man.
"The reason why it was so easy for us to respond to this is because our characters, which were invented around the '60s, all have real challenges." Rosemann said.
He talked about how all the characters "became superheroes despite of -- or because of -- the challenges they face."
Under his elastic Spidey skin is a skinny Peter Parker, who constantly gets picked on at school, Rosemann said. As a boy, superhero Daredevil was blinded in an accident that also gave him a radar sense. And Iron Man first created armor to fix his heart, and he then developed the armor into his famous suit.
"We link challenges with their superpowers," Rosemann said.
"Our mantra is what (Marvel Comics chief) Stan Lee said: With great power there must come great responsibility. Our guys thought, 'If I have the ability to draw, I am going to use it to help someone like Anthony feel comfortable about his hearing aid.' "
Rosemann and his team collaborated with Phonak, the maker of Anthony's hearing aid, and came up with a poster to be distributed in doctors' offices across the country in an effort to destigmatize kids with hearing aids. The poster, to be unveiled at Tuesday's special event, features none other than fearless Iron Man, whose message is that kids who use hearing aids are just like him because "they are using technology to be their best self."
"It will be an Iron Man and Blue Ear team-up," Rosemann said about the event.
Closer to home, all the attention has brought excitement and meaning for Anthony and his mother.
"In this house, we are looking forward to meeting Iron Man," D'Allesandro said. "He is a big Avengers fan."
The experience has given Anthony the confidence and the ability to talk about his disability, she said.
"He goes up to kids and says, 'Hey, I have a little ear and a blue ear. Do you want to play?' "
People have reached out to her, and she says her family is grateful that this experience has connected her and her son to a wonderful network of families with special needs children.
When asked if there is a comic book series on the horizon featuring Blue Ear, Rosemann said, "There is nothing planned right now, but with so many people responding to Blue Ear, you never know what's next ..."
"People should just stay tuned."
Purple Heart makes long trip back to family
TYLER, TX - If you just happened to pass by a little gathering on the square in downtown Tyler Tuesday afternoon, there's no way you could know just how important it was, or how much work it took to make it happen.
But at the center of that gathering, a Purple Heart medal is finally home, after a trip from more than 1500 miles away.
Kris Wilson of Edom had given up on finding her long-lost uncle, Robert Bates, who died on board the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor. Her family had tried to fill that hole in its history for 20 years.
What they couldn't know is that earlier this year in Bakersfield, California, someone found Robert's purple heart, basically in the street.
That medal found its way to a high school history class, taught by Ken Hooper.
"When they brought it in, I showed it to the students, and they attacked the computers," Hooper said.
Hooper's students knew how important the medal was, but were stonewalled by, of all things, a 70-year-old typo.
"The official Pearl Harbor web site, says Tobert Bates, not Robert Bates," Hooper said.
Hooper and his students kept working, and finally connected Robert to his niece in East Texas, who couldn't believe it when she got the phone call.
"That part of our history was almost lost for good," Wilson said. "His great-nieces and nephews, his memory will live on."
And they'll have that medal to help. Hooper made the trip from California to personally deliver it to the family. And he's got a great story to tell his students when he gets home.
"Teachers get paid in strange ways, this was payment in full," Hooper said. "To see her reaction, I knew that we did the right thing."
Thanks to the work done by Mr. Hooper's class, the Bates family also found more of their family in Athens, TX.
My friend and I were driving when we saw a man who had his electric wheelchair stuck on some ice on the sidewalk. We decided to pull over, get out of the car, and help him out! It felt great! Now I am always on the look out to find someone to help.
I just love this thread. Thank you!!
I'm so glad!
Originally Posted by gini
It is really helping my depression to search the internet/news for positive stories.
Because Saving Homes Saves Neighborhoods
Through her organization, Empowering and Strengthening Ohio's People, Inez Killingsworth and her team have helped save more than 16,000 homes from foreclosure, ensuring that whole neighborhoods continue to thrive.
More Than a Ring
When I was 19, in 2001, I was both excited and anxious about starting at the U.S. Naval Academy. Parents often attend Induction Day, but my mom couldn't afford the plane ticket. Before I left she hugged me and handed me an envelope; then I boarded the plane alone.
After takeoff I opened Mom's letter and read how proud she was of me. "Maita [her pet name for me], you are bound for greatness," she wrote. My mother had sacrificed so much throughout my childhood, and thanks to her love I felt prepared to take on any challenge.
To my surprise there was also an antique ring in the envelope. The ring had been passed down to my mom by her own stepmother when she began her journey as a woman. It's platinum with a square face and a diamond in the middle. As a young adult, I knew this gift represented my mom's recognition that I was growing up.
I've carried my mother's unconditional love and strength in my heart and on my finger through four years at the Academy and two combat tours in Iraq as a Marine officer. The ring reminds me of the sacrifices my mom made for her children. I think of that as I serve to keep this country safe and look forward to the day when I can pass this heirloom along to a daughter of my own.
-- Maia, Al Asad Air Base, Iraq
To the Rescue: Saving Abandoned Mutts in Mexico
Alison Sawyer Current went on a Mexican vacation and wound up with a suntan, a second home, and a new calling: saving abandoned mutts. (From Ladies’ Home Journal 2010)
Alison Sawyer Current is used to finding buckets of puppies on her front doorstep in the morning. Sometimes older dogs, so thin their ribs are showing, are tied up outside, and sick ones, too ill to move, are left lying under the bushes in her garden.
As a lifetime lover of animals, Sawyer Current, 56, is the operator of the unofficial humane society of Isla Mujeres, Mexico, where she is known affectionately as Mujer de los Perros, the "Dog Lady."
Sawyer Current, a novelist and potter, and her husband, Jeff Current, first came to the tranquil island, a 25-minute ferry ride from Cancun, on a house-swapping vacation. They loved it so much they built their own place there in 2000. But it was hard to ignore the many stray dogs.
"We were always finding abandoned puppies," says Sawyer Current. "It's not the norm here to spay or neuter animals." When there are too many strays on the island, official dogcatchers round them up and electrocute them. "It broke my heart to see it."
In 2001 the couple had a fence and some pens built in their backyard, effectively turning their home into a rescue center. "If you love animals and live in Mexico, it's very hard not to get involved," Sawyer Current says.
Word soon spread around the five-mile-long island that the Yanqui was caring for unwanted dogs. "I see the buckets of puppies on our doorstep as a big improvement," says Sawyer Current, who may have as many as 20 puppies and 40 dogs in her house and yard at any time. "When they dump the dogs with us, it means the animals aren't being left to starve."
Sawyer Current eventually formed her own rescue organization, which she named Isla Animals. She doesn't have any formal veterinary training. She has picked up a lot from visiting American vets and techs who have volunteered for Isla Animals, though, and has sat up many a night coaxing a severely malnourished puppy to eat.
American and Canadian tourists often drop by to walk the dogs on the beach, sometimes taking home one or two they've fallen in love with. Isla Animals has recently teamed up with five shelters -- in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, and British Columbia -- that have agreed to help find permanent homes for the strays.
As a result of her work on Isla Mujeres, Sawyer Current received the 2005 Doris Day Animal Foundation's Kindred Spirit Award. And in 2007 she was invited to be a participant in the first-ever Forum on Small Animal Overpopulation, in Mexico City.
While Isla Animals does get some donations from tourists and visitors to its Web site, islaanimals.org, much of the money needed to run the center comes from Sawyer Current's pocket. She admits there's some sacrifice, but for her it's worth it. "I've wanted a new barbecue grill for at least three years, but every time I think about it we end up using that money to care for another dog," she says. "The dogs and puppies are our first priority." http://islaanimals.org/
Field of Dreams
I grew up in Massachusetts, and live for the Boston Red Sox. I even have a team tattoo. My husband, Adam, loves that he can ask "How'd the Sox do?" and I can always give him the recap. Sometimes he asks from very far away: He is in the Army, and in our 13-year marriage he's been deployed seven times.
I should be used to it by now, but the holidays are still hard for me. In 2007 Adam was in Iraq. He called Christmas morning to hear our son, Addison, opening his presents. I put on a brave face for Addison, but it still tore me apart that Adam wasn't with us.
A few days later a manila envelope arrived with my name on it. I opened it and pulled out a tiny baggy and thought, "What the heck is this?" Then I read the letter that came with it. Adam had arranged to have dirt from the Sox infield sent to me. Amazing! I own a piece of Fenway.
That simple act from thousands of miles away made me realize how much Adam really understands me: He knows that dirt from Fenway Park means more to me than any fancy clothes or jewelry ever could. I cherish that dirt, but this Christmas I'm getting an even better gift: Adam will be home -- and that's really all I want.
-- Erin, Pooler, Georgia
Anonymous kidney donor honored
Jeff Mitchell and Mary Holand had an indescribable bond before they had even met.
“I felt like I already knew her,” Mitchell said.
Two months ago, Jeff gave Mary a hug. He had already given her so much more, a kidney.
“He very special to me,” Holand said. “I’m excited, I call him my angel.”
Sentara General Hospital in Norfolk only sees the likes of Mitchell once a year at the most, someone who decides to anonymously give a kidney to a person in need.
“It’s like I have another family now,” Mitchell said.
Tuesday Mitchell was honored at Sentara’s living kidney donor celebration. Mitchell went up and spoke about what inspired him to donate.
He had no connection to the cause, he just saw the need and took action for someone who needed help.
Holand has heard the story before, but that doesn’t stop her from crying every time.
“I couldn’t meet no nicer person, I don’t believe,” Holand said.
Holand was on dialysis, and sometimes struggled to find the motivation to go. Weeks after the surgery she felt renewed.
“Now basically I can go where I want to go and basically do what I want to do, and that means a lot to me,” Holand said.
Mitchell doesn’t have another kidney to give to someone. ”It’s a one time shot,” he jokes.
But if he could donate again, and change someone’s life like he changed Holand’s, he would.
An unbreakable friendship, created by one kidney, and countless hugs.
Because a Tornado Was No Match for This Town
"In 2009 a tornado hit my home," says reader T. Sanford Giemza. "I had only been living in Thomasville, Georgia, for two years, so I wasn't really sure who I'd turn to for help. But the town sprang into action. Businesses donated household supplies, people I didn't know donated sheets for my kids to sleep on, strangers from our church cooked us dinner for three straight weeks. I'll always be so thankful.”
Putting Neighbor's Newspaper on the Porch
I was getting in my car about six months ago and I saw our neighbor struggling to get his newspaper from his driveway. He has a deformed back and cannot walk without difficulty. The next morning I decided to put his newspaper on his porch so he wouldn't have to go so far to retrieve it. Then the next thing I knew my husband started doing this routine for me, without even asking me! Together we've been doing this for six months now and our neighbor is really grateful.
A Second Chance
The Prison Tails program matches unadoptable dogs with convicted criminals. Meet one graduate who became a hero.
Sara Conroy was looking to adopt a big, active dog -- one that would run five miles a day with her and be gentle and friendly with her kids. But when the Granger, Indiana, substitute teacher saw a cute candidate on petfinder.com, she didn't expect she'd be springing him from a state prison. Kosmo, a Siberian husky mix, had just graduated from Prison Tails, a program where convicts train rescue dogs that have been deemed unadoptable. Kosmo had wound up with that label because he was big, untrained, and a mutt, a bad combo for would-be adoptive families. The overcrowded shelter he'd been in had given him a death sentence -- but Kosmo got a reprieve from a rescue organization called Mixed Up Mutts, which shipped him off to the local penitentiary to learn some manners.
The founders of Mixed Up Mutts, Sarah Stevens, a nurse, and her husband, Cris, a firefighter, created Prison Tails back in 2004, when they realized that some of their rescued dogs were being returned due to behavior problems. They needed to figure out a way to train the animals before placing them with families. But who would whip them into shape? Then they happened to see a TV show that featured a prison-based dog-training program. "We've got prisons right in our area," Sarah said. "I don't know why we couldn't do that." So the group approached the nearby Westville Correctional Facility, in Westville, Indiana, and Prison Tails was born.
Out of the approximately 3,400 inmates at Westville, only 32 make the cut to become dog handlers. Candidates are drawn from the medium- and minimum-security populations and must have a high school diploma or equivalent, good prison conduct, and no background of domestic violence or sexual offenses. Once accepted, handlers have to complete rigorous homework on dog training, write reports, make presentations, and give their dog 15 to 20 minutes of training three to five times a day. On off-hours they are responsible for grooming and feeding the dogs, who live with them. At the end of four to six weeks, the animals must pass an American Kennel Club obedience test and then learn additional etiquette. Handlers get paid $1.25 a day and the program has been very popular, prison officials say.
"Some of these guys have been in here for 20 or 30 years and haven't touched a dog since they arrived," says Sharon Hawk, a prison director who oversees Prison Tails. "Now they live with their 'own' dog who gives them unconditional love and makes them feel productive. Having the animals around also helps improve morale."
The program is more than just a mood booster, though -- it teaches inmates a trade. After they've successfully completed the program, participants become certified animal trainers through the Department of Labor. When they're released from prison they can get jobs in pet stores, veterinary clinics, or doggie daycare centers. "It's exciting to see a dog that's been deemed unadoptable or untrainable become a productive member of society, along with the offender," says Prison Tails program director Regan Dietz, who, with Cris Stevens, teaches the prisoners how to train the animals. "We're giving both the dogs and the handlers a second chance."
Kosmo was three weeks out of Westville when, just after midnight, his new owner, Conroy, 39, woke up to hear him growling. Kosmo sprang from where he'd been sleeping beside her bed and raced into the kitchen. Alone in the house with her 8-year-old daughter, Emilia, and 21-year-old stepdaughter, Amy -- her husband, Tim, was on a business trip -- Conroy had a flash of fear. But the big dog returned to the bedroom shortly afterward and all was quiet. Conroy assumed it had just been Amy grabbing a late-night snack, and she went back to sleep.
In fact, Kosmo had chased off a burglar. When Conroy entered the kitchen the next morning, she noticed that the sliding glass door was open. Her wedding and engagement rings, which she'd taken off and left on the counter while cooking dinner, were both gone. "I don't want to think what could have happened if the burglar had gotten further than the kitchen," Conroy says. "Emilia and I were on the first floor. Without a doubt, Kosmo saved us."
Conroy admits she was uneasy at first when she discovered her potential adoptive dog was being trained at Westville. "I had never been to a prison and there were maximum-security prisoners there. I didn't know what to expect." What she found was love at first sight, she says -- and, as it turns out, peace of mind. In the end, she realized that she really appreciated the fact that Kosmo had been trained by an inmate. "I like that he was being taught by someone who really needed to learn about love and trust," Conroy says. "Kosmo is an irreplaceable part of our family, and it makes me feel good to know that his training was a positive experience for everyone involved."